Cllr Alan Hall said: “Thank you for re-electing me Chair of Lewisham Co-operative Party and I look forward to a busy year.” My report is below:
CHAIR’S REPORT TO AGM 2017 By Alan Hall
I think we will all remember 2016 as a very bad year with the vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump but the Cooperative movement keeps soldiering on and scoring successes in its grass roots organization. Like many Party branches, Lewisham Coop Party has worked hard to promote Co-ops at every opportunity and have successfully revived our organization.
LONDON CO-OP COUNCIL
I am a regular attendee of the London Co-op Party Council. The London Co-op Party Council supports a wide range of activities including promoting Co-op Councillors, Co-operative Housing and links with the London Labour Party and the Mayor and GLA.
Alongside fellow co-operator, Cllr Lord Roy Kennedy, I seconded a motion promoting Fair Tax in Lewisham. This is a campaign to introduce the Fair Tax Mark. It urged the Council to audit and report on progress to obtain Fair Tax accreditation and built on the motion passed on 20th July affirming the Council’s commitment to support co-operatives.
COOPERATION IN LEWISHAM COUNCIL’S BUDGET – LEWISHAM’S FIRST CO-OP PUB THE FELLOWSHIP INN AND THE REGENERATION AND PROTECTION OF SERVICES TO THE COMMUNITY
As the lead on scrutiny and for backbench Labour councillors at the budget-setting meeting at Lewisham Council earlier this month, I was able to stress the importance of co-operatives in combatting austerity.
On the positive side of the balance sheet, we can be proud that Lewisham pays the London Living Wage and actively supports co-operation. We really can achieve more together than we do alone and as a board member of the Phoenix Housing Coop I was able to announce that we have managed to help guide the creation of Lewisham’s first Coop Pub! The Fellowship Inn in Bellingham is going to reopen in 12 months as a community pub with a theatre, cinema, micro-brewery and host a number of community initiatives including Lewisham Music Service, our latest co-operative initiative. Of course, Phoenix also hosts the Lewisham Plus Credit Union, which is doing amazing work in helping build financial resilience amongst the community.
LINKS WITH NICARAGUA AND CECOCAFEN COFFEE CO-OP
In April the Nicaraguan Ambassador to the UK, Guisell Morales-Echaverry, visited Lewisham and met with myself and secretary Liam Curran. She praised the Party’s efforts to build links with Cecocafen; a key regional coffee cooperative based in Lewisham’s twin town of Matagalpa and pledged her support.
In May, I hosted a dinner with Cecocafen’s board member Ivania Calderon Peralta as guest of honour. Ivania was also in London to launch the Fairtrade Foundation’s international fairer trade strategy: Fairtrade Can, I Can. Now that links are established, we are working with Cecocafen’s to try to promote their coffee and trying to get it available for sale in Lewisham. Around 30,000 people benefit from the work of Cecocafen and its shared resources that help poorer farmers access technology, higher production standards, marketing and education. Search Cecocafen and you can find out more about them.
THE PUSH TO KEEP IT CO-OP WINS!
2016 wasn’t all bad as also in May there was an overwhelming vote to keep the link between the Party and The Cooperative Group. Having contacted and spoken to Coop Party members, it was clear that Lewisham played its part in voting to retain the link.
LEWISHAM PEOPLE’S DAY JULY
Many Coop Party and Labour Party members were pleased to see the Lewisham Cooperative Party Stall at Lewisham People’s Day – probably the first ever but definitely the first in over a decade. We were able to distribute hundreds of leaflets from The Party’s head office promoting Co-ops generally, as well as promote the work of Co-ops in Lewisham and distribute free samples of Cecocafen Coffee. We were also able to display our new banner.
Lewisham Coop Party Chair