One of our members who regularly covers the party conferences brought the fact that the Conservative Party has introduced charges for media to attend their annual conference. The BPPA Chair Paul Ellis wrote to the joint Chairmen of the Party to ask why this was. Here is the text of his letter:
To: Ben Elliott & The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP
For as long as any of our members can remember the major political parties have welcomed members of the media to attend annual conferences and, as long as they registered in good time, they were invited to do so without charge. We acknowledge that the cost of additional telephone lines and private office spaces were always subject to fees but this years Conservative party Conference appears to have broken with convention and imposed an application fee for independent and freelance members of the media – payable before their accreditation was assessed.
As an association working on behalf of press photographers we are disappointed that, as the governing party in our country, The Conservatives have broken with long-standing convention which has always allowed the wide reporting of your conference by accredited media to take place without there being a fee.
It isn’t clear whether this is a revenue generating exercise, a way of limiting access to the conference or merely an oversight by a junior member of the organising team.
We would be grateful if you could let us know which of the above is the case and we would be equally grateful if you could withdraw the fee for media wishing to attend.