LOCAL Conservative Party members have chosen a new team to manage the running of the local Conservative Association in Redditch, the body that oversees election campaigns, membership and fundraising for the party in the local area.

At their Annual General Meeting held on Friday 22 February 2019 at Webheath Village Hall the outgoing Chairman, John Eaton, stood down after leading the organisation for three years – the maximum allowed. During his tenure the local party has had to deal with the retirement of former MP Karen Lumley on health grounds and the subsequent snap election in 2017 that saw Rachel Maclean MP become the Parliamentary representative for the area with an increased majority. The party then went on to win control of the Borough Council for the first time in six years in 2018.

Speaking of his record in office, John Eaton said:

“I leave Redditch County Conservative Association with the number of elections we have won up, our membership up, our donor base up, and the number of people coming forward to stand as Councillors also up. This is not my achievement alone but is thanks to the tireless work of everyone in the organisation who has risen to the challenge to unlock Redditch.”

He added:

“It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, and we’ve lost people along the way for various reasons – some of them happy as they move on to pastures new and some of them for less happy reasons. However, we press ahead as a party and remember we are here to represent and stand up for Redditch first and foremost.”

The post to replace John Eaton as Chairman was contested between Councillor Juliet Brunner and Councillor Roger Bennett. Following a short address to members they voted by secret ballot and elected JULIET BRUNNER as the new Chairman for the year ahead.

Speaking after her win, Councillor Brunner said:

“It is a great honour to follow John Eaton who has led the organisation splendidly for three years. We have success to build on and we have to go further by investing in our local branches, getting even more members, and raising even more money so we can be ready for a general election should one be called at short notice, and so we can fight the upcoming local elections in May.”

She added:

“We can see Redditch Borough Council under the Conservatives is starting to unlock Redditch and we are starting to see huge progress on issues that Labour dodged or dithered over for years. It is essential that we keep the council blue in May, and looking further it is essential that we keep Rachel Maclean as our MP should a general election be called. We stand ready.”

The AGM also saw changes for other posts with Cllr Mike Rouse taking the role of Deputy Chairman Political & Campaigning after being largely credited as the key to the success of the 2018 campaign where he won his Church Hill seat by the slimmest margin possible – just one vote. He was appointed to the position unopposed.

Mike is joined on the management team by former Church Hill Councillor Roger Hill who served on the Borough Council from 2010 to 2014 and now takes up the role of Treasurer for the Association.

Councillor Jane Potter will continue in her role as Association Secretary and as the legal Elections Agent for the Association.

Councillor Salman Akbar was elected to chair the Association’s Digital Committee and will take control of the party’s web and social media presence for Redditch at a time when digital is seen as a crucial component of elections.

Peter Fleming was appointed as the Data Protection Officer for the Association following the introduction of strict new data laws in 2018.

Councillor Tom Baker-Price, Councillor Audrey Steel, and Ann Isherwood all take up roles as additional Officers of the Association.

All Officers of the Association serve for a yearlong term for a maximum of three terms.