As many of you know, I took over from John McKee as chairman of Braintree Conservatives in March. John had done a fantastic job over the last 3 years, managing no less than 3 elections and also seeing an overhaul of the Association rules. My thanks go to him and all the officers for their hard work.
I would also like to introduce you to our new officer team:
Deputy Chairman – political – Justin Wrench
Deputy Chairman – membership and fundraising – Mary Cunningham
Campaign Support Officer – Richard van Dulken
Treasurer – Tom Cunningham
999 club officer – Lyn Walters
All ably assisted by our office manager – Karen Skinner
Our main task since March has been managing the election campaign for the Essex County Council elections on 6th May. We stood candidates in all 5 Divisions (Braintee Eastern is partly in Witham constituency and so was run by Witham CCA): Our candidates were:
Braintree Town – Tom Cunningham
Bocking – Lynette-Bowers Flint
Three Fields with Great Notley – Graham Butland
Halstead – Chris Siddall
Hedingham – Peter Schwier
Our strategy was to focus on those divisions where we thought we were most at risk, with a big focus on getting out the vote of known or likely Conservative voters. This strategy paid off and I am very pleased to report that all 5 of our candidates were elected, the results being as follows:
Division Con Lab Green/Ind Lib Dem Majority Turnout
Braintree Town 2185 900 509 246 1285 26%
Bocking 2179 912 455 192 1267 27.26%
Three Fields with Gt Notley 2307 446 1182 357 1125 35.16%
Halstead 2118 749 1835 119 283 30.97%
Hedingham 3183 747 645 445 2436 34.61%
Many congratulations to our candidates on their election. Graham Butland now has a cabinet position on Essex County Council and both Tom Cunningham and Peter Schwier have deputy cabinet positions, so we are well represented on the county council.
I would like to thank all those who pounded the streets delivering leaflets and letters and who helped fold letters and put into envelopes. We could not have done it without you and I am very grateful for your support.
Whilst the results were very gratifying, we should be conscious of the emerging threat from the Greens and Independents (who seem to have teamed up with the Greens). The result in Halstead was closer than we would have liked and there was also a strong Independent vote in the larger villages in the Three Fields with Great Notley Division and in the Colnes. Across the border in Suffolk, the Greens took 9 seats becoming the largest opposition group on the Council. The Liberal Democrats and Labour have also done well in some parts of the south with the Conservatives losing overall control of Cambridgeshire and Labour winning the Cambridgeshire mayoralty election. It is important to remain aware that fortunes can change.
The next set of elections will be the District Council elections in May 2023, though whether these will be combined with a general election will remain to be seen. We shall shortly be preparing for these, getting our voter intention data up to date and starting the process for selecting candidates.
You will have received an invitation to our first event this year, a virtual evening with Jeremy Hunt MP on June 17th. Mr Hunt will be with us for an hour, giving a short speech followed by lots of time for questions. This is a great opportunity to ask questions of a former health and foreign secretary and current chair of the health select committee. It should be a fascinating evening. As we would normally have an event like this in person with an accompanying dinner, we are instead delivering a delicious supper to your home. I do hope as many of you as possible will be able to join us.
May I also remind you about our Conservative Policy Forum. This is a discussion group that meets approximately 5 times a year to discuss policy issues. Our views are fed back to the CPF in London who compile a list of the most important policy suggestions from CPF groups for review by No.10’s policy team. Our next discussion will be on Post Lockdown Recovery. Please get in touch with the office if you would like to take part and are not already on the list.
Finally, and on a sadder note, I would like to pay tribute to our long standing accountant, Garnett Wright, who passed away last week. Garnett had been our accountant for many years and was a key component in the smooth running of the association. We are extremely grateful for all the help Garnett gave us over the years and send our sincere and heartfelt condolences to his wife and family.