Tory association faces financial crisis

MEMBERS of a Suffolk Conservative association could end up being billed thousands of pounds each after it emerged unpaid debts had left the organisation facing financial meltdown.

Laurence Cawley

MEMBERS of a Suffolk Conservative association could end up being billed thousands of pounds each after it emerged unpaid debts had left the organisation facing financial meltdown.

During a recent meeting with lawyers, Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association was told its debts currently amounted to �130,000.

Tory insiders claim the debts - which they describe as “a mess” - arose because of the Conservative's resource centre in Woolpit, which has not been used as much as originally planned, leaving the association out of pocket as a result.


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It has now emerged the association will try and get past executive council members to stump up �2,000 each to bail it out, a move one Tory warned could lead to an exodus of members.

In a confidential letter sent out to members, the former association chairman Eric Flack - writing with the permission of the current chairman David Whybrow - said although “substantial donations” had already been made towards paying off the debt, the amount given was “nothing like enough” to make arrangements with creditors.

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Mr Flack, who was chairman of the association when the debts were incurred, said: “If I face legal claims which cannot be fully covered from the fund I have been advised that I need to serve contribution notices on everyone on the list so that they bear a proportionate share of their responsibility.”

Advisors, Mr Flack said, had claimed “it will be necessary for all past executive council members to contribute to the fund and that the individual amounts need to be �2,000.

“I realise that this would be difficult for some members.”

Speaking yesterday to the EADT, Mr Flack confirmed the letter had been sent out but added it was a “private internal matter”.

He declined to comment further at the current time.

But association member Margaret Charlesworth, the former mayor of St Edmundsbury, said she would refuse to cough up �2,000 if asked.

She said: “If it is true then I am certainly not going to pay. Why should I? It is not my responsibility.”

One of those on the list of executive council members, but who did not want to be named, said there was currently “a lot of bad feeling” about the situation and warned: “It is likely some councillors will resign from the party in protest.

“This could damage membership of the Conservative Party on a big scale in the whole country if all members found out they could end up paying their association's debts simply because they went to some meetings.''

The association is holding a meeting to discuss the issues next Monday.

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