Friday, September 06, 2013

Co-operative Glasgow event

As mentioned yesterday; I was over in Glasgow this morning/early afternoon, for a Co-operative Glasgow event ...

... here is a copy of my speech-note, in case any of this is of wider interest?


Co-operative Glasgow
The Co-operative Capital Approach
SPEECH NOTES – 6th September 2013
Good morning colleagues and many thanks for that introduction Annemarie ...
... I was really delighted to receive the invite, via Archie, to speak at this morning’s launch event for ‘Co-operative Glasgow’.
As many of you will know, since the Local Elections in May 2012, we’ve been pursuing a ‘Co-operative Capital Approach’ over in Edinburgh. And it was good to hear from Jim McMahon just now about the Oldham experience, because prior to last May, it was hearing just such experiences from several other Local Authorities, from across the UK, which proved to be a catalyst for our efforts in Edinburgh.
And, I do know only too well that what works (or is good) for Edinburgh may not work (or be good) for Glasgow – there are, after all, some minor differences between our two great cities:
·        Edinburgh is – for now – somewhat smaller
·        Our weather is far, far better!
·        But at least we do have 2 pandas – with hopefully more on the way any day now
·        And in a stroke of culinary genius, we put sauce on our chips and you – rather bizarrely – put vinegar on yours: why??
·        And probably - the most irreconcilable difference is that I’m the Council Leader of a Labour/SNP Coalition and – well; Glasgow politics is somewhat different :-)
BUT – much more seriously – the challenges of delivering good quality local services to our respective constituents; has HUGE similarities across our two cities, regardless of our own political affiliation and foibles.
Thus – I do hope my comments in the next 15-minutes or so will be taken in the spirit they are intended ...
... if elements of what we’re doing in Edinburgh can be of practical use to Glasgow, then I’d be absolutely delighted –
... but if elements of our Co-operative Approach are not applicable to Glasgow, then absolutely fine; and I hope they may - at least – be of some interest.
So – in that spirit, I’d like to cover three main areas which I hope will illustrate what we’re trying to do in Edinburgh:
1.   Firstly, I think a brief canter through the recent history of how we got to where we are – as a city - could be useful, as it will hopefully illustrate the rationale as to ‘why’ we embarked on a Co-operative Approach.
2.   Secondly, I thought I’d obviously cover just what it is we are actually now doing within our Co-operative Capital Approach – our content.
3.   And thirdly, I want to link that Co-operative Approach; to our very significant efforts to try and ‘do politics differently’, as I believe the two are inextricably inter-twined.
So firstly, by way of recent history… I think you’d need to be inhabiting a wholly different world from the one I live in, if you weren’t aware that trust between the electorate and those of us either elected, or employed, to serve that electorate, has broken down badly.
It’s not a malaise that just affects Councils, or is unique to Edinburgh; or Glasgow; or Oldham; but as a starting point, I believe it has to be openly acknowledged.
Because for me, we’ll never successfully re-invigorate our local democracy if we can’t even bring ourselves to acknowledge that there’s a problem to solve.
So; in the run-up to the Local Elections last year – the first Scottish Local Elections since the MP-expenses scandal and the financial-crash ... the previous poll having been in 2007, before either of those events ...
... so, in the run up to that 2012 Local Poll, we knew without any shadow-of-a-doubt that we had to have a very different approach and a very bold offer to put before the electorate.
And the experiences of Councils like Lambeth, Newcastle, Stevenage, Oldham and several others who were already pursuing a Co-operative Approach ... did have a great influence on our thinking.
It led us to take – what at the time – was seen as a huge gamble, by publishing a fully worked-up Draft Manifesto a full 6-months prior to the actual Election, in November 2011.
That Draft Manifesto had a raft of Co-operative commitments, based on a combination of local experience and external influences; from many of the Councils I’ve just mentioned – and we thereafter consulted on those Draft proposals, all the way through to early February 2012.
Remarkably we received over 100 full-submissions from organisations in Edinburgh to that consultation; and just over 1,000 submissions from individual members of the public. It really did set the tone for our local election campaign.
We changed the Draft in late February, based on the feedback we’d received, and published the final version in March on the first-day of the Local Government Elections formal campaign.
Now I mention all of this to partly illustrate that it was events and interactions – just like this event today – that led us to where we now are ...
… and also to underscore that the ‘gamble’ to acknowledge we didn’t have all the answers and to ask local residents for their help and input; did pay off electorally.
But it also hopefully marks out that our Co-operative content and our Co-operative approach of doing things differently  - both of which I’ll expand on in a second - both took shape as a direct result of that very early decision that political business as usual, just simply wasn’t an option.
And, I’m delighted to confirm, that political business as usual, we are not in Edinburgh experiencing!
So that does lead me to my second point --- what about the content of our Co-operative Capital Approach?
It’s a difficult concept to sum up in a few words; but the best I can do in relation to our overarching content in Edinburgh is that: we wanted to become a Council which did things ‘with people’ and stopped doing things ‘to them’ …
… and let’s be honest, not just in Edinburgh I’m sure, Local Councils have in the past, all too often adopted a ‘top-down’ approach that didn’t always reflect, or respect, local input.
And, in essence, what Edinburgh’s new Coalition wanted to do was to start a process of radically transforming the way that services were planned, managed and delivered; and to move Edinburgh towards being a more ‘Co-operative Council’.
We want Council services to be transformed by shifting power; so that the Council is working much more ‘in partnership’ with the local people it is ultimately there to serve.
That’s obviously not going to happen overnight and it won’t apply to all of our Council’s services … but as evidence from elsewhere has proven, small beginnings can lead to a major transformation in service design and delivery …
… and, crucially, can lead to a real transformation in the relationship between the electorate and those elected and employed, to serve them.
This approach is about giving local people a refreshed sense of choice and control, over the public services they use.
And to date, we have identified six key themes we are progressing as part of our co-operative approach, these are:
(i)                   co-operative societies – we’ve established a Co-operative Development Unit to ensure the delivery of more energy, child care, social care and housing services in the city … I’ll say a bit more about each of these in a second
(ii)                  co-operative community engagement - refreshing and revitalising our committees and arrangements to place communities at the heart of decision making
(iii)                co-operative procurement - integrating community benefit clauses into contracts and deploying public social partnerships to design services
(iv)                co-operative education - further improving our work on parental and community co-operation with schools and encouraging more co-operation amongst school clusters and
(v)                 co-operative services – generally; doing what we can to place service-users at the heart of service design and service delivery.
(vi)                co-operative Corporate Social Responsibility – seeking a commitment from businesses to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as the local community and society at large...

