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Will the autumn Party Conference ever return to the seaside again?

Picture 7 It was confirmed today that the Conservative Party conference in 2012 will take place in Birmingham.

Eric Pickles trumpeted the announcement, saying:

"We're delighted to be returning to Birmingham for our autumn conference in 2012. Birmingham proved to us in 2008 that it has an exceptional conference venue in the ICC and Symphony Hall, a good range of accommodation and a well developed transport infrastructure.  Whilst these are all important issues for our delegates it was the welcome we received that made a lasting impression.  Birmingham clearly goes the extra mile to look after its visitors and we are looking forward to being there both later this year and in 2012."

From 1993 to 2007 the party alternated between Blackpool and Bournemouth as the venue for the main party conference, but a new pattern appears to be emerging where we alternate between Birmingham and Manchester (the venue for the 2009 and 2011 conferences).

The conference centres in both those cities are impressive, and I have no criticism of them; but there is a part of me which rather yearns for some sea air and a walk along the prom by way of re-invigoration during the week...

On a more practical note, when the party moved towards the urban conferences in 2008 there was concern among some activists that accommodation in the cities was far pricier than in seaside resorts, thereby making it more expensive, perhaps prohibitively so, for some.

I enjoyed returning to Brighton (pictured above) for the spring conference and did wonder whether it might be in the running to host an autumn conference again some time soon (it last did so in 1992).  It has hosted many Labour conferences over the last decade, so there is no concern about it not being able to deal with the capacity and it has a suitably broad range of accommodation and restaurants to suit all price tags.

What do you think?

Jonathan Isaby


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