Wales politics

Welsh Conservative conference off due to cost, says Andrew RT Davies

Andrew RT Davies
Image caption Andrew RT Davies says the party has to be realistic about finances

Welsh Conservatives say they called off their conference at a fortnight's notice because of the cost of staging the event.

Andrew RT Davies, the Tory leader in the the Welsh assembly, said the security arrangements were a "deficit we couldn't carry".

The party announced the change of plan on Thursday, two weeks before the conference was due to be in Llandudno.

Members of the resort's hospitality industry have expressed dismay.

Mr Davies said: "It is a postponement, not a cancellation.

"We're focusing on the local government elections. We're going to have a launch in March at a venue and date to be confirmed.

"That is something that's going to be a very positive experience, emphasising that the Conservatives are on people's side in these difficult times.

"But the reality is the financial constraints and also the security constraints indicated to us that was a deficit we couldn't carry."

The presence of high-profile figures at political events brought a "heightened risk", he said.

He added: "We've got to be realistic. Everyone's feeling the pressure at the moment on a financial basis and the reason we're in this mess at the moment is because people from the past have just allowed money to run away.

"We're not prepared to do that.

'Unable to take chance'

"I would very much have liked the conference to have gone ahead. It was my wish that the conference should have gone ahead, but regrettably obviously with the financial cost that the voluntary party would have borne they were unable to take that chance."

North Wales Police said they had not incurred any additional costs as a result of the party changing its plans.

Police said they would not have expected to bill the Tories for security. The force said they understood the main security at the conference venue was due to be provided by a private firm and the police would have worked in support of that.

It would have been Mr Davies's first conference since being elected Tory leader in Cardiff Bay last July.

It would also have been the Welsh Conservatives' first conference since last May's Welsh assembly election when they overtook Plaid Cymru to become the biggest opposition party in the Senedd.

Last year's conference in Cardiff was held in conjunction with the UK-wide party's spring forum.

Rival parties pounced on the announcement, with Plaid Cymru saying it showed the Conservatives did not prioritise talking to their own members, while Welsh Labour said its annual conference in Cardiff next month "promises to be one of our biggest and best yet".

Llandudno Hospitality Association chairman David Williams called the news "disappointing".

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