Greenwich Council launches commission to develop local co-op sector

The commission will look ways to meet local needs with a focus on community energy, co-operative development, and social care

Greenwich Council in London has launched announce a Co-operative Commission, “a pivotal initiative aimed at shaping the future of co-operative collaboration within the borough”.

It says the commission will have a special focus on improving three key areas: community energy, co-operative development, and social care. 

The borough has a rich history of co-operation, dating back to mid 18th Century in Woolwich and Royal Arsenal with the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society. Since then, the council adds, organisations and authorities have continued working in collaboration to support residents.  

Through the commission, the council will look at how the co-op sector can respond to some of the borough’s key challenges, and how the growth of the sector can be encouraged. People across Greenwich will be asked to reflect on best practices and help build a long-term strategy for working together. 

A council spokesperson said:  “The launch of the Co-operative Commission marks a pivotal moment in our borough’s history.  

“We’re using the power of collaboration to create meaningful change and address the needs of our residents and businesses, with a focus on community energy, co-operative development, and social care.”  

Related: Blueprint unveiled for a co-operative Greater Manchester

The commission chair said: “We are confident that we can produce a report that demonstrates the value of applying co-operative principles to local public services and enables the council to develop ways of working closely with the communities they serve.  

“Co-operatives are practical, hard-nosed business led service providers that work well to make services more people focused and put consumers in control. Increasingly residents want value for money public services run and produced in their name.  

“Our commission will aim to shine a light on good practice and improve the quality of services through innovation and public participation.” 

It is hoped that co-operative working will “give ownership and control back to all our residents,” the council adds, “inviting them to suggest new initiatives that can empower them, and create environmentally friendly and sustainable projects that last”.

And for the social care sector, the authority says it is looking to tackle health inequalities and improve outcomes for care recipients, families, and care workers. 

The commissioners include

  • Four current councillors from the Royal Borough of Greenwich
  • Two current members of the House of Lords
  • Ed Mayo, CEO of charity Pilotlight, former secretary general of Co-operatives UK  
  • Afsheen Khabir Rashid MBE, CEO and co-founder, Repowering London and Community Energy England
  • Giovanna Speciale, founder and CEO of South East London Community Energy (SELCE)   
  • Emma Back, founder, Equal Care Co-op 
  • Nick Plumb, associate director for policy and insight, Power to Change 
  • Claire Pritchard, director, Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency    
  • Richard Mason, senior project officer, London Ownership Hub 

For more information and to give evidence, visit: