With just a few weeks of campaigning left till the local elections, from London to Newcastle, Tamworth to Plymouth, Co-op candidates are setting out their vision for those communities.
In the face of a Tory Government that shows no sign of slowing down the cuts to councils, and residents calling out for more control over the decisions and services that affect their lives, co-operative ideas are coming to the fore - 'Being the Difference' by championing grass roots solutions to the issues we face.
Before the elections the Co-op Party set out twelve ideas for local government – proven policies for real change, ranging from housing to modern slavery, credit unions to transport.
With every council seat up in major cities including London, housing rightly features highly as a key priority in local manifestos. Leeds, Lambeth, Waltham Forest, Newcastle and Birmingham all share the co-operative principle of giving private rented tenants a real stake and voice in the housing, tackling the imbalance in this relationship and addressing the issue of landlords who fail to provide decent accommodation.
Labour & Co-operative candidates in May
In the absence of action by the government, it will be local authorities that will create the rules of their local housing market, through licensing schemes, community led development and giving tenants a direct say in the construction and management of their homes. The voice of private tenants will be a key topic at our ‘Be the Difference’ conference, looking at how Councillors can organise on this issue.
Linked to housing are the concerns over ever increasing energy costs for residents, but local councils are developing their own solutions and taking on the big energy companies. Following on from pioneering work by councils such as Plymouth, who supported the creation of a community solar farm, places like Waltham Forest will invest in local community energy firms; and Hackney pledges to develop a publicly-owned municipal energy company to offer cheaper, cleaner energy to residents and generate income for the creation of a ‘social dividend’ from which all residents will benefit.
Local councils are also supporting and creating co-operatives, and Swindon, a key target council, is pledging the creation of co-op schools as well as supporting the use credit unions via the payroll function to reduce socio-economic inequality in Swindon.
To put our policies into practice, we have over 500 Co-op council candidates standing on 3rd May. We will see record numbers in London, including 48 candidates in the Royal Borough of Greenwich alone.
It’s people who put our policies into practice so I would encourage you to go out and campaign for your Labour & Co-op candidate, so they can give you and your community a voice.