Councillors: Conference is for you too!

2015 policy pitch autumn conference by Paul WalterThe vast majority of Liberal Democrat councillors don’t go to conference. There are good reasons, of course: locations, cost, time (especially sudden by-elections!). But there are always overwhelmingly good reasons to attend.

In the first place it is always amazing just how many colleagues from neighbouring authorities you come across and with whom you can share ideas, problems and even gossip. You may even come across members of your own council with whom perhaps you need to spend more time on business not entirely dictated by council officers.

Naturally, the Conference agenda and the fringe programme provide the main focus. This year’s Autumn Conference includes motions on homelessness (F9), parent governors (F20), as well as a question and answer session on Education (F19), which are of obvious interest to councillors. Less obvious are the various constitutional amendments, which, among other things, will secure councillor influence on key party bodies such as the new Federal Board and the Campaigns Committee. Dull, maybe, but eminently worthy.

In the fringe, there are ALDC events such as a fringe on ‘21st century campaigning’ on Sunday evening followed by the LGA group drinks reception or, at the same time, an ALDC session on refugees.

Monday lunchtime sees an LGA fringe on the impact on local government of the UK leaving the EU, with MEP Catherine Bearder, Adam Paynter, the Deputy Leader of Cornwall and Ian Stewart from Cumbria County Council. And in the evening there is an LGA Group session on ‘Technology in the Public Sector’.

The training programme provides ALDC drop-in sessions, media training, the exceptionally important issue of time management (the best few hours I have spent in training over the greater part of quarter of a century), a session on writing leaflet content (let’s face it – a lot of us could do rather better) as well as MyCouncillor web training. This is just a tiny selection of the overall programme.

It’s not too late to come to conference even now. And it could change the way you do things back at the ranch.

See you there!






* Chris White is a member of the Liberal Democrat Voice Editorial Team, a Liberal Democrat Councillor from St Albans and Deputy Leader of the LGA Liberal Democrat Group.

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