Maidstone and The Weald formally joined the West Kent Group a few weeks ago, and following a very successful and positive meeting with the Association Officers and the leadership of the Conservative Group on the Borough Council, the first mailshot to 15,000 target voters started rolling off our presses today.
Already a new air of optimism is evident in the Association. A venue has been booked and a small army of volunteers are coming forward to pack the 15,000 envelopes. A councillor has been on the phone asking if his ward can be included in the campaign - a refreshing change from the "we cannot participate as we have no-one to help with deliveries" that we too often hear elsewhere. And today a long serving member in her late 70's called to say how excited she was that she felt "wanted and needed" again.
Too often I visit Associations and hear the old chestnut, "there's no-one to help" usually from councillors who find the time to attend every committee, advisory board and civic reception but never have the time to deliver leaflets to the very people whose support they will need to get themselves re-elected. They get very short shrift from me! One Association I know didn't deliver a single newsletter last year but had 8 meetings of the Executive Council. I often wonder what they talk about when they don't actually do anything. I suspect they sit around crying into their gin telling each other how hard it is as they don't have any help. I did suggest that if the 35 people who attended each meeting actually went out and delivered 200 newsletters they would get 7,000 homes covered. They looked askance!
So three cheers for Maidstone and The Weald Association and to their Chairman, John Wilson, who was unexpectedly landed with the job at last year's AGM and has shown real courage, vision and leadership.
And if you are in or around Maidstone on Tuesday 4 February - and would like to join a team packing 15,000 envelopes, do get in touch. You would be very welcome - and you'll get a free lunch. The team starts work at 10.30am.
(PS - and if you are in Tunbridge Wells on Thursday 6 February - there's another 10,000 to pack there, too). Please email your offers of help to firstname.lastname@example.org