Liberal Democrats gathered in York for their Spring Conference over the weekend of 16th and 17th March.
Adam Bernard, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Harrow East, spoke during a debate on revitalising town centres. He highlighted the situation in Stanmore town centre where the last pub closed three years ago. He stressed the importance of pubs and similar venues as social gathering places and community hubs. Dr Bernard also drew attention to the challenges faced by independent businesses in Harrow trying to cope with high rents, high rates, and competition with large chains.
The party's policy now calls for bold action to ensure town centres thrive in an increasingly digital economy, including: boosting support for local entrepreneurs; reforming local planning laws; developing local asset registers; reforming the system of business rates; and creating a new industry-led body to help brick-and-mortar retailers.
In a debate on eradicating racial inequality, Lisa-Maria Bornemann, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Harrow West, held up Harrow as an example of a borough fortunate to have incredible diversity among its residents. Ms Bornemann emphasised the importance of celebrating — and not merely tolerating —the many cultures and backgrounds of the people who have their home here.
The party's motion recognised that the UK has a long way to go in tackling institutional racism within systems such as criminal justice and mental health. It proposed a number of measures to address the problem, such as ending the hostile environment; providing prompt reparations in cases of miscarriage of justice; exposing and confronting the stereotyping in the media that leads to hate crime; and introducing "name-blind" processes for larger publicly-funded bodies.
An emergency motion was passed calling for urgent action to tackle knife crime by providing funding and support for youth services — in addition to the party's existing calls for more and better policing.
In a separate debate, the party called for the Government to revoke Article 50 if no Brexit deal can be agreed a week before departure date. In 2016, Harrow voted decisively to remain in the European Union.