Moving to a 4-day Autumn Conference
By Andrew Wiseman, Chair of the Liberal Democrats' Federal Conference Committee
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats Federal Conference Committee is very mindful of the cost of attending conference. The cost of coming to Autumn Party conference as well as the overall length is often raised in feedback from members. As well as keeping registrations rates as low as possible to members, launching the conference access fund and negotiating discounts on travel costs we have been looking at the length of the autumn conference. The main costs of attending conference, for most people, is having to take time off work and the cost of accommodation. Many members are not able to take the time off work. There is also increasing pressure on all political parties to reduce the length of all political conferences to minimise the impact on parliamentary time.
We have looked at ways of making full use of the Saturday to help those who can only come for a weekend as well as reducing the length of conference to try and keep down accommodation costs, while maintaining the amount of time available for 'member led policy motions'. Though conference does remain an income generator, we have also looked at ways of reducing the cost of conference to the Federal Party.
The autumn conference in Brighton this year will start at 9.00 am on Saturday morning. This will be the start of conference proper and the consultations sessions will be run as part of a longer fringe meeting slot. We will finish at approximately 3.30pm on Tuesday. This means we will have the same amount of time for member initiated motions. Many members will still use the opportunity to enjoy an extra day or two in Brighton but it is hoped the revised timing will save some members money and also enable more members to come to conference. It will also mean that those who just can come for a weekend get a full day on the Saturday.
We will be trialling this change for one year and will consult with people as to how they felt it worked before deciding whether to do it again in 2017.