9. Recommendations

9.1 Establish an office foothold separate and distinct from Council offices

Historically, where co-operative support provision has been brought "in house" to a Local Authority department, that provision has been, even with the best intentions, eroded over the years and gradually extinguished. Separate and distinct office accommodation is vital. Quite apart from the importance of street level accessibility to any and all comers, in many situations it is essential for the Agency to be seen to be independent of the Local Authority, particularly where companies are divulging details of management accounts, projections, and business plans.

The premises need to be appropriate not only as an office, but also as a place one could reasonably expect to be able to meet with potential clients from the non-co-operative sector.

9.2 Establish management structure on a temporary basis.

As stated above, the ideal CDA has an element of independence from statutory Local Authority provision. This is as important to the perceptions of clients (many of whom require absolute confidentiality) as it is to the Development Officers (DO) who require a fair amount of latitude in exploring and even creating possibilities. But, in theory, there is no harm in moving towards this independence gradually. A short term start up structure might be appropriate for two or three years, but a move towards an ideal ICOM model in the longer term should be seen as an objective. Additionally, there is no harm in looking at a variety of employment models. The dedicated Anywhere Borough DO could, for example, be employed directly by the Borough but seconded to the CDA. This might enhance the distinction between the dedicated post and any posts associated with activities outside the Borough as suggested under the "Optional Recommendations" listed below.

9.3 Rationalise SME Support provision via Local Enterprise Agencies (LEAs)

In view of the fact that it is not only CDAs which currently find themselves in the throes of change, now may be the opportune moment to rationalise/economise much of the small and medium sized business support in the Anywhere catchment area. Insofar as CDAs, as explained above, are often associated with much of the work currently undertaken by Business Links, LEAs, and now the Small Business Service, it would not be inappropriate for CDA Anywhere to be considered as the umbrella organisation for this work.

9.4 Optional / Longer Term.

9.4.1 County level involvement (Assuming Anywhere is a Borough)

Anywhere Council may wish to keep its associated County Council informed of developments. A willingness by the County to carry on some form of joint funding may be realised. A pitch could be made to them on the basis of securing the equivalent of a second DO post. This post could be managed by but otherwise kept separate from the essential Anywhere Borough dedicated post and could be cut when and if the County funders waver in the future.

9.4.2 District level involvement (within county)

A policy of making pitches to Districts on an hourly pro rata basis could be looked into. Making the distinction between proactive and reactive co-op development work (the former only taking place where Districts also fund; the latter taking place where County Authorities fund) can be used as an element of making the pitch. Hourly pro-rata payments would work simply on the basis of making DO time available at, say, 60 per hour up to a negotiated and reviewable annual maximum within a given District. Supply could then be tied very closely to demand.

9.4.3 Sub-Regional level involvement

As above, but depending upon outcome of talks with the County. Anywhere might be seen to be at a geographical epicentre as far as neighbouring Counties are concerned. As such, the Borough’s influence for economic strategy could be seen to be an important determining factor in the development of the sub-region. This might have positive spin offs in other areas, such as Euro fund raising.

9.4.4 Regional level involvement

The advent of formally defined Regions in the UK has meant that strategists at every level have to think through the implications at regional level. The co-operative movement has been particularly successful in responding to regionality with the introduction of Regional Co-operative Councils. Mirrored upon the UKCC, there are now Regional CCs in every one of the English regions. All of these are endeavouring to forge links with the Regional Development Agencies and, in part, through these links, to establish regional support mechanisms for co-operative development. All CDAs should play close attention to such developments and play an active role in maintaining both the Regional Co-op Councils and the links with the RDAs.

9.5 Wherever possible

......endeavour to keep in step with what other CDAs are doing elsewhere. Contrary to what one might expect at the heart of the co-operative movement, CDAs are notorious for taking unilateral action without reference to each other. For example, CDAs regularly re-badge and re-vamp their image individually when to do so in co-ordination on a national scale would obviously bring higher rewards in terms of raising profile. Also, CDAs regularly make forays into, for them, new policy/work areas, only to discover that someone else in the movement had alrady been down the road, had materials on file, and had firsthand knowledge of the major pitfalls.

In short, co-operate with other CDAs.