Political party funding, particularly at local level, is a thorny issue. Generally, parties struggle for money, which has a far-reaching impact on democracy. There is a discernible trend, in Essex anyway, of local parties either downsizing their accommodation, or losing it altogether., as they respond to shrinking reserves and growing bills.
We are lucky in Southend that the Labour Party still has an office. This is sited at 268 Sutton Road. When I first joined, in 1996, the Labour Hall was located at 40 Cambridge Road. I am still not entirely convinced by the choice of 268 Sutton Road when we left Cambridge Road but realise that I cannot undo the past. The office is not the best, and the location could be better. However, I have got used to it, and losing it would be a blow.
The office is actually owned and maintained by the Southend Labour Club and Institute. This is not a body of the Labour Party, but one closely associated with it.
The Southend Labour Club and Institute had its annual general meeting on Monday, and all of its current officers were re-elected. Thus, I start a second year as Chair of this body.
Here are the officers of the SLCI:
Chair - Julian Ware-Lane
Secretary - Ian Gilbert
Treasurer - Ros Sanders
Office manager - Kevin Robinson
Health and safety officer - Cheryl Nevin
We are struggling to survive, and it is really a story of managed decline. I am a John Smith character, trying my best to avoid the iceberg of financial ruin. I fear it is only a matter of time, although I live with hope.