Co-operative of the Year Awards 2018 - the shortlist

Which co-operative inspires you the most? We asked you, the people who are running, using and supporting co‑operatives up and down the country, to decide which organisations will be named Co-operative of the Year 2018 across each of the four categories.

The window for voting closed on 15 June.  You will still find details on all the nominees below so please read  their submissions and join us at Congress on 23 June in London to see which organisations will ne corned Co-op of the Year.

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Breakthrough Co-operative of the Year

This award is for co‑ops with a turnover of up to £1 million who are breaking new ground and already achieving great things. Read the great submissions in what is sure to be a hotly contested category.  


I joined Co-Cars over 15 years ago, hiring the car, decoding the key from a secret wall-mounted box and manually recording my journey, a labour of commitment over simplicity. The team deserve recognition for the incredible transformation of Co-Cars into a modern, mainstream and exciting co-operative business that provides viable and affordable ‘sustainable mobility’ that has won the backing of individuals, families, businesses and councils. Co-cars have shared hybrid cars, an EV car, and plans for more electric cars - all hired from street parking bays. I don't have a car and have stopped hiring cars; I use Co-cars for work and family outings. It’s now so easy to book from my phone, use my electronic card to access the car and go! Customer service is fantastic, explaining anything (usually my error)!

There are cars in nine south-west towns/cities; so I can catch the train and hire a car for a shorter drive to a rural meeting. Much less stressful! I’m impressed by Co-Cars’ strategic approach to growth. Working with councils to place cars in new developments, even new towns such as Cranbrook, so sustainable travel is an early, easy option – not an afterthought. Last year they introduced Co-bikes, the UK’s first electric bike hire operation. Siting bike banks in key locations across Exeter, so affordable bikes are available on demand and returned to any bike bank! Co-cars’ growth is showing how Exeter’s congestion and air pollution problems can be tackled and more sustainable travel is possible and pleasurable.

Cymdeithas Tafarn Sinc

Within three months sufficient money was raised through community shares and peer-to-peer lending to buy this iconic galvanised steel pub in West Wales along with a substantial surplus to carry out repairs and upgrading. Much of this success was due to support received from such luminaries as actor Rhys Ifans, broadcaster Huw Edwards and local S4C celebrity Mari Grug. An interim manager was put immediately in place and within a few months, a permanent manager was appointed. Local staff were recruited to work in the kitchen and restaurant and a local youth has already started an apprenticeship as a junior cook.

The decor and ambience of an old worlde rural feeling have been preserved. The flannel shirts and castrating pincers hanging from the ceiling are a constant source of bewilderment to visitors. The fact that an active policy of bilingualism has been adopted, with the background music primarily of Welsh songs, has proved an added bonus to attract visitors, whilst at the same time reinforcing the strong Welsh ethos of the area. Tafarn Sinc is like no other pub with its 1876 construction still in place and community entrepreneurs at the helm. As one Texan shareholder said on a recent visit 'as sure as a rattlesnake is a rattlesnake there surely can’t be any other tin shed pub in the whole wide world owned by shareholders'. Cementing the fact that it is truly a growing community co-operative are the monthly meetings held by the village events committee

Bala Sport

Bala Sport is a small co-operative with a huge mission – to be a game-changer in sport by ensuring that the workers who make the all-important balls get proper recognition. Fairtrade certification means that workers benefit from fair rates of pay, safe working conditions and union access. The price we pay also includes an extra 10% Fairtrade premium which helps fund the likes of free eye tests, educational supplies for workers’ children, and safe drinking water for the whole community. We track our impact through regular visits to the factories in Pakistan and India; our high quality products help to change lives.

From a standing start in 2014, having raised over £100,000 in community shares - but still with very limited resources - Bala Sport has been able to: nibble away at the edges of the highly competitive UK football market (dominated by big corporate sponsors), providing match balls for the Homeless World Cup and supplying local clubs and street soccer initiatives; bring in rugby balls (we helped our supplier in India to gain Fairtrade certification); introduce futsals (Bala is the official match ball of the Scottish Futsal League); work with netball and volleyball associations to add these to our range later in 2018. With support from Fairtrade groups across the UK and beyond, and through extensive use of social media, we are now developing a recognised brand whose values directly challenge those which currently predominate in sport. 

