Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A long and productive weekend in West Kent

As I have just blogged, the demands of moving office and all the usual IT problems have resulted in a prolonged silence on my blog. This doesn't mean I have lost interest or focus, or indeed that nothing has been happening. Far from it !   So, to bring you up to speed since the last post on Thursday last week, here is a brief summary!

Thursday evening saw the Chatham & Aylesford AGM. I have blogged before that this tiny Association of 150 members constantly punches above it's weight, both politically and in terms of fundraising. C&A have more pledges, deliver more leaflets and pro-rata (per member) raise more money than any other Association in Kent. They are a great group of people, devoid of the tiresome splits, spats and egos which bedevil many voluntary organisations.  They are a delightful Association, and I am proud to have worked alongside them for over ten years.

NO, It's not the waiting room for flu jabs at the local GP clinic!
Standing room only at the C&A AGM last week.

Friday was the Maidstone & The Weald AGM, my first as their Agent. The new Maidstone Chairman, Cllr John Wilson, and his team (all of whom found themselves in jobs they were not expecting when the entire previous Management Committee resigned last year) have done a wonderful job turning the Association around, disposing of their "totally unfit for purpose" building and steering the Association into the West Kent Group. The AGM was, shall we say, challenging. Forty minutes spent debating the membership of the Executive Council compared with two minutes spent on campaigning.  At the end, Helen Grant MP invited me to say a few words as part of her presentation, and I used the opportunity to confirm my long held belief that the sole purpose of the Conservative Party is to fight and win elections, and how disappointing it was that members seemed happier arguing over sub clauses in the Party constitution. 

I added, "in my many years working for the Party, I have found that those who bring up points of order and complain about process at Annual Meetings are almost always the people you seldom see on the doorsteps or tramping the streets when there are doors to knock or leaflets to deliver."  There was an audible "hear, hear" and an equally audible sucking of teeth - but these things need saying. And let's be honest; if they are the type of association who prefer arguing over points of procedure than campaigning and winning elections, then the chances are we will never work well together, so let's be open about it from day one! 

Despite being half way through the office move, campaigning goes on as ever, and I was up at 7am on Saturday to attend the first campaign event of the day in Paddock Wood. Greg Clark MP and the local Borough and County councillors were signing a Flood Charter, calling for independent flood risk assessments prior to new development, improved draining and clearance of drainage ditches, improvements to existing flood defences and a dedicated response service from the EA and Southern Water. 

Greg Clark MP and local councillors sign the Flood Charter

From there we met with the usual Saturday Campaign team and we delivered over 4,000 newsletters to local homes. 

Having done that, it was time to move offices!  But that's the next blog!

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