yellow and black tram on road during daytime
Photo by Mangopear creative on Unsplash

Reading Andy Burnham’s manifesto, launched last week, filled me with hope for the future of Greater Manchester. At its heart, this manifesto is based on co-operative values, seeking to deliver a fair and sustainable recovery which tackles inequality, unlocks community power and gives everyone a stake and a say in our local economy.

I was proud to be commissioner and vice chair of the Greater Manchester Co-operative Commission. When Andy launched the Commission in March 2019, he set out his ambition to ensure Manchester is “the most co-operative region” of the UK. We listened to co-operatives, credit unions, community housing and social enterprises to understand how we can help the co-op sector thrive in Greater Manchester.

This aspiration, and our recommendations from the commission, are front and centre of Andy’s manifesto. Our key findings have been taken on board – including commitments to establish a specialist hub to support the sector to grow and thrive, and to work with the movement to help credit unions grow. Andy has also pledged to adopt a community wealth-building approach, establishing a Community Wealth Hub in our Growth Hub to promote different forms of community and co-operative ownership.

Critically, Andy’s approach to co-operative growth goes hand in hand with green, sustainable and inclusive growth. Ensuring land and buildings deliver a return for our communities; using public land and property to generate clean energy; supporting green start-ups. Our answer to the climate crisis must be an answer that includes co-operatives, which involve local communities as natural partners and all sectors in the transition towards a green, sustainable and just economy and society while putting people first.

The manifesto champions a number of other areas the Co-operative Party has advocated on – from community food projects and campaigning for a Right to Food, to bringing our bus networks under local public control so that they work for the people of Greater Manchester, not simply the bus company shareholders.

In Greater Manchester, we hold dear the same values all co-operatives share: democracy, solidarity, self-help, self-responsibility, equity and equality. We face new challenges today to those that the movement grappled with when they first came together in our city-region. Andy’s manifesto shows that co-operation remains the best way to create transformative, viable and sustainable responses.