Please find attached a link to Labour:COAST&COUNTRY'S 2019 Manifesto for that years local elections "A Manifesto for 2019: Towns of England, your time has come".
Built on discussions, members meetings and wider engagement with Labour members from across the country, as well as a number of round tables with Labour MPs representing some of the coast and country seats we need to win for an absolute majority, it highlights the importance of engaging with the communities of our towns, and villages particularly of England. Many of the issues and challenges faced by these communities are those that Labour already fights to address in urban areas, e.g. lack of social care provision, the challenges of transport and connectivity, access to education and particualrly training for young people, availability of decent jobs,
In the Manifesto we propose three headline policies to demonstrate Labour's engagement with the communities of coast and country - first that every community deserves, if not requires, decent connectivity, reinfoced by the pandemic. We sharpen that proposal with a focus on those communities without a bus service - they should get fibre first.
To ensure these communities get a fair response from public servcies they should be involved much more effectively in local decision making, from a strengthening of neighbourhood planning to a stronger voice in decisions about service provision and access.
Then to ensure these communities have a continued stronger voice Labour must secure a devolutionary settlement for England that works - not the adhoc merging of councils of this government, nor the super unitary counties of the Brown government, something that reflects local interest and gives a fair distribution of power across the country. We have proposed an approach based on pairing up Districts with a strengthened town and parish tier so ensure decent representation and access even in geographically large areas.
Only Labour can formulate a fair and meaningful devolutionary settlement for England, one that gives back agency (trumping taking back control).
This will have consequences for how we view the environment and energy - all too often areas of coast and country are seen to be ripe for energy infrastructure (mostly for urban users) with little respect for the place and peope already there, their culture and their environment. Under a Labour government we must get much better at reducing energy demand, maximising our capture of renewable energy, especially solar, everywhere (given its ubiquity every home could become a 'power station'*) AND fairly repaying those communites that host the energy infrastructures still required - such an approach is both better for those communites and better for nature.
These proposals also have consequences for the way Labour organises policy and campaigning, ranging from the need to have vocies in Labour and on the NEC from areas we wish to represent, to a properly supported network for Labour members who are Town or Parish councillors, a stepping stone to a revialised Operation Toehold. Our work with Labour members and CLPs across the country has provided a range of insights which we are happy to share in more detail.
The Labour:COAST&COUNTRY network looks forward to working with the front bench, and the Party's policy and campaign teams to offer communities of coast and country the Labour representation they need.
Further reading, including the call for a Rural Strategy for England can be found here -
Further reading on Homes as power stations - https://www.swanseabaycitydeal.wales/projects/homes-as-power-stations/