The Co-operative Party’s Development & Campaigns Officer Rebecca Mattingly previews tonight’s Labour Party Conference event.

Today at Labour Party Conference, the Co-operative Party will join with Movement for Change for an End Legal Loansharking campaign training session.

Speakers including Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP and Stella Creasy MP will build on growing activism around the country tackling the exploitative actions of payday loan companies in communities and as sponsors in football, celebrate the campaigning of local residents and councils and provide training to support more members to spread the campaign further.

At a recent rally in Brent where 30% of residents are on the brink of poverty and are targeted by companies offering high cost payday loans, councillors, activists and football supporters came together at Wembley for a rally to ask the Football Association to be better neighbours to local residents and join the campaign to end legal loan sharking in the UK.

Following powerful and moving speakers, including Arthur Breen, who recounted the spiralling problems that high cost loan companies caused his family and the tricks that they used to make it difficult to pay off debts, Co-operative Party Chair, Gareth Thomas MP and Stella Creasy MP asked the Leaders of Brent and Camden Councils to support the campaign in those boroughs. They pledged to work to restrict the impact of payday lenders in their areas, support credit unions and to lobby for Britain to follow the lead of other countries and cap the costs of credit to protect consumers from the debts these loans can cause.

Stephen Doughty shows the red card for Wonga as Blackpool visit Cardiff City
Stephen Doughty shows the red card for Wonga as Blackpool visits Cardiff

In Cardiff, Labour and Co-operative PPC Stephen Doughty has also been leading ‘Red Card for Wonga’ campaign actions. With other Labour and Co-operative members, Stephen joined calls for the Football Association to extend their current ban on alcohol and gambling adverts on merchandise for under-18s to include high cost credit companies until this industry is better regulated.

The campaigners were leafleting this last weekend at the football stadium where Cardiff were playing Wonga-sponsored Blackpool FC, and tweeting messages to the FA and to Blackpool Football Club who are sponsored by Wonga and sell children’s replica kits which promote these legal loan sharks.

Communities are springing into action across the country, from Cardiff and London, to Edinburgh, Chorley and Liverpool, showing the extent of the problem and high levels of public support for action against legal loan sharks. This campaign is growing and with the involvement of more Co-operative Party members and, can have an even greater impact and build support local credit unions as a strong alternative for a fairer and more transparent system.

If you’re at Labour Party Conference, join us for the Co-operative Party and Movement for Change campaign training fringe in Manchester Central, Exchange 1 at 19.30 on Monday 1st October to find out more about how you can get involved.