The Co-operative Councils Network is a group of leading Labour local authorities who are driving forward new co-operative approaches to transform the way local public services are delivered in their areas.
These councils are determined to support their local communities in the face of a coalition government which is deliberately undermining local services with its brutal cuts, using the Big Society as a cloak for the withdrawal of support.
These Labour councils aim to reclaim the founding traditions of the Labour and Co-operative movements – of collective action and co-operation, of empowerment and enterprise, in order to help transform local services and local communities. They are determined to end the era of top-down services where people are expected to put up with whatever’s on offer. In future, residents, rather than town hall officials, will be in the driving seat.
Launching on July 15th with Ed Miliband, the Network will act as a forum where councils and councillors supporting this approach can share new thinking and work together to drive change in their local areas. It is led jointly by the Co-operative Party and the LGA Labour Group.
Co-operative approaches can be applied to almost every aspect of local government, including community regeneration and economic development, youth services, housing leisure, social services and education. The precise model is different from service to service, but the approach is the same – working together, building self-reliance, encouraging innovation.
The new approach is not about turning all services into cooperatives, and it is not intended to replace skilled professionals with volunteers. It is about giving local people choice and control over the public services they use. The way different services work will vary, but the objective of finding new ways to hand more power, choice and control to local people remains constant. By moving the majority of local services to new ways of working, communities will take back power from the town hall and, as a result, get back control over their own destiny.
Co-operative and mutual models allow councils to retain jobs and investment locally, are ethical, are more flexible around citizen and workers needs, and can contribute to all aspects of the local economy. Co-operative values also shape the way we rebuild our local economies, putting long term social benefit ahead of short-term private gain.
Labour’s co-operative councils initiative shows Labour councils taking practical steps to transform major services in ways that hand power to residents, while the Tory-led Government simply uses the language of cooperation and mutualisation as a cover for their agenda of cuts, privatisation and deprofessionalisation.
The network is open by invitation to Labour-led councils that are implementing co-operative policies and service delivery models and Labour groups in opposition that are advocating or campaigning for co-operative policies and models in their local authority area.
- See the list of members of the Co-operative Councils Network
- The Network is open by invitation to Labour-led councils that are implementing co-operative policies and service delivery models and Labour groups in opposition that are advocating or campaigning for co-operative policies and models in their local authority area.
- To read the Network terms of reference, please see here
- Labour’s co-operative councils initiative was first announced publicly in February 2010, months before David Cameron mentioned his Big Society plans.
- Read the Lambeth report: The Co-operative Council: Sharing Power: A new settlement between citizens and the state
- A one stop shop offering expert advice and practical assistance to those looking to establish mutuals to deliver public sector services has recently been launched by the Co-operative Group, the UK’s biggest mutual organisation who are also working with the Network.
- Read the LGA report: Co-operative Communities: Creating a shared stake in our society for everyone