A 2012 Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference Preview

This weekend, the Welsh Liberal Democrat family will be gathering in Cardiff for our spring conference.

This has become a staple part of my diary and this year sees me celebrate my 10th anniversary of attending Liberal Democrat and Welsh Liberal Democrat conferences.

So, what’s the message?

Well, unsurprisingly, we’re concentrating on the forthcoming Council elections: our record as Welsh Liberal Democrats in local government across Wales and our vision for the future.

It will all begin with the pre-conference rally on the Friday evening where Kirsty Williams will speak alongside current Councillors from across Wales and new candidates.

You’ll be hearing a lot about how Welsh Liberal Democrat-led Councils have the lowest council tax increases of all Welsh Councils. This proves that we believe in value for money and understand the pressures on family finances.

There will also be much talk about our support in investing in our children’s futures, Welsh Liberal Democrats secured the investment of £450 to each pupil on free school meals.. This will have a positive impact on schools  across Wales – brilliant news for Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillors, candidates and campaigners to take onto the doorstep.

Finally, there will be the reminder that Welsh Liberal Democrats deliver better services for local people – whether it’s the new leisure centre in Swansea, investing in new school buildings in Ceredigion or keeping the rates low in Cardiff.

So, what’s on the Agenda this year?

Policy Motions to democratise the National Parks, boost local economies, review business rates, call for a new law for park homes and debate the compulsory micro-chipping of dogs to name but a few..

Consultation sessions on the planning process and a Q&A session with the Federation of Small Businesses to stimulate wider debate.

Fringe events held by the likes of Community Housing Cymru, RNIB Cymru, the WLGA, the Electoral Commission, RCN Wales, Stonewall Cymru, Age Cymru and Oxfam Cymru as well as exhibition stands from MS Society Cymru, NASUWT Cymru, Crossroads Care and Action on Hearing Loss.

Training events will also give new and the not so new members like me an opportunity to hone and refresh our campaigning skills.

We shall also of course be hearing from our popular leader Kirsty Williams AM , our Deputy Leader Roger Williams MP and Cardiff City Council Leader Rodney Berman. There will also be a speech by a certain Nick Clegg MP!

Don’t forget the socialising!

Our conference dinner on the Saturday evening is THE set-piece event of the weekend and this year our guest speaker will be Bath’s Don Foster MP. That will be preceded this year by the annual local party event on the Friday night when the Cardiff Lib Dems shall entertain us all at the Lord Mayor’s official residence – The Mansion House!

Prior to that rather unusual setting for an evening, I will be speaking from the platform in the pre-conference rally which I mentioned at the beginning of this piece alongside Kirsty and colleagues from across Wales. On the 10th anniversary of attending my first conference in Llandudno, it is the first time I have been asked to speak in the rally. I will be immensely proud to talk about  my 8 years’ experience as a local Councillor. I shall also be chairing conference on  Saturday morning in front of live S4C television cameras in my native Welsh tongue!

So it is set to be a busy and exciting weekend, as ever! For me personally, the highlight is simply being in the company of now long-standing friends with the expectation of making new ones. It is an opportunity to renew that enthusiasm to campaign for our local communities. We believe in localism, we trust in the people. This coming weekend will further fire us up to go and take these messages onto the doorstep in the weeks ahead.

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