A few weeks ago I informed readers of our new Members Affinity Scheme, something I had been thinking about for four years and have finally found the time and resource to get off the ground.
The logic behind the plan is simple; local independent retailers offer worthwhile incentives for Conservative Party members to use their shop in preference to the large chain stores nearby. This will hopefully drive footfall and new business, often at quiet times of the trading week, whilst we are finally in a position to offer a real tangible benefit for our local members.
This is not new - many years ago the party nationally offered something similar, but discounts on cases of Claret from Berry Brothers and 5% off 1st class airline travel did little to dispel the unfair image that we were an elitist club, whilst adding no real value for the overwhelming majority of our members.
I am delighted to report that the West Kent scheme is exactly the opposite. We have a car garage & motor spares, pet food supplier, fish & chip shop, card & gift shop, hairdresser, nail bar & beautician, shoe repairs & key cutting, DIY/Hardware store, printing & photocopying shop, carpet fitters, florist, dry cleaners, Indian restaurant and car hire. These are a great selection of local independent retailers that people use on a daily or weekly basis. A fantastic scheme which will promote local business whilst offering substantial savings to our members of between 5% and 20% on usual prices.
We have produced a full colour booklet listing all the participating retailers and the discounts they have offered, along with a foreword from local MP, Greg Clark, who will be launching the scheme at a reception in Paddock Wood in September.
Around 500 local Conservative Party members and donors will receive the booklet along with a covering letter and their personalised "Blue Discount Card" in the post next week. We will then follow this up with a major recruitment campaign aimed at the 2,500 pledges we have in the towns and villages nearby. If this trial scheme is a success, our aim is to roll it out to other towns and villages next year.
There are many advantages to "grouping" but having both the technical ability and the confidence to launch a scheme such as this is one of the benefits which is seldom discussed or acknowledged. I am confident that the Blue Card will help local independent retailers, reward our members for their support and finally give us a recruitment tool which I hope will make it much easier to recruit new members and donors. As always, I will keep readers informed about progress.