In Derby, out of 51 council candidates in May the majority will be either supported by the Co-operative Party or stand as Labour & Co-operative on the ballot paper.

We have had Co-op Party representation before on the council and they did a wonderful job in representing the Party, but we’ve seen nothing like this before. It’s been a real step up in profile and has taken a terrific shift by everyone concerned: the Group Leadership, the Co-op Party branch officers and the Society Party Council, the candidates, our organiser and last but by no means least Co-op Party staff who not only had our applications to process but also had the job of dealing with over 1,000 candidates across the country.

The Labour Party candidates were all spoken to about the Co-op Party and most went and looked at the website and decided they could identify with our ethos and our campaigns. It summed up how they feel and they believe that co-operation in every walk of life makes for a better world.

However, we don’t see recruitment as an end in itself. Supported and official candidates have been asked to sign a memorandum of understanding with the branch to ensure that they will deliver: describe themselves as Labour & Co-operative once elected, Co-operate as a Group to discuss co-op values, and report back to our branch.

Our Co-operative councillors will deliver on what is the most co-operative and ambitious manifesto yet. After years of mismanagement by the Tories with the support of a ragtag assortment of other parties, there is much to do to restore pride in Derby. Our manifesto was written with the co-operative agenda and ethos at the front of our minds.

As part of our commitment to making Derby both wealthier and fairer, we will develop an online, one-stop-shop of resources, support and information to encourage and support new businesses, co-operatives and social enterprises to take up space in our city centre. We will establish a Community Wealth Building Strategy and a locally progressive procurement strategy and promote co-operative ownership of businesses.

We aim to create a community bank and a co-operative development agency to invest in local businesses. We will prioritise using available council land for community energy and green projects as part of our aim to tackle climate change. We will create a ‘Good Landlords’ Charter’ incorporating minimum housing standards for Derby tenants and we will host credit unions alongside council services, investigating city-wide such options to support the growth of credit unions in our city.

This just scratches the surface of our manifesto ambitions. We know that it will take us all pulling together to achieve them, but as we say in the introduction to the manifesto, “We know that working co-operatively is the way forward.

On a personal level whilst I am very hopeful about leading a Co-operative Council in May – having looked at the Greenwich, Stevenage and Preston models – I am mindful that we have a general election to fight in the next 18-20 months. I have the absolute privilege to be the Labour and Co-operative prospective parliamentary candidate in Derby South, the seat currently held by the Rt. Hon Dame Margaret Beckett MP who has been a co-operative movement champion for 40 years. I know I have very, very large boots to fill there but I am looking forward to the challenge and bringing my local government experience to the parliamentary group of co-operative party MPs and promoting our values and principles.