Over the past two weeks, our Party’s “Building Community Power” Conference has been a brilliant showcase of our co-operative movement. With examples of co-operation in action from up and down the country, we’ve heard how co-ops and co-operators are building community power right now – from the power to revitalise their high street to the power to tackle the climate emergency.

Building community power isn’t just a catchy conference theme: it’s at the heart of everything we are trying to achieve. It is what our movement has always been about: not just giving a voice to our communities, but empowering them to change their own futures.

That’s why, although our conference may be over, we will be continuing this work throughout the coming year: here’s just some of the exciting announcements from our Conference on how we’ll keep opening doors for our movement.

  1. Contributing the Gordon Brown’s Constitutional Review

With the future of our Union far from certain, it has never been more important to show how co-operation can be the radical alternative to divisive nationalism, and help us rebuild a shared future between the regions and nations of the UK. Gordon Brown’s Constitutional Commission is a vital opportunity to shape a new constitutional settlement before it’s too late – and co-operative community power must be a part of the answer. That’s why I’m pleased to say over the coming months, we’ll will be bringing together the best of our movement from right across the UK for ‘Building Community Power’ sessions to discuss how we devolve power to local communities, and feeding the results straight into Gordon Brown’s Constitutional Commission.

  1. West Yorkshire Co-operative Summit

Tracy Brabin, the recently elected Labour & Co-operative Mayor of West Yorkshire, will be holding a Co-operative Summit to look at how our movement can build community power and together we can support co-operative expansion in West Yorkshire.

  1. The Scottish Energy Transition Commission

As we approach COP26 and during the current energy crisis, the question of how our energy is produced and who owns and benefits from that production is more crucial than ever. It was great therefore to hear Anas Sarwar MP, Leader of Scottish Labour, announce that Scottish Labour’s Energy Transition Commission will explicitly look at role of co-ops in the Scottish energy market and a Co-operator will be a member of the commission.

  1. The Rural and Coastal Co-operative Taskforce

My colleague Luke Pollard MP, the Shadow Environment Secretary, announced that he will launch a Rural and Coastal Co-operative Taskforce to inform Labour’s Rural England Policy Review, which will report on the role and impact of co-operatives and community ownership in rural and coastal communities.

  1. Tower Hamlets Co-operative Commission

The Co-operative Party will be working with Mayor John Biggs and Labour & Co-operative Councillors to launch a Tower Hamlets Co-operative Commission – kicking off at the end of October.

Involving local people in local decision-making is just the start of bringing power back to communities. Co-operators know that to truly have power, you need ownership too. During this difficult period, people have been able to count on the support of our movement when they needed it most – but for that co-operation to continue, we need to give it the institutional support to thrive.

I hope all of the initiatives that we’ve announced at our conference help embed that co-operative spirit in our communities, putting local people – once again – back in the driving seat.