It is with municipal socialism that we can make a tangible difference in policy in the current political climate
The Fabians and its youth movement exist to make a difference in the lives of the people we seek to represent through helping shape the policies of the Labour Party in power.
The way we do that is through influencing the debate with our municipal socialist view point through the access we have with people who can make things happen. With Labour in opposition on a national level the best place for us to make a difference and prove that you can help people with left leaning politics is in Local Government. On Thursday (February 22nd) we had a manifesto discussion at the General Committee of the Tower Hamlets Labour Party ahead of the Local Elections for all seats in the Borough in May.
The influence we, the owners of the Fabian tradition, have can be seen throughout what policies have been proposed after a extended period of member consultation. It is with municipal socialism that we can make a tangible difference in policy in the current political climate local parties' manifesto creation process.
In Tower Hamlets there has been extensive consultation; with the motions we as a local party have passed, current programmes within the Labour run council, a full all member day of input from members on the broken down six policy areas, two separate email based inputs from local Labour members, input from the existing Labour Group of councillors on their ambitions for the future, separate follow up policy meeting on the six areas and a follow up on Thursday (February 22nd) to explore and add to the 186 different and ambitious pledges that have come out of the process.
After the discussion ended and Cllr Josh Peck, who unfortunately is standing down this time round, and Mayor John Biggs followed on to say that the meeting had given them enough additional points to increase the number of pledges to over 200. This has been an incredible process and I commend all involved for the sheer determination, effort and vision that it has taken to come up with what is an impeccable set of ideas that will transform this Borough. The list will now go to Labour Group at the Council for final input and approval before the document is confirmed.
This has been a brilliant process that has shown the strength of knowledge and creativity of the Tower Hamlets Labour Party and the strong and present vein of Municipal Socialism that runs through it.
Some of the highlights for me at this stage include:
- We will install water fountains in public places across the borough, introduce a Tower Hamlets water bottle and work with small business to establish a re-useable cup scheme for the whole borough
- We will plant 1000 street trees and install 50 ‘green benches’ with planting and cycle parking
- We will invest £13 million in a parks investment programme, prioritising those needing improvement, and will deliver at least 10 new pocket parks
- We will become London’s first Growing Borough
- All new roadwork schemes in Tower Hamlets will have the London Cycling Design Standards
- We will increase car club provision – including point to point schemes across the borough – and support them to swap to electric vehicles
- We have already signed the UK100 pledge, committing the Council to achieve 100% clean energy across the borough by 2050
- Ambition to have over 300 electric car charging points by 2025
- Create a charter to make Tower Hamlets safer for women and girls with the aim of reducing the level and impact of gender based violence in our borough, continuing to be a major priority in all the councils work
- We will continue to invest in universal free school meals for all primary school children and we will work with partners to explore how to tackle so-called ‘holiday hunger’ when young people aren’t receiving free school meals during school holidays
- We will continue to fund the Tower Hamlets Educational Maintenance Allowance to support young people from disadvantaged families to stay in education post-16 and campaign for the national EMA scheme to be restored
- At the last election, we pledged to deliver 1,000 new Council homes, owned and let by the council on secure tenancies – these are now either built, under construction or waiting for planning permission. In the next four years, we will start the delivery of additional 1,000 new Council homes on top of these
- We will work with other housing providers to secure another 4,000 homes for social rent
- We will create a Private Rental Enforcement Unit
- We will introduce a new Landlord Licensing Scheme to cover Houses in Multiple Occupation
- We will ensure that no family is housed in bed and breakfast accommodation for longer than six weeks
- We will expect developers to meet our targets for 35% of all new developments to be for social rent and 50% overall affordable and will adopt tougher standards of assessment
- We will support Neighbourhood Planning Forums, where there is demand for them
- Our flagship WorkPath service will support 5,000 local people into work
- We will explore setting up a publicly owned, municipal energy company to offer residents a trusted, cheaper local alternative for buying their electricity and gas
- We will campaign for a referendum on the final terms of any Brexit deal
- We believe that there should be a universal social care service, free at the point of use, and we will campaign for a national solution to this national problem. In the meantime, we will review adult social care charging
- We will continue to ensure that Tower Hamlets welcomes our new residents, including those fleeing harm or persecution and who need our, and our community’s, support. We have set up a New Residents and Refugees Forum and will roll out a Welcome to Tower Hamlets programme.
- We will continue to ensure that LBGTQ staff are valued by the Council as an employer and that we proactively work to make the council and our contractors a safe and supportive environment for our LGBTQ residents
- We will continue to force the Government to reverse its brutal and damaging cuts to Council Budgets, unfairly targeted at some of the poorest areas in the country, like Tower Hamlets
These are just some examples of what can be achieved through the member led policy creation and consultation process.
I for one can’t wait to take these pledges to the doorstep where they will have a real test with residents – I have no doubt that this local manifesto will prove a big hit and well done to all involved in writing it. This process is what being in the Fabians and the Labour movement is all about.
Adam Allnutt is a Young Fabians member and the Local Government Policy Liaison on the National Exec