In 2013, Preston’s University of Central Lancashire independently began encouraging local debate around the potential of worker owned cooperatives as an alternative work model for any ‘post- capitalist’ society that might emerge at some indeterminate future point in time. Inspired by the cooperative values and models of the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland Ohio and the Mondragón cooperatives in the Basque Country, Council and University have established a developing partnership that has attracted national and even international interest.
Julian Manley has been working as a consultant and researcher with the Mondragón cooperatives for the last 10 years. Coming from the world of Group Relations, his work has been focussed on understanding the value of affect and relationships at work and how these are interconnected with community. He has recently partnered with Cllr Matthew Brown to bring some of these ideas into practice in Preston and is a founder member of the Preston Cooperative Development Network that seeks to promote cooperative values and economic development in Preston as part of an overall economic and social strategy for the city and university.
Councillor Matthew Brown is Cabinet Member for Social Justice, Inclusion & Policy on Preston City Council. Matthew has been at the forefront of Community Wealth Building in the UK which offers a local, grassroots alternative which aims to promote economic democracy. This is gaining significant interest after ten years of austerity and the debate about how to ‘take back control’ following the decision to remain the European Union.