Now; the way different services in Edinburgh work, will – and does -  vary, but the objective of finding new ways of working in partnership with local people will remain constant.
And over recent months, we have certainly not considered turning absolutely all services into co-operatives, and we certainly have not simply replaced skilled professionals with volunteers.
It has though been about giving local people a renewed sense of choice and control over the public services they use.
So – such a co-operative approach does put people much more at the centre of decision-making and provide the opportunity to develop new and imaginative ways of supporting communities, empowering people, delivering services and caring for public assets.
We are working to develop a new partnership with local people, in a radical bid to improve public services and strengthen local communities.
As I said earlier --- instead of doing things to our communities, a ‘Co-operative Edinburgh Council’ will work with our communities to make sure local services meet the needs of local people.
It is marking the end of top-down services where residents are expected to put up with what’s on offer.
For all of us – Elected Members and Officers - it’s certainly proving to be a challenge …
… and, as I’ll outline in a minute, it’s not just about developing cooperatives; but has to be about a whole new approach to the way we work, and the way we engage with our electorate.
But in relation to developing co-operatives, what has it meant on the ground over these first 18-months … I’ll briefly mention each of the four areas we have chosen to focus on:
·              Childcare
·              Social Care
·              Energy
·              & Housing
1.   Childcare and Education
We have established an SLA with LAYC to support the Out of School Care sector, to identify and help those who wish to transition to co-operative status. One club has applied to the Co-operative Enterprise Hub and the process involved with this club will provide a road map for others wishing to change their governance arrangements.
There is substantial interest from clubs in the development of strategies for mutual collaboration and co-operation including the development of a “co-operative charter.”
The Co-operative Education Trust is working with the Broughton Cluster of schools to develop an action plan that will include transition activities based on co-operative principles, values and practices between nursery, primary and secondary schools.
2.   Health & Social Care
Employee Owned Social Care Co-operative
As part of our Market Shaping Strategy we are supporting the development of personalised services and self directed support to launch an Innovation Fund (£300K in 2013/14 and £100k in 2014/15.  We are specifically inviting applications to the Fund, to be launched on 1 October 2013, for a contribution of up to £50,000 towards the costs of establishing an employee owned health and social care co-operative. 
Edinburgh Development Group Care Co-operative
The Edinburgh Development Group has asked for support and advice with a view to establishing a Care Co-operative for the benefit of adults with severe disabilities, to be managed by their parents/ siblings.  The aim is to establish a workforce, providing care and support. The aforementioned fund will provide a route for the Group to apply for the modest funding they need to progress the formation of the co-op.
Workforce Learning & Development Co-operative
We are exploring funding options to make CEC/NHS Lothian e learning/workforce development tools available to voluntary/private sector health and social care services, via co-operative venture, to standardise the induction and other training all care workers in Edinburgh receive, regardless of who their employer is. 
Departmental Co-operative Development Team
We are establishing a dept team to raise awareness of co-operative development opportunities and better co-ordinate our response to expressions of interest in these.
3.   Energy Cooperative Initiatives
Edinburgh Community Energy Projects Group has identified three priorities:
·        Solar PV on Public Buildings:
·        Electric Vehicle Charging Points across the city; and
·        District Heating / CHP.
Edinburgh Community Energy Co-op is working with CEC on a solar photovoltaic and is currently identifying suitable locations for these projects.
Citywide Residential ESCO
A group of housing associations has researched the potential of an energy supply company to benefit tenants. They will develop a business plan with a view to being operational in 2014. Castle Rock Edinvar will work with CEC to take this forward.
Harlaw Hydro
Harlaw Hydro is an Industrial Provident Society created by the Balerno Village Trust to install and operate a micro-hydro electricity generator at Harlaw Reservoir.  A community share offer raised the funds for this. Income generated will allow Harlaw Hydro Ltd to contribute to projects in the local area through the Balerno Village Trust.
4.   Cooperative Housing Arrangements
A Cross Party Political Sounding Board for co-operative approaches to housing has been established and the first meeting was held on 20 March 2013.
We are developing our co-operative approaches to housing through:
·        Reviewing and researching the existing co-operative models in place;
·        Exploring tenant and customer commitment to co-operative models; and
