England & Wales

The Co-operative approach: designing public services for and with local communities


A number of councils are  exploring  the use of co-ops and mutuals to deliver local services. The government in its recently published ‘Open Public Services’ White Paper is committed to creating a greater diversity of public service providers. Among these co-ops and  mutuals are favoured options  and explicitly included in the provisions for the Community Right to Challenge in the Localism Act.

This seminar will review the current landscape and investigate practical ways (with case studies) about how co-ops and mutuals can be developed through capacity building to take a role in the delivery of local authority services. The seminar will also consider the practical steps councils will need to take if they  are to secure clear value from using these models. The seminar will draw on recently commissioned research exploring the performance of co-ops and mutuals; national organisations working in the field and initiatives being developed by a number of local authorities through the Co-operative Councils Network.


09:30     Registration and refreshments

10:00   Welcome and Introductions, Kersten England, Chief Executive, City of York Council

10:10   The Co-operative Councils Network and York’s Co-operative Vision, Cllr James Alexander, Leader, City of York Council

10:40   Practical Strategies for creating the climate for change, Max Wide, Director iMpower

11:40   Break

11:55   Co-operative models: John Goodman: Co-ops UK

12:45   Lunch

13:30   Breakout sessions (chose two of three)

  • What are the challenges for establishing Co-ops; Mutuals and Social enterprises? Procurement; competition and workforce issues, UNISON & APSE
  • Building successful co-ops using quality bench marking, John Goodman, Co-ops UK
  • Developing a co-operative councils programme, Max Wide, Director iMpower

14:50   Final Plenary (Chaired by City of York Council), APSE; Co-ops UK; iMpower; UNISON

15:30   Close, City of York Council

*This programme is correct at time of publication, but may be subject to alteration of speakers or sequence without notification.


James Alexander, Leader, City of York Council

John Goodman, Head of Policy & the Regions Co-ops UK

Max Wide, Director iMpower

Speaker, Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE)

Speaker, UNISON: North East Regional Office

Who should attend?

Local authority members and officers

Voluntary and Third Sector Organisations