Political conferences In this feature

CPLPortfolio Guidebook

l Labour Party exhibition l networking l fringe events Sending a message Setting out TSIs stall at the party conferences for the first time this year highlighting trading standards work to MPs and local leaders was a highly successful exercise, says Suzanne Kuyser I n a first for TSI, we had a trading standards stand at the recent Labour Party conference in Manchester. Plus, we attended the Conservative and Liberal Democrat conferences, held in Birmingham and Glasgow respectively, to focus leaders minds ontrading standards. Located in the charity area of the exhibition hall, our stand at the Labour Party conference was staffed by myself and Melissa Dring ourparliamentary and policy executive. Aiming to raise the profile of trading standards among Labour councillors and MPs, we included more than 240 items of legislation that fall under trading standards in the design of the backboards. These were of great interest to visitors to the stand, and an excellent starting point for discussions mainly with elected councillors. Most greeted us by saying, we love trading standards, and then having stunned them with the list of legislation we discussed the issues of budgetand staff cuts, priorities, and new approaches to delivery. Being on a stand at a party conference can be lively, and from time to time you have a flurry of bright young things approaching the stand to say an MP is about to visit you for a photo opportunity. Most were actually happy to stay and chat, and we were delighted that we were busy all the time, with a real cross-section of interested and hopefully influential people. Current TSI chief executive Leon Livermore, and former TSI employee Andy Foster, joined us on the stand for a day, as they were at the conference for a fringe event that TSI sponsored jointly with Which? We held joint events at each of the two main party conferences. Consumer protection: a luxury in the age of austerity at The Labour Party fringe was well attended, and on the panel were: Stella Creasy MP; Baroness Dianne Hayter, shadow spokesperson for Business, Innovation and Skills; Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director; Leon Livermore; councillor Sophie Linden of the Local Government Association; and Polly Toynbee of The Guardian. The following week although we didnt take a stand there we held our second fringe event at The Conservative Party conference in Birmingham: Is consumer protection a burden on business or a boost for growth? This time, Leon and Richard were joined on the panel by Baroness Neville-Rolfe, who recently took on a ministerial role, responsible for intellectual property. Again, there was a packed audience, which considering it was at 8.30am on the last day of conference wasamazing. There were several elected council members there who were very clearly involved in trading standards, and understood many of the issues but a ripple of shock still went around the room when Leon raised the issue of high staffing level cuts. This was the year to be at the conferences; with the general election looming, it was another chance to put trading standards on the radar of political debate. It was clear from the people we spoke to of all political persuasions that trading standards is treasured, but not always understood. There is still much more work to do in clarifying our value on so many fronts. It was clear from the people we spoke to of all political persuasions that trading standards is treasured, but not always understood Credits Published You might also like Suzanne Kuyser is service director 28 October, 2014 Cut to the bone November 2014 (communications and policy) atTSI, and editor-in-chief of TS Today. Images: Mark Hakansson / dfphotography To share this page, click on in the toolbar