Sunday, June 15, 2008

Two Very Intensive Days

Liberal Democrats have always been the party which most values local government and our local government conferences are always well attended. This weekend was no exception. Councillors from all shapes and sizes of local authorities gathered in Birmingham, along with MPs with a special interest in local government.
Although not of direct and detailed interest to the residents I mention these things because some of what was discussed will help us to be better able to do our jobs as councillors.
I spent Friday afternoon in discussions with other group leaders about what is happening in the towns and cities around the country in terms of economy and quality of life, and what can be done to ensure that everyone benefits from improvements. That intense discussion was followed by a very pleasant dinner in the opulent surroundings of Birmingham Council Banqueting Chamber, a legacy of Birmingham's enlightened Victorian entrepreneurs and councillors. The photo shows the outside of the Council building because I forgot to take my camera to the dinner!
Saturday was the conference proper, held in one of Birmingham's prestigious venues, the ICC. I was a little thrown as I walked towards the door, following behind a group of very elegantly dressed people who looked more likely to be attending a wedding than a Lib Dem conference. All was revealed when I stepped inside to find that the Open University Graduation ceremony was also taking place that day.
Speeches from Andrew Stunnell MP and Simon Hughes MP set the tone for the day. The rest of the day flew past before it was time to walk back down to the railway station for the trip home. On the way I passed the "Celebrating Sanctuary" events in Victoria Square and the surrounding areas. I confess I'd forgotten that Refugee Week started this weekend but Birmingham certainly were celebrating in a big way. The photograph shows a Latin American group performing on the specially erected stage. Sadly I didn't have time to visit the mock-up of a refugee camp set up by Islamic relief and based on the ones they set up for crises around the world. Maybe next year.

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