Glenwyvis Distillery

This is the world's first crowd funded and community-owned distillery and is in a rural farming community in the Highlands of Scotland. However, the region needs support and recognition for its hard working and hardy community and this project has already shown what might be possible with commitment, knowhow and dedication but more publicity would help make things happen. This is a beautiful area and would greatly benefit from being put on the map and this would help to resurrect this fine old (but long lost) tradition. The size of GlenWyvis grows each day as more & more people find out about the project both locally & abroad. Using the well established success of Scotch Malt Whisky GlenWyvis is demonstrating further how co-operation defines a great business & engages its members - and is breaking new ground.

Loop Systems

In the last 12 months Loop Systems’ work has really come to life with a national award for their Retrofit work at Unicorn Grocery Workers Co-operative, successful re-design and refurbishment work at Bamford Community Pub, securing planning consent for a new look shopfront at On the Eighth Day co-operative and supporting Stretford Public Hall through their community share offer and the forthcoming refurbishment works. Although they became a co-operative in 2009 after starting work on the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, Loop are now seeing the fruits of a refreshed 2016 business plan that included new membership and renewed commitment to wider co-operation among its aims. 

All these projects have benefited in the last year from Loop's dedication to co-operative principles, not least 'co-operation among co-operatives', and input of from a team of dedicated architects who go beyond the minimum necessary to understand what each project requires and work with each client to achieve buildings that support and contribute to each business plan. But it's not just about the economics, the spaces and quality of the work has now been recognised nationally by the Architects Journal and this has given them a better profile for their work with an increasing number of enquiries from home-owners too who want to benefit from retrofit work to improve the places where they live and conserve energy simultaneously. It just feels like the hard work and collaboration over the years before is really just starting to become visible.

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The Service

The Service is a London based production company that brings together like-minded production creatives with a love for social impact, the arts and creative collaboration. Their film Amina’s Story was nominated for a One World Media film award and The Service has also been nominated for a Charity Film Award 2018 for its Miscarriage Association film. We frequently use The Service to support our multimedia communications work. It is a pleasure working with Lou and Joanna and their support staff.

We are constantly impressed by The Service's dedication to creating great video content for us. For their creativity and passion and support of our work fighting poverty worldwide. We have worked with The Service for a number of years and in that time have had some notable successes including winning fundraising campaigns and high level media coverage.

Third Sector Accountancy

As far as I know we are the UK's first registered auditor co-operative accountancy firm. We also appear to be the UK's only co-operative accountancy firm run by qualified accountants. We are an ICAEW firm specialising in co-operatives, charities, and social enterprises whatever the structure.

Starting in May 2017, we recently were finally able to adopt co-operative articles and become a worker co-operative. Our mission is to bring financial excellence to the co-operative sector and to increase the level of training and expertise in the sector so that it can thrive and grow.


Inspiring Co-operative of the Year

This award is for co-ops with a turnover of between £1m and £30 million and includes a hugely diverse range of thriving and inspirational co-ops.

Cartrefi Cymru

Cartrefi Cymru was founded in 1989 by a group of parents and activists as a charitable support provider for people with learning disabilities. Their mission is to enable people with support needs to enjoy a good life, and they have long had an excellent reputation. But in recent years they began to see how they could do even better for people if they became a co-operative, and especially a multi-stakeholder co-operative. In 2016, they made a brave leap into organizational democracy! Now the people they support, employees, and community supporters, all have the opportunity to become voting members with a voice and status.

Member representatives can appoint or dismiss their Board as well as influencing the organization at every level. Cartrefi Cymru has also been innovative in interpreting “member economic contribution” to include members sharing their time and talents within the “core economy” of family and community life. This is bringing members together to strengthen communities, using local member forums to make decisions as equals. Everyone, including people who might otherwise have been defined as service recipients, has the opportunity to be a contributor.

One-way giving has been replaced by co-operative reciprocity, and now everyone has the chance to feel good about giving to others. Cartrefi Cymru are also active members of the Co-operative movement in Wales and the UK. They love to support other co-ops and actively promote and inspire co-operation as a better way of “doing care” in the hope that other agencies will follow their transformational example. 

London Mutual Credit Union

For the last 35 years, financial cooperative, London Mutual has been at the forefront of tackling financial exclusion - delivering a range of fair and affordable financial services within the most disadvantaged communities across London. It benefits almost 30,000 people (60% deemed income deprived), encouraging them to save over £22million and lending over £10million annually thus diverting households away from payday loans (1,509%APR) and doorstep lenders (250%APR). Yet, it’s their credentials for collaboration and leadership within the sector on product development and technological innovation that are most impressive – continually pushing the boundaries of what credit unions can offer.

