Lambeth Council has today published detailed proposals that will see the South London authority become Britain’s first-ever co-operative council.
Lambeth’s co-operative council model – first trailed in the national media in February 2010 – will see residents take on a bigger role in running and shaping local services. The model applies the co-operative model of fairness, accountability and responsibility across a broad range of services. It is built on four years experience trialling the approach in specific services in Lambeth.
Lambeth’s leader, Councillor Steve Reed, has today published a white paper that identifies in detail these plans.
A Citizens’ Commission is being set up to consult local people on the proposals and is meeting for the first time today. The Commission will identify new services where the cooperative model can be piloted, and will explore how the approach can be rolled out across further service areas later this year. The Commission will also explore how an ‘active citizens dividend’ could be paid to reward people who get involved in running local services, possibly in the form of a council-tax discount.
At the same time the council has started a major public debate on the plans. The white paper is intended to form the starting point of a debate on the future of public services in Lambeth and over the coming months it is inviting as many members of the public, staff, partners and interested partners as possible to take part in shaping the plans.
The council has begun an on-line collaboration using a new Lambeth Co-operative Council ‘wiki’ – a special web site that allows visitors to comment on and edit the content, just like Wikipedia.
People can also join in the conversation on Twitter by using the hash tag #lambethcoop, and a Facebook group has been set up for people discuss the ideas.
Residents can also email their thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lambeth has led the country in exploring the cooperative approach to service delivery in recent years. The council has more tenant-managed housing estates than any other borough, and is transferring more assets to community control than any other council. Notable examples include Raleigh Hall in Brixton which is set to become the country’s first National Black Heritage Centre; the Weir Link children’s centre in Balham which is a service run by residents in a building built by the community; and the Old Lilian Baylis community sports hub operating out of a disused secondary school in Vauxhall that has won praise from leading politicians of all parties as well as international sports heroes like Usain Bolt and Michael Jordan.
Other community-led services already succeeding in Lambeth include 2XL, a peer mentoring programme that has dramatically cut youth reoffending levels on tough inner-city estates, the country’s first parent-promoted secondary school in West Norwood, and Community Freshview, an environmental programme that sees local people given tools and support to transform derelict or overgrown wasteland into community gardens or public spaces.
Lambeth’s Council leader, Cllr Steve Reed, said: “Lambeth has spent the past four years exploring how the community can get more involved in running local services. In widely different service areas like schools, housing and tackling crime we’ve learnt it can deliver better services that cost less. Now we will take the model further and become the first council in the country to apply cooperative values right across the board. Our model empowers people to get on and make the changes they want to see in their local area, building better services and a stronger civic society at the same time.”