For Neville

Neville Richardson is stepping down at the helm of the Co-operative Bank, having led the merger with Britannia Building Society. He has been a very good man in a very good role.

This photo, taken in the streets of Manchester, is a good tribute for Neville.


1.6 million Americans

I have been listening over a sun-glinted breakfast in the City of London to Cliff Rosenthal, who has helped to develop a movement of community development credit unions in the USA.

1.6 million members, predominantly low-income, low-wage and minority take part, providing a financial lifeline. It is a small and highly successful part of a wider, mainstream credit union sector, which, with 90 million members, is itself the largest co-operative sector in the USA.

With the banking crisis, there has been a growing campaign to “move your money” to local institutions in the USA.

Cliff is on his way up to Glasgow for the global credit union congress organised by WOCU.

Co-operative or not?

I have contributed an essay on this subject in a new collection Changing the Debate: the ideas redefining Britain – to be published by Res Publica on their website in the coming weeks. Here is a taster:

“All governments tend to learn by doing. It is just that for some, the learning comes too late. The Coalition Government has been active, almost hyperactive, on so many fronts that it can then create its own barriers to learning, as it has neither the time nor the capacity to reflect and then act on what it finds. The truth is that self-help and state action are at the very opposite ends of the spectrum of social action. The case for learning what works and what does not therefore is all the more urgent.”

Simply done

We have completed a set of tools for anyone working in or interested in community based enterprise.

Simply Finance – pooling expert advice on financing a community enterprise
Simply Governance – a guide to run efficiently and effectively a community enterprise
Online governance audit – a tool to allow enterprises to assess and diagnose how they are being run
Online select-a-structure – a tool allowing fledgling enterprises to find the most appropriate legal structure for their needs.

Good to share

It has been a truly amazing Co-operatives Fortnight, with our theme of sharing wealth and ownership.

I have met some inspiring people – Robert, one of a group sharing their street by creating a new housing co-op; Angela, who responded to a fire on Hastings Pier by getting everyone signed up to buy it for community use; Charlie, the MP who wants to turn his constituency port into a mutual; Sam Roddick who is taking on the cause of Britain’s bees…

I have nothing more to say myself – talked hoarse, and no doubt repeated myself frequently.

We ended up in every newspaper – except, funnily enough, the late News of the World.

Thank you to all the team and all the co-ops and friends involved.

It’s not too late to add into the online Little Book of Sharing – have a look


Flying banks, ethical pigs

It may seem as if the idea of ethical banks is as remote as flying pigs, but VanCity, the pioneering co-operative bank in Canada, has helped to found a global alliance of banks that want to operate as if people and the environment mattered. Whatever next… companies that give a damn?