Federal Conference Committee met for the morning of Saturday 14 the November 2020. The meeting was designed to pick up on issues that arose from the Autumn Conference feedback meeting that took place in October.
At the feedback meeting, the FCC had decided that Spring Conference would take place online. We will be using the Hopin platform and conference will operate in a very similar manner to Autumn Conference.
At that last meeting, we decided on the registration rates, and the rates for the exhibition and fringe for party bodies. We finalised some aspects of those rates at the November meeting.
The conference deadlines are as follows (all of these are at 1pm):
- Drafting Advice for motions: 17th December 2020
- Motions Deadline: 6th January 2021
- Drafting Advice deadline for amendments: 22nd February 2021
- Amendments and Emergency Motions deadline: 8th March 2021
- Appeals deadline: 18th March 2021
- Spring Conference: 19th to 21st March 2021
At the November meeting, we also dealt with a few issues that concern Hopin. We noted, for example, that there is to be a 'report user' button added for the future.
Although Autumn conference was a great success overall, there were some areas that worked better than others. The committee considered in detail how it might make the exhibition more attractive, for example. It had formed a working group beforehand to consider proposals. We will look to provide additional information to exhibitors in advance, we will make sure that chairs plug the exhibition, and specific stands within it on a rotation basis, immediately before auditorium breaks. We will look to hold some VIP tours of the exhibition. We will also try and explain in a video what the exhibition is so that attendees can see in advance. We will also only offer medium and large stands in the future. All of that is designed to get better footfall through the exhibition and to make it more attractive.
In terms of the fringe, the committee decided to extend the session times from 50 minutes to between 60 and 75 minutes in duration. We will also look to provide more and better information in advance to those running fringes to try and eliminate technical difficulties.
The committee also considered the conference app and documentation. We noted that, for an online conference, it makes no sense to have a separate Agenda, Conference Extra, and Conference Daily. It would be a lot better if they were merged into one document, and that is what we are going to do for Spring Conference. We will publicise an Agenda containing all of the motions that we have selected. That will be available as a printed document, at an extra cost, should people want it. We will then make available a compendious electronic agenda that contains the motions, the amendments, and all of the questions that we select at the later deadlines. We hope that that will provide an easier, and more user-friendly way of navigating through what we are debating. Because that document will overlap the app to a large extent, we will not be making the app available at Spring Conference.
We also had a discussion about the conference deadlines. We are looking to simplify the way in which items are submitted after the main motion and amendments deadline. We are hoping to introduce a single type form through which people can communicate with the FCC and the chairs and aides of sessions about, for example, procedural motions, late questions, and points of order. We also looked at where our conference attendees came from in the country and how long they had been members for. There were a number of very long-standing members a conference and a number of very new members. There was a particular bias towards local parties that have a track record of electoral success.
We look forward to seeing you all at Spring Conference!