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 Mind the £1.7 billion gap – there’s a looming crisis in adult social care

    Mind the £1.7 billion gap – there’s a looming crisis in adult social care

    As Labour councillors, it is important for us to speak up in defence of the voiceless victims of the Tories’ ideologically-driven austerity. There are many jobs performed by the state, but one of the most vital, and yet least seen, is caring for people who need it in their old age. Our ability to do that is now under threat, as is our ability to support disabled people to live independently, thanks to unprecedented Tory government cuts to local authorities […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Benn: Nuclear nations will keep bombs even if Trident is axed

    Benn: Nuclear nations will keep bombs even if Trident is axed

    Hilary Benn warned that a UK exit from the European Union would weaken our opposition to ”Russian aggression”. The shadow Foreign Secretary highlighted the “moral interest” in European nations coming together to prevent conflict and tackle climate change and poverty. The speech, given at Chatham House this morning included the advice that Putin would “shed no tears” at a Brexit. Benn argued that the Russian leader would see a leave vote as a “sign of our weakness and of the […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Why Labour will oppose the Tory ‘pay more, get less’ plan for councils

    Why Labour will oppose the Tory ‘pay more, get less’ plan for councils

    The Communities Secretary Greg Clark says he has protected funding for councils over the next four years, but no one left believes him, not even his own MPs. The Tories’ latest round of cuts takes away £1 in every £3 given to councils to pay for core services. What that means is youth services shut down, streets left unswept, bins emptied less frequently, street lights turned off at night, libraries closed, and rural bus services taken away.   Even Tory […]

    Read more →
  • Europe News Case for the EU is “stronger than ever” – Benn

    Case for the EU is “stronger than ever” – Benn

    Hilary Benn has today evoked the last Labour government’s successes on climate change and African debt relief in a heartfelt plea to persuade Britons to vote to stay in the EU. Benn, the shadow Foreign Secretary, highlighted the “moral interest” in European nations coming together to prevent conflict and tackle climate change and poverty. In a series of personal comments he also described his own transformation, from voting to leave in the last referendum, in 1975, to forming the belief […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured The Common Good What might be the path to Labour victory in 2020?

    What might be the path to Labour victory in 2020?

    Karin Smyth MP chaired the most recent meeting of Labour for the Common Good group in Parliament – this is her report. You can read all reports of the meetings here. There was a sociological dimension to last May’s crushing defeat. The biggest transformations in the structure of British society since 2010 – an ageing population and an employment shift from public to private sectors – swelled the numbers of voting categories which have traditionally been cold towards Labour. And so […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit