SCDG History

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Co-operative Culture
The Co-operative Movement: An Introduction
An Historical Perspective
Origins of the Co-operative Movement
Sheffield Co-operative Development Group
CWS 150 Years - A Sheffield Perspective
The Co-operative Party
Co-operation v Charity
CWS/Co-operative Group

Sheffield Co-operative Development Group

The founder members of S.C.D.G. were;

  • Sheffield Co-operative Party
  • Brightside & Carbrook Co-operative Society
  • Sheffield & Ecclesall Co-operative Society
  • The Co-operative Bank (Sheffield Branch)
  • Sheffield Trades Council
  • Sheffield City Council

It was founded in 1980 and officially opened by Lord Oram chair of the Co-operative Development Agency. The C.D.A. was set up by parliament (with all party support) to promote the co-operative sector.

A spokesman for the S.C.D.G. said:

‘The intention of the Group is that the traditional part of the Co-operative Movement – the retail societies, the bank and the Co-operative Union – will work in close association with the newly emerging industrial and servicing co-operatives on the basis of mutual aid. The Group will collaborate with all the other national organisations to receive financial support or advise for individuals wishing to form a co-operative’.

Help was given to the Group by Mr. P Shireby the City Council’s Industrial Development Officer and members of the Industrial Development Unit. A full time worker was recruited.

This initiative brought in a new wave of co-operatives into the city. The Group worked with the Industrial Common Ownership Movement (ICOM). At the turn of the new century ICOM was incorporated into the Co-operative Union which changed its name to Co-operatives UK.

Aizlewood’s Mill

The mill remained under the control of the Aizlewood family until 1962 when the business was sold to Associated British Foods. In 1969 the milling machinery was removed and the building was sold to Harrogate-based farmers and food merchants, George Morrell & Sons Ltd.

Sheffield Co-operative Development Group Ltd had for some time been considering acquiring premises with the dual purpose of providing themselves with their own accommodation and managed workspace.

Aizlewood’s Mill was on the route to work of SCDG employee Mike Bower, and when “For Sale” signs appeared on the building in 1985 the Group decided to make further enquiries. An initial development scheme was produced in conjunction with Sheffield architects Tatlow Stancer and an offer of £1 (one pound) was made for the property which was accepted by the owner’s agent.

A subsidiary company limited by guarantee was established which purchased, developed and now operates Aizlewood’s Mill as a well known Sheffield landmark business centre.

Aim

Extract from SCDG Mission Statement.

“Sheffield Co-operative Development Group’s purpose is to promote the development of co-operatives and other enterprises which offer people opportunities to increase their control over their working lives”

What we do

We listen to people and their ideas and help them decide WHAT the right process is for them and HOW to develop it.

There is no fixed model, we guide you decide. How we do it

  • Consultation
  • Discussion
  • Listening
  • Developing
  • Nurturing

Backed by professional skills, extensive experience and long term involvement.

SCDG has developed “user friendly finance” through Sheffield Co-operative Ventures Ltd, a successful revolving loan fund.

It has developed Aizlewood’s Mill, Sheffield’s First and Best managed workspace.

Sheffield Co-operative Development Group is a small business advice agency specialising in helping people set up and develop democratically owned businesses. Importantly it not only helps them start but continues to help them and is available whenever needed. At our last survey co-operatives in South Yorkshire employed about 200 people with a combined turnover of £4-5 million.

Co-operative businesses and other forms of genuine worker participation have many advantages for their employees – they know what is going on and take the important decisions themselves or with other colleagues locally – they are not dependent on distant employers.

At the same time they are private entrepreneurial businesses which have to operate profitably. Sometimes the decisions faced are difficult, sometimes groups disagree, but co-operators must accept their responsibilities and act in a positive and timely way.

Co-operatives seek to apply the principles adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA):-

  • Voluntary and open membership
  • Democratic member control
  • Member economic participation
  • Autonomy and independence
  • Education, training and information
  • Co-operation amongst co-operatives
  • Concern for Community

I have included information found in the December 1980 edition of The Sheffield Topic which can be found in the Local Studies Library.

I have also quoted from the Aizlewood’s Mill website: www.aizlewoodsmill.co.uk

And the S.C.D.G. website; www.scdg.org