March 9, 2008 12:00 AM

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats are back home after an exciting and invigorating Spring Conference in Liverpool

The Conference was a huge success. Over 2,000 people gathered in Liverpool around high-profile guests such as Andrew Duff MEP, leader of the UK Lib Dem group in Brussels or Simon Hughes MP, president of the party. Other speakers included Chris Huhne MP or Sarah Teather MP.

Cambridgeshire representatives included Cambridge City Councillors Julie Smith, Colin Rosenstiel, Catherine Smart and Joye Rosenstiel. Also presents were Cambridgeshire County Councillors David Jenkins and Gaynor Griffiths, and Jonathan Chatfield, PPC for South-East Cambridgeshire.

One of the highlights of the weekend was Party Leader Nick Clegg's closing speech on Sunday morning. In an inspiring and powerful speech, he gave a fantastic boost to the Lib Dem party to change the political landscape in May.

Executive City Councillor for Arts and Recreations, Julie Smith, said:

"Nick Clegg's first conference as Leader was a great success. Nick himself gave two really inspirational speeches and we adopted a new health policy intended to give greater local accountability in healthcare and enhance delivery.

"From a personal point of view it was fantastic to that we held the conference in Liverpool, another great Lib-Dem City, the European Capital of Culture and my hometown."

The Lib Dems also backed measures to put an end to the housing crisis. Executive City Councillor for Housing, Catherine Smart, commented:

"I'm very pleased with the outcome of the Conference. The housing crisis has gone from bad to worse in the last ten years. We believe that everybody is entitled to comfortable, sustainable and affordable housing and we shall do everything we can to make it happen.

"I also welcome the strong condemnation of negative subsidy. The government is stealing money from our tenants and daylight robbery must stop."


Notes to Editors

1) Councillors Julie Smith, Catherine Smart and David Jenkins are available for comments. Please contact Callie Leroux on 07534 074 228

2) Nick Clegg's speech can be found on the Liberal Democrat Party website

3) The full text of the motion is copied below:

Conference notes with concern that:

i) The number of families on social housing waiting lists has risen from one million ten years ago to 1.63 million.

ii) 93,980 families are registered as homeless by local authorities.

iii) Homes sold under Right to Buy have not been replaced so that the number of homes available for social rent has fallen from 4.39 million in 1997 to 3.98 million.

Conference believes that:

A. Every family should live in an affordable and sustainable home.

B. In order to meet current and future housing needs, more affordable housing needs to be built than the Government is currently proposing, increasing the proportion of homes available for social rent and intermediate sale.

Conference recognises that housing market conditions vary across the country and therefore accepts that there is no single solution which will work for all local authorities.

Conference therefore proposes a range of provisions which will give local authorities the powers they need to tackle housing problems in their area.

In addition to the policies contained in the conference motion Sustainable Housing (March 2007) and Policy Paper 69, Affordable Housing in Safer, Greener Communities (2005), and alongside the projected 130,000 open market homes which will be built each year,

Conference therefore calls for:

1. 1.3 million new homes to be built within 10 years, one half for the 'affordable' intermediate sales market and one half available for social rent, with the 'affordability' of intermediate market homes being retained when the property is sold, rather than lost after the first resale.

2. Local authorities to be enabled to increase their stock of social and private housing by:

a) Allowing them to re-invest all the proceeds from right-to-buy sales into new social housing, with no net loss of homes due to sales and with replacement social housing integrated into mixed developments to diversify housing stock.

b) Extending the scope for local authorities to capture more of the rise in land value when planning permission is granted, by encouraging tariff-based systems for planning, so that developers pay a proportionate contribution towards infrastructure development.

c) Allowing local authorities to pilot 'Community Land Auctions'; planning authorities taking part in a pilot would have the right to designate the whole, or part, of their area as suitable for 'Community Land Auctions', not to replace the current Local Plan system but to allow authorities to mediate a process of auction which will capture, for investment in community infrastructure, much of the rise in the value of the land when planning permissions is granted.

d) Introducing the 'Fourth Option' for the management of social housing, putting local authorities on a level playing field with social landlords when refurbishing housing stock.

e) Ring-fencing Housing Revenue Account capital receipts and rental income for local investment.

3. Not-for-profit companies to be encouraged to develop mixed-tenure developments funded by private finance.

4. A new equity mortgage scheme, supported by government, to replace the existing jumble of confusing and ineffective schemes to promote wider, low-cost home ownership.

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