The co-op model is part of a number of community based social enterprises that can help make town centres more resilient.
Neil McInroy, the Chief Executive for Centre of Local Economic Strategies (CLES), spoke at the Townstock event in Halifax on how the UK could create “a town that bounces back.”
Through research and work that has taken him across continents, CLES have compiled a plan to create the most resilient town centre possible.
He said: “We must aspire to create towns which can be agile, respond to inevitable shocks, create social progress and ‘can take a punch’.”
For this to be possible, he explained that you needed to “create the right conditions so that great things can grown in their own right.” He added that Local Authorities needed to act as “biologists” rather than “farmers”.
One of the key elements to allow town centres to flourish, is creating a “commercial sector, which has more interest in social return.” He continued: “Businesses don’t need to be ‘in’ a place, they need to be ‘of’ a place.”
“What’s the commercial sector doing? When places work well there is that good relationship. Britain has lost it, we need to find it again quick.”
Neil added that co-ops are part of the types of business that can facilitate this, but that there are many different organisations including mutuals – that can help create a more resilient future for the UK as well.
He also added that Local Authorities needed to unlock public spaces and “unleash” them to the community, to allow them to “get over that dependency culture. The community expects the public sector to deliver – there must be a way of unlocking that dynamic.”
Townstock is an event celebrating local culture and localism, exploring new ways for town centres to work together and thrive.