Spent a few days at the Labour Party conference in Brighton and found the fringe a useful opportunity to get close to and interact with key Ministers.
Local Government Minister John Denham gave a barnstorming speech at the Compass fringe where he rounded on critics and showed a passionate and fiery side to him that I hadn't witnessed before. I got a quick word with him the following evening where he modedestly laughed off his performance.
Housing Minister John Healey was another who was blanket booked on the fringe programme and he also made platform annnouncements about the second tranche of bidding for council housing new build and linkages on apprenticeships to Government housing new build investment whatever the sector. I managed to speak to John on two or three occasions and he was vociverous on the reform of housing finance. He is a man on a mission and has made execllent progress in his 4 or 5 months in the job, I really hope he has the opportunity to make further advances prior to the general election.
I also had passing chats with Rosie Winterton once or twice and I am sure her ears will still be ringing from myself and colleagues asking her questions on equal pay and protecting frontline services from cuts, on the fringe. The last time was at the CLES / LOCALIS fringe where the excellent Neil McInroy spoke about creating resillent local economies.
Also did fringes on Housing, planning, international aid, public sector reform, the economy and climate change. Some of the notable speakers at these included Douglas Alexander, Ed Milliband, Michael Bichard and Steve Bundred.