Co-op Party | City deals must drive power beyond city halls to be successful

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12 November 2016

City deals must drive power beyond city halls to be successful

The Government’s push to devolve power to city and county regions will only be successful if it drives power beyond town halls and into local communities.

The Government’s push to devolve power to city and county regions will only be successful if it drives power beyond town halls and into local communities, argues the Co-operative Party in a report published today.

The report, entitled By Us, For Us: a co-operative agenda for enhanced city and county regions argues that newly-created ‘metro mayors’ and combined city authorities must use their new powers to further devolve decision-making and ownership to the local level. Bringing mutual and devolution agendas together for the first time, the report proposes co-operative approaches to policy areas including energy, transport, social care and banking as a means of giving local people real power over services and the economy in their area.

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The findings will be discussed at a national conference of the Co-operative Party’s councillors (who stand jointly as Labour & Co-operative) in Manchester today. They will be addressed by Labour’s Manchester Metro Mayor candidate Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Local Government Minister Jim McMahon MP, as well as representatives of local councils that have already adopted co-operative models – examples which provide the inspiration for many of the Report’s recommendations.

The report calls for:

  • Communities to play a leading role in driving local economic priorities, including through the development of employee and customer-owned co-operative businesses.
  • Greater passenger involvement in the procurement and delivery of local bus services, including expanding the role of not-for-profit and community-run bus operators.
  • The expansion of community energy co-operatives to reduce fuel bills and provide a challenge to the UK’s monopolised energy market.
  • The involvement of care workers, care recipients and the wider community in commissioning local care providers.

Speaking in advance of the launch, Co-operative Party General Secretary Claire McCarthy said:

Co-operative councillors have been at the forefront of innovation in local government in recent years. They have shown how relevant co-operative approaches are to meeting the challenges facing families and communities in their area. Cities and regions now have the chance to build strong local economies and communities, and driving power down to people is the way to achieve that.”

Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government Jim McMahon MP said:

When power is passed simply from Whitehall to the Town Hall without a real community stake in this new settlement, we miss an opportunity. This important report from the Co-operative Party helps us to understand how devolution can be used to level the playing field of our democracy, giving people a voice, a stake and a say in the way their society is organised.”

Notes for editors

For more information contact Ben West on 07915978681 or b.west@party.coop

  1. The full report can be downloaded (PDF) from the Co-operative Party website:
    (http://party.coop/wp-content/blogs.dir/5/files/2016/11/for-us-by-us-final-web.pdf)
  2. The Co-operative Party Local Government Conference will take place at the People’s History Museum, Manchester on Saturday 12th Keynote speakers include Andy Burnham MP, Jim McMahon MP, and Co-operative Party General Secretary Claire McCarthy
  1. The Co-operative Party is the political arm of the co-operative movement and has been in an electoral agreement with the Labour Party since 1927. There are more than 500 Labour & Co-operative local councillors, 27 Labour & Co-operative MPs in Westminster, as well as elected representatives in Holyrood, Cardiff and the London Assembly. (http://party.coop )
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Progress | By us, for us

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November 2016

By us, for us

Co-operators are leading a local revolution
by Nick Crofts

I am a proud Labour and Co-operative councillor.

Across the the country, councillors and council candidates stand for election under a joint banner because we are determined that local government can and does benefit from our co-operative values and principles as well as the practical solutions that our movement and party can offer.

This month I am chairing the first ever Co-operative Councillors’ Conference, called By Us, For Us.

There is a growing recognition of the quiet revolution in local government that is being led by co-operation across the country. Carrying on a strong tradition of devolving power to the people we represent, working alongside local communities and developing a co-operative economy.

We are not afraid to seek co-operative solutions to the big issues facing local government in our time: the future of council funding, the adult social care crisis, education, and devolution.

The conference will start with funding – one of the biggest questions facing local government. As councils become more dependent on business rates, how can we encourage growth but ensure the economy works for local people?

We will hear about the exciting work in Preston. Inspired by the reaction to industrial decline in Cleveland, Ohio, the Lancashire council is looking to turn spending by the local council on hospital and university [the so-called ‘anchor instititutions’] into a force for good for the local economy. Instead of contracts going to suppliers outside the city, they target the wealth to local communities, and through the Guild Co–operative Network they support local co-operatives to start up and fill the gap.

