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Co-operative and Mutuals Commission: call for evidence

The Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission - set up by the welsh Labour Government to help create more jobs and wealth in the sector - has put out a call for evidence from interested organisations and individuals throughout Wales.

ON THIS WEBSITE, you can comment, directly and publicly, on the Calls for Evidence below. It is worth registering as a user of the website first, for easier commenting, and you can use your Facebook credentials if you are a Facebook user

In Wales, co-operatives generate more than £1billion in income a year and employ an estimated 7,000 people ( 2010 figures).  The independent commission was set up by Welsh Labour’s Business Minister Edwina Hart to develop a vision and framework to support the growth of the sector and improve services in Wales. The Commission is examining a wide range of issues and looking at the opportunities for developing and growing co-operatives and mutuals in Wales, discussing the role they should take in the delivery of public services in Wales; the scope for expanding their operations and how the Welsh Government can support the formation and growth of co-operatives and mutuals in Wales.

The Commission has now put out a call for evidence and Chairman Professor Andrew Davies has urged all interested parties to get involved. The deadline for responses is 19 April 2013 and the Commission anticipates providing a draft report to the Minister in the autumn.
 
Views and suggestions can be submitted in one of the following ways:
·         Twitter@Coopmutuals
·         Linkedin - The Welsh Co operative and Mutuals Commission Linkedin group allows members to share knowledge, provide feedback and discuss the issues being discussed by the Commission.
·         E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. '; document.write(''); document.write(addy_text13253); document.write('<\/a>'); //-->\n This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >
·         On the Commission website www.wales.gov.uk/cooperativeandmutuals <
file:///\\www.wales.gov.uk\cooperativeandmutuals>  
·         By Post: Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission, c/o Welsh Government,  QED Centre, Main Avenue, Trefforest Estate, Pontypridd, CF37 5YR.

The Commission would like to hear views from people in Wales and wider afield: producers, consumers, householders, those in and out of work, local communities, those running businesses in Wales, those with experience of the co-operative and mutuals sector and  individuals, communities or groups who would like to start their own enterprise.

  • What opportunities are there for developing and growing co-operatives and mutuals in Wales?
  • What role should co-operatives and mutuals take in the delivery of public services in Wales?
  • How can the Welsh Government support the formation and growth of co-operatives and mutuals in Wales?
  • What scope is there for existing co-operatives and mutuals to expand their operations in Wales and to assist other co-operatives to set up and grow.
  • Have you ever considered setting up or converting to a co-operative or mutual enterprise in Wales?
  • If so, where did you go for information and support and did you receive appropriate advice?
  • If you have received business advice in Wales, were you provided with information about the co-operative and mutual business models? How helpful was that advice? In what ways could it be improved?
  • What constraints are you aware of in establishing and expanding co-operatives and can you suggest ways of getting around them?
  • Are there ways in which the use of information technology and social media could be used to strengthen the co-operative and mutual economy in Wales?

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Hilda Smith: a tribute by the Chair of the S Wales Area Committee, the Co-operative, 9 April 2013

As I’m sure you are all aware - with the death of Hilda Smith last month at the great age of 94 - Co-operation has lost a great advocate and worker. Hilda was a former member of this Committee and in such circumstances members would normally take the opportunity of a Committee meeting to pay tributes.

Our circumstances on this occasion are rather different as we have Hilda’s son David as one of our current members.

David has intimated to me that he has been very touched and moved by all the letters and cards of sympathy he has received from Co-operative colleagues expressing sadness at Hilda’s passing and for the wonderful contributions she has made.

He does not feel that he could emotionally cope with a series of tributes this evening and in these circumstances what I propose to do, as Chair, is to make a SINGLE tribute on behalf of us all, followed by a period of silence during which we can all privately reflect on Hilda as a person and a co-operator.

I have known Hilda for getting on for 20 years –not as long as some on this Committee have known her – but still a long time. When she joined the South Wales Committee of the Co-operative Group, I think in 2009, she must have been by a long stretch, its oldest “new” member, although she had been a member of many co-op committees before.

She was very active in what can now be seen as a golden age of Co-operation in the 1930’s and was particularly engaged in the campaigning illustrated in the wonderful films of the London Co-operative Society, with themes of Internationalism, Education Pacifism and Feminism. We have to remember, Hilda was not all that far behind the Pankhurst’s and she was born just after the ending of the First World War.

As many of us know, Hilda was completely passionate about what she believed in and was always a strong advocate for the same.  She was always a master of her brief and fastidious in studying her papers and making reasoned and detailed contributions.

She had a powerful intellect but was still very interested in making practical observations about what a store should stock, what services it should give to the customers/ members and how they could be engaged at shop level.

I remember her observing back in the early days of Recession, that the support work of the Co-operative Group, through such things as the Community Divided Fund would become far more vital, as Public Expenditure Cuts bite and she is being proven right.

To think when she arrived in South Wales in 1986, she did not come for a rest, because at the age of 76, she set about with vigour in a whole new co-operative and mutual scene.

 She was instrumental in establishing the Newport University of the Third Age, The Wales Food Alliance- together with David – which had a number of collaborations with the Group. She was a member of the WG Older Persons Advisory Committee and made a considerable contribution to policy formulation. Of late she has been engaged in modelling social enterprises to deliver home care.

I last saw Hilda at the Members meeting last year at St Fagan’s, when the meeting was somewhat hijacked by Disability Rights Protesters.  I will remember her contribution for a very long time. She was not prepared to sit idly by but rose to make an impassioned speech about how Co-operatives had been at the forefront of protecting and promoting the rights of the disabled for getting on for 100 years.

David, Hilda was highly principled, creative, dynamic not just a thinker and dreamer about the Co-operative Commonwealth but who has actually contributed to help make it happen over 60 or 70 years.

We are all the better for knowing her and she has left you with much to live up to!

Brian Rees

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