Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The West Kent Group - it's official!

After two years of detailed planning, the West Kent Group of Conservative Associations finally came into being tonight, when the Chairs of all four Associations signed the Memorandum of Understanding, the document which gives Legal Effect to the new arrangements.  Further good news came tonight via an email from the Faversham & Mid Kent Association, whose Executive Council had voted unanimously to join the Group. Their application was unanimously approved.

William Rutherford holds-up the Memorandum of Understanding, signed by all four Associations.
From left: Allan Sullivan (Treasurer of Chatham & Aylesford), John Wilson (Chair of Maidstone and the Weald,
Alan Bristow (Treasurer of T&M), William Rutherford (Chair of Tunbridge Wells), Andrew Kennedy, Adrian Gulvin (Chair of C&A), Jon Botten and Jacques Arnold (Chair of T&M)

The five Associations will retain complete operational and legal independence. Each will elect its own officers, keep its own bank account, manage its own finances, collect and bank membership income, oversee its branches and all other structures, and will each retain complete control over their local and parliamentary candidate selections. However, by working together from one central, modern and fully equipped Campaign HQ, an additional £25,000 per annum of building / property related expenditure will be released for campaigning and development.  

The new West Kent Campaign HQ, based in Paddock Wood, is centrally located for all constituencies, with private parking and just two minute walk from the railway station.  The office will be equipped with modern print and copy facilities and an eight line phone bank.

These new arrangements have come about by five Associations realising that members and supporters donate money and pay their subscriptions to help win elections, not to maintain bricks and mortar. It is worth recording that across the five Executive Councils of the participating Associations, 212 individual members voted; of these 208 voted in favour of the Group, 3 against and one abstained; 98% support!

It is a great honour to have been part of the team who have brought this to fruition; I am fortunate to work for such an outstanding group of modern and progressive Officers and Members, who have demonstrated real vision for the future. Throughout this, I have been wonderfully supported by Jon Botten and we look forward to welcoming Amanda Hopkins, who will be joining the West Kent staff from Faversham & Mid Kent Association.

Internally, our roles will be further defined. I will be relinquishing most of the administrative duties I currently undertake alongside Jon; my new role will be focussed almost exclusively on campaigning (political financial and membership), training and developing volunteers and legal / compliance management.  Jon will be Administration and Office Manager, including day to day running of the Campaign HQ, designing and printing newsletters and flyers, direct mail and special projects. Mandy will be front of house and will take care of membership and data management. In time we hope to take on an intern and perhaps someone to assist running the print room.

Exciting times !

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