CLA in cash shortage rumours

5 May 2000

CLA in cash shortage rumours

By Robert Davies

THE Country Landowners Association is considering moving its head office out of London amid speculation that the organisation faces a serious cash shortage.

Association officials are examining the lease on the CLAs Belgrave Square headquarters in London, which has 34 years to run.

Staff are likely to be needed in the capital for lobbying purposes. But a senior CLA official conceded that the offices location was up for discussion.

Mark Hudson, chairman of the CLAs finance and general purposes committee, is discussing the lease with the Duke of Westminsters Grosvenor Estate.

But he played down the talks, denied any financial problems and said the negotiations were a landlord-tenant review which happens every five years or so.

“Our annual accounts have been published and we operated within our set budget. Membership has declined slightly, but is certainly not in freefall.

“Like all well-managed organisations, we are constantly looking at costs to ensure that we use members subscriptions in the most prudent and cost-effective way.”

Rumours of money problems within the CLA have been circulating within the NFU and Farmers Union of Wales over the past week.

The rumours coincided with the departure of CLA director general Julian Anderson, who left the association at the end of April.

But it is difficult to assess their accuracy because the NFU and the FUW are rival organisations and in competition to represent landowners and farmers.

Mr Hudson accused the other organisations of exploiting Mr Andersons departure for their own ends.

He said: “All industries have rumour machines, but I can state that the CLA does not have a cash flow problem, and we hold very substantial reserves.”

The relationship between the FUW and the CLA soured when they took opposite sides during a Welsh National Assembly inquiry into beef on the bone.

The association then fell out with the NFU when a senior Welsh CLA office holder called for a cut in hill-farming subsidies.

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