United Kingdom

What do London taxi drivers, farmers in Perthshire and bouncers in Newcastle have in common? Co-ops

Pay inequality, zero-hour contracts and a sense of disempowerment are driving people to form co-operatives, finds a new report. The sector is strengthening despite an uncertain economy

The UK’s co-operative sector has grown by £1bn since 2014, despite – or perhaps because of – economic uncertainty caused by austerity and Brexit, finds a report released today by Co-operatives UK. In contrast, the same period saw blips disrupt the steady growth in the UK GDP that had followed the 2008 economic crisis.

Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, said co-ops offer a solution to the growing sense of powerlessness people feel over the economy and their lives. “Underlying the political shocks the country has experienced over the last year is a call from many parts of the UK population for an economy over which they have more of a say and from which they get a fair share,” he said.

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The annual Co-operative Economy report reveals that there are now 6,815 independent co-ops across the UK, from shops and tech startups, to farms and housing providers – which last year turned over a total of £36bn. It found that UK co-ops employ 226,000 people and the number of active members is growing by almost 1 million each year, currently totalling 13.6 million.

Lyndon Edwards from The Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative

The report’s authors suggest that increasing…

A growing wave of tech startups is boosting the UK co-op movement

An increasing number of digital and creative companies are setting up as co-operatives, boosting the UK co-ops scene

The UK co-operative economy is being boosted by a new wave of digital and creative co-ops being set up by young people.

A report released today by Co-operatives UK revealed a 28 per cent increase in the number of startup digital and arts organisations over the past year. The rise accounted for just over 10 per cent of all co-op startups over the 12 months.

Why the surge? Co-ops allow greater freedom to collaborate with other companies and offer a say in how a business is run – a particular lure for younger people – finds the 2017 Co-operative Economy report.

Earlier this year saw the formation of CoTech, a network of 25 UK digital…

Renewables provide half of UK’s electricity for the first time

Favourable weather conditions during a spell one day last week helped the UK’s renewable energy sector set a new record for sustainable power production

Renewable sources of energy briefly met 50.7 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs, reported the National Grid – the organisation responsible for power supply management around the UK – at lunchtime on Wednesday.

Clear skies and strong winds had created ideal weather conditions for solar and wind energy production. Backed up by other renewable sources including wood pellet burning and hydropower, renewable output reached a record 19.3GW at midday, enough…

Uber is Giving UK Wheelchair Users Free Lifts to Polling Places This Week

Ride-sharing app and transportation company Uber is offering free rides to polling stations for UK wheelchair users on Thursday.

Anyone in need of a lift for the elections between 7AM and 10PM in London, Birmingham, or Manchester can use the UberACCESS feature to request wheelchair-accessible transport for free.

Though Uber is footing the bill for the rides, they have partnered with the disability charity Whizz-Kidz in order to get the word out.

“Exercising your right to vote is such a fundamental milestone in transitioning from childhood to adulthood. For many young wheelchair users across the…

U.S. singer Grande delights fans with UK hospital visit

FILE PHOTO: Cast member Ariana Grande answers questions during the panel for
FILE PHOTO: Cast member Ariana Grande answers questions during the panel for “Hairspray Live!” at the NBC Universal Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Phil McCarten/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. pop singer Ariana Grande has paid a surprise visit to young fans who were injured in a suicide attack on a concert she gave in Manchester last month, posing with them for selfies and signing t-shirts.

Grande returned to Britain on Friday to lead an all-star benefit concert on Sunday and quickly headed for a hospital in the northern English city where many of the injured are being treated.

The Manchester Evening News newspaper said she brought presents and chatted with young fans, including 10-year-old Jaden Farrell-Mann,…

For Sale: Intriguing 19th Century Photos of Britain’s Colonial World

The Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal. Courtesy of Andrew Smith & Son Auctions

In the 1860s, Jane Stewart was married to a Bengal Engineer, who served in the British Army in India. Stewart and her husband came from Scotland, towards the beginning of the British Raj, which began in 1858. The East India Company had governed large swaths of land for about a century before a 1857 rebellion threatened its power. In the wake of the quashed rebellion, the company transferred it power to Queen Victoria.

Stewart toured much of India.
Stewart toured much of India.
She had a view of the world few women of her time would have...

The cave where two British judges hid in exile after sentencing the king to death.

