Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Herding the many elephants in the room !

It's frantic at West Kent Towers right now - with Jon and I spinning plates and juggling over 40 different events and activities happening across our Associations.

The "elephants in the room" are:

The ever nearing Tonbridge & Malling Parliamentary Selection. Potential applicants have just one week left to submit their CVs to CCHQ. Next Wednesday we have our Executive Council to "sign-off" the procedures. I am in the middle of designing my presentation outlining with how I hope the process will not only lead to the selection of an outstanding candidate, but will also be a vehicle to refresh and renew our local organisation. We are bursting with ideas and I look forward to sharing our plans once the Executive Council has agreed the process.

Local Government Candidate Recruitment: Next Tuesday we host our first evening for training and recruiting new LG Candidates. Almost 20 brand new candidates have now accepted our invitation to attend with another 20 in the pipeline for the next session. I don't think we have ever had 40 potential new candidates, another super opportunity to bring in fresh ideas and new thinking.

Christmas Draw: As well as running the Christmas Draw for the three West Kent Associations, we are also looking after Rochester and Maidstone, too. In addition, we are targeting 6,500 known Conservative supporters in Chatham & Aylesford in an initiative to identify a new generation of donors to help ensure a solid financial base as we head towards 2015. All of this results in mail merging and packing over 10,000 envelopes, consisting of 14 variations of the appeal letter targeting different target groups!

Development of West Kent: As hinted at in previous blogs, we are in the process of major changes to West Kent including a possible new Campaign HQ, new Memorandum of Understanding governing how we work and the services we provide and new Associations applying to join the Group. All of this involves a great deal of behind the scenes negotiations, quasi legal work drafting the potential service agreements and writing briefing notes for the various Executive Committees.

Voluntary work with the Kent Area Management Executive: As well as my paid work with West Kent, I am also a co-opted member of the Kent AME, where I have responsibility for Best Practice and Special Events. This is a voluntary appointment, where I work alongside other volunteers helping administer the affairs of the Conservative Party in Kent. In this capacity I am organising the Kent Reception at the Conservative Party Conference and commencing work on the 2014 Kent Area Conference, which will be held in Sandwich. I am also honoured to have been invited by my colleagues in Rochester & Strood to oversee the vote to re-adopt of outstanding Mark Reckless as Conservative Parliamentary Candidate.

Events and Fundraising: As well as our branches raising funds (and central fundraising such as the Christmas Raffle) our various Management Committees also host high profile events, which fall on the Office to help organise; of which we have four!  Tunbridge Wells are hosting a Murder Mystery Dinner in October, Tonbridge & Malling have a supper with Ann Widdecombe in November, Chatham & Aylesford have a Horse Race Night in November and we also have a West Kent Magic Show at Tonbridge's Oast Theatre early in the New Year.  Oh yes, and we are organising Sir John Stanley's 40 Year Anniversary on 15 Tonbridge - with 150 of the 200 available tickets already sold!

All of the above are just special " one off" events - we also have the routine day-to-day activities which every Association Office must deal with; membership renewals, minutes, branch development - and most importantly of all, campaigning (which is the reason we are here). Each of the Associations now have weekly campaign teams - each generating hundreds of new VIs all of which must be data captured.

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