Is the ‘Preston Model’ the way forward for councils – and voters?

In a fiery Prime Minister’s Questions clash, Jeremy Corbyn scored a palpable hit when he said Theresa May’s Conservatives had betrayed councils.

Tory policies are set to take £1.3 billion out of local economies.

The clash sparked an interesting comment on Twitter, here:

The Preston Model? What’s that?

I had never heard of it. So I looked it up.

Here’s what Preston is doing to cope with Tory financial ineptitude, from the council’s own website:

The council, its anchor institutions and other partners are implementing the principles of Community Wealth Building within Preston and the wider Lancashire area.

The city council is committed to implementing this approach and, as the “place leader” for the city is promoting the concept to other anchor institutions in and around Preston and to the private sector.

The implementation is something which is being shared across a range of Preston based anchor institutions, including

  • Lancashire County Council
  • University of Central Lancashire
  • Preston’s College
  • Cardinal Newman College
  • Community Gateway Housing Association
  • Lancashire Constabulary.

This is important as many of these institutions have significantly greater spending power and assets than the City Council and by working together we can have a significantly greater impact on the future well-being of the city.

Community wealth building offers an opportunity for local people to take back control, to ensure that the benefits of local growth are invested in their local areas, are used to support investment in productive economic activities and that people and their local institutions can work together on an agenda of shared benefit.

Our work to date has concentrated on getting those letting the contracts within anchor institutions to change their perspective and approach.

We now need to do more work with businesses in the supply sector, to encourage them to raise their game and to engage more with anchor procurement. And, where there are gaps in the supply chain to explore the opportunities for setting up co-operatives or new businesses to meet that untapped demand.

While we think the principles of community wealth building can be applied in any city or locality across the country, it is also true that because areas, issues, politics, resources and opportunities differ widely, the way in which different areas might apply those principles might differ from place to place.

Some places might find it easier to start with issues around local currencies or LETS (Local Exchange Trading Schemes) schemes, community banking or asset transfer to stimulate new business growth for example.

We are aware of lots of other good work being taken forward in places like Birmingham, Oldham, Salford, Kirklees, Islington, Enfield, Southampton, Wakefield and Bristol. We think that is evidence of the fact that there is a hunger and a desire to find practical ways to rebase local economies so that they operate in ways which are more inclusive and share the proceeds of growth more fairly across our communities.

It seems a genuine attempt to ensure the people of Labour-held council areas like Preston are better-served. Hopefully more councils will have a chance to embrace such policies after this year’s local elections.

Source: What is the Preston Model | Preston City Council

2 thoughts on “Is the ‘Preston Model’ the way forward for councils – and voters?

  1. WANDA LOZINSKA

    My CLP invited the Leader of Preston Council to give us a talk and presentation. Highly recommended. Basic principle is for councils to source supplies and services locally, so the money stays in the community instead of going off to international corporations etc. Contracts that are too large for smaller local companies to cope with are broken down into manageable chunks.

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