We want to make the decisions over priorities and how money is spent more accountable and find a structure that ensures local people have a real say, but also keep the democracy and ultimate accountability that the council provides. The Co-operative structure means real democracy. Our research suggested a type of co-operative, an Industrial and Provident Society for the Benefit of the Community (now called a Community Benefit Society) is the best structure to use. We have many shareholders who would come from all over the local community. Shares cost just £1 each to encourage as wider ownership as possible, we have around 500 shareholders as of mid 2016 and are aiming for even more. This should be achievable if this idea takes off.
The Friends of Streatham Common have over 600 members, 200 people turned up to a comedy night to raise funds for the Rookery in 2014, 600 people signed a petition last in 2014 to restore the Rookery and over 2000 people came to the Rookery Centenary Event and our first major fund raising event at Christmas 2015.
The Co-operative has a board originally consisted of the founding members. The board has now been re-elected by the members annually since the first AGM held in January 2015, and there are also seats reserved for the Friends of Streatham Common, the Streatham Common Community Garden, a council officer, and a local councillor. Board member details can be found in our members section. The board is responsible for employing the common manager, setting the priorities and general oversight of the business. The manager is responsible for hiring staff and the day to day management of the common, eventually covering services from gardening to litter picking, trees to the paddling pool. The manager is always based at the Rookery, currently based at the office in the community garden to ensure things are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Eventually the co-op could take over management of other park assets and related income, perhaps make decisions over events and services, and find ways to fund and provide new facilities. The council would always retain emergency powers so they can step in should things go wrong, and would of course retain ownership of the common.
And importantly it has all been set up so that the co-op can run itself, without any volunteers, just working with the council so in the unlikely event the community stops caring and doesn't want to be involved any more, things would run pretty much as they do today.