A manifesto for Wales has been launched by the Co-operative Party in the run-up to the Welsh Assembly elections.
The party, which is fielding 17 candidates at the 5 May election, is calling for all parts of Wales to be co-operative.
‘A Co-operative Agenda for Wales’ proposes co-op development in a number of areas including energy, transport, housing, credit unions, health, sport and crime prevention.
A foreword by Alun Michael, the former Labour/Co-op MP for Cardiff South and Penarth and now chair of the party’s policy committee, said a ‘fairer society’ is needed.
He wrote: “A fairer society means people and organisations sharing power and working together. We believe that things work best when everyone has a voice and when services are accountable to the people who use them.
“That means railways run in partnership with passengers and staff. It means tackling the housing crisis through co-operative housing. It means fans having a say in the club they support – and in their local sports and recreation facilities. It means support for credit unions as the best way to promote strong personal and community financing arrangements and financial literacy – and as a better alternative to rip-off payday lenders. It means shops being owned by customers, and giving back to the community.”
He said that even during a “time when ‘austerity’ is having a devastating impact” on communities it is the right time to be promoting co-operative approaches.
He added: “The Rochdale Pioneers established the first co-operative, based on the highest moral and political objectives, when they and their families were being squeezed, oppressed and exploited by rapacious employers who would have much in common with the present Conservative government and their supporters. At a time when so many things about which we care are under threat, it is imperative for all departments of Welsh Government and every agency and organisation in Wales to work together in the interests of the people of Wales.”
There are currently nine Labour and Co-operative AMs, who are making a difference according to Mr Michael. “Since 1999, we have worked with Labour in the Welsh Assembly and in Welsh Government to promote co-operative principles and values and we applaud the leadership that we have seen from the Welsh government on this agenda,” he said.
“Individual members, central to the Party’s success for a century, continue our work in local government and within local Labour Parties – and our Agenda for Government 2015 set out our aspirations for a growth in co-operative solutions that could make a significant contribution in every part of the UK. Our Co-operative Agenda for Wales 2016 includes relevant ideas from that Agenda as well as ideas and proposals that are home-grown for Wales.”
- A Minister with responsibile for co-op development.
- An authoritative Co-operatives and Mutuals Strategy Unit.
- Support and recognition for an alliance or forum to strengthen links and mutual support across all parts of the movement in Wales.
- Support for the Wales Co-operative Centre as the UK’s leading co-op development agency and clear signposting for the co-op option by other business advice agents.
- A Community Right of First Refusal, including community options for pubs, shops and community centres
- Encourage local authorities to support co-ops and mutual businesses as a fair and sustainable way to promote local economic development.
- Support the development of new mutual models for the provision of public services.
- Examine further ways to support and promote community owned renewable energy schemes.
- Work with rail users and staff to develop a not-for-profit model for rail that is accountable to the people of Wales, and press the UK government for the necessary legislation.
- Encourage existing Registered Social Landlords to adopt co-operative principles and support them in converting to mutuals and co-ops where there is support for that approach from tenants and workers.
- Ensure that co-operative ethics and models are central to business and citizenship curricula and to the way children are educated in schools and colleges.
- Examine new and innovative ways to improve primary care, such as GP co-operatives for the provision of out-hours-services and social enterprises such as community benefit societies for NHS dental services.
- Give financial and other necessary support to establish Supporters Direct Wales, to assist thousands more football and rugby fans in Wales to have a real say in the running of their club.
Read the full manifesto for Wales online here.