UCLan and partners keen to establish Preston Co-operative Development Network
In collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Co-operatives UK, Preston City Council has ambitious plans for the next phase of the Preston Model.
Over the past two or so years, the popularly dubbed ‘Preston Model’ has garnered national and international attention for the city. The Preston Model refers to how Preston City Council, the city’s anchor institutions and other partners are implementing the principles of Community Wealth Building within Preston and the wider Lancashire area.
The ambitious partners are in the process of finalising support from the Open Society Foundations to fund the Preston Co-operative Development Network (PCDN) as part of the promotion of the socio-economic transformation of Preston by creating a network of worker-owned co-operatives in Preston.
This contributes to a strategy for sustainable development through establishing international connections to 1Worker1Vote in the U.S.A and the Mondragon group in the Basque Country, complementing existing national and international connections.
Proposals are being finalised to fund:
• The identification and seed-funding of a range of worker co-operative ‘business start-ups’, including a Co-operative Education Centre
• Monitoring, research and evaluation by UCLan
• Building the capacity of the PCDN
• Consultancy and training services from LKS Mondragon consultancy services (Basque Country) and Co-operatives UK
"We hope building networks that can support Worker Co-Operatives to flourish in Preston and the Bronx (New York) will inform other cities in the UK and US considering similar strategies."
Leading this project on behalf of UCLan is Dr Julian Manley, Chair of PCDN and Social Innovation Manager at UCLan. He said: “This funding will help us provide the next step in delivering the Preston Model: a network of worker-owned co-operatives generating wealth and jobs and promoting local democracy.”
Leader of Preston City Council, Councillor Matthew Brown said: “I am proud of what we have already been able to achieve in and for Preston through the Preston Model through our work with partners, making a significant impact through our purchasing decisions.
“This funding will enable us to take a bold next step towards creating an improved, more democratic local economy. Doing this with support of well-established, innovative organisations such as LKS Mondragon consultancy services and 1Worker1Vote, in tandem with a similar project in New York underscores the importance of what we are trying to achieve for Preston.”
David Bright, Director of Grants, Economic Justice Program, Open Society Foundations said: “Worker owned businesses have proven more resilient than other business models, whilst established businesses provide workers with better terms and conditions, which in turn drives improved productivity. However starting and nurturing Worker Co-Operatives is tough, even when drawing on the experience of Mondragon and others.
“We hope building networks that can support Worker Co-Operatives to flourish in Preston and the Bronx (New York) will inform other cities in the UK and US considering similar strategies.”
In parallel, other work that is being developed as part of the Preston Model, such as a co-operative bank for Lancashire, Merseyside and Cumbria, will continue to populate the socio-economic ecosystem of Preston and beyond.