Councils are often viewed as being aloof and out of touch, but we would seek to transform the role of our local councils to be at the very heart of our communities. The collapse of the private contractor Carillion and the profit warnings from Capita expose the failed logic of contracting out the running of vital services and facilities to private companies whose main purpose is to seek to profit from the needs of our communities. Labour would set up a new subsidiary company to bid in all future tendering processes on a not-for-profit basis, reinvesting profits back in to our communities and the services that many depend upon.
Labour would ensure that all future contracts have minimum level of service agreements to ensure corners are not cut and services are maintained. This could be used to ensure that future bus operators do not cut vital bus routes further and ensure connections are maintained to many rural communities.
Our current Conservative-run local councils have failed to explore alternative sources of funding for local services. Labour would adopt an ‘entrepreneurial socialism’ approach, growing local authority income through the development of commercial operations to raise money for public benefit rather than private profit, investigating every possibility for the council to trade its services to generate income.
Labour will use the relaxed borrowing rules to invest in building a new generation of council housing, offering cheaper rent than private rates. We will ring fence rental income to spend on maintenance and build new homes. Labour would introduce an aggressive Empty Homes Strategy that would give the council new and innovative ways to bring empty homes back into use including allowing the council to serve compulsory purchase orders; and the introduction of greater financial disincentives through the Council Tax system.
A housing company launched by Labour-run Croydon Council is set to build up to 1,000 new homes over the next three years. ‘Brick by Brick’, wholly owned by the council, will construct houses on 50 sites across the borough in a bid to stem the homelessness crisis. Labour-run Sheffield City Council has also committed itself to providing 1,000 new council homes by 2021, including homes for elderly people and people with learning disabilities.
We will help households and tackle poverty by following the example set by Labour on Liverpool City Council in setting up our own Community Energy Provider. Liverpool LECCY currently sells gas and electricity at a lower cost than other suppliers, as it operates on a not-for-profit basis. Our company shall also work with local authorities and partners to maximise local micro-generation of renewable energy using PV solar panels and explore other potential local sources of renewable energy.
Technology is developing in ways previously unimagined, Labour will employ these new technologies and ensure Chichester is not left behind in this next industrial revolution. Labour-run Milton Keynes has begun a pilot of driverless pods. Labour in Chichester will embrace the future and ensure we are prepared. This will include ensuring wide 5G network coverage and the introduction of free public wifi along commercial seafronts, public beaches and in our town centres.