Two months ago I blogged about a campaign we were about to launch in West Kent to identify, recruit and train a new generation of potential local government candidates. The campaign included full page adverts in the local press along with a mailshot to hundreds of local community groups and organisations.
For full details see HERE
I am pleased to report that across the three Associations, approaching 40 people have expressed an interest in becoming a Conservative local government candidate. Interestingly, the full page press advert was not successful, with just two people getting in touch as a result of reading about it in the local paper. I found this surprising and disappointing, especially considering the cost. However, it is only right that I publish our failures as well as the successes, if for no other reason than to help others avoid similar costly mistakes.
The main source of new recruits came from local charitable and voluntary groups (such as Round Table, Toc H and the WI) followed by friends and neighbours of current members (each member was sent five copies of the leaflet to pass on to possible candidates they knew locally).
Next week we are hosting the first of our Open Evenings for potential new applicants. Of the twenty invited, fifteen have accepted the invitation and confirmed their attendance. We are holding the event at a smart local hotel, in a properly equipped and air conditioned conference room. Refreshments will be served on arrival and at the close. The two local Council Leaders (David Jukes from Tunbridge Wells and Nicolas Heslop from Tonbridge & Malling) will both make short presentations about the work of their councils. This will be followed by a presentation from me on campaigning and what we will expect from them as candidates and councillors. Finally, each new applicant will be "paired" with one of our serving councillors who will talk about their own work and answer questions.
The invitation letter and agenda is printed below (with the venue blocked out to avoid tempting Medway Against the Cuts turning up in search of more cream buns).
Following the Open Evening, applicants who wish to go forward to the next stage will be invited to complete and return a standard CCHQ LG Application Form and will be invited to interview with the relevant Local Government Committee. If approved, they will then be allocated a "mentor" to work alongside them to develop their political and campaign skills, before being invited to apply for selection.
As always, I will keep blog readers informed about progress!