Off: Lib Dems cancel national conference in York over coronavirus concerns

York Barbican. Photograph: YorkMix
11 Mar 2020 @ 10.33 pm
| News

A major York event has been called off over concerns about coronavirus.

The national Liberal Democrat party spring conference was cancelled tonight.

In a statement the party said:

  • It’s not a decision that was taken lightly as conference plays a key role in our democratic party as well as being an important training and information exchange event.

    However, the health of our members and supporters, the staff who work on conference and the wider public is far more important.

Blow to the city

The conference would have seen hundreds of delegates from across the country descend on the York Barbican from Friday to Sunday.

Other events were due to be held Novotel and Hilton hotels.

It is a blow to the city centre economy, but the party felt it had no choice. Lib Dem president Mark Pack, Geoff Payne, the federal conference committee chair and Mike Dixon, chief executive said:

  • We have noted today’s announcement from the WHO, treating this as a pandemic and calling for “urgent and aggressive action”, and also how other organisations have started cancelling events, such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists stopping all meetings with over 100 people.

    We have also paid close attention to the public health advice from the NHS, and note that some of the advice, such as around keeping distant from people who are ill, is in practice very hard to follow given the format of our conference involves large numbers of strangers sitting close to each other for extended periods of time.

They said many people had already cancelled, which meant the ‘one member, one vote’ democratic system was being undermined.

The party added: “It’s a matter of regret that for many people coming to the conference it will not be possible to cancel travel and accommodation arrangements and recover the costs.

“The party itself will also have to incur significant costs and refunds. We hope though people will understand the priority being given to people’s health.”