Brexit or Bust: The Welsh Conservative Spring Conference

As Theresa May addressed the Welsh Conservative Party conference in the Llangollen Pavilion over the weekend, English Local Election results were still flooding in; by close of play the Conservatives had lost more than 1,300 seats. Amidst this quite staggering political upset, May’s time at the conference – which began with party member Stuart Davies’ now infamous heckle: ‘’why don’t you resign? We don’t want you’’ – was spent elaborating on the party’s poor performance in the local elections and emphasizing Brexit’s divisive nature on the doorsteps.

May focused on the ideas of party solidarity and internal cooperation as the key to facilitating a timely Brexit, but the atmosphere in the pavilion did not inspire either of these things. Party members described the event as down beat and even funerary, with many commenting on the internal friction that currently pervades the Tory party and mainstream politics at large and its chokehold on party progress.

In the face of a divided party operating in the shadow of a still unresolved Brexit, May’s focus turned to Welsh education and healthcare. Commenting on the children being let down by an education system that is trailing behind UK national standards and a Welsh NHS that can not provide the necessary standards of care to its patients, May looked to leverage Welsh governmental insufficiencies against Labour’s ongoing leadership, echoing Welsh Conservative Party Leader Paul Davies’s view that Labour, not devolution, is the issue with Welsh politics.

In his first conference address since election as party leader, Davies also focused on education and healthcare, as well as urging the Welsh Government to stop ‘’dithering’’ over the M4 relief road decision. Many crucial topics, however, could be seen languishing in Brexit’s pervasive uncertainty, and if May fails to address the issue with haste, we might be seeing a lot more heckling.

Although many important and impassioned messages were communicated at this Welsh Tory Party Conference, you can’t help feel that May, Davies and all senior members of the party are trying in earnest to both apologise for and distract from Brexit. Although the promises of establishing UK wide parity in education, healthcare, housing, social care and infrastructure could potentially attract lots of voters as the next Assembly elections begin to appear on the horizon, in the short term faith will continue to waver unless May can truly rally the party and address the European elephant in the room.

PAC Annual Lecture: Creating Greater Democracy in Wales

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Democracy was the theme of this week’s Public Affairs Cymru (PAC) Annual Lecture given by Alun Davies AM, Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services.

Davies emphasized the need for Government to be more dynamic and ambitious, touching on the necessity to push forward the streamlining of local authorities, but also the need for more locally driven agendas across Wales

Davies also called for greater transparency, openness and accountability, all of which are unquestionably central to democracy, and suggested that front-benchers should be open to being questioned and challenged by other Ministers and community organisations, such as the Civic Society. 

Relating very much to the work we do at Grasshopper, Davies also highlighted that in order to create a more democratic society, communities need to actively participate in decision-making and influencing change.  In conclusion - democracy is more than simply voting for a new Government every few years (at a local or national level), but should be an ongoing and meaningful dialogue process.

Breakfast Seminar - Effective Communication for Planning: Navigating the Wales Planning Act

Grasshopper PR is delighted to be hosting a CPD breakfast event with the Women In Property South Wales branch exploring Effective Communication for Planning in light of the new regulations set out in the Wales Planning Act (2015), on Wednesday 25 May 2016, Park House (Cardiff).

Following the adoption of the Act, requirements are now in place for pre-application consultation on ‘major’ development plans (including residential development over 10 units and commercial development over 1000sqm), and Developments of National Significance (including energy projects up to 50MW).

The event will explore in detail the new pre-application requirements and how these fit with best practice communications approaches, as well as how to identify and achieve communication and engagement objectives for each project.

In addition, special guest speakers Chair of Cardiff City Council Planning Committee - Cllr Michael Michael and Head of Planning - James Clemence will talk about the implications of the new policy from the perspective of local councillors and officers, and what they hope to see moving forward in terms of engagement and consultation with local communities, elected representatives and decision makers.

To find out more abut the event or book your place then please get in touch or visit: http://www.womeninproperty.org.uk/branches/south-wales/events/2016/cardiff-effective-communication-for-planning.aspx.