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South Tyneside Named Cooperative Council of the Year

South Tyneside Council has scooped Co-operative of the Year Award - a prestigious accolade that honours co-ops across the UK for their commitment to their communities and to the co-op principles.

Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said, "Being one of just six co-op councils shortlisted for the Co-operative Council of the Year Award was praise enough but to be announced the winner is just great - especially as it was decided by a public vote.

"Research shows South Tyneside Council is the third hardest hit by central government cuts and we have 54 per cent less government grant to spend on supporting our residents. As a result, we have had to consider new ways of working to be able to continue to provide the services we know our residents value. Our communities have really stepped up and this Award recognises their contribution.

"This collaborative approach is already paying dividends. While many areas have had to close libraries and community centres, in South Tyneside these prized community assets have been retained by working in partnership with local people. All branch libraries are now under the management of community groups or charities and a similar process is now underway with community associations.

"It is our strong community spirit and incredible army of volunteers in the third sector that make South Tyneside stand out. We couldn't do any of this without their continued support and for that I am thankful."

South Tyneside Council was presented with its award last night (21 June) at a dinner held at the Co‑op Congress in Manchester.

A cooperative council is one that works in partnership with local community organisations to get the maximum from all of the resources available for the area. In doing this, it builds the four key values of honesty, openness, fairness and social responsibility into its day to day business.

South Tyneside Council proactively supports and empowers local people to take positive action. It fosters local community pride via its #LoveSouthTyneside campaign, which celebrates initiatives that stem from a passion for the area. The council promotes the local third sector, with initiatives like 'volunteer passports', the community funding portal and professional 'speed-dating' events aimed at facilitating close working across organisational boundaries.

The council scooped the prize after a public vote which saw numerous organisations and individuals shortlisted in six categories. A record 33,000 votes were cast, with nominations and votes coming from large and small businesses, members, customers and co-operators across the sector.

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said: "The Co-op of the Year Awards is always a special occasion. And once again, worthy winners have taken home the coveted prizes. South Tyneside Council - and all our winners and nominees - are an outstanding example of how working co-operatively creates opportunity, prosperity and meaningful work, and brings social and economic benefits to communities and businesses throughout the country."

The Co-operative of the Year Awards 2019 are organised by Co-operatives UK - the network for Britain's thousands of co-operative businesses - with the Co-op Council award sponsored by CCIN (The Co-operative Councils' Innovation Network).

Cllr Sharon Taylor, Chair of the Co-operative Councils' Innovation Network and Leader of Stevenage Borough Council said: "Congratulations to South Tyneside Council and all the nominees and shortlisted Co-operative Councils. Our Network seeks to reclaim the traditions of community action, community engagement and civic empowerment which can transform communities, and which will help us deliver radical and innovative programmes that are designed, led and delivered in partnership with local people and therefore maximise the social dividend they bring. We're delighted to see so many strong community-centred initiatives in South Tyneside."

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