I was privileged to attend this year’s Conservative Party Conference in the wonderful city of Manchester. Hosted at the imposing Central Convention Complex, I had the opportunity to speak in several important fringe debates, attend meetings with industry leaders and discuss major policy issues with experts.
Conservative Party Conference, much like those held by opposition parties, is an important moment for the Party as a direction in policy is set out. These busy few days offer a chance for elected officials to engage with party members and likeminded politicians. Arriving on Sunday afternoon, I made the most out of the two days that I was in Manchester.
Soon after I arrived, I took part in a panel organised by the Conservative Environment Network on air pollution. Air pollution is the leading threat to human health in London and it is important that we clean our air. Following on from the recent by-election campaign in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, this is a topic of hot debate in politics at the moment. The expansion of ULEZ was a big issue on the doorstep and so I set out to this panel how we can improve air quality without unfairly punishing those who rely on their vehicles. I thoroughly enjoyed this panel as I discussed how local authorities need a route to tackling air quality with community consent.
The following morning, I started early as I attended a roundtable on fraud hosted by Lloyds. Fraud affects many of my constituents and is the most common crime across the country; 43% of all crime reported against individuals is as a result of fraud. This roundtable brought together industry leaders to discuss how fraud can be tackled. This interesting event explored ways in which tech and telecommunications companies can do more to protect vulnerable constituents of mine, and I am glad for the opportunity to attend.
Moving on to an all together difficult topic, I spoke on a panel about devolution organised by the Local Government Association. Constituents will know that this is a topic that I am deeply interested in and have spoken about at length. Empowering local authorities with greater power and freedoms is a vital tool to help them deliver excellent public services. We are fortunate to be served by the excellent Hillingdon and Harrow councils, and I am grateful to organisations like the Local Government Association who champion this cause.
After speaking on a panel about the future of social care, I spent the afternoon speaking on panels regarding housing policy. This included discussions on how we improve the UK’s rental market and how we can build more homes.
In between panels I took the opportunity to meet with charities, businesses and old friends. On Sunday, I met with both the Education Development Trust and the Royal Town and Planning Institute and attended a reception held by the Conservative Councillors Association. The following day, I met with Enver Solomon, CEO of the charity Refugee Council, representatives of the International Rescue Committee and Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association.
I also visited the following stalls representing causes of importance to my constituents: Guide Dogs, Alzheimer’s Society, British Heart Foundation, Cats Protection, Dementia UK, Diabetes UK, Versus Arthritis and the Post Office.