Briefing:
Update: Annual Conference 2020

From:
Joe Fortune
For attention of:
Published:
1st May 2020
Last updated:
1st May 2020
Printed:
28th May 2020
Other formats:
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We've made to changes to Annual Conference in light of Covid-19 restrictions

Coronavirus has quickly changed the ways we all live and work, and has impacted on the Co-operative Party and the way we operate too. I wanted to get in touch with Party officers to give you an update about Annual Conference.

Conference is our key event each year, bringing together members from across the country to discuss and debate our work and priorities.

We are committed to protecting our members and staff and ensuring that our events don’t put members at risk or exclude those who are self-isolating. The National Executive Committee has therefore decided that this year’s Annual Conference will not take place as planned in Leeds.

However, this does not mean we are cancelling Conference. 

We’ve seen record attendance at our local and national online meet-ups over the last month and we’re developing new and exciting ways to engage members in our work, debate policy and hear from our elected representatives.

Inspired by this success, we will now be holding an online Annual Conference to take place around the weekend of 10 and 11 October.

You may be taking part from the comfort of your own home, but we want this to be an opportunity to bring more of us together than ever before.

We’ll be keeping many of the important parts of Conference, as well as using available technology to build an event that gives members more opportunities to take part.

In the coming weeks the Party will communicate this change to all members and ask for your thoughts and feedback on what you would like to see as part of the programme.

In the meantime, please note the new date for Conference is the weekend of 10 and 11 October.

This will have some implications in terms of funding and we will be in touch soon to give an update on this. If you have already made bookings for delegates to go to Leeds, you should try to cancel these and request a full refund – any hotel rooms booked through Head Office will be cancelled automatically.

If you have any questions about delegate bookings or if you are not able to get a refund for arrangements that have already been made, please contact Shane Brogan: s.brogan@party.coop.

As you know, we have already postponed our Society AGM that was due to take place in Birmingham in June. We will keep Party and Society Secretaries updated on the new arrangements for this, which may also take place online.

Yours in co-operation,

Joe Fortune
General Secretary
Co-operative Party

Why are we making this change now?

We are unsure if social distancing guidelines will have been relaxed by the autumn to permit a Conference such as ours with 500+ attendees to go ahead.

As Conference brings together members from across the UK it also poses a risk of spreading infection, and would likely exclude many people who may still be self-isolating.

Annual Conference is also the single biggest expenditure for the Party nationally and for party councils. Many event insurance policies, including ours, will not cover the cancellation of events due to Covid-19. That means if we didn’t cancel the Conference venue until later in the year, it would not be possible for us to secure a partial refund of the costs incurred.

By cancelling the physical element of Conference now, we are able to reduce the financial loss that the Party will incur. Importantly though it gives us time to focus on developing a new type of Conference, that will be accessible to more people and ensure everyone can take part safely.

If the guidelines are relaxed by October, we hope to be able to organise local events that bring together members in smaller groups to take part in the Conference. We’ll also be looking for your ideas on the type of conference you would like to see.

For more information

s.brogan@party.coop

Shane Brogan

Membership Manager