This month we had a Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) meeting (10th July). The agenda covered:
- Access Issues
- Charity Partner
- Constitutional Amendments (Rule Changes)
- Reference Back Process
- CLP Secretary Communications
There have been a range of access issues I have been raising since elected. As these have been ongoing, I will take up the suggestion from some of you to have all access issues and progress on a specific part of my website.
- Financing for Disabled Members: Last month I reported that a handful of delegates with disabilities had informed me that they had to withdraw from being a delegate or felt they were not selected because they required additional personal support to attend National Conference. The cost for a Personal Support Assistant ranged between £800 – £1000 for pay, accommodation, travel and pass. Often the CLP was unable to cover the costs and the delegate themselves could not afford it.
Upon raising this, I was informed about the NEC Development Fund – a fund the delegate could apply for to cover such costs. This is great however, it helps if people know about it! Last year only 2 people applied and this year 3 people applied.
It was agreed that this information should be circulated to CLPs before the close of the delegate deadline in future. However:
I will be calling for a dedicated fund for this purpose. CLPs can apply for the NEC Development Fund for a number of different things not just support for Disabled Members at conference. I believe this does not give it the importance it requires.
I also don’t believe Disabled Delegates are applying to be ‘developed’, it’s a need not a plan or an idea.
- Seating: There will be more seating around the complex for people who are less mobile
- Entrances: There will be now two dedicated access entrances. There will be two entry points so that attendees do not need to go in, up and over to get to the two buildings one at the ACC and one at the ECL. Both of these entrances will have two doors to enter, one will be dedicated for those with access requirements (including those who are less mobile due to age or pregnancy).
- Facilities for Assistance Dogs: Registered assistance dogs are welcome to conference. There is an exercise space and other facilities. For delegates, space for assistance dogs will be made next to the delegate.
- Customer Service Counters: The Labour Party counters will have lowered counters for those in wheel-chairs.
- Toilets: The venue has one ‘Changing Places’ approved toilet. The ‘standard’ disabled toilets have alarm, rails etc.
- Lifts: The lift in Liverpool is wide enough for mobility scooters. Specific signs on lifts to remind delegates priority is for those less mobile will be placed on lift doors to cut the waiting time for those who need it. Wording is being looked into
- Braille and Large Print Version of the Papers: It has been accepted this needs improving and discussions with RNIB on how to ensure papers are available in time are taking place. I will update when I get an update.
- Stewarding: Thank you to individual disabled members, CLP Secs, Disability Labour and DEAL who helped with their feedback on the initial proposals:
- The role name ‘STARS’ is being dropped
- There will be training (to be agreed) although this does not include mental health training (to help with anxiety, stress etc).
I will give a full breakdown of the role, details and other information in my next report.
I really would like to thank the members who sent me their testimonies, I shared them with the rest of the CAC (where you said I could). It has been invaluable to have such a perspective and all of us on the CAC were moved by what we read. Without you, these changes will not be happening so thank you.
Charity Partner: The Charity Partner for this year’s conference is The Mayor of Liverpool’s Hope Fund. You can find out more about the charity by clicking here. This is the first year we will be doing this and I really want to thank the staff and members who helped me make this possible.
I am working with party staff to have a plan of activities to ensure we raise as much money as possible. I will update members in my next report.
Constitutional Amendments (Rule Changes): We went through all of the Constitutional Amendments (CAs) submitted in 2017 for this years conference. Our role is to ensure it meets the 3 year rule (i.e. the rule has not already been voted upon in the last three years). This is the only criteria – we did not judge it on the content. To prove that, we also ruled in a CA that called for the abolition of the Conference Arrangements Committee.
All those CLPs that have had their CA ruled in or out have been informed. If you have not heard, please email CAC@Labour.Org.UK and copy me in on seema @ seemachandwani co.uk
Reference Back Process: The National Policy Forum (NPF) report is due out at the beginning of Aug (this is sent to your CLP Secretary). This will outline all the policy ideas which are voted upon as a whole report at conference. However if you are not happy about a policy or aspect of the policy, you can refer it back for consideration – this is called ‘Reference Back’.
The ‘Reference Back’ process is a recent process at conference, so we’re looking at ways to develop it and make it more effective. This year the CAC has agreed to introduce a deadline to enact your right to ‘Reference Back’.
Why have we done this?
- It enables CLPs and Affiliates to organise support for their reference back rather than delegates sitting there hoping that someone will refer something back or referring something back from the floor and not getting the point across clearly.
- It allows the right time to be allocated in the schedule to encompass all of the reference back requests.
- It prevents people using Reference Back as an opportunity to get on stage and not make a reference back.
- The deadline for Reference Back (which will be emailed to all CLP Secs and Delegates) is the Friday before conference.
- Of course we are conscious that some issues may arise after the deadline, so Delegates can request a Reference Back after the deadline for such eventualities.
Compositing Meetings: Following feedback we have clarified the role of Shadow Ministers and Party Policy Officers in the composite meeting and emphasised the equal value of draft composite from delegates. The Delegate pack will be updated to reflect this.
CLP Secretary Communications: CLP Secretaries play a vital role in communications with members in their CLP and I have taken forward the feedback from CLP Secretaries that they cut out from communications about conference as it goes direct to delegates.
All communication which goes to Delegates will also go to CLP Secretaries. It is already published on Membersnet – https://members.labour.org.uk/conference-documents but it is appreciated you’re volunteers and your time is precious.
Payment and Registration System: This has put on the agenda for a future meeting following feedback from CLP Secretaries.
Appeals: A number of you contacted me to let me know you or your delegates were refused upon application for a range of reasons (missing deadline, women’s quota, insufficient time of membership etc.) Many of you were informed to come to the CAC to appeal or ask for dispensation.
I specifically informed at the CAC meeting we could not discuss individual cases, this appeared odd given some of you are appealing to us. When asked what the appeal process was, it seemed there was not one.
I think there should be one, as there are a range of reasons why you may have been rejected and if you feel you want to challenge that, it should be heard and we should take into account the circumstances.
I will be pursuing this after conference with your CLP NEC Reps.
What happens to motions after they are passed? This question is still unanswered due to staff leaving, but I have been referred to Andrew Fisher to discuss.
Democracy Review: I have had many questions on how this will be voted upon at conference? Can you reference back? What happens to conflicting Constitutional Amendments? I will pursue this at the next CAC meeting in Aug 2018.
If you have any questions or any items you wish for me to raise in the Aug 2018 meeting (currently looking like the 13th Aug 2018) then please email me on seema @ seemachandwani co.uk