In November last year the Co-operative Party started hosting a series of workshops and events as part of its new Co-operative Action Network. Designed to take co-operative activism forward, the network has brought together co-operators from across the UK to exchange ideas on how co-operation could tackle the problems facing communities in 2016 and beyond.
At their meeting in York, attendees suggested creating local support agencies for co-operative start-ups. The project would adopt a bottom up approach, focusing on local communities. Run on a voluntary basis as co-operatives, the agencies would help to bring people together and encourage the development of new service and producer co-operatives. Each agency would tailor solutions based on the needs of the particular community it serves.
Another campaign proposal from Torquay attendees suggests that parish councils reach out to the community institutions in their area and ask them to house solar cells and wind turbines on their sites. Funding for the project would come from community shares as well as local businesses. Profits would also be reinvested in the community funding the project.
Torquay participants also discussed small business funding. They recommended providing tax breaks to large companies that supply expertise and lend to start up enterprises at a lower interest rate. They argued this could give small companies more chance of being able to survive.
In Sheffield party members discussed developing better political education to engage young people in voting and the democratic process. The group argued that Citizenship/Personal, Social and Health Education lessons were failing and called for the introduction of basic political education in schools. They said this would enable young people to find out how to participate and be involved in politics and make an informed decision when it comes to voting. Members attending the Sheffield meeting have also launched a 38 Degree petition to bring basic political education into schools.
More information on upcoming events is available on the party’s website.