Cllr Rebecca Langton’s Speech for Labour Local Government Conference

Good morning. I am pleased to welcome you here today. 

I can’t think of many more suitable locations for this conference than the socialist city of Nottingham.

As a Labour council, over many years, we’ve worked hard to demonstrate the difference Labour in power can make in our communities. 

We’ve developed a culture of municipal enterprise, a reputation for early years intervention and maintained a focus on our universal services.

We’ve kept hold of our bus company, now an award winning component to the best public transport network outside of London. We own some 27,000 council houses, with our ALMO Nottingham City Homes named UK Landlord of the year. And we now directly run street cleaning, parks maintenance, waste disposal, security, CCTV, traffic wardens, leisure centres, highways and many more.

But if there’s one thing that December’s election reminds us, it’s that we can never take for granted the support of our voters. We must never be complacent and assume that our council, town, city or ward will always be Labour because it always has.

There’s always more to do. And as one of nearly 2 dozen new Labour councillors elected last May, I’m committed to keeping our socialist legacy alive in Nottingham. And for the first time ever with a female majority on our council and cabinet, and our most diverse group ever, we’re making sure we are connected to our communities.

Because its by looking forward that we can keep a sense of vision and keep ourselves relevant to the communities we serve. We can’t just look back and ask for support based on what we’ve done. We have to look forward and campaign for votes for what we’re going to do.

So that’s why I’m excited about the work we’re doing around selective licensing, our investment in neighbourhoods, our clean and developing city centre, our ambitious plans to be the first carbon neutral city, our green flag award winning parks and our network of community centres. There are many exciting and innovative projects going on in Nottingham that we’re proud to be delivering in spite of the huge challenges we face. 

As we look ahead to the local elections this May, we’ll need to show voters across the country that it’s still Labour who has the vision, the values and the drive to make a difference for and with the communities we serve.

So thankfully, we’re not the only council putting Labour values into practice in local government:

¥ This year, Newcastle City Council became the first local authority to be named as Stonewall’s top employer 

¥ In Southhampton, the Labour council has developed a cooperative learning trust to boost school improvement as an antidote to forced acadamisation

¥ In Norwich, Labour have overseen an award winning programme of innovative new council homes

¥ And in Newham, the Council is pioneering a Community Wealth Building Strategy to address poverty and ensure investment benefits all residents

Across the country, Labour is leading in local government. As we face 5 years of majority Tory government, our Labour councils are the best opportunity we have to show voters the difference Labour in power can make.

And even in opposition, Labour councillors are still leading. Standing up to Tory cuts, showing resilience and commitment in representing their communities and presenting an alternative narrative to a government focused on slogans and rhetoric, not real lives and real change.

Whether in power or in opposition, the Labour party nationally can learn a huge amount from the work of dedicated councillors in this room and beyond. 

I’m pleased that the Leadership and Deputy Leadership candidates are joining us today. If we’re to work our way back into government, Labour councillors need a new relationship with our Leaders. 

One which recognises that we’re not just the foot soldiers of the Labour party. We are the ones fighting for the communities we must win back so that Labour can take power away from this damaging and dangerous government. 

Over the past year I’ve been part of the 14th edition of the LGA Labour Group’s Next Generation programme. I’d like to take a moment to thank the LGA and especially Martin Angus for the work he and the group do to support the next generation of local representatives.

It’s an outstanding programme, where I learnt a huge amount. But perhaps the most valuable thing I took away was the friendship and support that comes from spending time with inspiring people up against challenges familiar to the ones we’re all facing.

I’m looking forward to hearing our speakers and to the leadership debates. But just as much I’m looking forward to the conversations to be had over coffee and lunch, when by talking to and supporting each other, we can remind ourselves we’re not alone. We can all do our bit individually, but it’s collectively we have the best chance of transforming our communities and our country from the bottom up. Because if you put us together, we’re a formidable force of more than 6000 Labour councillors committed to making a difference. 

There are many important conversations to be had today and I’m looking forward to sharing these with you.

Once again welcome to Nottingham and thank you for coming to be a part of today.