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Second Buckinghamshire Conservative Association quits the Party's Premier League of donors over High Speed 2

by Paul Goodman

Last November, the Chesham and Amersham Association resigned from the Party's "Premier League" - a group of Associations which give substantial funds each year to CCHQ.  The cause of its departure was the Government's High Speed 2 plan.

Now a second Bucks Association has gone, too - Aylesbury, which has contributed some £250,000 to Party funds over the last ten years.  A letter to Stanley Fink, the Party's Treasurer, from Paul Rogerson, the Aylesbury Association's Chairman, explains its reasoning and the process -

"Dear Mr Fink,

Membership of the Premier League

As you know Aylesbury Constituency Conservative Association (ACCA) has been a member of the Conservative Premier League since its inception and has, for over 60 years, continuously donated to Central Office funds.

The announcement by the previous government of a high speed rail link between London and Birmingham (HS2) passing through our constituency raised significant concerns for the ACCA. At this time it appeared from the stance being taken by the Party was that a full and rigorous review would take place prior to any Conservative incoming government taking the proposals forward. On that basis the ACCA based its successful campaign for the General Election.

It was therefore extremely disappointing to learn that the Conservative led Coalition maintained its support for the proposals despite the fact that evidence for the proposal on national, financial and environmental grounds was and remains poor. Prior to and following the recent announcement of Route 3 as the preferred route for High Speed 2, we have had many complaints from our members and constituents about the proposal and the effect it will have upon the protected countryside, cutting across the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, damaging the environment of our towns and villages within Aylesbury Constituency, and the basis on which billions of pounds are to be committed in the ‘national Interest’.

In order to raise these concerns with the Party and government the ACCA, along with other Buckinghamshire constituency associations, met with the Chairman of the Party, Sayeeda Warsi, to discuss the matter. David Lidington MP has written to Phillip Hammond as well as our members, and the ACCA writing to Baroness Warsi, but still the concerns have not been addressed.  It was with this lack of response in mind that the ACCA Senior Management Team decided to gauge the gravity of the issue to the ACCA Constituency by balloting its qualifying members as to whether ACCA should withdraw from the Premier League until such time as an alternative is proposed, a business case is substantiated or the project is cancelled.

The ballot returned a substantial response with an overwhelming number agreeing to withhold the additional discretionary payments and withdraw from the Premier League.  The result of the members’ ballot was taken to the Association’s Executive Committee held on 21st January 2011 which ratified the decision as ACCA policy.

It is with regret therefore that I would inform you that Aylesbury Constituency Conservative Association will be withholding its annual discretionary donation to the Premier League until such time as an alternative is proposed, a business case is substantiated or the project is cancelled. We will of course continue to pay our membership dues/quota.

Yours sincerely

Paul Rogerson

Chairman, Aylesbury Constituency Conservative Association

Cc Rt. Hon. Baroness Warsi, Andrew Feldman, Jeremy Middleton, Rt. Hon. David Lidington MP, Stephen Gilbert, BCC Bucks association chairmen. Bucks regional Chairmen."


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