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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
2. See the big picture
3. Nurture human nature
4. Get savvy with the systems
5. Design to distribute
6. Create to regenerate
7. Be agnostic about growth
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