In 2017, it developed and implemented its own core banking system with transactional online, telephone and mobile banking facilities that has also enabled it to be the first credit union to operate its own fully functional current account - now used by over 9,000 members. Last year also marked the fifth anniversary of its ground-breaking CUOK Loans ( – a fully automated online payday loan alternative, responding to the growing use of high-cost credit. With over 25,000 loans approved worth £7million, it has collectively saved the 4,900 borrowers more than £2.7million in interest alone. Demonstrating their cooperative credentials, it is leading the roll-out of a shared lending portal for all credit unions called Just Borrow.  And 2018 is set to be another exciting year, as it hopefully becomes the first community-based credit union to provide mortgages as well as a new product offering an alternative to Rent To Own firms such as BrightHouse.

Radstock Cooperative Society

Radstock Co-operative Society is an independent, member-owned co-operative retailer operating community stores and a superstore located in and around Somerset.  It is an ethical retailer which supports Fairtrade and local suppliers.Celebrating its 150th anniversary, Radstock has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, doubling the number of stores, modernising systems, introducing new membership systems and renewing their democracy.

From their farm to local sourcing and their support for the community they undertake activities way out of proportion to their size. Radstock makes a significant contribution to the wider co-operative movement through its charismatic CEO Don Morris. This award would set the seal on a fantastic year!

Foster Care Co-operative

The Foster Care Co-operative (FCC) remain the only not-for-profit co-operative operating in foster care in the UK. It functions purely to sustain the service, ploughing surplus income into more training and support for carers. Co-operative status enables the organisation to instigate change quickly and efficiently on the ‘shop floor’ - in order to be responsive to the direct needs of  carers and children. Carer-to-child matching is paramount, and the stability rate of placed children in their care is six times higher than the national average.

FCC are committed to going above and beyond. They are participating in university-lead research looking at what barriers potentially stop disabled people from becoming foster carers, and how these barriers could be overcome. FCC also publish monthly e-safety articles to help keep young people safe online. They have developed an interactive section on their website where the young people they support can safely log on and take part in competitions, upload artwork, become a ‘guest reporter’ and contact a designated staff member (‘KidzRep’) should they need someone to talk to.

FCC, along with two other not-for-profit fostering organisations, co-founded Skyrocket – a training programme to prepare managers for the unique challenges of running a fostering agency. Again, all surplus income raised from the venture is ploughed back into supporting carers and children.

Unicorn Grocery

Now in its 22nd year of trading, Unicorn Grocery is proud to have proved that a worker-owned business based on values can compete with national chains and provide a genuine alternative to the supermarket - and we’re now the size of one! Unicorn was established by a small group of people with a vision for the kind of place they wanted to shop in themselves. A place they could buy wholesome, tasty food, sourced with care, at affordable prices. A diverse and welcoming space, run by its workers, that would act as a hub in the community. An ambitious vision that has become a pretty amazing reality.
Today we're owned and democratically governed by 68 worker-members, who staff the shop day-to-day as well as guiding its strategic direction. With a management structure that empowers workers to run their own areas of the shop, and a flat power and pay structure amongst all co-op members, Unicorn challenges the conventional approach to business and with an £8 million turnover, provides a more-than-viable alternative to the status quo. Sustained business growth has led to increased capacity to support fellow co-ops, community groups, campaigners and charities, and our 'giving' budgets are tied to the co-op’s wage bill rather than our profitability. This locks in a commitment to increasing the fund as we grow (and as staff become better off!).

Unicorn demonstrates a genuine commitment to the global co-op movement; freely sharing its business model in the form of its Grow a Grocery guide, which has been downloaded over 1000 times. The co-ops hosts visitors from all over the world, and works with schools and universities to open up an alternative path to would-be entrepreneurs.


Leading Co-operative of the Year

The leading co-operative of the year award is for co-ops with a turnover above £30 million. The shortlist features high-performing retail and farming co-ops.

Central England Co-operative

With more than 430 outlets, 230,000 active members and over 8,700 colleagues, Central England Co-operative continues to enjoy financial success and growth by honouring its core values and principles whilst pushing new boundaries. The Society recently celebrated a rise in sales (+2.4%) and profit (+5.3m) thanks to continued growth investment in Food Stores, Funeral Homes and #BeingCoopy campaigns. It was recently awarded the maximum five stars in Business in the Community’s Corporate Responsibility Index for work in areas such as food waste, carbon reduction and colleague health and wellbeing. Ethical marketing campaigns included support for community food banks, which have seen over 100,000 items being donated so far to help people in need by Society members, customers and colleagues.

