Willie Coffey, SNP MSP for Kilmarnock & Loudon, and founder of the cross-party group on co-operatives at Holyrood, and fellow co-convenor James Kelly — Labour/Co-op MSP for Glasgow Rutherglen — told over 100 guests, including several other MSPs, that co-ops offered the opportunity for both business growth and community benefit.
Said Mr Coffey: “One of the great strengths of the co-operative model is that it works for a wide range of business and community ventures, from the smallest worker co-op to the Co-operative Group, which measures its turnover in billions.
“There is a great deal of interest in co-operatives in the Scottish Parliament. The cross-party group has been very successful and it is clear to me there is a great deal of scope for the further development of co-operatives in the Scottish economy.”
Mr Coffey added that next year’s celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of the Fenwick Weavers, which he described as “the world’s first known recorded co-operative” would give Scotland a great lead into the UN’s International Year of Co-operatives in 2012.
Mr Kelly said: “Co-ops make an important contribution in two key areas in communities throughout Scotland. Firstly, they pull communities together, promoting a sense of community and social responsibility. Co-ops play an invaluable role in promoting ethical values. Secondly, they are good for local economies at a time when many bigger businesses are pulling out of high streets. Co-ops help to create jobs and improve the well-being of local people.”
The event was supported by the Co-operative Group and by Co-operation & Mutuality Scotland. Other speakers included Eric Calderwood, a director of both Co-operatives UK and the Co-op Group; Louise Scott of the Glasgow-based mediaco-op and Stephen Kelly of Co-operation & Mutuality Scotland.
Dr Richard McCready, Secretary of the cross-party group on co-operatives in the Scottish Parliament, told the News: “I was delighted to see such a good attendance of co-operators and was also very pleased to see so many MSPs from all the parties across the Scottish Parliament demonstrate their interest in co-operatives.”