Liberal Democrat Conference 2018
By Carita Ogden
Following three and a half days of voting on party policy, catching up with old friends, witnessing some bad singing and drinking craft beer, the time has come to say farewell to another Lib Dem Party Conference.
Though I have been attending Lib Dem conferences for over 15 years I still find it wonderful that the Liberal Democrats are able to suggest, amend, debate and vote on party policy in a way other main parties do not allow.
This year two key development related motions were put forward to conference - "An affordable, secure home for all" and "Taxing Land, not investment". Both prompted many members to give their opinions, with a pro-development stance taken by most speakers, with cries of "We can no longer be Nimbys" and “Yes in my back yard and yours,” being met with loud applause.
Members were clear however that there has to be something in it for existing residents, their views have to be listened to and where possible incorporated into designs.
This outcome links well with the publication of "Getting the balance right - a Liberal Democrat approach to planning". This booklet, written by Cllr Adele Morris (Southwark and lead member for planning at the Local Government Association) and Wera Hobhouse MP (Liberal Democrat MP for Bath) highlights best practice with a focus on how to grow communities, so that they provide enough housing and related infrastructure both now and in the future.
The Liberal Democrats also want to be seen as sticking up for renters by targeting second home owners and rogue landlords. This should bring a smile to the faces of those developers looking at building Private Rented Sector accommodation, as this is something that would go some way to solving this particular issue.
Closer to home, the feeling in Brighton among the London Liberal Democrats was extremely positive following the May election results in Richmond and Kingston. Kingston even won this year’s prize for best local election campaign.
I met with party members and councillors from across London, including from Kingston, Richmond, Sutton and Southwark, as well as GLA and Mayoral candidate hopefuls, to catch-up on a wide range of local development issues.
If you would like to find out more about the discussions that took place please contact me at COgden@Cascadepr.co.uk to set up a meeting – I would be delighted to share more conference highlights with you.
For now, I’ll leave you with the mental image of a room full of Liberal Democrats taking part in a Communi-Oke singing contest. Erotic Spasm it was not.