Cooperation key to Capital commitment

Edinburgh is on track to becoming a ‘Cooperative Capital’, according to a leading co-operative consultant.

Speaking at a seminar in the City Chambers today, Martin Meteyard, of the Co-operative Enterprise Hub, praised the commitment shown by the Council in taking forward plans outlined 12 months ago in its Framework to Advance a Cooperative Capital 2012/17.

The council aims to encourage communities, partners and those using its services to become more involved in how these are planned, managed and delivered, with a particular focus on developing more co-operatives to deliver energy, housing, social care and child care services.

Mr Meteyard said: “Co-operatives are a tried and tested business model going back 250 years. We now have a billion members worldwide, providing over 100 million jobs.

“Edinburgh has led the way in Scottish local authority terms and the level of commitment shown continues to be very encouraging.

“Maintaining this commitment in terms of resources is going to be challenging, particularly in the context of continued cuts to the council’s budget, and so building stronger relations with ‘anchor institutions’, such as universities and hospitals, will be key.”

Council Leader, Cllr Andrew Burns, and Chief Executive, Sue Bruce, also spoke at the event, which was attended by 80 councillors, officials and stakeholders.

Cllr Burns said: “We realised when we took office that we had to have a fresh think about how we do business as a local authority so that we could put the public back at the centre of decision-making wherever possible.

“This has already resulted in some very positive actions, including the creation of the first Petitions Committee, direct parent representation on our Children & Families committee and the complete revision of the budgetary process to allow meaningful public input and debate before any final decisions are made.

“Only last week, I was delighted to receive cross-party support for our proposal to join the Co-operative Councils Innovation Network – the first local authority in Scotland to do so. I have no doubt that, by calling on the knowledge and expertise of others across the UK, we can continue the good work we have started.”

Sue Bruce said: “We were presented with a clear mandate 12 months ago and immediately set about establishing a dedicated Cooperative Development Unit within the Council.

“Since then, good progress has been made in each of the four target areas and also in council service design and procurement. In particular, a lot of time has been spent engaging with external agencies and communities to enable them to deliver the concept themselves, ensuring that their local knowledge, preferences and practical experience shapes the services in their area.”

The seminar, which also included a number of workshops, will inform an update report to be considered by councillors next month.

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