The demand for Independence is increasing. But to be truly independent we must first think and act as if we’re independent. This is what our communities in Dwyfor Meirionnydd have been doing for several generations, with our people building our communities from the bottom up.
This is the story of Awen Meirion, Awen Meirion, Antur Aelhaearn, Antur Stiniog, Nant Gwrtheyrn, Hufenfa De Arfon, Tafarn y Fic, Tafarn yr Heliwr, Tafarn y Plu, Pengwern and a host of other examples. Our people – our most valuable resource – have taken it upon themselves to take control and invest the little that they have, be it capital, time or ability, to insist that their communities survive and thrive.
These are examples of best practice that should be shared to develop more.
Because, the best way of strengthening our economy is by building it from the bottom up. Community Cooperatives are far more robust and are rooted in their communities, unlike large multinational companies that are attracted by promises of free money to re deploy only for them to take flight when the funds run out.
Staff and customers of community enterprises are far more loyal, because the business is part of the community in which they live.
It also makes economic sense to invest public money in such enterprises. Only 44% of private enterprises survive the first few difficult years of trading, while 80% of cooperatives succeed and survive for many years.
We must therefore invest in our communities. The Welsh Government should allocate £0.5bn to develop and assist community cooperatives, which should be led by the communities themselves. This is consistent with steps that are already being taken. The Welsh Government is already funding Cooperative Social Care, while it’s expected of Local Authorities to develop and support the development of cooperative companies in the care sector.
This money should not be earmarked, because it should be entirely community led. Such a programme, if managed properly, should look several hundreds of jobs in the constituency.