UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Friday, 4 May 2012

5 priorities for Labour Councils

Labour’s success in England and Wales is something to celebrate, but it is not a ringing endorsement of the direction of travel of Labour. The vote, like all local elections, is a litmus test on national politics.

That being said Labour Councils should not waste the opportunity to develop a very different narrative to that of the national consensus politics. They are uniquely placed to change key policy areas on issues that matter to working class voters. Here are my top five:

· Council Housing: Stop pandering to obscure concepts of ‘affordable’ housing, ALMOs, trusts and housing coops. Pledge big numbers and start the building of new eco-friendly energy efficient council housing and property conversions to get people into decent local homes.

· Local Environment: Stop the decline in housing estates, shopping parades, public spaces and parks. Recession breeds decay. Invest in the upkeep of the public realm. No one likes ghettos. Ghettos breed crime.

· Education: Stop tinkering with Academies, free schools and other right-wing ideals which promote elitism in the education system. If you are a labour councillor governor show your true credentials and vote against such nonsense and tell parents and teachers why you will happily defend the role of local authorities in local education and why you will not abdicate your local responsibilities… whatever Stephen Twigg says.

- Apprenticeships and jobs: Stop wringing your hands about youth unemployment and use the public pound to best effect. Make every council service employ apprentices. Make all your suppliers demonstrate how many local jobs they will secure.

· Direct services: Stop pandering to the CBI and pseudo right-wing concepts of partnerships,’mutuals’ and other forms of outsourcing. If you own and control your own services you have better control of your budgets and retain the capacity to intervene to make services better. Pay your workers a living wage.

All of these priority areas for local government will have a positive impact on education, public health, and local economies. So get on with it!

Anna Roset