Ed Miliband visits UCLan for community conference
Former Labour Party leader among special guests
A former leader of the Labour Party has visited Preston to hear about the city’s efforts to tackle inequality and keep profits local.
Ed Miliband MP attended the Preston Social Forum Community Wealth Building and Taking Back Control mini-conference to hear about the positive new initiatives that are making the city a more co-operative, creative and equitable place to live, work and do business.
The MP for Doncaster North was joined at the event by Ted Howard, from The Democracy Collaborative in the United States of America; Mikel Lezamiz, from the Mondragón Cooperative group in Spain’s Basque country, and others.
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 event, organised by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Preston City Council, heard about recent successes in localising the procurement of goods and services spent within Preston and the wider Lancashire community by the city’s financial ‘anchor institutions’ and plans for a cooperative future for Preston.
"We were absolutely delighted to welcome Ed Miliband, Mikel Lezamiz and Ted Howard to the University for this very exciting event."
The audience, in UCLan’s Mitchell and Kenyon Cinema, also heard from the new Preston Cooperative Development Network and the ongoing progress of the Lancashire Community Bank.
Dr Julian Manley, UCLan Research Fellow, 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 Matthew Brown, Cabinet Member for social justice, inclusion and policy at Preston City Council, added: “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."
"The city council is proud to be involved with this initiative and hopes to strengthen and continue the great work being done."
“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.
“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.”
Main photo: From l-r Julian Manley, UCLan Research Fellow; Councillor Matthew Brown, Cabinet Member for social justice, inclusion and policy at Preston City Council; UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas; Ed Miliband MP; and Joel Arber, UCLan Pro Vice-Chancellor of External Relations.