As part of our United Kingdom of Solutions, we explore a bold approach to resources in Preston. The Lancashire city has shown radical spirit in the face of austerity
The Lancashire city of Preston is blazing a trail by shunning privatisation and creating worker-owned co-ops to provide local services instead. Like nearby Liverpool and Manchester, the city has a strong history of radicalisation but 15 years ago, found itself full of empty shops and with the highest suicide rate in England.
When plans for a new £700m shopping centre fell through, Preston took a different tack. The idea now is to keep the city’s money as close to home as possible so that, despite major spending cuts nationally, the amount spent locally goes up. According to research by Guardian journalist Aditya Chakrabortty, just £1 of every £20 spent in Preston in 2013 remained in the city. Much of the rest went to building firms headquartered in London, or globally.
Now, Preston City Council is helping public bodies and major local employers to change their procurement policies, protecting businesses and jobs.
In 2013, six local public bodies spent £38m in Preston and £292m in all of Lancashire. By 2017, those totals were £111m in Preston and £486m throughout Lancashire.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is among those to have lauded the city’s “inspiring innovation” in the face of adversity – and austerity.
Image: Preston Bus Station: Heritage Images / Getty Images
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