Bailiffs descend on Tory HQ

BAILIFFS were sent to the headquarters of a Suffolk Conservative Association after the group ran up thousands of pounds in unpaid debts, it emerged last night.

The action taken against the Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket Constituency Conservative Association related to more than �2,000 in unpaid business rates.

And, despite a number of letters demanding payment being sent by Mid Suffolk District Council to the association’s headquarters in Woolpit, no response was received.

As a result, the Tory-controlled district council ended up appointing bailiffs – Rundle and Co – to visit the association in March this year and recoup the cash owed to the council.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “We did send several reminders because the business rates were overdue and unpaid.’’

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The spokeswoman confirmed the council had instructed its bailiffs to collect the fee owed. “They did achieve the said task,” she said. Members of the Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket Constituency Conservative Association – whose roles included supporting David Ruffley’s bid to reclaim his seat in May – last night moved to assuage concerns about the group’s financial situation.

Christopher Turner, the association’s chairman, said: “There were historical debts – (they are) now clear. We are bang up to date and are back on track.

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“I took over as chairman in March and we’ve got a management team that is working very hard.”

Revelations about the visit by bailiffs prior to May’s elections come in the wake of previous concerns about the association’s finances.

In January 2009, the EADT revealed how association members had been asked in a letter by a previous chairman – Eric Flack – to contribute �2,000 apiece towards debts of �130,000.

Association member Frank Warby said he heard nothing about the action taken by bailiffs, adding: “We’ve got plenty of money in the bank.”

A spokesman for the Conservative Party said it was unable to comment on the action taken by bailiffs because each association was “a separate accounting unit”.

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