·        Evaluating the ‘value for money’ implications of co-operative models.
Opportunities for co-operative housing/ estate management are being explored for new developments at West Pilton and Greendykes with a view to developing a model for Community Co-ops to be piloted with new tenants from 2014. 
We are considering whether Community Land Trusts provide a co-operative model for delivering new homes.
We are exploring potential for a community led co-op approach to furniture and support for new tenants and residents. Discussions have taken place with ETF and work is being taken forward through our Empty Homes Action Group.
And whilst these 4 broad areas are our initial targets, we are absolutely not excluding progress in other areas if opportunity– and beneficial circumstance - arise.
And we have a Conference Event just next month to publicly update on progress across these areas, and that will feed in to a formal report to go before our Full Council Meeting in November this year, ensuring proper scrutiny of these activities.
And that does lead me to my third point; and the linkage to our very significant efforts to try and ‘do politics differently.
Because – for me - all of this has to be part of a wider, new approach.
As already mentioned, the outcome of last year’s local election in Edinburgh led to a local coalition between Labour and the SNP.
We agreed a clear set of some 53 commitments, in a new ‘Contract with the Capital’.
That contract was openly published, and within weeks, the ‘monitoring against delivery’ of our promises was live and very visible via the front-page of the main Council website … and continues to be so, with six-monthly reports going to Full Council Meetings.
But the delivery of those promises can’t be a one-way street, there has to be an on-going, two-way dialogue, with residents, about their role in just what their Council does for the remaining 4-years.
That new approach to the way we work, and the way we engage with others, has included some definite actions in making the vision of a cooperative council a reality:
1.   We have established the first Petitions Committee, and petitions process, in Edinburgh. That Committee is Chaired by a Member of Edinburgh’s Opposition Green Group. This has all helped enable local residents to have an additional channel to raise issues of concern, with their elected representatives, and directly with the Council.
2.   We have completely overhauled our scrutiny function; and established a new Governance, Risk and Best Value Committee; again Chaired by a Member of Edinburgh’s Opposition Conservative Group.
3.   We have also completely revised our budgetary process, which has led to the publication of a draft budget – for the first time in decades, in Edinburgh. We published that draft budget in November last year, and for this upcoming 2014/15 Budget we’re actually publishing our draft next Friday allowing a full 3-months of public consultation prior to this Christmas, and the eventual setting of the final budget in February.
4.   We’ve also created a renewed focus on neighbourhoods and communities within our decision-making structures, and ‘worked-up’ proposals for the next stage in the development of our Neighbourhood Partnerships (Neighbourhood Committees) will be put before the Full Council for debate and decision just next month.
5.   We’ve also ensured direct, parental representation within our Education’ decision-making processes, by placing a Parental Rep. on our main Education Committee, with the same voting-rights as any other Member on that Committee.
6.   And last – but by no means least – we’re webcasting (both live and archived) all of our Full Council Meetings, and an increasing number of our regular Committee Meetings.
The cumulative impact of all these considered-changes has been fairly significant … and we have re-gained some degree of trust and a renewed sense of engagement with residents;
but, there is undoubtedly a long, long way to go – and continuing to deliver on both the Co-operative Content and on ‘doing politics differently’ are crucial not just for this year, but for every remaining year of this current Council-term …
… we know that keeping up this level of commitment will be challenging for both Elected Members AND Officers;
But all of the changes I’ve mentioned this morning, will undoubtedly help us learn further lessons …
-      upon which additional changes to the way we work, as a Council, can be continuously developed
-      and upon which future co-operative developments can be designed and delivered, right across Edinburgh.
We do need a new culture of ‘letting-go’ and, wherever feasible, putting residents and service-users at the heart of service design and service delivery.
And that’s what we’re working – slowly but steadily – towards.
So, in conclusion, I’ve briefly tried to cover:
1.   a canter through the recent history of how we arrived at our current destination and decided to pursue a Co-operative Capital Approach
2.   just what it is we are actually now doing within that Approach – our content.
3.   And thirdly, the very significant efforts we’ve made to try and ‘do politics differently’.
I hope it’s been of some interest …
… Thank you very much for listening –
- and I’ll be delighted to answer any questions in the forthcoming sessions on today’s agenda.

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