Co-operative Development Agency (CDA)

CDA – a potted history and fond farewell!

Avon CDA was set up back in the 1970s by the local co-operative sector to promote the co-operative option for enterprise, support new co-operatives to start up and to support the existing co-operative sector to thrive and grow.   The Board of the CDA was drawn from representation from the local co-operatives and our advice services were funded by a complex mix and variety of funders – Avon Council; then the four Unitary Authorities that had made up Avon; European Funding and local government funding; Lottery funding etc. etc.

In 2002, the activities and staff of Avon CDA, led by Hilary Sudbury, were transferred into Bristol and Avon Enterprise Agency (BRAVE), a busy mainstream enterprise agency, and, in doing so, the CDA was able to link with BRAVE staff and advisers in many beneficial ways.

Over time, funding steams have changed dramatically, and since 2010 the CDA has received no direct core or project funding. It has instead, managed throughout by Hilary Sudbury, worked as a delivery partner, in consortia and via other organisations and projects, such as Business West, SWCS, the Co-operative Group, Co-operatives UK, Plunkett Foundation etc. on specific delivery contracts similar to spot contracts (2 days for one client, 4 days for another etc.) or providing direct paid consultancy to new and existing co-operatives.  Working on this basis, it has however become no longer viable for the CDA to employ staff, even on a part time basis, after 18 June 2018, and so Hilary will be relinquishing her employed role from that point.

In terms of its achievements, the CDA has, over the last five years, supported on average 6 new co-operatives per year and 15 existing co-operatives per year. Since 2009, it has directly supported a range of local co-operatives and community benefit societies to raise £6M in community shares offers, £300K in grant funding and £650K in loans.

Across the former Avon area there is huge diversity within the 120 trading co-operatives and community benefit societies with which the CDA has direct contact; from housing co-ops to childcare co-ops, recycling projects to solar farms; cafes and pubs to woodland management, music and creative industries to name only a few.    In addition to these, there are a further 100 organisations which are registered as community benefit societies, including housing and allotment associations; social and sports clubs; retail co-operatives although the CDA’s contact with these has been quite limited over the years.

A couple of comments from recent support:


‘..thank you.  Knowing you and CDA were there when we were all at sea in the first day or so of the crisis was a calming influence for us which allowed us to take stock in a measured and planned way. Thank you for your counsel and support.  Onways and upwards..’

‘..Thankyou for your answers today Hilary, and thankyou so much for all your guidance and support through out, you’ve been brilliant, we will hope to remain in touch, keep you updated and invite you to any celebrations.’


From July 2018 onwards, Hilary Sudbury will continue to support the co-operative sector as an associate adviser for Co-operative Assistance Network and can be contacted on She will also remain as a specialist adviser for Plunkett Foundation to support community led shops and pubs and a licensed community shares practitioner in association with the Community Shares Unit.