Attempts to win back conferences.

From the Bournemouth Echo
THE BIC: A Labour conference was held back here in 2007, but political parties have shunned the town in the last few years
A NEW attempt is being made to put Bournemouth back on the map for money-spinning national political conferences.

The resort – which could once bank on attracting a major political party almost every year – has not hosted a major autumn conference since 2009.

Political parties have been shunning the town where Neil Kinnock famously denounced the Militant tendency, where Margaret Thatcher announced the “next move forward” and where Tony Blair warned he did not have a “reverse gear”.
Labour had announced it would return to Bournemouth in 2013 but has since U-turned and opted for Brighton instead.

Now Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood has asked Conservative co-chairman Grant Shapps to consider a return to the resort.

And Bournemouth council leader Cllr John Beesley has said he would look at “what more can be done” to attract the major conferences.

Cllr Beesley said the major parties had chosen urban venues like Manchester and Birmingham largely for political reasons.

“We’re still in the top five in the country. I think it’s more of a political decision to be in the Midlands than just a commercial decision,” he said.

He added: “The rank and file delegates are very keen on Bournemouth.“It’s got the widest range of affordable accommodation of any conference centre in the country. It has a number of other attractions that you don’t get in a city centre and it is affordable for the conference delegates generally.”

The BIC has been regularly pitching for the conferences and Cllr Beesley said he would be asking BH Live, the trust that runs the venue, what else could be done to support their efforts.

This year’s Labour conference in Manchester is estimated to be worth £23.9million to the economy there, according to Marketing Manchester.

And Cllr Beesley said it was hard to quantify the value of having the location on television every day. You can never be sure what that brings in but it’s something you couldn’t otherwise buy,” he added.

Mr Ellwood said his party was “overdue a visit” to Bournemouth.

“Everyone agrees conference is pining for a return to Bournemouth,” he added.

The last autumn conference in Bournemouth was that of the Liberal Democrats in 2009. Labour last came in 2007.

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