Just shy of 100 speaker cards were submitted to speak during the hour-and-a-half-long debate (one of the longest of the entire weekend) on Monday afternoon, with delegates packing out the BIC auditorium eager to watch the action unfold and have their say on the party’s policy on what is evidently a top priority on the political agenda – housing.
The debate on the amendment saw a host of impassioned, articulate and bold speeches on both sides from politicians, candidates and party members up and down the country, with an incredible summation by Cllr Stephen Robinson, the Leader of Chelmsford City Council. Amid an atmosphere of trepidation in the auditorium, the amendment was passed.
Regardless which way the votes on the amendment and wider motion were to go, what was evident to me across the weekend was the clear recognition of the need to deliver on housing.
There will, I’m sure, continue to be debate within the party around how local housing need is calculated, how we can ensure new developments meets bold sustainability aspirations, and exactly where such new development should go. But to label the entire party with one broad stroke of the brush would be to misunderstand their approach.
If nothing else, this weekend has strengthened my belief that striving for a society which is more socially liberal, tolerant and fair is not at odds with tackling the housing crisis. As colleagues across the party proved this weekend, we can do both.