Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Preston: Post Brexit city - Co-operatives for an Age of Crisis > How the 'Preston Model' is boosting the local economy

We need to be looking at other ways of doing local government:

The idea of flatpack democracy, or something very like it, has been adopted in towns and villages in Bedfordshire, Devon and Cheshire. In the small northern city of Preston, an energetic Labour council is blazing a trail for something comparable but even more ambitious: the so-called Preston model of local government, whereby as much council spending as possible is aimed at boosting the local economy.

Futures Forum: Towns need to be run completely differently
Politicians may finally be catching on: towns now hold the key to Britain's future | Cities | The Guardian 

The town of Preston in the UK is a good example of how localization expands collaboration. In 2011, the city and county councils set about localizing procurement in response to cuts in national government funding. By changing the spending focus of six regional institutions, including a police force, housing associations and colleges, they managed to increase the amount spent at local suppliers from 14% to 28% in two years. Concurrently, there was a growth in the number of local cooperative businesses.

Far from being isolationist, the Preston council is now collaborating with other cities across the EU, as part of the Europe-wide Procure Network, to explore how they can make similar changes in their local economies.

Futures Forum: Localization: A Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism
Localization: A Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism

This is the 'Preston Model':

Infographic: The Preston Model 


The Preston Model | CLES
Animation: What is local wealth building? | CLES 

Austerity at the national level may have been eased, at least rhetorically, but a fiscal crisis of the local state still rages. Since 2010, government funding to local authority budgets has been slashed by 49.1 per cent, with more pain still to come; by 2020, cuts in central government funding are forecast to reach 56.3 per cent. Although plans for all councils to receive 100 per cent rates retention by 2019/2020 have been placed on ice, cuts premised on this change continue unabated. Almost half of all councils are set to lose all central government funding by 2019/2020, with a yawning £5.8bn funding gap opening up by the end of the decade. Even with the best will in the world—clearly lacking in places like Haringey, where until recently a ghoulish Blairite zombie local government politics still walked at night—this has not been a promising context in which to build political support for and project out a Corbyn-inflected ‘new economics’.

But difficulty need not be impossibility—as can be seen in the path taken by the flagship Labour council of Preston in Lancashire. In a few short years Preston has gone from being one of the most deprived parts of the country to a model of radical innovation in local government through its embrace of community wealth building as a modern reinvention of the longstanding political tradition of municipal socialism. Community wealth building is a local economic development strategy focused on building collaborative, inclusive, sustainable, and democratically controlled local economies. Instead of traditional economic development through public-private partnerships and private finance initiatives, which waste billions to subsidize the extraction of profits by footloose corporations with no loyalty to local communities, community wealth building supports democratic collective ownership of—and participation in—the economy through a range of institutional forms and initiatives. These include worker co-operatives, community land trusts, community development finance institutions, so-called ‘anchor’ procurement strategies, municipal and local public enterprise, participatory planning and budgeting, and—increasingly, it is to be hoped—public banking. Community wealth building is economic system change, but starting at the local level.

The ‘Preston Model’ and the modern politics of municipal socialism - New thinking for the British economy 

This isn’t about one or two good projects, or a small corner of a procurement budget getting earmarked for local vendors while everything else remains business as usual. It’s about taking the first steps towards truly transforming our economy so that it works for the many, not the few.

Great graphical resources from The Next System Project (featuring the Preston Model) and Democracy Collaborative (with Community Wealth Building).

The Next System: The “Preston Model” is helping inspire a new conversation about the role of local government in catalyzing locally-driven economic revitalization and transforming patterns of ownership towards democratic alternatives. (We first featured a story about the Preston Model here in 2016.)

Today, the work in Preston to redefine how—and for whom—local economic development works is at the forefront of the agenda for local Labour councillors in the UK —and front and center at the “Alternative Models of Ownership” conference in London on 2/10, featuring, among many others, The Democracy Collaborative’s Ted Howard. Major coverage for the model has recently appeared in The Guardian in the inaugural story in Aditya Chakrabortty’s new series “The Alternatives” (and an associated podcast which explores the role that The Democracy Collaborative and the Evergreen Cooperatives played in inspiring Matthew Brown, the leading advocate behind the Preston Model.)

There's a big meet-up next week:

PRESTON: Post Brexit city — Co-operatives for an Age of Crisis

Wednesday 14 November 2018

18:30 – 21:00

Cities face an uncertain post-Brexit future. In Preston, the anchor institutions have come together to reimagine their social identities through a greater commitment to Preston and the surrounding areas by means of local procurement and an increased sense of social responsibility.

The University of Central Lancashire, in partnership with Preston City Council are supporting the development of a co-operative city through the Preston Co-operative Development Network, opening out new and creative ideas for our future.

Join our panel discussion with Debbie Shannon, Link Psychology Co-op, Julian Manley, Preston Co-op Development Network, Kay Johnson, Preston Larder Co-op, and Andrew Birchall, Secretary of Unite the Union (54 Branch) to explore how we can ontinue to support the co-operative community here and elsewhere!

Stir Magazine Launch: Post Brexit city — Co-operatives for an Age of Crisis Tickets, Wed, 14 Nov 2018 at 18:30 | Eventbrite
Post Brexit City - Co-operatives for an Age of Crisis • Preston Guild City

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