North West Region demonstrated how debates at Regional Conference can influence Federal party policy by tabling two successful amendments to motions at Federal Conference in Bournemouth. On this occasion these not only reflected past debates at Regional Conferences but also ensured that the policy sessions at our forthcoming Regional Conference in Stockport are relevant to, and potentially influential on, Federal party policy going forward.
The first of our amendments was to the motion “Bring Back the Industrial Strategy”. This amendment, proposed by Andrew Haldane and summated by Iain Donaldson reflected our long-standing goal in this region of securing significant political autonomy at regional level. It addressed the need for a significant English regional dimension in a future UK industrial strategy to ensure that it addressed the varying needs of the regions and nations of the UK and deliver genuine “levelling-up”. The amendment was supported during the debate by our two party spokespersons, Sarah Olney MP and Lord Fox and was very overwhelmingly carried.
Following discussions before and during conference the chairs of our two sister regions, North-East and Yorkshire and the Humber are very supportive of resuming collaboration between the three regions of common interests affecting the North of England as a whole. Subject to arranging suitable accommodation we have agreed in principle to again holding a joint consultative conference of the three regions at York Federal Conference in Spring 2024 from mid-morning to mid-afternoon on the Friday (March 15th). So if planning to go to Spring Federal Conference please take this into account.
As groundwork for this collaboration we will hold a consultation on the Federal Industrial Strategy Motion, and its applicability to the North West and the North of England as a whole, at our forthcoming Autumn Regional Conference. The motion and how it was shaped by our amendment can be seen by following this link: https://www.libdems.org.uk/conference/motions/autumn-2023/f8
An amendment was also submitted by the Regional Party to the motion “Connecting Communities - Building a Transport Network Fit for the 21st Century”. This amendment was incorporated into the main motion as a drafting amendment by Federal Conference Committee and Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP . It therefore did not require a separate vote but Andrew Haldane spoke on behalf of the region to explain the reasons behind the amendment. It corrected an anomaly in the original motion which proposed a Young Person’s Buscard, similar to a Railcard but did not extend this provision to tram networks. Following from our expert session at Spring Regional Conference on the amendment also identified the role for Trams/Light Rail in a future Integrated Transport Policy thus ensuring that decisions taken in our debate on this topic at Stockport will be consistent with the Federal Policy Framework.
Another amendment proposed by Lisa Smart and summated by Sam Al-Hamdani was supported by Wera during debate and overwhelmingly carried.
This proposed extending to all local councils, metro mayors and combined authorities which do not already have them the powers to pilot innovative schemes to increase public transport usage and reduce congestion. It also proposed exploring the introduction of an annual pass covering all public transport in a region or across the country for a one-off fee.
The motion as amended can be found at: https://www.libdems.org.uk/conference/motions/autumn-2023/f27