Today will see a new generation of co-operative councils

5th May, 2011 5:51 am

co-op logo redBy Martin Tiedemann

Last week the Co-operative Party launched its local government manifesto, a comprehensive set of policy ideas for Labour & Co-operative councillors to take forward to put co-op principles at the heart of local services for local communities.

Councils have long been working hand in hand with local residents and businesses to provide housing, maintain roads, deliver education and create healthy and vibrant communities. For decades, Labour councils have been pioneers of co-operative ideas, developing new structures that empower service users and the workforce, nurturing local voluntary groups and founding mutual ventures like credit unions, set up to provide affordable savings and loans and prevent loan sharks taking hold.

The challenge for councils now is a great one. Under attack from Eric Pickles and the coalition government, councillors are facing large reductions in grant income just at the time when demand for council services is increasing, as communities face growing unemployment and pressure on their finances. At the same time, our expectations of public services are changing. People want to have greater influence over the services they use and a greater say in what their council plans for the future.

In social care, direct payments of benefits is allowing those receiving care to direct their own care and control how money is spent on their behalf, employing carers directly or providing relief in other ways not usually part of the suite of local council services. But employment law and the coordination of often poorly paid care workers across wide areas can make this difficult for many people to meet these new demands. In Croydon, South London, where I served as a Labour & Co-op councillor myself, care users and their families have come together with the support of the council and the Department of Health under Labour to form Caring Support, a new co-op. These have brought together service users, informal carers and personal care assistants to ensure that both users and employees can benefit from a more formalised system of care and economies of scale. This means that recipients are able to remain in control of the day to day provision of how their care is provided, while personal care assistants of the co-operative are able to ensure that they receive appropriate employment conditions.

And, almost 20 years ago, Greenwich’s Labour council decided to form a co-op to run its leisure assets rather than oversee their continued decline and shut swimming pools. Now Greenwich Leisure, owned by its employees and overseen by a board including councillors and workforce and community representatives, is thriving, running the leisure services for many other local authorities and the National Sports Centre.

So, from leisure to housing, through economic development and support for international co-operation as Fairtrade boroughs, the co-operative ideas in our manifesto give a practical set of tested policies that local councils can implement to address the needs of their areas. It draws on the excellent work of the credit union movement, of housing co-ops and of many Labour councils around the country who have already done so much to further this agenda. Today, we hope that Labour will, with the support of its sister party the Co-operative Party, gain ground across the country in local government, retaking control of a whole set of councils. There are hundreds of candidates standing as Labour & Co-operative and hundreds more Co-operative Party members hoping to become Labour councillors. Whether it’s prospective council leaders like Councillor Jim McMahon in Oldham and Councillor Tudor Evans in Plymouth, or hopeful first-time councillors like Kev Peel in Manchester and Lis Telcs in Brighton & Hove, our strong team of Labour & Co-operative campaigners are ready to put co-operative ideas at the heart of their work to improve services and deal with the challenges of their community. This manifesto gives them the toolkit to make that happen.

Comments are closed

Latest

  • Comment Featured An anatomy of Labour’s defeat

    An anatomy of Labour’s defeat

    Now that we are a couple of weeks past the initial shock it is time to start looking at the detail of the General Election results, as in the anatomy of our defeat we will find useful pointers about how to recover. Here are some initial useful snippets to consider: Geography The House of Commons library had published its usual excellent statistical breakdown by region: Here is the change in Labour’s vote share by region: London                                  +7.1% (3.4% swing from […]

    Read more →
  • News Unite might refuse to back Burnham if he won’t commit to an anti-austerity message, reports suggest

    Unite might refuse to back Burnham if he won’t commit to an anti-austerity message, reports suggest

    Update: Unite have said that there is no truth in these claims. They will take no position on whether to back a candidate until after the Tulo hustings. Andy Burnham has been pegged as the leadership candidate that the unions will back since he announced he was entering the contest. Although in terms of financial backing, Burnham has said he would rather unions gave their money directly to the party to help the rebuilding process instead of his campaign. However, […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News John Healey announces he’s standing to be deputy leader

    John Healey announces he’s standing to be deputy leader

    John Healey is joining the race to become Labour’s deputy leader, making him the 7th MP to do so. Healey, who was a housing minister under Gordon Brown, made this announcement in an article in the Guardian. He said that he hadn’t planned on standing but has been “dismayed at how narrow and shallow Labour’s debate has been so far.” He also wrote: “I know I’m a late entrant when others have been up and running for some time. But […]

    Read more →
  • News Shadow Minister backs Liz Kendall to be Labour leader

    Shadow Minister backs Liz Kendall to be Labour leader

    Ivan Lewis, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has announced that he’s backing Liz Kendall to be the next Labour leader. In an article for the New Statesman, Lewis dismisses terms such as “Blairite” (a label that has been applied to Kendall) and says that although he thinks that “Tony Blair did more good than bad for Labour” neither “Liz Kendall or I believe that Labour’s route back to Government can be charted via the New Labour handbook.” He gives […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The Labour Party needs a peasants’ revolt, not a palace coup

    The Labour Party needs a peasants’ revolt, not a palace coup

    So we lost a General Election. Rather badly. I start with this uncomfortable observation as it seems already to have been brushed aside by many in the party delirious with the fever of electing a new Leader. The thinking of too many seems to be: “The previous Leader was weak or wrong on too many issues for the British electorate. All we need to do is find the right spearhead and everything will be fine”. Yet this is the most […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit