Building for the future

Bournemouth will be starting to look very familiar to some this year, as the Liberal Democrats return there on 14 September, just a couple of months after our very successful LGA annual conference. There will be another similarity; Cllr Vikki Slade will return to open the conference, just as she did for the LGA – but this time as the Liberal Democrat Leader of the new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.

It has been many years since a Liberal Democrat Conference was opened by its local Liberal Democrat council leader. Cllr Slade heads up the Unity Alliance on the council, working with others to get things done for the patch. We are proud of the work she and the team have done in leading the new authority, and look forward to hearing more from her.  We meet for the first time as a party since gaining more than 700 council seats in May’s local elections, and more than doubling the number of councils that we either lead or of which we have the deputy leadership.

“We meet for the first time as a party since gaining more than 700 council seats in May

On the opening day of conference, Wera Hobhouse MP – formerly a Liberal Democrat councillor on Rochdale Council – will speak to the conference about climate change. We met with Ms Hobhouse recently to discuss how local authorities can work with national  government to meet carbon reduction targets, and to stress the contribution Liberal Democrats in local government are making, whether in control or in opposition. In this spirit, we will be looking to table an amendment to a conference motion on climate change, stressing the role local councils can play.

It will be great to hear from Jane Dodds MP, former councillor and now our new MP for Brecon and Radnorshire; she is the reason why the Government now has a majority of just one in the House of Commons.

Other debates of interest to local government will be on crime, Brexit, health and social care, and tourism.

As well as all this, we will be working with our partners in the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors to deliver numerous training and fringe sessions, including an LGA debate on why the Queen’s Speech will be important for local government.

There will also be Liberal Democrat Group sessions on representing rural communities, and celebrating more than 33 years of control at the London Borough of Sutton. This is in addition to the ever popular LGA annual local government reception.

The conference will close with a speech from Jo Swinson MP as our party’s new Leader. As you may recall, we were pleased to welcome her to Bournemouth for the LGA’s annual conference as our deputy leader just weeks before the election result was announced.

Before that session, we will pay tribute to Lord Paddy Ashdown, the first leader of the Liberal Democrats. During his time at the helm of the party, we elected more Liberal Democrat councillors than ever before. He was – and remains – a real inspiration. We look forward to working with Jo Swinson to build our local government base for the future.

The Liberal Democrat Conference takes place in Bournemouth from 14-17 September. You can find out about LGA party conference events by visiting

The LGA has published a handbook for councillors that gives an overview of licensing legislation…