Sweeping changes to conference motions rules come into force

Here’s the email which has gone out to party members today:

Seasoned conference-goers might have been expecting the Preliminary Agenda for the autumn conference in Bournemouth to have arrived by now. Well, it hasn’t – because conference last year agreed a set of sweeping changes to the timetable for submitting motions for debate. They’re designed to make it easier for local parties and conference reps to submit motions and amendments, and to increase your chance of having a say in party policy.

The old series of three deadlines for submitting motions has been replaced by two, and we’ve scrapped the Preliminary Agenda. So the first deadline for motions for Bournemouth is Wednesday 1 July – they should be sent to [email protected], or by post to the Policy Projects Team at Cowley Street. A standard form is available on the party website.

We’ll get the Final Agenda out to you as early as possible in August, together with copies of the policy papers to be debated, including the key pre-manifesto paper. Every motion in the agenda will be open to amendment, and the deadline for amendments, and also for emergency motions, will be Tuesday 8 September. You might want to plan a local party meeting for early September to look at the motions and consider whether you want to try amending any. We’ll be circulating copies of the amendments chosen a few days before conference, by email and the party website.

This will definitely be the last autumn conference before the general election, so make sure it’s full of what we do best – stimulating debates on key areas of the Lib Dem message.

Yours sincerely
Duncan Brack
Chair, Federal Conference Committee

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  • It’s all very well changing deadlines, and not having a preliminary agenda but….


    Now, while I don’t have any particular problem with Bournemouth as a town, unless you live in the south of England or can take a whole week of holidays it’s not the easiest place to get to (10 or so hours from Edinburgh by train, for example.)

    We really need to start getting a bit more creative about where we have our conferences. Our areas of growth seem to be moving north; so why couldn’t we have this conference in Manchester? And don’t get me started on why the Federal conference hasn’t been to Scotland in almost 10 years – despite it providing such a huge chunk of our Westminster representation.

    For a party which prides itself in decentralisation, we’re pretty poor at taking our decision making out of the south of England.

  • Foregone Conclusion 23rd Jun '09 - 10:47am

    Conference is in Liverpool next year

  • Only 16 months to wait then…. but it’s still not Scotland.

  • Of course, Scotland would be a huge pain for people from the south coast to visit…

    By that logic, we should hold it in Manchester every year, which suits me fine 😉

  • Malcolm Todd 23rd Jun '09 - 2:12pm

    Better yet, Derby.
    (Campanilismo urges me to say Nottingham; but rail links here are a bit crap.)

  • Simon Titley 23rd Jun '09 - 2:34pm

    Ah yes, we can tell it’s summer because the “Why doesn’t the party hold the conference in [insert my home town]” debate has started again.

    The sad fact is that there are very few towns in the UK that could practically host our party conference. “Getting a bit more creative” isn’t really an option.

    First, you need a conference centre that includes an auditorium seating at least 2,000 people, with sufficient adjacent space for exhibition stands.

    Second, you need a lot of hotel accommodation. When you aggregate all the delegates, observers, staff, media, exhibitors and so on, you need some 4,000-5,000 hotel bedrooms. This accommodation needs to be within reasonable walking distance of the conference venue. And it needs to include enough big hotels with function rooms to host fringe events.

    Third, because party members are paying their own way, you need plenty of hotel accommodation at a reasonable price.

    Fourth, whether you like it or not, party membership is heavily weighted to the south-east of England

    While you can get away with smaller venues for the spring conference, in September the choice is limited. The only resorts that can meet all the criteria are Brighton, Bournemouth, Blackpool and Harrogate.

    While major urban centres such as Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester can cope, the problem is that hotel accommodation in such cities tends to divide between business-class hotels that are too expensive for most delegates, and sleazy B&Bs that are too grotty. There is a serious lack of reasonable mid-priced hotels of the type that are abundant in resort towns.

    So while I’m sure Derby is very nice in September, a conference venue it ain’t.

  • Malcolm Todd 23rd Jun '09 - 2:46pm

    Oh dear, that’s what happens when I try to be pithy.
    “Derby” was a joke. (It ain’t even that nice in September.) Personally, I’m looking forward to going to Bournemouth. Pity politics makes it impossible to have it in Biarritz…

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