Preston Lancashire

"Perhaps you already know something of the city. You may have read on these pages about its guerrilla localism, bringing tens of millions in public spending closer to home, so as to create more jobs and prosperity. How it has been praised by Jeremy Corbyn and how all the fuss prompted none other than Boris Johnson, the great silverback himself, to take a swipe at last autumn’s Tory conference: “I’m sure they’re an estimable bunch but Preston council are not the locomotive of the UK economy.” A jab swiftly parried by a study showing it to be most improved city in the UK. "
Preston, here in Lancashire, offers a model for a way forward that 'takes back control'. I spoke here at the Harris Museum Preston April 2018 , outlining the relationship between 'town and country'. The best place to develop this model in terms of food and farming is in the middle of Lancashire,as this county represents British farming overall - half arable, half pasture.
Preston had (2012-3) a combined annual spending power of nearly £750 million, but that only 5 percent of that stayed within the city. Preston chose to prioritise homegrown companies with stronger social and environmental policies instead and to develop local ownership, and local supply chains and works with key public, commercial and social anchor institutions to facilitate this.
The city now has 7 'anchor' organisations, each of whom try to practically promote rewarding local people. The University and Constabulary want to be a key part of the community, along with the City and the County Council. It means there is a mixture of Councils, companies, co-operatives and mutuals working together alongside the public institutions that is creating a new way to do business. Prospect Magazine
Preston Leaders visited Cleveland in the US to get ideas of how to improve matters in what is considered the 'rust bucket'. There are growing initiatives in Cleveland, that could be copied in Preston.

Local Authority Procurement of Food

Many people believe that EU rules for Local Authorities require them to follow competitive tendering procedure which hinder local sourcing. Local Authorities under EU rules should set tendering processes that allow anybody in Europe to compete for the contract. It has meant that big food service operations often win out as they know the rules and processes best. Some claim that coming out of EU releases us from these rules. But many EU cities manage to manage their affairs and encourage local produce. In the early 2000s Lord Whitty, then DEFRA Minister, organised a conference at ways to encourage public institutions to buy local food, and the emphasis was to use 'social value' in the tendering criteria.
Preston shows we do not need to Brexit to achieve what Local Authorities elsewhere in the EU achieve."In 2015, Lancashire County Council put a contract to provide school meals out to tender. That was impossibly large for local firms, so officers broke it into bite-size chunks. There was a tender to provide yoghurt, others for sandwich fillings, eggs, cheese, milk, and so on. One contract was split into nine different lots. It meant officials actually shaping a market to fit their society – and it worked. Local suppliers using Lancashire farmers won every contract and provided an estimated £2m boost to the county". Public Procurement Presentation I made in 2017 to Preston Food linking producers and procurers.
"A few minutes from the market is a lovely Georgian square where, among the solicitors’ and accountants’ firms, stands a statue of Robert Peel. Residents built it in gratitude for the Conservative’s repeal of the corn laws in 1846, the point at which Britain converted to free trade. It remains the establishment creed, but Preston’s guerrilla protectionism suggests how it might break down".

CAP funds.

What could we do with the $3 billion of EU funds going to landowners? We could bundle it all up and give it to local authorities, according to head of population, who would decide where it is most needed. So I have picked Preston (50th city) who would have about £20 m. Their responsibility is to distribute this according to need in the area, by giving people who struggle to buy decent food some sort of food cards that buy food produced ‘locally’ - like in the USA. (Obviously some definitions have to be sorted out). We want ‘local’ to help build local economies linking urban with rural. Instead of importing 50% of our food, we could create our own markets here, and many more people would benefit, and perhaps not go hungry anymore. This would counteract the globalisation, provide decent funds to make local growing projects work, and provide poorer people with decent food rather than the manufactured castoffs they get through food banks.
Beetroot Bond is proposed by RSA 'Food & Farming Commission' 2019 "Every person in the UK could be given a monthly dividend to spend on fresh, healthy, locally produced food as part of radical proposals to reform the farming system and avert the twin crises of climate change and deteriorating public health."


Moves to make public procurement more sustainable "France has set up a National Council for Collective Catering (CNRC) to ensure that at least half the food bought by the public sector in France will by 2022 be “organic, sustainable or under official signs of quality”.

Social Value Act

came into force in 2013. “Social value” is usually understood to refer to the “non financial impacts of programmes, organisations and interventions”. These usually refer to social and environmental impacts as well as to individual well-being. (More)

Most Improved Cirty

Preston is named as most improved City. It came out top of the Good Growth for Cities index, ahead of other major improvers like Hull and Middlesborough
“We needed to do something that was more resilient but also, crucially, put more democracy and ownership in the Preston economy,” Clr Brown in New StatesmanPreston residents embarrassed after Nando’s was voted the city’s ‘Restaurant of the Year’ and a Wetherspoon its best pub - despite many good independents including 'We Don't give a Fork'..
When this was on 'Have I got News for You' and asked why else people may come to Preston - Ash Sarkar explained about 'The Preston Model'

New Market

Following the crash of 2008 and its plans for a massive shopping complex, public money in Preston encouraged local produce. The new market opened in February 2018 proud of its local supplies.

Preston is becoming a fine example of 'New Municipalism'.

Matthew Brown & Hillary Wainright 'Modern Politics of Municipal Socialism'. More on Preston & Modern Socialism

Check out what this means for Barcelona Their major Ada Colau says politics takes place in an open public space, not a town hall.

Lancashire Business 'Bring Back a Billion'. Buy it in Lancashire

Improving Social Efficiency of local markets is not protectionism

More Case Studies coming here soon.
Here is the presentation I made at Harris Museum Preston April 2018 , outlining the relationship between 'town and country'. The case the best place to develop this model is in the middle of Lancashire, as this county represents British farming overall very well.Key characters in all this will be a co-operative to help smaller producers organise and Landworkers' Alliance who plan to boost horticultural production "Currently only 1% of the £3 billion agriculture budget is spent on horticulture. Over the last 30 years the area planted to vegetables in the UK has decreased by 26%..If Defra is serious about bringing health into the Post-Brexit agricultural policy, it is essential that they adopt a proactive approach to horticultural regeneration"
There are many similar initiatives in the UK, each with a slightly different flavour. There are several terms for this 'movement'. One is Community supported agriculture - the antithesis of global food chains. it is not just this country, but many others seeing a mini-boom in model of farming where growers sell direct to consumers. Growing food growing momentum (FEC blog) Develop rural entrepreneurs

Armed Forces Day July 2018

Fritters Sisters (left) couldn't make enough fritters. Spam fritters, potato cakes, vinegar cake. The Larder team summoned up some wartime recipes and shared stories of rationing at #ArmedForcesDay 2018, explaining how food rations were better for us!Some of the old wartime commandments looked just right to the younger generations on the Flagmarket .....