Councillor Tom Brook (Bishopston and Ashley Down - Labour and Co-operative) addressing the Co-operative Party
Councillor Tom Brook (Bishopston and Ashley Down - Labour and Co-operative) addressing the Co-operative Party's Local Government Conference, June 2018. Photo Credit: Co-operative Party

Local Labour and Co-operative Councillor Tom Brook spoke on behalf of Mayor Marvin Rees’ Labour administration at a Co-operative Party conference in London last weekend (9 June), where Bristol’s leadership on tackling modern slavery was praised by leading national figures.

Commenting, local Bishopston & Ashley Down Labour and Co-operative Councillor Tom Brook said:

“Like every area in the UK, and as the major economic hub for the region, Bristol faces the challenge of modern slavery. Our city is home to dedicated specialist organisations including Unseen and TISCreport[.org] who, like Mayor Marvin Rees’ administration, are committed to tackling this criminal practice head-on.

Bristol was the first city in the UK to commit to supply chain transparency and have developed a strong partnership with the police, Trades Union Congress, Business West, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, and many others to make a real difference. There is still more to do, and Labour-run Bristol City Council remains determined to eradicate this scourge while encouraging other councils across the country to do so too.”

Claire McCarthy, General Secretary of the Co-operative Party, said:

“We’re proud of the role that the Co-operative Party’s elected representatives across the UK are playing in efforts to tackle Modern Slavery. With this Charter, Labour & Co-operative councillors in Bristol are ensuring that the City continues to lead on this vital issue, setting new standards for ethics and transparency in their supply chains and ensuring nowhere to hide for perpetrators of this appalling crime.”

Jaya Chakrabarti MBE, CEO of TISCreport, added:

“Transparency in Supply Chains is the first step in eradicating modern slavery and corruption from our cities. I’m so very proud that my own city choose to lead by example and made the commitment to be the world’s first Transparent City at a time when most did not even know what it meant.  It is not by accident that world-changing anti-slavery leaders and organisations are based here.”



The theme of the recent Co-operative Party local government conference was ‘Being the Difference’ – highlighting the work of local Labour and Co-operative councillors to work with their communities to improve areas – which also covered Procurement, Modern Slavery, Community Wealth Building, Community Energy, Credit Unions, Tenant voice in the private rented sector, and increasing the size of the co-op sector.

There were an estimated 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK in 2013, according to the Home Office. A case study covering the experience of Mai, trafficked to the UK from Vietnam, can be found on Bristol Unseen’s website, here.

Local councils spend £40billion collectively on procuring goods and services each year, and are increasingly focused on how to ensure that their supply chains are free from exploitation. The charter, which goes further than existing government guidance and practice, includes pledges to challenge abnormally low-cost tenders, highlight the work of trade unions to contractors, publicise its whistle-blowing system, and regularly review and report on contractual spending to identify issues.

The full charter, which has also been signed up to by a number of councils in England, including Stevenage, Islington, Oxford, Waltham Forest, and Lambeth, can be found here.

Bristol’s commitment comes on top of Labour’s changes made to the council’s procurement regulations at last month’s annual meeting. These reforms redoubled efforts to break up contracts amongst smaller, local providers and charities while increasing the social value weighting to make it less likely that contracts are awarded outside the city. Under Labour, Bristol City Council increasingly spends inside of the BS1 – BS16 postcodes to strengthen the local economy, having created 150 local apprenticeships since 2016. Last year Bristol City Council spent £262 million in the city (37%), of which a quarter was with SMEs. City Office partners – including the police, NHS, and universities – are being encouraged to spend more locally by this administration., headquartered in Bristol, is the World’s largest Open Data Register committed to ending Modern Slavery and supply chain labour abuses, joining up Transparency In Supply Chains (TISC) reporting globally. Formed as a business membership organisation, TISC exists to empower the business community in hunting down and sustainably eliminating exploitation hidden within their supply chains. 15% of the 2018 Corporate Modern Slavery Influencers top 100 List are from the Unseen and TISCreport “fraternity”. More here.

Bristol’s Labour MPs have also helped raise awareness of the push for improved measures against modern slavery, including through initiatives like the Let’s Nail It campaign and the Co-op Group’s Bright Future programme. More here.


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