When your world is local, it’s hard not to get inspired by a group of passionate people leading some of the UK’s major cities, towns and boroughs. That happened for two of our team at this year’s Labour Local Government Conference in Warwick last week – a great chance to catch up with our Labour friends.
Kicking off with dinner on the Friday night, the assembled great and good of Labour local government gathered to hear from Councillor Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council and of the LGA Labour Group, and widely expected to be the party’s candidate for Mayor of the North of Tyne Combined Authority. Tom Watson MP followed, speaking warmly about his friends in Labour town halls and of his pleasure in being in a room of ‘the sensible people’. Make of that what you will. The message, as always, was that Labour cannot wait to win a general election to implement its policies; the Party is in government now.
And that Party, whatever you make of the national picture, looks to be in fine health locally, with a strong pool of young talent coming through into leadership positions. Councillor Chris Hammond in Southampton, the recently elected Jack Hopkins in Lambeth replacing the highly respected Lib Peck, and Councillor Nesil Caliskan in Enfield, to name but a few, are part of a growing and impressive cohort of Labour council leaders under 40.
It’s at these events that we are reminded why Cratus values good local government so highly. Whilst the major parliamentary parties – both of them – tear themselves apart over the B-word with little bandwidth to focus on much else, councillors in our cities, towns and villages are driving forward the service innovations needed to empower their residents and future-proof their communities. All this against massive and unrelenting financial pressures.
Those despairing at events in Westminster might find more inspiration on their doorstep should they care to take a look.
Cratus will be doing it all again in Oxford next week, when we visit our Conservative councillor friends. Do get in touch with Alex Dismore (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a chat with our team.