View all photos
Judges Cave. 2112guy (Public Domain)
From “Trolley Trips Through New England,” 1900. Internet Archive Book Images (Public Domain)
From “The Three Judges: The Men Who Murdered Their King,” 1873. Internet Archive Book Images (Public Domain)
Judges Cave on a 1930s postcard. Boston Public Library Tichnor Brothers Collection (Public Domain)

Edward Whalley, William Goffe, and John Dixwell were three of the 59 British judges who sentenced King Charles I to death in 1649, dissolving the monarchy and placing Oliver Cromwell into power instead. When Charles II, the son of the executed king, was restored to the throne in 1660, he exacted his revenge on the men who had his father beheaded. He issued an order that each regicide should be hanged, drawn, and quartered. In order to avoid this grisly fate, Whalley, Goffe, and Dixwell fled to North America.

Skull and Bones Tomb
New Haven, Connecticut

John Dixwell stayed in

Resurrecting the Forgotten Bike Highways of 1930s Britain

Cycleway near Dorking, Surrey.
Cycleway near Dorking, Surrey. Courtesy of Carlton Reid

In the 1930s, Britain’s Ministry of Transport built an extensive network of bike highways around the country—at least 280 miles of paved, protected infrastructure dedicated to cyclists alone. For decades, it was entirely forgotten—overgrown and overlooked—so much so that no one seems to remember that these lanes had existed at all.

“There’s all this infrastructure, it’s been there for 80 years, and nobody knows what it was,” says Carlton Reid, author of the forthcoming book Bike Boom. Reid, who’s been a cycling journalist and historian for 30 years, rediscovered the network while researching his book. Now he’s teaming up with an urban planner to reveal the full extent of Britain’s historic cycleways.

Before starting research on the book, Reid knew of the existence of a handful of ‘30s-era bike lanes. But when he started studying the decade’s road-building policies, he found archival maps showing that as new arterial roads were built, they all had cycleways installed beside them. “Every one I looked at showed that there were cycleways built,” he said. “It was clear that there were far more than anyone had understood.”

A 1930s cycling sign.
A 1930s cycling sign. Courtesy of Carlton Reid

These bike highways were nine feet wide and surfaced in concrete, and they ran along major roads for miles. According to Reid’s research, the Ministry of Transport was inspired by newspaper reports of similar lanes in the Netherlands and contacted the Rijkswaterstaat, its Dutch counterpart. The head engineer of the Rijkswaterstaat sent the Brits “these incredible exploded diagrams of how they built cycleways next to the road and the railways and how they separated the traffic,” says Reid. “The Brits, in effect, were ‘going Dutch,’” decades before that phrase became a mantra among cycling enthusiasts who long for infrastructure as good as Amsterdam’s.

In the 1930s, cycling in Britain was at its peak, and cyclists far outnumbered motorists. As in America, it was British cyclists who first pushed the government to build smoothly paved roads between cities. Those roads, though, were catnip to motorists, too, and “motorists, if they wanted to use their cars and go fast … clearly had to get cyclists off the road.” These bike highways were intended in part to separate cyclists from the main rush of traffic and clear the way for drivers.

Building the...

UK’s First Zero Waste Store Just Opened – and it’s Wildly Popular

Everyone knows the common saying “waste not, want not” – but this couple has taken it to a whole other level.

Nicola and Richard of Devon, England became tired of taking heaps upon heaps of their recycling to the city center. They were frustrated by the journeys back and forth, and surprised at just how much waste the two of them made.

Then, the couple got an idea.

“We had seen an article of a zero waste shop in Berlin, and thought what a great idea it was,” Nicola told the Good News Network. “This combined with our ever growing heap of ‘recycling’ at our apartment … made us want a different way to shop, and there wasn’t one- so we created one!”

Nicola and Richard opened the first Zero Waste Shop in the United Kingdom – and it has been wildly successful.

“All food (even liquids and nut butters) comes loose and gets put directly into the customers own reusable container,” says Nicola. “We reuse, reduce, or recycle as much of the…

EU Deletes UK from Official Map – Two Years Before Brexit

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This could be the first official map produced by the European Union to exclude the UK. But it is also an inaccurate one: the UK is still a member state of the EU.

Brexit means Brexit: on 29 March, British Prime Minister Theresa May officially notified EU Council President Donald Tusk of Britain’s intention to leave the European Union.

But Britain hasn’t left yet. By invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, May triggered a process that gives both sides two years to reach an agreement. Meaning that Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019. Until that time, the United Kingdom remains a full member of the European Union.

It is no secret that hardline brexiteers would rather leave today than tomorrow, and ‘crash out’ of the EU, even if that means falling back on the most rudimentary of agreements for trade and cooperation with ‘EU27’ – shorthand for the EU minus the UK.

Now it seems that…