For more than 175 years the co-operative movement has believed that things work best when people have a voice, and when services are accountable to the people who use them.

That is the philosophy that Mayor Dan Jarvis is bringing to the Sheffield City Region, as he launched the region’s first independent Co-operative Advisory Panel.

The panel met for the first time as part of ‘Co-operatives Fortnight’, an annual event celebrating and promoting the role of the co-operative movement.  The Panel agreed that early priorities would be to focus on the Bus Review and the Local Industrial Strategy and make recommendations to the Mayor.

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “When I was elected Mayor of the region I pledged to end the political and social status quo and put people back at the heart of decision-making across the region, and I’m doing just that. The philosophy on which the co-operative movement was founded was placing values above profit. By allowing our communities to share in the decision-making process, we can build a collaborative and sustainable economy, one that works for all our communities.

“The aim of the Advisory Panel is to work to overcome barriers and translate co-operative principles into practice. During my term as Mayor, I want a co-operative perspective on our entire programme, including the on-going bus review, the development of our Strategic Economic Plan and housing policy”

The Chair of the Sheffield City Region Co-operative Advisory Panel, Cheryl Barrott, said: “We’re pleased to see that the Mayor has established the region’s first Co-operative Advisory Panel. This gives us the opportunity to bring a co-operative perspective to Mayoral and wider Sheffield City Region policy agendas. We aim to inject fresh ideas and thinking in key themes. The focus of the panel for the rest of this year will be the Bus Review and development of the new Local Industrial Strategy.”

The panel, who will sit as an independent group, offer a breadth of experience and expertise of the co-operative movement and is made up of:

  • Cheryl Barrott – Sheffield Co-operative Development Group and Co-op Party NEC member for Yorkshire.
  • Emma Bridge – Chief Executive, Community Energy England
  • Cllr Emma Hoddinott – Local Government Officer at the Co-op Party and Councillor in Rotherham
  • Ed Powell – Co-operative Partnership Manager, ‎The Co-operative Group
  • Cllr Kevin Rodgers – Director of Community First Credit Union and Councillor in Doncaster

The co-operative Party’s roots go back to 1844, when the Rochdale Pioneers founded the first modern co-operative. The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers opened a small co-operative shop, selling only six items, based on the virtues of equality and democracy.

Their aim was to serve their community and improve the effects of the grinding poverty and job losses resulting from the industrial revolution. The Pioneers’ shop was a resounding success and became the blueprint for many co-operative enterprises that followed.

Mayor Jarvis, continued: “As we prepare for the future – and for life beyond Brexit – we must build an economy that leaves no one behind; this principle is as true today as it was all those years ago for the Pioneers.”

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