We need to detoxify “Localism”

8th February, 2013 4:48 pm

By Tudor Evans

The Coalition Government’s definition of localism appears to be freedom for local government to make its cuts in any way it pleases.

We need to detoxify the term from the way the Tories have used it. They are distorting a concept which should be about enabling councils to work collaboratively with their local communities and about local government helping join up the competing demands of government departments and the community on the ground.

As a campaigning party we understand that even within our own areas people want different things from each other and local communities and local councils are in a far better position than government departments to understand these local needs. It is about making politics more personalised and politicians more responsible. True localism makes political parties more relevant than under the command and control approach.

That’s what the growing number of councils such as Plymouth are trying to achieve by adopting a co-operative approach for local public services, which involves putting more power into the hands of local people.

The next Labour government must repeat the successes of the last Labour government but what it should not do again is to see local councils as an arm of the government. There’s far more innovation and effective delivery going on every day in local authorities than we are given credit for. This time our Labour Government needs to recognise that. To paraphrase JFK, we should be asking not what local government can do to help the national government, but what can national government do to help local government.

In Plymouth we’ve already embarked on a major change since being elected last May and the focus of the Council is to build a co-operative approach to collaborating with our local communities. A co-operative approach is at the heart of our 100 manifesto pledges, which are now embedded in the council’s corporate plan.

As we face the impact of a dire economic situation, welfare reform and the Coalition’s draconian cuts to the public sector our aim is to try and meet needs of all sections of the community and to have fairness are the core of everything we do. We’ve developed a child poverty strategy, created a cooperative model for schools, agreed an older person’s charter and worked hard to open up the democratic process.

We are working closely with health colleagues to reduce health inequalities in the city. It is not acceptable that someone living in one area of the city is more likely to die 13 years earlier than someone living in another part.

We are also committed to developing economic growth, with a particular focus on jobs for young people. We recently launched the 1,000 Club with the aim of getting work opportunities for 1,000 young people in the city. We are setting up a community economic development trust in the north of the city, where young people are more likely to be out of work than the rest of the city. And we are working to ensure people do not miss out on high speed internet connections because of where they live in the city.

We are excited about plans to hold a Fairness Commission later this year to explore how fairness is embedded in not just everything the council does, but also in our work with public and private sector colleagues.

We’re achieving a lot by working with the local community and if this is what we can achieve while dealing with a Government hell bent on destroying the public sector, just think what we could do together with a Government that fully understands and embraces true localism and fairness.

Cllr Tudor Evans is the Leader of Plymouth City Council. Plymouth City Council is featured in the new report One Nation Localism: How Labour councils are delivering fairness in tough times, published by the LGA Labour Group and launched at Labour’s Local Government Conference 9-10 February

Latest

  • Comment Dissolution Dishonour: it’s time to abolish the House of Lords

    Dissolution Dishonour: it’s time to abolish the House of Lords

    The Prime Minister’s behaviour since his unexpected election victory shames our democracy. His dodgy dissolution honours list is only the latest and most egregious example of his contempt for all constitutional and political propriety. As always his actions are extremely partisan in the Tory party cause. His utter failure to ensure that the electoral register contains the up to seven million missing voters who are far less likely to be Tories, his decision to cut the number of seats in […]

    Read more →
  • News Kendall calls for early years inequality to be tackled

    Kendall calls for early years inequality to be tackled

    Liz Kendall has called for a greater effort in tackling the inequalities that set in before children start school. This morning, the leadership hopeful said that as much effort should be put into tackling inequality during foundation years as it is at primary and secondary school. Kendall said that she has seen first hand in her own Leicester West constituency how children could start school at the age of five over a year behind their peers in terms of development. […]

    Read more →
  • News Jeremy Corbyn proposes plan for older people with flexible pension age

    Jeremy Corbyn proposes plan for older people with flexible pension age

    Jeremy Corbyn has outlined part of his plan for older people with a flexible pension age. Writing in the Telegraph (£) the leadership candidate argues against increasing the pension wage and cutting social care provision and instead proposes a flexible pension age “that allows people to work for as long as they want to”. He notes that raising the pension age mostly affects lower-paid workers. Corbyn suggests that these measures would be paid for by increasing income tax rates – […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Put on your tin hats – we must stand with Corbyn against media attacks

    Put on your tin hats – we must stand with Corbyn against media attacks

    Every day seems to bring a new media-generated hoo-ha about what Jeremy Corbyn may or may not have said. As Owen Jones warns, we’d better get used to it. The vast armoury of the Tory press is trained on Jeremy.  Years of remorseless battering of Ed Milliband left many of us in Labour exhausted by the impossibility of getting a serious political message across in a media that thrives on division and ridicule. We better hang onto our tin hats – the […]

    Read more →
  • News Andy Burnham pledges to “fight nationalism”

    Andy Burnham pledges to “fight nationalism”

    Andy Burnham has pledged to “fight nationalism” if he is elected leader on 12th September. The leadership candidate will tomorrow give a speech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), in which he will argue against the rise of nationalist politics, which he will say is leaving the world ‘fragmented, more divided and less secure’. Burnham will criticise Labour for being “too weak” in standing up to nationalism, and outline his commitment to internationalism. “I consider myself British, before I’m […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit