When it became clear that large amounts of inward investment for large regeneration projects, and out-of-town mega-stores, was not going to happen, Preston (Lancashire) decided to fix the problem locally. Could anything be done?
Political ideology aside, out-sourcing contracts inevitably leads to money flowing out of a local area, and into the pockets of shareholders of large national, or multinational, corporations.
Several years ago, Preston City Council embarked on an examination of how much money was being lost from their local economy, and why. They have turned this loss around and generated local jobs and a vibrancy in the town that surprised even the most causal observers. How is this being achieved?
Councils provide services through their expenditure. They have immediate control, and influence, over how organisations such as colleges, refuse and recycling collection, police, hospitals, social care providers, local housing associations, and the local emergency services, spend their money.
1. They took a place-based approach.
They talked to local people about what their needs were and what assets they had at their disposal. They didn’t look at providing services in isolation. They looked at how to provide services that satisfied multiple needs of people.
2. They looked at how services actually provided social value.
They worked with local groups to determine what was socially valuable and how it could be achieved. They prioritised working with local organisations that had local connections and local knowledge.
3. They committed to building local community capacity.
They actively supported local organisations to take on the provision of services. They developed a policy of identifying and supporting those organisations that anchored the community. They worked to bring together organisations that could deliver a range of services.
4. They set a maximum value on the size of service contracts.
They explored how to re-size contracts and use different payment methods that would allow local organisations to win those contracts.
5. They involved local people in the co-design of services.
They viewed local organisations as partners in a process of defining and delivering services. They saw local organisations as having expertise that could contribute to achieving goals.
Through this process they created a shared commitment between the council and its residents to supply services locally and thereby create a strong local economy that keeps money circulating within that local economy as much as possible.
This has expanded to involve: the private sector, the public sector, and the social sector to:
The council has been able to deliver on its commitment to:
The current City Council has made the following twelve promises:
✓ Preston will invest in public infrastructure, increase the amount spent by the public sector with local enterprises, and encourage local recruitment creating thousands of new jobs.
✓ Preston will regenerate the city centre with a £35m cinema and restaurant development and co-invest £10m in the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library.
✓ Preston will establish a Community Bank that will lend £500m across the region and promote a Lancashire Wealth Fund to invest further in our local economy.
✓ Preston will create 10 new worker owned businesses in Preston in partnership with UCLan and Spain’s Mondragon Cooperative Corporation.
✓ Preston will increase the number of employers paying the real living wage by becoming one of the UK’s first Living Wage Places.
✓ Preston will expand free or low-cost meals during term time, expand breakfast provision and work with charities to supply free sanitary products for girls.
✓ Preston will invest over £100,000 in financial inclusion and protect first-class services providing housing, debt and benefit advice.
✓ Preston will maintain our parks and public spaces to the highest standard and push for a devolution deal that will include local franchising of bus routes.
✓ Preston will create a delivery vehicle to enable the council to build housing again and ensure at least 30% of housing is affordable on larger new developments.
✓ Preston will work with partners to address the root causes of homelessness, establish a new social lettings agency and 24-hour walk in centre for the homeless.
✓ Preston will continue the popular events programme that include Lancashire Encounter, Rockprest, Armed Forces Day and Race for Life.
✓ Preston will challenge hate crime, all forms of racism and discrimination and work with the Police to prioritise resources in areas of greatest need.
It works! So, why aren't we taking this approach in Torbay? A Torbay Way.