Conferences 2010 - FTA On The Mancunian Way

Posted on: Wednesday, 29 September 2010 by Mike Webb in categories Media and campaigns, Transport Hub

2010 has been a strange year in politics; and for none more so than the Labour party. For 16 years, the party had been led by one of the twin architects of New Labour, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and for the last 13 of these it had been in Government with a majority ranging from the massive down to the very comfortable.

'An atmosphere of nervous excitement'

Now, for the first time in almost a generation, they find themselves in opposition with a new leader looking to kick start the party’s fortunes. At the party conference in Manchester, former Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband was elected Labour Leader by the tiniest of margins; possibly ending the Prime Ministerial ambitions of his own elder brother in the process.

Into all this atmosphere of nervous excitement, FTA held another Labour conference programme of MP meetings and conversations, and another successful Transport Hub.

Popular Transport Hub event

The FTA event at the Labour Transport Hub was Chaired by a long-standing friend of FTA; Transport Select Committee Chair Louise Ellman. An enthusiastic audience at Manchester’s impressive Bridgewater Hall (new home of the famous HallĂ© Orchestra) held a wide-ranging discussion on all matters of infrastructure, from the provision of AV warnings on buses, to the planning system for rail freight terminals and the importance of protecting infrastructure spending.

The issues we discussed with Labour politicians

By the end of the conference, FTA had met with all bar one member of the Labour side of the Transport Select Committee (who had to leave the conference immediately for personal reasons), plus a variety of other MPs and old friends such as former Transport minister Paul Clark, who stopped into the Transport Hub reception. As is usual for an organisation as issue-rich as FTA, this programme saw a wide range of issues being discussed and explained. These ranged from how to get planning permission for rail freight terminals with Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North), the long-term benefits of infrastructure spending (Lilian Greenwood), the impact of the Severn tolls (Geraint Davies) and many more discussions besides.

An intense conference programme is certainly tiring for the organisations involved (the FTA presence were on their feet for around 30 hours in two days), but as an opportunity for getting issues on MPs’ radar, it is a vital part of the calendar.

Theo de Pencier, James Hookham and Louise Ellman at the Labour party conference


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