Preston Model setting standard for Labour councils across country, says Shadow Chancellor McDonnell
Preston is setting a shining example to the rest of the country, John McDonnell declared at a meeting in the city on Thursday.
The Shadow Chancellor was at Deepdale for the launch of Preston Labour Party’s manifesto as it looks to retain control of the city council in the forthcoming local Government elections.
He was particularly keen to salute the success of the ‘Preston Model’, which was introduced six years ago to unite the council with key local organisations in looking to revive and grow the city’s economy.
Since then, the share of the public procurement budget spent in the city has risen from five per cent in 2013 to 18 per cent, a gain of £75m, while across Lancashire it has risen from 39 per cent to 79 per cent, a gain of £200m.
Unemployment has fallen from 6.5 per cent in 2014 to 3.1 per cent and Preston has also achieved above-average improvements for health, transport, work-life balance, and youth and adult skills.
Mr McDonnell says an ever-increasing number of Labour councils are looking to follow the Preston example, and representatives from authorities all over the country are eager to see for themselves how the Model works.
Meanwhile, Labour has set up a Community Wealth Building Unit to work with Labour councils to learn the lessons from Preston and provide support and advice to local councils.
Mr McDonnell said: “The Preston Model has become famous now and it has become a model for a lot of Labour councils around the country.
“It’s such a simple, straightforward but so effective method in which the council works with the key local anchor institutions to invest back into the community.
“Organisations such as the police, local NHS, university and colleges join with the council to use their procurement powers to basically say we will invest this money in our own community.
“It has resulted so far in £75m worth of value being put back into the city and the creation of thousands of jobs - and they are well-paid ones, offering a living wage and the recognition of trade unions mean those wages are protected.
“There are also other ideas, such as developing a regional bank and, working with worker-owned co-operatives and supporting credit unions to help those less well off - all at the same time as providing essential services.
“I just think it is incredibly creative and I am delighted to come along and offer my support to the local party.
“We need to spread this inspiring work around other Labour councils, so we can bring services back in house, stimulate the economy and provide decent jobs, extend ownership and control, and strengthen local democracy.”
The Preston Model was inspired by the Cleveland Model in the USA, with the aim of ensuring a greater share of the money the council spends stays in the local economy.
Preston Council leader Matthew Brown said he was delighted with the success of the Preston Model so far and that it was a privilege to have John McDonnell supporting the group in its campaign drive ahead of the council elections.
He said: “The council is well respected with what we are doing with the Preston Model and we are delighted to welcome John’s support.
“But his presence here tonight is typical of the current Labour leadership - it isn’t all about Westminster for them, they are really keen to support the grassroots.”
With the council having undergone a wholesale boundary revision, reducing the number of councillors and electoral wards, the election on May 2 means it will be the first ‘all out’ election since in Preston since 2002, the year it gained city status in The Queen’s golden jubilee year.
Other speakers at gthe meeting included Preston MP Mark Hendrick. Labour has been in control of Preston City Council since 2011, with no overall control for 12 years previous to that.
After the last round of elections for a proportion of the council, Labour had 35 councillors, with 17 Conservatives and five Liberal Democrats.