a walkway next to a body of water
Photo by Peter Albanese on Unsplash

This weekend I will be joining many other Co-operative Councillors in making my way to Manchester for the annual Co-op Party Local Government Conference. I have been before as an opposition Councillor but this time I will be taking part as one of many newly elected Labour & Co-op Councillors in power.

The elections in May saw a real change in local government – people were fed up with out-of-touch Tories in many parts of the country. Our co-operative approach of working with people, and ambition to deliver real change on the ground now, resonated with so many people who are struggling with a country that feels broken.

It is no coincidence that at the conference we will be exploring this co-operative difference, and hearing from councils that are already taking ideas forward into practice. In Hackney and Preston, they are already delivering on our ambitions for a local co-operative economy, and will be sharing how they support co-ops to grow in their local area; and that includes community energy too, with energy experts also sharing their tips on how it can be taken forward locally.

One of the ways to take forwards ideas has been to run a co-operative commission, so my good friends Jo Platt and Angeliki Stogia will be sharing their experience in Greater Manchester, and helping Councillors find out where to start when there is such a plethora of co-operative ideas in local government on procurement, food justice, community safety, housing, to name just a few.

But realising not everyone is in power, there is also the opportunity to hear from my colleagues in Derby and Edinburgh, about their experiences of achieving change in opposition or coalition. It can be done, and there is an opportunity to drive our co-operative ideas in every part of the country.

I look forward to sharing our aspirations at the conference as we start our journey to deliver for the people of Swindon. Our first Labour administration in twenty years was elected on a promise to address inequality, achieve net zero and build a better Swindon.

We want to make sure that everyone in Swindon reaches their potential, make sure that we have the buildings and infrastructure necessary for the next 30 years and ensure that Swindon more than plays its part in fighting climate change and ensuring we have a sustainable future. We will be developing the Swindon Model, creating a stronger local economy where local businesses are supported and we ensure that the wealth we create in Swindon is retained in Swindon for the benefit of residents. In a marked change to the previous administration, we will work with communities in a co-operative way, to ensure solutions to the challenges we face are found alongside them.

A co-operative approach in local government can help us to achieve those goals.