As we recover from the crisis of Covid-19 and the impact on our community, our economy and our future we need a fresh start to bring our community together.

What does this look like in the Community?

What does this look like in the Council Chamber?

These must be linked if we are to create a thriving and prosperous future for everyone in our community. There are great examples around the Country of collaborative leadership between community and council. Our core objective as Chase Independents in bringing our community together will be achieved by sourcing the most progressive voices, solutions and ideas to deliver the best outcomes for the community of Cannock Chase.

 Our core philosophy is generating community wealth through a circular economy. By this we mean building a collaborative, inclusive and democratically controlled local economy. Underpinning it is a drive to replace extractive models of wealth ownership – those companies whose business model  rely on maximising profits to distant shareholders – with locally generative, democratic forms of wealth ownership, from employee-owned businesses, to SMEs, mutuals, municipal enterprises and community land trusts.

To start a journey we must know the destination and it is helpful to set out what Cannock Chase might look like with Chase Independents providing collaborative leadership.

  • A local economy built upon small business, entrepreneurialism and enterprise
  • A greater prevalence of community ownership in business
  • A thriving incubation hub mentality around business start-ups and growth
  • Businesses who support their peers in the community
  • Carbon neutral development as the norm for business parks and homes
  • A visitor economy through the activities of the Chase
  • Town centres thriving through the visitor economy, promoting the café culture and a service industry supported by the community
  • Regeneration of our High Streets through mixed use of residential, office, retail and leisure space
  • A cultural offering which is a connected programme from core locations across the three towns and through the villages and suburbs
  • A strong and vibrant community and voluntary sector leading initiatives within the communities of their interests
  • Green spaces rediscovered and appreciated by the community in everyday use
  • Active travel for both leisure and commuting where employment is close to where people live
  • Homes and community building sensitive to the environment and the heritage of the Chase
  • Well-developed leisure services, accessible to everyone living healthy, active lives
  • Reduced obesity, improved educational outcomes, longer lives and happier people
  • A free, honest and trusting relationship between council, Councillors and community based on participative democracy

To achieve this vision of Cannock Chase there are a number of core principles which need to be developed at pace and delivered with energy. There are some key examples of best practice which are live and being delivered through other councils in the country or networks which can be implemented in Cannock Chase. These include adopting the ideas of The Centre for Local Economic Strategies, New Local Government Network and Doughnut Economics. This also includes adopting and building on practices being delivered in Cornwall, Malvern Hills and Lewes and other places with models of collaborative leadership. The common theme here is Independent leadership, coalition or alliance administrations delivering through direct community engagement.

Some of this needs to evolve but in the Council Chamber this can start from a core of understanding collaborative leadership within our organisation, between partner organisations and across our community.

Initial steps towards this include

  • An investment in learning and development for officers and members around a new way of working which is outward looking
  • Cabinet roles which are aligned to corporate priorities and populated on skills rather than patronage
  • A positive relationship between the executive, scrutiny and the opposition elements of the Council Chamber
  • A plan of transition from a cabinet model of governance to one around whole chamber leadership and a committee structure
  • Align a way forward where there are structures to facilitate intimate community engagement around shaping, delivering and reviewing council priorities
  • Establish a Council of Reference from within the community to support the objectives of the Vision for the future including question of the week by email and social media, online and face-to-face forums etc.

The community wealth building approach is underpinned by five pillars

  1. Fair employment and just labour markets
    Anchor institutions, like the Councils, have a defining impact on the prospects of local people in Cannock Chase. A transparent and credible plan to promote recruitment from lower income areas, paying the living wage and building progression routes improve local economies.

  2. Progressive procurement of goods and services
    Developing dense local supply chains of businesses likely to support local employment and retain wealth locally: SMEs, employee owned businesses, social enterprises, cooperatives and community businesses. Cannock Chase businesses supporting each other and the community.

  3. Plural ownership of the economy
    Developing and growing small enterprises, community organisations, cooperatives and mutual ownership is important because they are more financially generative for the local economy – locking wealth in Cannock Chase.

  4. Socially just use of land and property
    Deepening the function and ownership of local assets held by the Council and other anchor institutions so that financial and social gain is harnessed by the residents of Cannock Chase. Develop and extend community use of public sector land and facilities as part of the community.

  5. Making financial power work for local places
    Increase flows of investment within the local economy of Cannock Chase by harnessing and recirculating the wealth that exists as opposed to attracting capital. This includes redirecting local authority pension funds and supporting mutually owned banks.

 

If Community Wealth Building is harnessed with doughnut economics, where we move away from extractive consumerism and apply the seven guiding principles below, we will build an economy for Cannock Chase fit for the 21st Century:

1.     Change the goal
We need to move the economy of Cannock Chase towards meeting the human rights of every individual in our community within the means of the planet and away from a fixation on GDP or Gross Domestic Product as the primary measure of progress. GDP has been used to justify gross inequalities of income and wealth along with unprecedented destruction of the living world.

2.     See the big picture
It is time to draw the economy anew, embedding it within Cannock Chase and within nature powered by renewable energy sources. This will challenge the efficiency of the market, the incompetence of the state and enhance the role of the community to shape its own destiny.

3.     Nurture human nature
Our basic, core instinct as human beings is that we are social, interdependent, approximating, fluid in values and dependent on the living world. We are not the economic portrait of the last century where people are shaped towards being self-interested, isolated, calculating, fixed in taste and dominant over nature.

4.     Get savvy with the systems
A local economy is complex and we need to consider a collaborative stewardship to serve our whole community rather than expect the economy to act in a linear nineteenth century Victorian mechanical equilibrium

5.     Design to distribute
A vibrant Cannock Chase economy for the twenty-first century goes beyond redistributing income to exploring ways to redistribute wealth, particularly wealth that lies with controlling land, enterprise, technology, knowledge and the power to create money. This will tackle the inherent inequality in our current economy where the systems are failed in design.

6.     Create to regenerate
Cannock Chase needs economic thinking that unleashes regenerative design in order to create a circular economy and restore our community as full participants of the future. A local economy driven by consumerism and wastefulness needs to be replaced by longevity.

7.     Be agnostic about growth
Many of us have been reflective of our circumstances in recent times as a consequence of the COVID crisis and this reflects on our wants and needs. To this end our challenge is to thrive and be prosperous in Cannock Chase but this does not come from GDP growth: many of us have found a simpler truth in our family, friends and neighbours.