Lib Dems: Here’s what really happened in Sheffield

Live Updates: Liberal Democrats' Spring Conference
Live Updates: Liberal Democrats' Spring Conference
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THE Star and Sheffield Telegraph covered the Lib Dem’s Spring conference with this live blog from inside and outside Sheffield City Hall, March 11 to 13, 2011 - here’s what happened.

The Star’s reporters covered the three day conference here with regular updates - also at, and

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Sunday, March 13, 2011:

1pm: Conference ends.

12.50: Clegg speech: Lib Dems won’t “flinch from taking the difficult decisons to put this country back on track. In the Scottish, Welsh and local elections activists should tell voters what the party has been doing in government. “Tell them: We are in government. And we are on your side.”

12.45pm: Clegg speech: We couldn’t deliver our tuition fees policy but we can unite behind 1 clear mission: make university access fair to all”

12.36pm: Clegg speech: We’re building a welfare system Beveridge would be proud of.

12.35pm: Clegg speech: Banks must go back to being servants of the economy. Not the masters.

12.15pm: Clegg speech: We’ve had to toughen up. But we will never lose our soul. We are the true radicals of British politics.

12.14pm: Clegg speech: My life may have changed a fair bit since the last election. But I haven’t changed one bit. David Cameron hasn’t kidnapped me.

12.12pm: Clegg speech: The thoughts of the British people are with the Japanese tsunami victims, he begins.

12.10pm: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader and Sheffield Hallam MP, gets a standing ovation as he takes the stage to deliver his final speech to close the conference.

10am: A rainy sheffield for third and final day of the Lib Dems’ Spring Conference. Still lots of police about. Proceedings to wind up at 1.30pm after Nick Clegg’s closing speech.

Saturday, March 12, 2011:

4.50pm: A few hundred stragglers still outside barker’s pool, but most people going home as rain starts to fall.

4.20pm: The dreaded question has been asked on tuition fees, during a Q&A with Nick Clegg at the Lib Dem’s Spring Conference at Sheffield City Hall. Clegg says lib dems were ‘stuffed’ on the issue.

4.15pm: Clegg on nhs- ‘yes to reform, no to privatisation.’ being pushed by delegates.

4.10pm: Clegg on Sheffied City Hall stage for q and a session with delegates. Obviously in weekend mood- not wearing a tie.

2.25pm: Police confirm there has been just one arrest so far today - a 20-year-old man, over a public disorder allegation involving ‘letting off a firework’.

2pm: Huge samba party outside Sheffield City Hall. Vast majority of protesters enjoying themselves and not causing any trouble at all.

1.20pm A group of around 30 protesters storm Natwest bank on High Street. They are removed by police and return to the main body of protesters in Barkers Pool.

1.15pm The atmosphere, which was friendly on the march, is beginning to change as those at the front of the crowd nearest to the ring of steel demand Nick Clegg comes out and faces them. They start banging their placards on the fence.

1pm Latest figures put the crowd at approximately 5,000. Police stop an over-enthusiastic man waving a flare close to other protesters. The whole of Barkers Pool is packed and the crowd reaches past Barclays Bank.

12.35pm The protest arrives outside the City Hall, getting louder all the time with a samba band, pensioner with a megaphone, singing and chants. Groups of people come out of the conference and stand on the City Hall steps as they arrive. Less shoppers than usual in the city centre but many stopped to look and take photos.

12.15pm Great atmosphere as the protest laughs and chants its way towards Barkers Pool and the Lib Dem conference - more people joining along the way.

11.40am First protest speech on Devonshire Green is temporarily stopped by a Lib Dem supporter grabbing the mic to shout ‘what have the Lib Dems ever done to you?’- to the anger of the crowd. He is moved off towards West Street amid shouts of ‘scum’ and the crowds return to Devonshire Green for the rest of the speeches.

11.25am Protesters meet on Devonshire Green, enjoying the sun and a good old chinwag. Intial estimates say around 2,000 people involved.

10.48: There are nowhere near 10,000 people at devonshire green. Maybe 500 tops. People still arriving though. Demo march due to start at 11am.

10.25am: Route of the march is Devonshire Green, Fitzwilliam Street, Charter Row, Pinstone Street, Town Hall, Barker’s Pool.

