By John Elworthy
, The Editor
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
POLICE confirmed tonight they are still investigating reports of cash which allegedly has gone missing from Chatteris Conservative Club; the annual meeting was told last Friday the sum was £32,000.
Steward Tony Dooley was suspended from the club before Christmas by the club’s vice chairman Geoffrey Brinton.
In a letter circulated to club officials Mr Brinton said it would not be proper to discuss the issue any more “until the police have had an opportunity of undertaking all of the appropriate inquiries”.
He said: “It would not be appropriate for me or indeed any official or committee member of the Conservative Club to comment. Notices will be placed on the notice board within the club updating the members from time to time on the progress of the inquiries.”
The annual profit and loss account of the club showed that last year the club had a turn over of £136,304 from bar sales and a further £35,585 from machine takings, subscriptions, hire of function room and other income streams.
However the running costs – which included salaries and wages of £49,136 - saw the club’s profits shrink to £7,711 and that was before “exceptional items”.
These were reported to around 60 club members as being specifically £32,023 which the accounts reported was “cash not deposited by stewards.”
Neither Mr Dooley nor his wife Lynn, who now live near Northampton, have returned my telephone calls. They have, however, been contacted by Chatteris businessman Viv Salisbury who says they dispute the claims made against them.
Mr Salisbury says he was banned from attending the annual meeting at which he would, he said, have raised ongoing concerns about the way the club is run.
Former committee member Alan Parish has insisted that club chairman councillor John Chambers and vice chairman Geoff Brinton should resign. “Many members have expressed their concerned regarding the events at the club over the last few weeks, coupled with the news of the financial loss for the second time,” he said.
He believes both Cllr Chambers and Mr Brinton must accept responsibility “and the members should ask they stand down or resign.”
Robert Mandley, the club secretary, said he had offered his own resignation to the committee “but was asked to stay on at least until the police investigation is complete.”
He said controls had been tightened, and he also took responsibility for not sharing news of losses with club members at an earlier stage.
Mr Mandley said to lose Cllr Chambers from the committee “would be a disaster as the amount of work that he does for the club is immense. He would be irreplaceable and Geoff has worked tirelessly to sort out the missing money.”
Meanwhile Mr Brinton is insistent that the matter is now in police hands “and we have taken advice from solicitors. The intention is quite clearly to proceed through the criminal courts and the civil courts and take all necessary steps to recoup the missing money.”
The private members club was formed nearly 100 years ago, originally for men only and over the years the King Edwards Road premises have been upgraded and local ‘celebrity’ members included snooker player Joe Perry and former professional boxer Dave ‘Boy’ Green.