About a hundred Lib Dems turned up to the group meeting and 150 to the annual dinner. Richard Kemp was elected unopposed for a further 2 years as the group leader. He has been very visible at this conference summing up on the Climate Change motion, responding to the debate on local government's response to the credit crunch and again in the evening (pictured above) speaking to the annual dinner. Richard loves to please an audience. He was full of praise for the role of District Councils which pleased many delegates, but he always manages to smuggle some content into utterances. In the economic session he was firm in telling councils not to involve themselves in empty gestures, to be a head of the curve in local intelligence about changes in the economy and to be prepared to innovate. In particular he praised Essex Council for the launch of its local bank. It will be interesting to see whether Vince Cable takes up that theme tomorrow, He has argued for along time that the big banks need breaking up and has suggested that the mutual model of ownership may be appropriate. In the NW we have lost our local banks and many building societies, recreating them out of the nationalised bank would return to the regions a level of economic power that has been lost.