This presentation will briefly trace the origins and development of what has come to be known as the ‘Preston Model’, how and why it emerged and what might make it distinct from other ‘urban regeneration’ schemes. Although the Model includes the development of actual co-operative businesses, it is a pan socio-economic approach to community, business and society that is based on participation and desire for contribution and change above a narrow pursuit of creating wealth for its own sake. It is as much about co-operation as co-operatives. The presentation will discuss the various strands of the model and the political, social and ideological roots that uphold it, as well as the networked contributions from a range of stakeholders across the city, especially so-called ‘anchor institutions’. We will also be examining the interlocking roles of the local council and the university and future plans, including a co-operative community bank and a Co-operative University. The Preston Model is not a utopia and neither is it a finished ‘model’. Rather, it is work in progress, and the presentation seeks to consider the difficulties as well as the successes. Above all, it is a Model of intangibles such as affect, hope, enthusiasm, participation, pride and determination. Along with those qualities also come failure, disappointment, sorrow and frustration. The Preston Model shows what can be done in a move towards a new socio-economic paradigm that moves towards a post-growth society, the joy and the fear.
Dr Julian Manley is Social Innovation Manager at the Centre for SME Development, University of Central Lancashire in Preston. He was founding member and Chair of the Preston Co-operative Development Network from 2017-2020. He is a member of the Labour Party’s Community Wealth Building Unit, and a member of the Interim Academic Board of the Co-operative University.