Second, adult social care constitutes the biggest areas of discretionary spend for councils, and supports some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

The C-operative Party has recently published a policy document called Taking Care, which is calling for workers, clients and  their families to be listened to. The Conference is a chance to hear fresh ideas for social care co-ops that are owned by care workers., care recipients and their families to take the place of private providers, to be run on a not-for-profit basis, and calling for staff and care recipients to be given the right to be directly represented on the boards of private providers.

Next: the landscape in which local government is working faces further change under Theresa May’s Government – not least her education plans and how co-operative solutions – like co-operative schools in Liverpool – can help reconnect our schools with communities, and refresh the comprehensive ideal, rather than follow the dogma of the Conservatives.

But it is not just schools that need to reconnect with communities.

In Liverpool we took the chance to take decisions away from the Council’s officers and give them to local areas through neighbourhood budgets.

In a time of reduced funding, increasing and competing demands, and of rapid political change, Co-operative councillors are leading the way in a new vision for local government. Our Conference this month will debate, discuss and share that new vision, as one thing is certain: more of the same is not an option for local government.

Nick Crofts is Chair of the Co-operative Councillors’ Conference

Co-op Party NEC Report | February 2016

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National Executive Committee (NEC) Report | February 2016

NEC Strategy Weekend 31 November – 01 December 2015
Due to work commitments I was unable to attend. The focus was to discuss the Strategic Plan 

NEC Conference Call
Ahead of our next NEC meeting on 07 March, there is a conference call on Monday 22 February where we are planning to agree the Annual Report 2015 and the draft Strategic Plan for consultation with members and societies

Strategic Plan
The is a tight timetable for this working document used by NEC and staff, as well as more widely.

*        22 February 2016                            NEC to agree draft Strategic Plan for consultation
*        early March 2016                            Draft Plan circulated to local parties and subscribing societies
*        30 April 2016                                    Closing date for responses
*        16 May                                              Revised draft to NEC
*        6 June                                                NEC to agree Strategic Plan

The consultation paper circulated to members will be edited to include examples of key activities rather than the full list.  There will also be a more detailed version of the Strategic Plan for staff use, with detailed work plans to match the key activities – an example of the structure of the work plans is included in the appendix and these will be completed once the Strategic Plan is agreed by the NEC in June.

We are aware that many local parties aren’t meeting in March and April because of the local / national elections. To ensure that all views are taken into account, if any Party has to make a “late submission” due to their meeting cycle, these will be taken into account by the NEC in finalising the document. That way no views will be ignored and anything significant can be incorporated, while ensuring that we don’t slip in the timetable.

Annual Report 
The content should be agreed by the NEC on 22 February so that, following the presentation of the audited accounts on 07 March, both documents can be signed at that meeting by the Auditors and the NEC.

Councillor Network
Members will have received a direct email encouraging them to consider standing as a Co-operative Councillor. Visit https://party.coop/2016-council-hub/ for details.

A member of the Party might be interested but need local information and support – you can help with this? And do you know someone who is not yet a member of the Party but an active Co-operator, who might be interested in becoming a councillor. All they might need is to be asked.

Digital Communications
A quick update on some really positive political and communications activity the Party has undertaken in the last couple of weeks.

The final week of January was one of our strongest ever, with our posts on Facebook engaging more than 1,500 people. In terms of engagement, we now regularly exceed Liberal Democrats (1,300 engagements that week), the Fabian Society (7 engagements), the Co-operative Group (202 engagements), and Co-operatives UK (41 engagements).

  • The Independent’s story on Jeremy Corbyn supporting Gareth’s Bill on profit sharing reached 35,482 people on Facebook and earned 1,045 likes, comments and shares – our 3rd most successful of all time.
  • Our article on tax avoidance for the Independent website has so far been shared 90 times, with articles by regular columnists in the paper published on the same day averaging around 50.
  • On Twitter, we added 250 new followers in January, with our tweets being viewed by 214,000 people. That’s a 122.8% increase on the previous month.
  • Our tweets were mentioned 394 times, a 38% increase on the previous month.
  • Our Klout, which measures our influence and impact across all our social media channels, is at 65.52, its highest ever level.
  • Unique visits to our website in January were 62% higher than the same month a year ago, with the overall number of page views doubling. The average visitor visits an average of 3.82 pages per session, compared to 2.6 a year ago.

I hope you agree this represents real progress and is testament to the hard work of the staff team in the last few weeks.  If you would like any more information then of course get in touch.

