Postcard from Birmingham

The end of September is Party Conference time and so last Sunday week I packed my bags and headed off to Birmingham for the Conservative Party Conference. I recall my very first conference in Blackpool many many years ago and over the years how my conference has changed.  Then, it was all about the main plenary sessions and trying to get a sense of this thing called the Conservative Party.  I was a fresh faced, well not that fresh faced but new Association Deputy Chairman political and I knew our MP Richard Spring and well that’s was about it. Today as I travelled up to Birmingham with a  mate I reviewed the speaking engagements I had been given by the LGA and the speaking engagements I had been ask to speak at by others such the LGiU and for each I had a bundle of briefing notes on how we put across the Local Government point of view.

Sunday morning I just managed to arrive in time for the start of the National Convention meeting at 10:30am in my role as Deputy Chairman Political of the Eastern Region where we were to vote on aspects of the changes proposed by the Party Board to the way Associations are run.

During the meeting Teresa May popped in for a chat and took questions, one of them was a direct one from John Peach, who is the former Leader of Peterborough City Council and currently Chairman of their Association.  ‘Did she like the idea of Directly Elected Mayors for non Metropolitan areas?’, she gave a direct answer, yes she did, she likes the accountability.  You may agree or disagree with her on that but the reply was very clear.  As were other comment made during the course of the four days. Then it was off to speak at a LGiU Fringe meeting about Devolution and Brexit and the role of Local Government over the coming years, joining me on the platform was Sean Anstee, Leader of Trafford and Baroness Scott the Leader of Wiltshire, a unitary County.  After than it was the usual round of fringes and plenary sessions before I had a relatively early night because the following morning I had a fringe I was speaking at 8am.

Monday morning I headed off to my fringe to speak about local skills and back to work programmes v DWP!  I then joined other County Leaders at a Westminster Council hosted lunch to talk about the positioning of the new SoS and how we might influence his agenda.  That evening it was the now traditional Euro MEPs dinner for the Eastern Region where a number of us discussed our part of the world and pondered that next years’ dinner will probably be the last of such events.  Not an major point in the scheme of things but I for one will miss working with our hard working Conservative Eastern Region MEPs As others wondered back to the conference Hotel bar, I again headed off to my hotel to prepare for another early start on the Tuesday morning where I was speaking about how we can deflect admissions from Acute Hospitals to more local community based services. Heading home and not to the bar was something I never did in those early Conferences!

Tuesday evening I went to an interesting dinner with Localis, the only centre right Local Government think tank in the space and chatted to other Leaders and Lord Porter the chairman of the LGA about our impressions of the conference.

Wednesday was spent in those last chats with other local Councillors and a couple of MPs, you have at the very end of a conference before heading home.

The mood when you consider what the party has been through these past few months was remarkable.  A genuine belief that Teresa May can do a good job of both Brexit and leading the country and that we have the right policies and determination to make things happen for the good of the country.

As we drove home I pondered over the coming months that as a Group we are going to set our election ‘stall’ out for May 2017, and how we get our message across that we must not allow the sort of fiscal madness and left wing policies we see from Labour return nor give then chance to undo 12 years of sound running of the Council where we have delivered on 7 years of 0% based Council Tax rises set against a Labour/Liberal coalition that managed to put up the Council Tax by 11.9 and then 18.5% in just two years.  Council Tax ia paid for from residents hard earned money and they must not be treated as a cash cow to be demanded of to simply bail out Labour and Liberals Councillors, we must not allow this sort of fiscal madness to creep back into power. Time to get out there and explain to the people of Suffolk what we are about, running a council that costs you less but protects front line service by making the tough choices that have to be made in a time of less Government money to delivery services.  Roll on May 2017.

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal anything I write is promoted by Lance Stanbury on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Unit 8, Swan Lane Business Park, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7FN

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