The Federal Conference Committee recently met to discuss the Conference format for 2022.
We considered a number of options for next year's conferences and took the difficult decision to hold Spring Conference as an online conference and only returning to an in-person event for Autumn Conference. The dates of Spring Conference will be 11-13 March 2022 and we will announce the dates and venue for Autumn Conference in due course.
The Committee discussed several options with regards to the format of Spring Conference and, whilst there was a strong desire within the Committee to return to in person meetings and events as soon as possible, our challenge was that the COVID situation remains uncertain and therefore still causes significant concern. While we are seeing more in person events happening, we have also seen the Welsh Labour conference in November cancelled due to COVID concerns.
If we had taken the decision to hold an in person Spring Conference, this would have taken place in York - a venue which we usually operate at full capacity. Enforcing social distancing and COVID measures would therefore have been extremely difficult with the potential number of attendees. Furthermore, the danger that a large number of people may not have felt safe attending a crowded in person event meant there was a significant risk of a drop in the number of members attending Conference.
As a party we are very reliant on revenue from registrations to make Spring Conference financially viable. The risk of a significant shortfall in revenue, coupled with the potential loss had we been we forced to cancel the event at a later date, meant the committee had to take the very hard decision to continue with an online conference format for Spring 2022.
That said, the Committee strongly felt that this should be the final online-only conference, if at all possible. For that reason, the Committee strongly endorsed holding an Autumn Conference in person next year.
We have also established a Hybrid Working Group to look at the options for hybridisation of Conference and to take forward some of the better elements from an online conference, including greater accessibility and wider participation for people who would not normally be able to attend conference. While we were not confident this could be implemented in time for Spring Conference, we are committed to finding a solution which works for Autumn Conference 2022 and beyond.
Finally, we strongly welcome any local or regional parties who might be interested in organising in-person events in their areas to coincide with Spring Conference. There were a number of successful in-person events which took place on the fringe of this year's Autumn Conference and the Committee would welcome this being replicated and expanded for Spring Conference 2022.