10.15am: Police say no plans to kettle or contain people on Devonshire Green, despite rumours.

9.35am: Very quiet in town so far. A few demonstrators beginning to arrive. Police were briefed at 8am.

8am: Police briefed on what is expected to be one of the biggest ever political demonstrations in the heart of the Sheffield - with up to 10,000 protestors anticipated.


SATURDAY, 7am: Police maintain their hi-vis presence in Sheffield city centre - with up to 10,000 protestors expected for the biggest rally of the three day conference. Demonstrators will meet at Devonshire Green and march to the City Hall around 11am. The Star and Sheffield Telegraph web sites will bring you regular updates and all the major breaking news and video clips from inside and outside the conference.

FRIDAY, March 11, 2011:

7.50pm: All demonstrators now gone - praised by police for co-operating with the police operation. No arrests, it is understood.

7.48pm: Clegg gets standing ovation after telling Lib Dems to ‘stand firm in face of criticism’.

7.35pm: Nick Clegg on stage at Lib Dem Conference. Gets a standing ovation before he has even said anything

7.30pm: Party pres tim farron got a v good reaction & standing ovation. Had a pop at cameron and said lib dems still party of the left.


Lib dems love party pres Tim Farron. ‘We absolutely did right thing. But you might have noticed it hasn’t been plain sailing.’


Scriven- ‘welcome to sheffield. I hope you enjoyed the reception took a lot of organising.’


Lib Dem Conf: Sheffield’s Liberal council leader Paul scriven getting a good reaction inside


I don’t want to pay for these people’s university fees, says a delegate quietly as a young group yell abuse.


Pretty rowdy. Still maybe 300 outside City Hall. Shouting abuse as delegates queue to get in the venue ahead of Nick Clegg’s opening speech tonight.


Protestors in full voice outside the City Hall as police in hi-vis vests maintain a big presence - they say to ensure a ‘safe and successful conference for all, not obstructing peaceful protest’.


Noisy but peaceful demonstrators within the designated protest area outside Sheffield City Hall.


About 800 protesters have now gathered outside Sheffield City Hall - with angry chants and banners, demanding: “Cleggy, Cleggy,Cleggy...out, out, out!”


Lib Dem Conference begins at Sheffield City Hall, with timetable, until 5.30pm:

- Facing the Future

- Information Technology and Intellectual Property

- Inequality


After lunch it seemed many Sheffielders were keeping well clear of the city centre with Fargate much quieter than usual and few queues in the shops.


A sunny Friday morning in Sheffield’s city centre kicked off with loads of police and plenty of barricades but hardly a Sheffielder in sight.

As the city braces itself for the arrival of 10,000 protesters, what are you going to do?

Are you avoiding Sheffield city centre at all costs or are you ready to protest?

The police have already labelled the forthcoming weekend the biggest challenge on resources since the 2007 floods but only time will tell whether the description is seriously over-hyped or right-on-the-money.

Will it be shoulder-to-shoulder with protestors or the shortest queues Saturday shopping in Sheffield has ever seen?

Here at The Star Online we’ve got all the information you will need to get you through the weekend.

If you want to know where to go - either to get into the heart of the action, or to avoid it all costs - we’ve got the minute-by-minute, up-to-date happenings in the city centre as the weekend unfolds.

And don’t forget that The Star Online is YOUR website with YOUR news, so we want to hear from you! Do you have photos or videos from the city centre as protests get underway?

Do you have ringside seats at the ring of steel?

Get in touch and let us know what’s going on near you. You can register with us online to comment on articles or email your thoughts, opinions and pictures to us at and we’ll be put your pictures in our online gallery.


IF you want to know when and where to avoid, here’s the timetable for the Liberal Democrats Spring Conference at the City Hall:


3pm til 5.30pm Consultative Sessions


9am til 12.40pm Party Business inc Policy Motions then Question and Answer Session.

2.20pm til 5.30pm Policy and Business Motions inc Question and Answer Session with Nick Clegg at 3.35pm.


9am til 1pm Party Business inc Policy Motions and Speech.

There are also fringe events each evening at various venues close to the City Hall. Keep visiting throughout the weekend for the very latest developments in Sheffield city centre.