Autumn Conference – Introduction
The Party’s Autumn Conference in Hull, attended by more than 50 delegates, showed how the Party was growing, said Chris Whitwood, Deputy Party Leader and one of the Conference organisers.
“I would like to thank everyone who made the Conference such a success: the organisers, the speakers and, of course, everyone who attended. This conference, our largest yet, was a fantastic demonstration of how we are growing as a Party and highlights our determination for the future, said Chris
“We welcomed some fantastic speakers from Yorkshire and across Europe, who spoke with passion and insight on issues including the future of education in Yorkshire, the battle for women’s pension equality and international perspectives on devolution.
“The main panel debate saw four panellists and audience members discuss their vision for a devolved Yorkshire. Throughout the day, members questioned, contributed and challenged in order to give the whole event an atmosphere of lively and engaging debate, which I am sure, will guide the Party through the next year and help us to shape Yorkshire’s future.
“Thank you once again to everyone involved and I look forward enthusiastically to our next conference!”
It was up to the Yorkshire Party to offer an alternative that captured the sense of grievance among voters but also directed the democratic upsurge in a new kind of politics, offering hope and optimism, Stewart Arnold, Party Leader, told delegates.
“Wherever I go and whoever I speak to there are two things that come up time and time again: a sense of powerlessness plus a feeling of insecurity. And the two things are linked,” said Stewart.
“I’ve been to city, town and village. Every community has its own issues, but what feels constant to me is the sense of powerlessness among those fighting for change.”
Read “We’re the Party of hope, Stewart tells Conference” at https://www.yorkshireparty.org.uk/were-the-party-of-hope-and-optimism-stewart-tells-conference/
Deputy Leader’s Speech
Deputy Leader Chris Whitwood told the Conference the Party must become a credible option to run the county’s councils and their services.
Chris said: “The year ahead must be the year when the Yorkshire Party ceases to be a single-issue party of devolution and steps forward as a serious and credible alternative party of local government.
“For the first time … we have councillors at every local government level – county, district, town and parish.
“As we grow, we shall fight with increasing experience and confidence and our voice will be heard. Yorkshire will be heard. From dale and moor to vibrant city. From the Pennine hills to the sea and all who hear shall know that a vote for the Party for Yorkshire is a vote for fairer opportunities, a stronger economy and a more united society.”
Read “We must show we can run councils, says Chris” at https://www.yorkshireparty.org.uk/we-must-show-we-can-run-councils-chris-tells-conference/
Chairman Arnie Craven told the Conference there were many challenges on the way to a fairer Yorkshire within a fairer Britain.
Arnie said: “I don’t believe our nation can ever truly be better whilst the major disparities between the South and North persist: when some schoolchildren here in Yorkshire receive barely half the funding those in parts of London; when it takes me over an hour to travel the 30 miles between Leeds and Manchester; when people in Huddersfield are threatened with a hospital closure that will mean a 13 mile journey to the closest A&E – in Halifax.
“Those are the challenges we are fighting. And I’m here to tell you all, we are succeeding.”
Read “We’re fighting Yorkshire’s corner, says Chairman” at https://www.yorkshireparty.org.uk/were-fighting-yorkshires-corner-says-arnie/
The Conference’s applause for the women of WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality – showed how touched delegates were by the stories of many women born in the 1950s who were hit by sudden changes to their state pension ages. Led by Maureen Weetman of the Castleford and Yorkshire group, they explained how almost 300,000 women in Yorkshire – were devastated by the lack of fair transitional arrangements when the Government decided to equalise pension ages and delay the age when pensions would be paid.
Chris Whitwood and Stewart Arnold with the WASPI women from Castleford: June Stansfield, Cath Dwyer, Maureen Weetman and Tina Kidger
Another well-received speech was delivered by Peter Harrington, the entrepreneur, who talked about educating entrepreneurs to grow Yorkshire’s future economy. Peter was scathing about the present system designed to pass exams and tests at the expense of suffocating children’s natural curiosity and creativity.
The Party belongs to the European Free Alliance and the Conference heard speeches from two international experts on devolution: Anders Eriksson from the Alands Framtid campaign for self-governing Aland to be independent of Finland and Attila Dabis, Foreign Affairs Commissioner to the Szekler National Council, representing hundreds of thousands of Szekler Hungarians living in Szeklerland, Transylvania in Romania.
Anders spoke of bringing decisions more closely to the people and Attila put an international perspective on gaining greater autonomy.
In the run up to the Conference, Stewart wrote a series of articles on the Humber bridge tolls, fracking and the environment, lifelong learning and building on the Party’s success. See them all at http://www.yorkshireparty.org.uk/
Conference Pictures by Robbie MacDonald
The Party’s Annual General Meeting for members was held on the eve of the Autumn Conference.
Afterwards, Chairman Arnie Craven said: “At the AGM key party issues were discussed and resolved, including an update on party finance and a thorough review of the Party’s constitution. The outcomes of this constitutional review will shortly be circulated to members for their consideration.”
Forthcoming Branch Meetings
Wakefield Branch Meeting, October 29 at 7pm at Holmfield Arms, Thornes Park, Denby Dale Road, Wakefield, WF2 8DY;
Kirklees Branch Meeting, November 8th at 7pm at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Queen Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2SP;
Leeds Branch Meeting, November 15th at 7pm at the Bower’s Tap, Lower Briggate, LS1 6 BG;
North Yorkshire Tees Branch Meeting on November 20 at 7pm at the Anchor Inn, 16 Belmangate, Guisbrough, TS14 7AB;
Calderdale Branch Meeting, November 29 at 7pm at the Victorian Craft Beer Cafe, 18-22 Powell Street, Halifax HX1 1LN.