"No one wants our green and pleasant land despoiled with solar fields. No one wants to live next to a wind turbine. The public is beginning to understand that wind and solar renewable energy are anything but cheap, imposing massive indirect costs upon all of us and making our business less competitive. Our Party should make a clean break with the Labour and Lib-Dems, casting them as out-of-touch climate change utopians, oblivious to the impact of the green agenda. The cost of fast-charging stations across the country and high amperage cables to every village would make HS2 look cheap. Moreover, there is no economic means of recycling lithium ion batteries. Like the recent decisions on petrol and diesel vehicles, Mr Sunak needs to be bold." (Dr Lawrence Haar)
As always, members' priorities determined the CPF's priorities for our programme of events at this year's Party Conference in Manchester (CPC23). This included our unique centre-piece, the Members' Debate. Unlike every other event at Party Conference, this event is shaped by and stars the most important people in the Party—namely, our members.
We started on Sunday with small groups discussing The Future of Transportation and sharing their best policy ideas with the whole audience. Our CPF Chairman, John Penrose MP gave feedback on each of these and notes from each group will feed into our current consultation on the subject.
On Monday, a panel of experts offered their ideas for how government might improve education to boost opportunities for all. This gave the audience plenty to discuss in small groups. Feedback was given on all these contributions by the Minister for Children, Families & Wellbeing, David Johnston MP.
On Tuesday we held our Members' Debate. Three policies were presented by CPF Members who had submitted their ideas in the first half of this year via our New Ideas Forum: a zero-rate tax allowance for small businesses; a switch to stamp duty on house sales so that this is paid by sellers instead of buyers; and a commitment to the UK design and manufacture of small modular nuclear reactors. Representing some of the best proposals submitted by the Party's grassroots, outside of our regular consultation programme, the audience was then able to raise points and ask questions to clarify, challenge and improve the proposals. At the end, a vote was taken and a clear winner emerged: the call for government to commit to the UK design and manufacture of small modular nuclear power plants, proposed by Dr Lawrence Haar.
Finally, Tuesday evening, we finished with a drinks reception, held outside of the secure zone. This enabled CPF members from across the region to join us, even if they were unable to attend the Conference itself. Needless to say, although both rain and train strikes caused some to send their apologies, in words of CPF Voluntary Director, Penny-Anne O’Donnell, "Events were buzzing, policies flowing and connections for more groups made."
Penny-Anne was also able to share a little about the work of the CPF with the Conference main stage audience. She stressed that, "Our members seek long-term solutions based on true Conservative values, rather than the knee-jerk headline-grabs of other parties!" Penny-Anne thanked "the Prime Minister and our Party Chairman for directly linking with us in response to our consultations." She also thanked "our incredible membership for the time and commitment they spend and sharing their vision through policy ideas for our fantastic party."
Our voluntary team of CPF Champions and Regional Ambassadors gave invaluable help in representing the CPF on the Party Stand and in chairing the small group discussions. Several members commented to the CPF's Marketing Assistant, Danny Haywood and the CPF Manager, John Hayward on how "they are always smiling" and offering "a friendly CPF face!" Danny deserves particular thanks for all his efforts to help us to deliver such a rich and successful programme.
So, thank you to all who came, who contributed ideas, who helped and who visited our stand and events! Here's to our renewed commitment to shaping long-term decisions for a brighter future!