Councillor Lib Peck, Leader of London Borough of Lambeth, sees a rejuvenated local democracy with residents at the heart of decision-making in a cooperative approach to service delivery.
Councillors of 2043 look back on 2013 as a seminal moment in the evolution of local authorities. Starved of funding all councils faced a dramatic choice about their future direction.
Many decided that wholesale outsourcing was the only and cheapest way to deliver a shrunken menu of services. For other councils, such as the pioneering then London borough of Lambeth (now part of the South London authority) the dire financial situation added impetus to the cooperative approach that the Council had adopted several years earlier: putting residents at the heart of decision making. It meant identifying strengths and skills in the community and building on those; it meant that decisions were made on a social as well as financial basis. In doing so, the cooperative approach generated a wealth of innovative ways and means to deliver activities – with the council providing a platform to make things happen rather than delivering itself.
By 2043 it was generally agreed that the councils taking this cooperative approach had called it right, that it helped build and support strong resilient communities.
The councils of 2043 had become the connectors and enablers of local society: assessing local needs; joining up the right people and right organisations; enabling the most creative and socially productive projects; and critically, acting as the custodian of the peoples values.
As a result, the class of 2043 councillors were more reflective and representative of the local communities they served. They were more likely to host an online discussion forum than to deliver a leaflet. And, of course, the change in the electorate, which meant that 15 year olds had a full vote and any young person from the age of 11 had half a vote, had brought fresh political ideas to the fore.
In London the radical Social Mix Movement of 2020s re-emphasised the importance of politics. Tired of the increasing homogenisation of London culture brought about by high land prices and welfare cuts, SMM had been successful in its demand for policies to ensure London returned to having a genuine mix of people from different backgrounds and cultures. This prompted a renaissance in political thinking and action, which encouraged many to participate in local politics for the first time and helped to re-establish local councillors as a much respected profession!