This weekend, the Co-operative Party is launching its vision for local government in Wales at an event at the Welsh Labour Conference. Four council candidates in the coming elections in Wales explain why co-operative ideas are so critical this May.

As Labour Co-operative candidates in the Welsh council elections, we believe in an economy that works for people, not just profit. The current economic situation facing the whole UK is a huge threat to the fabric of our communities, but it also offers an opportunity for us to put co-operation at the heart of everything we do. Local government may be facing spending constraints, but we must continue to press for fairer, more accountable and more equitable local services. Only Labour with the help of the Co-operative Party can deliver the change that Welsh people want to see.

Wales faces a unique set of circumstances that make the opportunity for a co-operative approach starker. A Labour government in the Senedd committed to co-operative approaches; a vibrant co-operative sector worth £1 billion; and of course devolved powers that protect Wales from some of the worst excesses of the Tory-led government in Westminster and allow us to develop co-operative ideas.

The co-operative movement came into existence in hard economic times because ordinary people were able to come together and share their resources for common good. Then, as now, the co-operative movement was profoundly democratic with all members able to contribute equally. We want councillors, Co-operative Party members and Labour Party members to use the ideas in this manifesto in the same spirit as the early co-operators. Not all the policies will be appropriate for all Labour groups or Labour councils, but this manifesto provides ideas and resources which can provide a starting point for developing local co-operatives and services with co-op values. We would like to see these approaches come together into a Welsh version of the ‘Co-operative Council’ – and some of the ideas on this are spelt out below.

Co-operative Councils, co-operative housing and co-op values across society – we believe that this manifesto offers an exciting co-operative alternative for Welsh communities.

In co-operation:

Lis Burnett, Vale of Glamorgan
Dylan Lewis, Ceredigion
Stephen Marshall, Newport
Phil Bale, Cardiff

Download A Co-operative Agenda for Welsh Local Government. The launch will be at the Co-operative Party and Co-operatives and Mutuals Wales Fringe meeting at Welsh Labour Conference, 5.30pm, Saturday 18 February 2012, Room 22, Swalec Stadium. Speakers – Alun Michael MP, Huw Lewis AM, Ashley Simpson, Derek Walker, Karen Wilkie, Alex Bird. Chair – Cllr Cerys Furlong.

There will also be a Labour Welsh Executive paper on Co-operative Councils debated at the conference, and a workshop on co-operative councils at 9.30am on Sunday.