Former Labour leader Ed Miliband was in Preston to hear about how the city’s financial model is working.Advertisement
Mr Miliband was attended the Preston Social Forum in Community Wealth Building at the University of Central Lancashire.
He follows in the footsteps of actor Michael Sheen and shadow chancellor John McDonnell who have visited the city previously to learn about what Preston City Council is hailing as ‘the Preston model’.
The city council’s cabinet member for social justice, inclusion and policy councillor Matthew Brown presented on how the council is encouraging more co-operatives and large institutions, such as the university, to keep their money in the local economy.
Mr Miliband said: “Preston has been a trailblazer for innovative ways to build prosperity in local communities. There is increasing recognition of the Preston model around the country and I was here to learn more about it.”
The audience, at the university’s Mitchell and Kenyon Cinema, heard about the ongoing progress of building a Lancashire Community Bank.
Read more: Why Michael Sheen was looking to Preston for inspiration
UCLan research fellow Dr Julian Manley said: “We were absolutely delighted to welcome Ed Miliband, Mikel Lezamiz and Ted Howard to the University for this very exciting event. All are pursuing the ideas of local initiatives and cooperative democracy positively influencing communities on a national and international stage.
“UCLan has been working with Preston City Council and a number of civic representatives since 2013 to explore new ideas about improving the prospects of citizens and businesses and making the city socially just. UCLan is delighted to be part of this community and these new ideas. This mini-conference was a great way to highlight the work that’s been done and the work we’ve still to do.”
Councillor Brown said: We realised quite early on in Preston that things had to change due to the severity of budget cuts from central government. By working with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies it helped identify who the big spenders were across the city, including key institutions such as the university and both city and council councils.
“By redirecting where we sourced supplies and services – everything from food to printing – some of the biggest organisations in Preston have doubled local spend in the past five years.
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“The city council is proud to be involved with this initiative and hopes to strengthen and continue the great work being done and to work collaboratively on similar initiatives to build a fairer, more democratic, local economy including potentially a community bank and expanding the cooperative economy.”
What do you think about the city’s financial policies? Let us know in the comments below