A dedicated Co-operator for over forty years, my passion for co-operatives and co-operative enterprise began while studying to be a biology teacher in the early 1970’s. Elected President of my college’s student union, we faced a student housing crisis and found inspiration in the co-operative housing movements in Scandinavia, the United States and Canada. This led to a housing career pioneering the development of housing co-operatives in the UK. For 32 years before retirement in July 2012, I was the chief executive of CDS Co-operatives, building it to be the largest, commercially successful, co-operative housing service agency in England. My work included helping Scotland establish its co-operative housing sector and, more recently, advising the Welsh Government on the establishment of its vibrant co-operative housing programme. At CDS, we founded the Co-operative Housing Finance Society to help raise finance for new co-operative housing developments and pioneered the development of tenant management co-operatives in council housing. I was the author of the Modular Management Agreement under which council tenants exercise the statutory Right to Manage their homes and served for many years as the administrator of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing Co-operatives in Parliament.
Throughout my career my interest in education was maintained through serving as a parent governor and chair of governors of my children’s primary school. For 10 years I also served as a board member of the UK Co-operative College, becoming vice chair and chair of its audit committee.
My involvement in the international Co-operative movement began as the UK’s representative on the Board of Co-operative Housing International, the sectoral organisation of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) that represents housing co-operatives globally, serving as President for four years from 2009 to 2013.
Elected as a Labour and co-operative councillor in the London Borough of Ealing in 21014, I now chair a scrutiny committee looking at what the council can do to promote the development of Co-operative enterprise in Ealing.
In 2014 the International Co-operative Alliance asked me to work with its Principles Committee as the interpretative editor of the new Guidance Notes on the Co-operative Principles that were published by the ICA at its General Assembly in Antalya, Turkey, in November 2015. In recognition of this work the Global Board of the ICA has appointed me as an expert advisor member of its Principles Committee.
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