Saturday saw my debut as an Officer of the Suffolk County Co-ordinating Committee of the Liberal Democrats - I'm their new Treasurer - as an attendee and, slightly oddly, social media expert.
Our Secretary, Martin Redbond, had put together an interesting agenda, kicked off by a hard-hitting speech by Ros, 'our very own Baroness', as our Chair, David Miller, put it. Ros talked openly about the difficulties of being in the Coalition, with legislation that we don't necessarily like, but highlighted some of our achievements, such as the progress in taking 900,000 people out of the income tax net last year, with more to come this year.
Chris White, our Group Leader in Hertfordshire, then led us through a guide to the impact of the Localism Act, the Health and Social Care Bill and the Police and Social Responsibility Act, pointing out some of the major opportunities that have emerged for local government, a number of which impact even at Parish level.
After a brief break for coffee, David Miller led us through the plan for the 2013 County Council election. We're defending eleven seats, and some of the defences could be a bit tricky, so getting off to an early start will be key. And as I've been awarded the job of organising our approval panels, I'll be busy in the early stages of the schedule.
A very pleasant lunch of soup and salad, followed by a jacket potato and filling, set us up for a rather more technical afternoon. At one end of the room, Tim Huggan led a session on 'Building Winning Teams', whilst I chaired a session on 'Using Social Media', starring our County Councillor from Woodbridge, Caroline Page, whose website is widely read.
I was surprised by the interest in social media, and even more surprised to be told afterwards that there is demand for a special training session, which will need to be organised during the Spring, I guess.
Finally, Rupert Moss-Eccardt gave a demonstration of CONNECT. It was, for my taste, a bit too technical, but for those people who'll be using it, getting a feel for its capabilities will be very useful.
I've learnt some valuable lessons to be applied to our next Conference, and as I've volunteered to help organise it, I may even get to apply them. But it was an interesting event, and I hope that our activists from across the county gained something from it.
Next weekend, something rather bigger...