Author Archives: Darryl Smalley

I’ve had enough of nonference

I was hugely disappointed to see the recent decision to not return to an in-person spring conference in Spring 2022.

York has been proud to be the home of the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in recent years. A return in Spring 2022, after the terrible events of the last 18 months would have been a real boost to party morale. When we attend the 2022 Autumn conference, it will have been over 1,000 days since we last heard a leader’s speech from the hall.

Despite the Lib Dems being in administration in York since 2015, nobody in the party thought it necessary to pick up the phone and speak to us about the 2022 decision in advance of the announcement. As a party that champions local government, we should be putting our values into practice.

As City of York Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities, colleagues and I have been working with York Barbican, hoteliers and city partners to support them through the pandemic and help them welcome back visitors to our wonderful city, safely.

I understand the devastating effect that Covid continues to have on society and the need to  continue to take precautions to protect one another. As the son of a clinically vulnerable parent, I am acutely aware of the concerns that many of us have about holding large events at the present time. The poor management of the pandemic by the Government has left many of us understandably fearful that recent improvements can be swiftly undone by the upcoming winter.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 31 Comments

Looking back: How investing in our communities laid the foundations for tackling Covid-19 in York

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Just over a year ago I was appointed to the role of Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities in the new Lib Dem/Green partnership running City of York Council following the May elections of 2019.

I’m hugely proud of the way our team in York rose to the challenge presented by Covid-19. Lib Dems in local government (particularly those fortunate to be leading Councils), love nothing more than tweaking policy, putting values into practice, and pouring through budget papers with highlighters. We are no different in York. Little did we know 12 months ago that this effort was to be critical in stopping residents reach poverty and keeping them safe, with food in the cupboards and prescriptions delivered.

Our priorities for my corner of the Council centred on devolving budgets down to neighbourhoods and investing in community support. As we entered the Covid-19 crisis, these priorities came to be the bedrock of our community response.

In 2019, we announced a £4.5 million ward funding programme, to be spent by local councillors in ways that support their respective communities. Getting cash from the decision makers in the Council’s offices, to residents sat around the community centre table, was a point of principle we fought hard on in the local elections. For a community like mine, this meant our local area would benefit from £251k over the life of the administration. That’s already being spent on funding activities for young people, tackling adult isolation and improving infrastructure; new benches, bus shelters and road resurfacing.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 1 Comment
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