Colchester: MP Bob Russell reports back from “upbeat” conference

ESSEX MP Sir Bob Russell took the podium to commence this year’s regional Liberal Democrat conference.

As the coalition government enters the second half of its term in office, delegates and party members heard keynote speakers, councillors and activists from the East of England.

Cambridge Regional College hosted policy debates, fringe meetings, training and reports from parliamentarians including North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, following Sir Bob’s formal opening of the conference.

The one-day event also featured a keynote speech from Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander.

Amid what Sir Bob called an “upbeat mood from candidates”, the Colchester’s MP since 1997 described his party’s achievements in the last two years of coalition government. He added: “Being part of government is what we all strive for. Yes, there have been policies we don’t like but that’s the nature of a coalition.

“The mood among candidates at the meeting does not reflect national opinion polls – we know we have public support.”

Among the issues put forward at the conference were housing in the East of England, and an emergency motion reaffirming the party’s opposition to more runways at Stansted Airport – confirmed by ballot at the national party conference in Brighton last month.

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Also in attendance were several Lib Dem peers, including leader of the party in the House of Lords and Minister of State for Justice, Tom McNally.

The final conference of the year, which has in the past been held in Sir Bob’s Colchester constituency, was open to delegates and party members from across the East of England as voting representatives or observers for training and fringe events as well as the debates and opportunities to submit motions.