In 2017 a total of 120 good causes have been given vital help thanks to the Community Dividend Fund, and the Society committed to installing 300 public defibrillators across its Food Retail and Funeral business premises. The last year also saw a new fundraising relationship with Dementia UK, with the Society pledging a proportion of its carrier bag levy fund to pay for dementia specialist Admiral Nurses in its trading areas. Central England Co-operative’s vision to make a real difference resulted in a specialist Social Return on Investment report revealing that for every £1 invested in the community, an amazing £23.15 is generated in positive impact. The Society’s commitment to support community is underpinned by strong financial performance and a long-term strategy to grow the business in a sustainable way.

The Co-operative Group

Simon English, a highly respected business commentator for the Evening Standard recently said of The Co-op; "We need the Co-op to endure, to be there as a reminder that being gung-ho isn't the only way forward." For city commentators to recognise the significant progress The Co-op made in 2017, in delivering both commercial and social value, is their acknowledgement of the importance of a strong Co-op, in supporting a vibrant and balanced economy.

The Co-op in 2017 delivered increased profits and generated significant member & local community value of £74m, but achieved so much more than this. It regained it's campaigning voice by leading the debate on loneliness and modern slavery. It increased the number of apprentices by 60% and recruited 200 member pioneers to strengthen community cohesion around Co-op outlets. It has developed and launched an ambitious "Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities" plan, which will make the Co-op even more competitive, relevant, sustainable and innovative in the years ahead. It's recent announcement, which will see it treble the number of Co-op Academy schools in the next three years, is a clear statement of Co-op intent to deliver on this plan. It will ensure that commercial success has to be delivered the Co-op way and for the value created to be shared in a way which creates clear and sustainable benefit for our members and their communities. 

East of England Co-operative Society

The East of England co-op has been at the forefront of food waste reduction throughout the retail sector in 2017-2018. Its decision to sell food products to consumers at a token 10p AFTER the stated best before date was seen by many as a controversial move, however national and international media coverage showed that this was a pioneering move by the society and one that signalled a change of attitude towards food waste in the commercial retail sector.

The innovation was met with widespread support from consumers and the reaction at store level exceeded all expectations. This was closely followed by an initiative to sell re-usable, biodegradable, plastic water bottles in all of its stores to combat the millions of single use plastic water bottles that end up in landfill each year. Selected stores had water refill stations installed where bottles could be refilled with safe, filtered, chilled water. I truly believe these two initiatives put East of England Co-op at the cutting edge of waste reduction. These bold moves deserve recognition and are fully deserving of the title, Leading Co-operative of the Year for initiatives that tackle what is undoubtably one of the biggest global issues of our generation.

The Midcounties Co-operative

The Midcounties Co-operative is the largest independent co-operative in the UK. The society has a turnover of £1.5 billion and employs over 8,400 staff working in Food Retail, Post Office, Travel, Energy, Healthcare, Flexible Benefits, Funerals and Childcare. Since its creation in 2005 it has taken three local businesses, Childcare, Travel and Flexible Benefits to a national level and has broken into the highly competitive energy sector, creating Co-operative Energy in 2011. Co-op Energy now supplies 100% green electricity, sourced from community generators including the UK’s first solar co-operative.

To help build strong local communities Midcounties has created 20 Regional Communities which in 2017/18 provided 36,000 colleague volunteering hours and distributed £260,000 to over 500 good causes. During the last year, the Society has also engaged with over 21,000 members, raised over £150,000 for local charity partners and worked with over 9,000 young people at 50 partner schools. In addition it has contributed over 73,000 products to Foodbanks, providing meals to over a 1,000 families in need.

The Society’s impact in the communities in which it trades has led to it being awarded the Queens Awards for Enterprise: Sustainable Development and, for the second year in a row, a 5 star accreditation by Business in the Community in their Corporate Responsibility Index. The Society has a proud record of contributing to the National, European and Global Co-operative movement with Ben Reid, Chief Executive Officer, being a Board Director of the International Co-operative Alliance, the Co-operative global apex body.  

The Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative (OMSCo)

OMSCo is a pioneering group of organic dairy farmers who have grown from just five farmer member owners in 1994, to over 270 today across the UK. The founding members were united by a belief that there was simply a ‘better way to farm’ and this desire to work together for a better future for their animals, the environment, and society as a whole still rings true today.

