Clubland converges on Blackpool for the 160th annual conference meeting for the CIU (Club and Institute Union) movement at the weekend (Saturday April 20).

Scores of North East and North Yorkshire delegates will make the familiar trans-Pennine trip to the Golden Mile, including the CIU’s national president, Durham branch chair George Smith.

It will be the fourth annual meeting chaired by the Sunderland-born former shipyard worker, now living in Billingham, and a member of the town’s Trades Union Club.

Mr Smith was re-elected to serve his third two-year tenure as CIU national president in December, since first being elected into national office in 2019.

He will address Saturday’s annual meeting, attended by delegates from many of the CIU’s 1,600 affiliated clubs across the country, in the Royal Suite of the Grand Hotel.

The Northern Echo: Geroge Smith, CIU national president and Durham branch chair, addressing last year's national

The CIU’s annual report and financial statement will be considered, before delegates have the opportunity to debate and vote on various motions proposed by the national executive committee (NEC).

The weekend also features Friday’s CIU Beer and Trades Exhibition, the UK’s biggest trade show for private members’ social clubs, at the Norbreck Castle Hotel, at which suppliers are on hand to display their wares and talk about the services on offer.

That evening there is a night of song, dance and laughter at the Blackpool Showcase event at the town’s Viva cabaret venue.

The Northern Echo:

It is the second year of the revised format for the annual April conference weekend, which was cancelled for two years due to the Covid pandemic, only returning in a shortened form in September 2021.

Union General Secretary, Kenneth Green, Mr Smith’s ‘right-hand man’, said: “As with every year, a lot of forward planning and effort has gone into making conference weekend a worthwhile and interesting experience for club delegates.

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“As well as being able to take part in the union’s democratic process at our milestone 160th annual meeting on Saturday, delegates will also have the opportunity to meet a number of product and service suppliers at our trade show, on Friday afternoon.

“They can also enjoy a night of top class entertainment at the CIU Blackpool Showcase, on Friday evening.”

The latest CIU National Prize Draw will take place at Friday’s beer and trades exhibition, with five winners to be drawn, each winning a four-figure sum.