Key Points :
- The Co-operative Party believes in enabling and empowering local communities, by giving local people ownership and power to provide solutions and services for themselves.
- The Co-operative Party believes in public ownership first, however co-operative models provide an alternative to privatisation.
- There are many examples of community transport, co-operative pubs and locally owned community services already across the country – could a co-operative solution help protect your local services?
Time for action :
Local communities have suffered under seven years of Tory austerity, which has meant funding for services is stretched and some local community assets have come under threat. For example :
- Bus routes have seen a 40% cut in core funding between 2010 and 2015; meaning many subsidised rural bus routes have disappeared or are under threat.
- 23 pubs a week are being lost across the UK, losing key hubs in the community.
- Unused public buildings can cause problems for communities, as former community centres and libraries etc. move or close.
- 100s of community assets have already transferred to local community groups, who are running them for the benefit of their local area.
Co-operation in Practice:
Labour & Co-operative Councillor Laura Price helped to set up West Oxfordshire Community Transport when two lifeline bus routes in Witney were under threat. The service has now carried more than 4000 passengers.
Brighton’s only community owned estate pub, opening in 2012. The pub shut in 2010, but over 700 people bought community shares, raising £200,000. This allowed local people to realise their ambition of having more than a pub, and now 70 different groups use The Bevy including tenants’ associations, Scouts groups and arts and craft clubs.
This community building almost closed in 2007 but was saved when residents formed a community association and begun fund-raising. Now it is a thriving centre used every day of the week and home to a wide range of local groups, including a playgroup, table tennis, line dancing, arts, karate group and whist. There is also a rifle and pistol range, as well as a pottery shed, IT suite, library corner and kitchen. The centre became a pilot for how the council passed their assets over to local people.