In a speech to party councillors on Saturday, the Labour leader will say it is crucial for local authorities to reverse the privatisation of public services, pointing to cases where councils are already “taking measures to bring services back in-house and reject costly PFI-style models”.
He will say this is happening at a time when the “whole edifice of the ‘private good, public bad’ dogma has crumbled” and Labour councils are leading the way in protecting the public from austerity.
“With amazing creativity in the toughest of times, we are seeing the first shoots of the renaissance of local government for the many, not the few – the rebirth of municipal socialism,” Corbyn is to say.
He is then expected to defend the party executive’s unanimous decision to ask Labour-run Haringey council to reconsider its decision to introduce a controversial private-public housing scheme. The furore resulted in the resignation of its chief executive, Claire Kober, who accused some of her critics of intimidation and bullying.
At the speech in Nottingham, Corbyn will suggest this intervention was a one-off in exceptional circumstances, after the decision led to concern among other elected council leaders about the national executive committee (NEC) getting too involved in local policy.
“It has been a unique situation, which is why the NEC unanimously asked the council leadership to put their plans on hold and take part in a mediation process – to bring everyone together,” he will say.
“Because when we bring people together and listen to everyone’s voices, we make better decisions. Democracy creates better outcomes for communities … Regeneration must put local people first, not property speculators. That’s why Labour is committed to giving residents the right to a ballot across the country so that when we’re in government we can deliver real regeneration for the many, not the few.”
Labour took the unprecedented decision last week to ask Haringey to reconsider the plans to go into partnership with developer Lendlease to build 6,400 new homes in the borough.
The scheme, known as the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), was approved in July by the council, which has promised to replace existing council houses and rehouse current tenants. Kober’s successor will now decide whether to abandon the scheme.
Its critics say the HDV would bulldoze existing council estates without effective guarantees that existing tenants would be able to return, and puts billions of pounds of public assets partially into private hands.
The scheme has been extremely divisive in the local party, leading to the deselection of several Labour councillors who supported the project. Two local MPs, David Lammy and Catherine West, have also expressed concerns about the scheme.
However, some within Labour were also outraged by the NEC’s decision to intervene in local politics. Last weekend, the leaders of over 70 councils, including Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and many London boroughs, said the actions of the NEC were “dangerous and alarming”, “uncomradely and disrespectful” and “an affront to the basic principles of democracy”.
This article was written by Rowena Mason Deputy political editor, for theguardian.com on Saturday 3rd February 2018 06.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010