Paint Your Town Red: How Preston Took Back Control and Your Town Can Too


This title is currently only available in the UK. Orders for the EU and US will be subject to a delay, as the book is currently out of stock.


Paint Your Town Red tells the story of how one city in the north of England decided to level up without waiting for Whitehall.


Over the last decade, Preston City Council and its partners have earned Preston the title of Most Improved City by generating and democratising wealth at a local level. Through the experience of Preston City Council’s leader Matthew Brown, a main advocate of the new Democratic Economy and the driving-force behind the world-recognized Preston Model, this book explores how local actions can meaningfully transfer economic, social and political power back to communities.


But beyond Preston, Community Wealth-Building is a significant and growing movement in the UK and across the world. Using analysis, interviews and case studies to examine how a variety of local communities are applying similar principles to take control of their own circumstances, Paint Your Town Red gives us a blueprint for the wholesale transformation of our currently failing economic system.

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Matthew Brown

Matthew Brown is Labour’s leader of Preston City Council and a Senior Fellow for the Democracy Collaborative, tasked also with promoting Community Wealth Building across the UK and abroad.


  • Matthew Brown is Labour’s leader of Preston City Council and a Senior Fellow for the Democracy Collaborative, tasked also with promoting Community Wealth Building across the UK and abroad.

  • Rhian E. Jones is former editor of New Left Project and author of Clampdown: Pop-Cultural Wars on Class and Gender, Petticoat Heroes and Triptych. She writes for various publications including the Guardian, Los Angeles Review of Books and the Morning Star.

“At a time when the challenges our society faces can often seem too remote and complex to tackle, Paint Your Town Red provides activists and campaigners with a critical insight into how they can transform their local economies from the ground up."

Grace Blakeley, author of Stolen

"A very useful tool to describe how cities and towns can assess their current socio-economic paradigms and formulate new social transformation models based on economic democracy. Preston is leading today what Mondragon was starting decades ago."

Ibon Zugasti Gorostidi, Mondragon Cooperative Corporation

“This book is everything we need right now — a how-to guide to municipal socialism that works, right now in the present day, compiled by one of the contemporary left’s best writers and one of its best councillors. Informative, clear, passionate and thoughtful, it should be mandatory reading for all socialists.”

Owen Hatherley, author of Red Metropolis

"Of all the political experiments tried in the UK over the past decade of painful austerity and polarisation, what’s happening in the city of Preston ranks easily among the most daring and intriguing. Based on guerrilla localism and a willingness to build alternatives, the Preston experiment offers genuine and realistic hope to all those cities and towns and suburbs failed by this brutal, mutant strain of capitalism. This is an honest story of how it began ­– co-written by councillor Matthew Brown, one of the tiny band who got it going – and the lessons it can teach the rest of us."

Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian

“A timely reminder that despite years of austerity and neoliberalism there are now genuine economic alternatives emerging in many towns, cities and regions across the UK. As Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer I supported the work in Preston and Community Wealth-Building more widely as the foundation for a new democratic economy. What is exciting is how this movement has grown in the last few years and how it is internationalist in nature. Paint Your Town Red describes how this happened and importantly how you can get involved.”

John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington and former Shadow Chancellor

"At a time of compounding economic, social and environmental challenges, Paint Your Town Red offers a powerful and detailed roadmap for how local public authorities, institutions and citizens can leave deprivation behind and rebuild their communities."

Gar Alperovitz & Ted Howard, Co-Founders, The Democracy Collaborative

“This well-conceived pamphlet offers an alternative solution to localised decline: ‘community wealth-building’, which couples local regeneration with local empowerment by developing ‘small and socially conscious enterprises, including worker-owned businesses, community land trusts and community banks’.”

New Statesman

“The ‘Preston model’, as it is called, could, if applied all over the country, be revolutionary."

The Observer

“Preston’s Matthew Brown has co-authored Paint Your Town Red with writer and historian Rhian E Jones, explaining how the Preston model works and providing a toolkit for towns that want to reproduce its successes."

The Independent