Since Spring Conference, most members will have been focused on the Local Elections which took place in many parts of the country - and rightly so: the hard work has paid off, with some truly fantastic gains made from both the Conservatives and Labour. Particular mention should go to our amazing Chief Steward at Conference, Mike Ross, who is now the Leader of Hull Council! Massive congratulations to Mike and the whole team.
Yet, while the focus has of course been on the Locals, your Committee has also been hard at work reviewing member feedback from Spring Conference and planning for the Autumn.
I know so many of us are really looking forward to our first in-person conference since 2019. It's been three long years, and we've all been through the mill. The absence of the conference bar has been keenly felt, I know - and for some, so has the absence of Glee Club, the conference quiz, Alistair's whisky tastings (although the virtual ones during lockdown were also excellent)... the list goes on and on. For me and many other members of FCC first elected late in 2019, this will be the first in-person conference as a member of the Committee!
Yet, however much we all miss gathering every autumn at what is usually a south coast venue, one thing we have learnt during lockdown is that virtual conferences work. As a result, FCC was adamant that we had to provide some form of hybrid attendance at this Autumn Conference. Now, I'm not going to promise all bells and whistles: there are a large number of factors the Committee needs to consider, but one thing we are all united on is the desire to make sure as many people as possible can participate in our Conference.
So for this Autumn Conference, when registration opens you will see a virtual attendance option, with more details on exactly what that entails to come. Of course it will never be able to replicate the whole Conference experience, but our hope is that it will provide members who aren't able to attend Conference with a way of making your voice heard on our party's policies and direction.
One thing we do know for certain are the deadlines for Autumn Conference, which I've copied below. We always have an incredible variety of motions and amendments submitted, so if you have a new, radically liberal policy idea which you think the party should adopt, I'd urge you to consider writing up a motion, sending it in for drafting advice, and then submitting it for consideration.
And then of course, registering for Conference itself!
Registration will be open imminently. Keep an eye out for the Early Bird deadline, and the financial support available for claimants and others. I know some may not be able to attend in person, but if you are I'd strongly recommend it, especially if it'll be your first in-person Conference. There's nothing else quite like it.
I look forward to meeting everyone, old friends and hopefully some new ones too, in Brighton this September!