Ed Davey uses first speech to highlight Lib Dem successes in local government

I did something today that I don’t think I’ve ever done before in the best part of a quarter of a century of membership – attended an ALDC AGM. The Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners provides the heartbeat to which council candidates and their teams work. If you follow their advice, you are way more likely to win. The ALDC mindset is to be plugged into your local community and working hard for local people all year round.

They usually have their AGM at conference and it almost always clashes with something else I have to do, but I went this morning to see Baroness Ros Scott chairing and a lively discussion about how the Tory plans to rip the heart out of local government are a very bad idea.

The AGM was part of a three hour conference held on Zoom. It was very well attended and had some very fascinating sessions. I went to a panel discussion on the Green Recovery with Friends of the Earth and another about our distinctive voice in next year’s elections. I’ll write them up later.

But, first, this was new leader Ed Davey’s first speech since his election ten days ago. He talked about his visit to a Stockport Fish and Chip shop yesterday and his conversations with the owner and staff there.  The manager of 13 years standing, who had been written off at school, was about to take over the business as the owners were retiring. Another member of staff was a WASPI woman – hit by the injustice of women born in the 1950s having to wait an extra six years for their state pension.

Although he had had some hard words for the party in his acceptance speech about people thinking we weren’t on their side, he emphasised that this was not the case with our local campaigners who make it their mission to listen to what people are feeling.

He praised Lib Dem councils for their action on environmental matters. He mentioned York City Council’s “Don’t be a tosser” anti litter campaign., Chelmsford’s tree planting and Sutton’s low-energy secondary school.

His listening exercise (which is a much better term than the Orwellian sounding National Listening Project) extends to party members too – he said that he wanted feedback on what he was saying and doing and to hear from us about what we wanted the party to be saying. He emphasised how we needed to work as a team and listen to all voices.

He indicated that we may be allowed to go door knocking again soon – with appropriate safety precautions and following advice.

He ripped into the Conservatives on their plans to take away planning powers from local councils – a developer’s charter he called it.

How do we fight it? Tell people that they and the Council will be powerless to stop developers ripping up their green spaces

He said that as demand for office spaces reduces, we should be converting office space into accommodation.

He also criticised their plans for a massive top down reorganisation of local government.

His aim is to see more Liberal Democrats in power and that if we work together we can rebuild our party.

The speech was well received in the chat and on Twitter.



* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • The party should be saying to the voter whilst the govnt are doing what they are doing the peoples sacrifices in this virus,there co- operation with others to help communities thru the troubles is equally important.Tory top down change is more like ‘we will give you the money for your project as long as it is ok with us’ NOT what is needed by the people concerned.

  • Paul Barker 5th Sep '20 - 4:20pm

    One thing we should be doing is pushing for Local Byelections to restart soon; some Voters will have had no Local representation for over a Year by the time next May rolls round. This is a straight Pro-Democracy argument & should be easy to make.

  • Tony Greaves 5th Sep '20 - 4:23pm

    I am sure that turning some office accommodation into accommodation in some places is a good idea. I am equally sure that in other places it may not be not a good idea. The problem is that the present government will want to give owners of such space carte blanche to go ahead and do it willy nilly, in unsuitable ways, and without the agreement of local communities and their elected Councillors. so let’s be careful what we say. The emphasis must be on local decision-making by locally elected Councillors within a system of local participative democracy.

  • neil sandison 5th Sep '20 - 7:22pm

    Agree we should challenge as Ed has identified Johnsons Developers Charter but also agree with Tony Greaves that planning decisions shouldn’t be by ministerial largess but by participative local democracy 90% of planning decisions are delegated its only the most controversial or those that do not match adopted local plans or SPDs that come to committee and are a fine balancing act. The applicant does have the right to appeal local residents or communities do not but deserve a fair hearing .

  • We need a strident new vision , set out clearly by the Leader. If we are going to get out of the Dead Sea into the tidal aters of the Med then we require something dramtic and new.
    This sort of thing is same old, same old, is it not?.

  • David Garlick 6th Sep '20 - 9:03am

    Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will our future success. Whilst we should not be patient we need to realise that there is no silver bullet or magic policy shift waiting to be discovered. Sooner we realise that and get stuck in to the hard graft the sooner success will be achieved.

  • Paul Barker 6th Sep '20 - 4:12pm

    Further to my point on Local Byelections there are currently more than 200 Vacant Seats on Local Councils, a number that is likely to increase & each with thousands of Voters now left unrepresented at the Local level. If the Government gets its way Hundreds of Thousands of Voters will continue to be disenfranchised for another 9 Months.

    We should be making some noise about this issue – its a simple case of “Taxation without Representation” & we can harry the Tories & get some publicity at the same time.

  • richard underhill.,. 9th Sep '20 - 8:25am

    We must stand up for international law.
    If it is illegal to try to deport a citizen of your own country (such as Belarus) to another country (such as Ukraine) we should say so clearly and stand by the victim who reportedly tore up her documentation yesterday (BBC tv News)

  • richard underhill.,. 9th Sep '20 - 8:34am

    9th Sep ’20 – 8:25am
    If you are Liberal you are international.
    You cannot be one without the other.

  • richard underhill.,. 9th Sep '20 - 8:51am

    9th Sep ’20 – 8:34am
    The former Soviet Union rendered stateless a candidate for the World chess championship and persecuted him during his international travels.
    He travelled using a Swiss travel document which, reportedly, did not entitle him to citizenship of Switzerland.
    The UK is a signatory to the United Nations Statelessness Convention.
    On Saturday overtime we had productivity targets and numerous candidates were granted leave to enter or remain after being visited by senior managers.

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