Now, nearly 25 years old, OMSCo is the UK’s largest organic dairy cooperative and has become the second largest dedicated organic milk pool in the world, with an annual turnover of £100m. OMSCo’s mission is to grow its members’ businesses by championing British organic dairying and doing things differently; adding as much value to every litre of milk as possible, through market and product diversification.

OMSCo’s core business is in the UK, but the cooperative has also developed a significant export business. OMSCo has pioneered new market supply chains and focused on strategic partnerships to deliver this. For example, OMSCo developed a strategic alliance with the world’s largest organic brand, Organic Valley in the US and became the first and only EU organic dairy company to be able to officially sell USDA certified organic dairy products in the US. OMSCo has since developed a cheese export business, that within five years made more organic cheese than the entire volume sold in the UK.


Co-operative Council of the Year

 A new award for 2018, this recognises best practice as demonstrated by co-operative local authorities, celebrating great work delivered at a local level.  

Cardiff Council

Cardiff Council has used co-operative approaches to inform and shape responses to numerous challenges. The Council recognises there's no monopoly on good ideas and that success requires a broad partnership allowing and encouraging everyone to contribute. This simple ethos has been applied to a range of delivery models to address city challenges. Having reduced the number of young people not in education, employment or training from 9% to 2.3% the Cardiff Commitment allows individuals and businesses to support young people by becoming mentors, school governors or offering work placements. The business community response has been exceptional and is an example of what can be achieved when we come together around common challenges.

The Council has also worked in partnership with residents to help clean local streets through the city-wide ‘Love Where You Live’ campaign. The campaign helped: raise recycling awareness; organise litter picks; and identify areas for cleaning ‘blitzes’. Cardiff is developing a Music Strategy - working with musicians, promoters and venues to look at the value music can bring. This is in response to a grassroot movement to support live music in the iconic Womanby Street.

Staff contribution is vital to council success and key services have received awards recognising leading practice. The Council won the Best Employee Engagement Initiative for ‘Employee Voice’ at the Wales People Management Awards. Cardiff Council was named Living Wage for Wales Champion 2017-18, in recognition of ‘outstanding contribution to the development of the Living Wage in Wales, above and beyond the requirements of accreditation'. The Council has now been shortlisted in the Living Wage Champion Awards.

Croydon Council

Croydon Council’s incoming Labour Administration in 2014 had a clear manifesto commitment that If elected we would join the Co-operative Councils' Innovation Network, and as a member play an active role in the organisation. Since 2014 Croydon’s Labour Council has fully supported the Network and is looking forward to later this year to hosting the Networks annual conference.

Over the last 12 months LB Croydon has also taken a lead role in facilitating and producing the networks Community Led Housing Report, which has been recognised by many professionals in the field as an essential tool, both in supporting the development of new homes, and helping support the policy and funding case for further investment in the Sector. We also ensured the process of producing the report involved as many councils, housing Co ops and other third sector organisations as possible, and held two events, one in Rochdale and one in London to allow all those who wished to make a contribution to do so.

Newcastle City Council

Newcastle is in its eighth consecutive year of government cuts. Despite this enormous challenge, we have adapted and innovated to maintain high-quality services. Our economy enjoys impressive growth. Above all, our communities are as strong and cohesive as ever. Being a cooperative city means pushing new boundaries, thinking differently about how to maintain services and much-loved city assets. This year, Newcastle’s parks will transfer to a new trust, giving communities a leading role, stimulating fresh community activity and inspiring new enterprise.

We continue the transfer of community buildings to local residents who know best how to sustain and grow these assets for future generations. Our partnership and investment with Newcastle University and business is driving strong economic growth in leading sectors. We are determined this growth will be inclusive, creating opportunities for all. That’s why we’ve put inclusive growth at the centre of our recent devolution agreement with government. With communities, we are changing conventional thinking on waste, recycling and litter. Our recently launched spring-clean is engaging community groups and residents. Newcastle’s Waste Commission has put the city at the forefront of national debates on waste, shifting from municipal to community-led approaches. 

It’s no coincidence that since committing to becoming a co-operative city in 2011 we continue to make progress. For Newcastle, co-operative means being curious, thinking differently about delivery and working with all sectors to achieve inclusive growth. We are award-winning in our ways of engaging with and listening to communities. And, our partnership approach to financial inclusion underlines our core commitment to protecting the most vulnerable. Newcastle thrives by being a co-operative city. 

Oldham Council

In Oldham, we began our co-operative journey in 2011, and it has been exciting and challenging in equal measure.Our whole-system approach has seen us actively encouraging residents to take part in decision-making, using our spending power to secure added social value for residents, as well as scaling even greater heights in terms of our partnership working – all of which are helping us towards our joint ambition for a co-operative future.

