It’s a long and winding road back for Labour

Labour conference this year was quieter and more subdued than previous years, however, housing and local government events were some of the best attended and with the clearest direction – with solid agreement that we need to build more houses and ensure that councils can deliver the services they need to.

The TCPA held an event in partnership with Crest Nicholson. The TCPA’s very own Hugh Ellis chaired the breakfast event, reminding people that as a country, we have built 350,000 homes a year, and we can do it again – if the political will is there. Chris Tinker, Regeneration Chairman, of Crest Nicholson noted that, from the perspective of a house builder, the loss of strategic planning hasn’t helped encourage people to build at larger scales, and that there needs to be infrastructure for large scale growth.

We were also joined by Helen Hayes MP, who focused on the need for homes to create and serve communities; having access to services with enough capacity, green space, good design and higher space standards than we currently build towards. Tom Copley, London Assembly member echoed this emphasis on creating communities – particularly mentioning how Battersea Power Station is the key example of how not to create a cohesive place. We were all in agreement that the lack of resources for planners was instrumental in many of the problems that we are facing, and that this needs to be a government priority if we are going to meet the ambitious housing targets that we need to. Working with both the government and opposition on this will be a key focus of the TCPA’s work in 2017.

 

 

Other events I attended run by the LGA and LGiU echoed this theme of resources and government cuts. There were some really innovative ideas on how digital services can make councils more efficient at an LGiU event – but in the end it all comes down to resources and future planning. Further problems with resourcing were discussed at a Labour Councillors Association event on business rates. There are significant worries that these will leave some areas with very little funding – and no plans on how to deal with this.

Liverpool itself was a stunning host for the conference – being down on the docks was a great place to refresh after sitting in airless conference rooms. To quote Robert Peston, who I bumped into taking the same picture, “I’m sure there is a metaphor for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in this somewhere..”

 

 

My particular highlight was watching the US presidential debate in the early hours of Tuesday morning. It was here that Labour delegates seemed most united behind a candidate, and the most excited about the possibility of winning an election.

Next weekend, the TCPA will be in Birmingham for the Conservative party conference. If you have a pass for the secure zone, you can join us on Sunday evening in Executive Room 2 in the Birmingham ICC at 6pm, where we will be joined by Mark Pawsey MP and Cllr Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE, leader of Wiltshire Council.

- Claire Porter, Communications