A joint statement issued in advance of the May 6th local elections is being seen a direct challenge to Tory Councils’ model of no-frills, minimal public services in which residents will have to pay more for extra.
If in control after May 6th, Labour/Co-operative Councils will run services in the interests of the whole community and give more power to the people.
Co-operative Party General Secretary Michael Stephenson, who helped co-ordinate the initiative, told the News: “Co-operative Councils will give power to all of us. They will ensure that, where public money is spent, organisations are run in the interests of the whole community rather than the narrow interests of one stakeholder group against another.
“Co-operation is an idea whose time has come back and co-operative councils will be putting that into practical effect right around the country.”
Sir Jeremy Beecham, Labour’s leader in local government, added: “Labour council leaders have made a clear statement about the values that guide their actions: fairness, accountability and responsibility.
“In these challenging economic times, local Labour will stand by their communities. Those who are most vulnerable and have the most to gain from good-quality services will not be sidelined in the pursuit of savings or cuts. The financial climate calls for a more innovative approach that seeks new ways of delivering services, involving citizens to give them real power over the nature and shape of the services they need.”
As previously reported in the News, Lambeth in London has already announced plans to become the country’s first Co-operative Council and its leader, Cllr Steve Reed, said: “We have the country’s first parent-promoted secondary school, more tenant-managed housing estates than any other council, and an innovative environmental project that sees local people work with the council to clean up derelict areas.”
Cllr Sharon Taylor, Leader of Stevenage Council and the town’s Labour/Co-op PPC at the general election, said: “Our new-town pioneers had to build a community as well as a town, so co-operation is in our blood. As well as dealing with the impact of the global financial crisis, we have had two previous recessions that had a devastating effect on the town. It was the strength of our community that got us through.
“I look forward to building on that strong foundation and developing as a Co-operative Council that is even more accountable to local people.”