We recognise the most effective way to design services and deliver the outcomes that matter to residents is to do it with them; or even better, to create the right conditions for them to do it for themselves. Our approach has seen us support the creation of the Oldham Food Network, a community-led network driving Oldham’s co-operative approach to food and growing. We also invested £400k in our Green Dividend programme, allowing residents to bid for up to £5k to make their local area greener and more pleasant place to live. This has funded 46 projects helping over 2000 households to create accessible green space in their local area.

In Oldham co-operation is about creating the environment for others to act. We are building co-operation into the fabric of the town, building a place that is forward thinking and ambitious, where everyone has a choice, and every voice is represented. We use a simple formula: #ourbit #yourbit #result to describe our approach, where everybody does their bit and everybody benefits.

South Tyneside Council

Working cooperatively can mean many different things. At South Tyneside Council it’s not just about delivering services through vehicles such as co-operatives or staff mutuals. It’s about working in a way which helps gets the maximum from all of the resources available to the community. 

There are many positive examples of where we are embedding the cooperative ethos and principles into our day to day business:

  • Devolving real power through our Community Area Forums 
  • “Supply South Tyneside” – increasing local spend to over 50% and embedding social value principles into all our procurement processes
  • Alliancing model of working with our health partners
  • Nationally recognised partnership approach to corporate parenting 

In the context of reducing budgets our cooperative approach is making a real difference. Through the positive response of our communities and their actions in coming forward to take over the running of community buildings we have ensured the financial viability and sustainability of over nineteen valued facilities. These include leisure centres, youth activity centres, community associations and libraries.

Under the terms of the transfers we have removed all council funding and granted long term leases based on peppercorn rents. The leases are underpinned with management agreements that enshrine key governance and delivery requirements. The centres, which are now run by social enterprises, are going from strength to strength with many examples of improvements to the facilities, the range of activities on offer and increased participation levels. One of the centres is establishing a national reputation as a centre for excellence. 

The Royal Borough of Greenwich

The Royal Borough of Greenwich has made a real commitment to being a Co-operative Council this past few years culminating in 48 candidates in the local elections this May standing as Labour and Co-operative. It is a very proud moment in the history of this Council. Moreover, it adds to the legacy of the Co-op in both Woolwich and Abbey Wood. All our libraries and leisure facilities are flourishing and run by GLL - one of Europe’s largest social enterprise.

Our manifesto pledges:

  • Promoting Cooperatives - work with existing co-operatives or be supportive of potential ones to promote co-operatives in all areas of service and social delivery, such as energy, housing, credit unions, food and social care
  • Business - plan for Social Enterprise Zones – geographical areas in the Borough that have a small number of incubator units for Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to encourage start-ups, co-operatives and social enterprises
  • Housing - ensure partnerships with Meridian Home Start, registered social landlords and housing co-operatives result in the construction of genuinely affordable homes with social and blended rents; Health - continue to oppose privatisation of our NHS services, and oppose any further rationing and the creation of US-style “Accountable Care Systems”

Stevenage Borough Council

Britain’s first new town was a pioneering vision of utopia for families displaced from London after the second-world war. Over 70 years on and Stevenage Borough Council has continued to make firm commitments to co-operative principles. Through the Leader Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE and the portfolio holder Cllr Simon Speller, a new model of working between local residents, officers and elected Members has been championed to become “The Stevenage Way”.

In the last 12 months the council has:

  • Delivered over half £million investment in neighbourhood improvements with local residents through its Cooperative Neighbourhood Management programme
  • Awarded a £45million major refurbishment contract for its housing stock with an associated social investment programme
  • Launched its town centre regeneration, leveraging £350million of investment, and the development of a local employment programme with the involvement of young people
  • Launched both a cultural strategy and health and wellbeing strategy through a co-production model with local partners to drive better outcomes for the town’s residents

A number of accolades have also been received for co-operative service delivery:

  • Excellence in Community Action Award Winner – TPAS, for its domestic abuse service , designed by victims and survivors
  • Finalist- Howard League Awards, for the No More Drugs and Alcohol service
  • Finalist- LGIU Awards, for its Play Team

Stevenage’s motto is “The Heart of a Town Lies in its People”. The ongoing desire to work cooperatively with our communities as we enter a bold new era demonstrates why Stevenage should be recognised as Co-operative Council of the Year 2018.