You can see an easy summary – including Parliamentary activity, social media and national media coverage that we have achieved – if you click here.

#PeoplesBus campaign

I hope everyone is aware of this campaign?

Loneliness has been called a ‘major public health crisis’, comparable to obesity and smoking.

But with thousands of local bus services axed in recent years, more and more people are finding themselves stuck at home – unable to make it to the shops or visit family or friends.

We’ve written about how the co-operative movement is tackling this ‘hidden epidemic’ – help us spread the word:

It’s clear that cuts to bus services are a false economy. Without access to transport, people suffering from loneliness are more likely to die early, and to develop diseases such as dementia.

Access to a bus means the freedom to stay active and healthy. The ability to visit a doctor, go to the shops or pick up a prescription means staying independent for longer – and reduces pressure on already overstretched health and social services.

Through our #PeoplesBus campaign, we’re working with the co-operative movement to push the loneliness crisis up the political agenda, and to ensure that our bus services are run for people, not profit. Please help us spread the word.

Click here to read and share the article

 Annual Conference

Registration is now open for Co-operative Party Annual Conference 2016 at the Radisson Blu Hotel Cardiff on 9-11 September.

Early-bird Registration

We have a special rate of £90 (£135 including the Conference dinner) for parties and societies who register their delegates by 30 June. Registrations after this date will cost £110 (£155 including the Conference dinner). Delegates are eligible to take part in all votes as part of Conference and get priority in any debates. Click here to register online – if you would like to pay by cheque or invoice please click here to download the form.

 Accommodation

Delegations are normally expected to arrange their own accommodation, however we are trialing a package whereby you can pay for your delegate pass and book a hotel room at the same time. If you would be interested in arranging your delegation’s accommodation this way then please let us know as soon as possible. Rooms will be booked at the Radisson Blu Hotel or the Park Inn Hotel which is on the other side of the street.

If you wish to arrange your own accommodation, there are a variety of hotels, hostels and B&Bs close to the Conference and Cardiff Central Station is a five minute walk away.

 Motions & Nominations

  • Organisational Motions: Parties and societies are invited to submit organisational motions by 4 April. Motions should contain no more than 300 words and should be sent to s.brogan@party.coop
  • Conference Arrangements Committee: Two CAC vacancies will be filled at Conference. Candidates must be a delegate to Conference and be nominated by a local party or co-operative society. As they are already represented on CAC, members from the North East & North Cumbria and the West Midlands are not eligible to stand for election in 2016. Nominations should be received by 1 August click here to download the nomination form.
  • Policy Process: Further information on the 2016 Policy Process will be circulated to parties and societies shortly. Submissions should be received by 1 August and will be debated at Conference.
  • Recognition Awards: Presentations will be made at Conference to members and local parties who have played a key role in supporting the Party’s work. Click here to complete the online form if you would like to nominate a member or local branch to have their contribution recognised. The deadline is 1 August.

Key Dates

  • 4 April: Deadline for organisational motions
  • 30 June: Deadline for discount delegate registration
  • 1 August: Deadline for amendments to motions; Policy Process submissions; CAC elections; and recognition awards
  • 22 August: Deadline for delegate registration
  • 9 September: Conference Welcome Reception
  • 10 September: Conference Day 1 & Conference Dinner
  • 11 September: Conference Day 2 including AGMOther information

Further information can be found on our website at www.party.coop/Conference2016 or email events@party.coop

The Co-operative Difference in Wales

Ahead of the Welsh elections in May, Carwyn Jones has outlined some of the ways in which the Welsh Government has worked to support the co-operative movement, and its plans for a further five years.

Whether working to provide specialist support for 500 social businesses including employee-owned firms and co-ops, laying the legal foundations for a new generation of housing co-operatives or new support for credit unions, the Welsh government is demonstrating the Co-operative Difference in government.

If you want to see the difference co-operators in government make, Wales is a good place to look.

Writing for Co-operative News, the Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones this week highlighted the central role of co-operation in shaping the Welsh government’s thinking:

These have been tough times, but it has also been a time when the Co-operative Party, and the solutions it has offered, has once again come to the fore…A future Welsh Labour Government is going to keep co-operative values at the heart of our administration, and we’ll make no apology for continuing to raid the ideas factory that is the Co-operative Party.

Read Carwyn Jones’ full article in Co-op News
This is a great reminder of what it means to have a Labour & Co-operative government in power, taking practical action in support of co-operative values and the co-operative movement.