Council elections in England
22nd March 2021
Ahead of the local council elections taking place in England 6 May, we would like to invite CSA members to write to their local elected leaders and ask them to support CSA in their local area.
Some ways to get involved:
- As soon as candidates in your local area are announced, you can write to them to introduce yourself, your CSA or food partnership and ask them where they stand in the issues you care about. Send them your ideas and priorities. (See ‘writing to candidates’ below).
- Research who the candidates are standing for local elections in your ward and local area. Mayor candidates are usually announced well in advance but councillor candidates for different wards may not be announced until the 9th of April deadline. Good sources of information are the webpages of your local political parties, local media or websites such as https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/ or https://candidates.democracyclub.org.uk/elections/.
- Participate in hustings and ask Q’s (Question ideas below).
- Invite candidates to visit your CSA or food partnership.
- Congratulate winners and arrange follow up meetings.
- See if your area has a Sustainable Food Place and consider working with them to engage local authorities or ask them to include support for CSAs in their elections outreach work.
Writing to candidates
Sustain and Sustainable Food Places have produced a useful toolkit including a template letter and list of questions to ask candidates at hustings, and are inviting everyone in England to write to their local elected leaders and ask them to support a food partnership in every local area. We suggest using this toolkit and adapting it to ask for support for CSA’s. Some suggested text:
Support Community Supported Agriculture in your area as a growing answer to concerns around sustainability, resilience and transparency in the food system.
CSA is an innovative farming model which provides fair, stable incomes for farmers and increases access to locally produced food while strengthening communities and increasing understanding of how sustainable farming protects, restores and enhances biodiversity and addresses climate change.
List of hustings
We suggest attending hustings to ask council candidates their position on food and farming and get community supported agriculture onto their agenda.
- West of England Mayoral hustings 19th April 2021
- Bristol Mayoral hustings 27th April 2021
- Greater Manchester Combined Authority Mayor Hustings – 20 April
- Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Mayor Hustings – 21 April
- West Midlands Combined Authority Mayor Hustings – 22 April
- Tees Valley Combined Authority Mayor Hustings – 22 April
- West of England Combined Authority Mayor Hustings – 28 April
- Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Mayor Hustings– TBC
Please let us know if there are any food, farming, environment, health related hustings we may have missed.
Suggested Qs to send to councillors and to ask in hustings
Do you pledge to support community supported agriculture?
Community farming enterprises are at the heart of the local food economy. They provide training, education, and employment and contribute to health and wellbeing activities by providing fresh, healthy, locally grown food and volunteering opportunities. Every £1 invested in Local Food is shown to return between £6 and £8 to society in the form of social and economic outcomes including health and well-being, training and skills.
Will you create a clearly defined food strategy / growing strategy?
Under the Community Empowerment Act 2015, all Scottish Local Authorities are required to produce a food growing strategy for their area. A food growing strategy led by the council can improve access to land for food-growing, improving food security, community cohesion and health benefits.
Can you improve access to land – local authority smallholdings, agroecological land trusts, save county farms?
The number of small farms is dramatically declining and the number of country farms has halved in 40 years. Local authority smallholdings are an important resource and should be maintained however these are often oversubscribed. Local authorities can register significant land holdings (including farms) as ‘assets of community value’ to ensure that communities are consulted on any changes of use and reduce the loss of holdings. Protection could be readily achieved by amending section 8 of the 1925 Allotments Act so that County Farms are made subject to the same protections as statutory allotments. County Farms are a valuable public asset owned by local authorities, enabling entry into the farming industry to young or first-time farmers through affordable, below-market rates.
Remove planning barriers for agroecological farming
Local authorities can promote and protect land for food growing in the Local Plan. Including allocation of land for ‘starter farms’, use of meanwhile leases to enable food growing to take place when development is stalled and the promotion of food growing in public places. Local Development Plans should stipulate that new development sites must integrate growing spaces for market gardens and CSAs. Preference could also be given for granting permission to farm business infrastructure and temporary accommodation at these sites as well as approval of food processing and distribution facilities located near the agricultural sites. Development plans could even set aside affordable housing near or on agricultural sites for landworkers.
- A Team and CSA Network – Food & Farming, a climate solution
- Sustainable Food Places – engaging with local authorities