Claims that the ABTA board was unanimously in favour of the proposed changes to the association have been undermined by outgoing director Alan Cornish.

He has posted detailed criticism of the changes on his company website and accuses the ABTA executive of seeking to wrest control of the association from members.

“The executive is trying to bounce the association into decoupling the membership from the board. It wants to get away from discussion,” he said.  “It wants power to rest with the executive not the membership. This does not have the unanimous support of the board.”

He points out he will retire from the trade in two months and insists he has “no axe to grind” with ABTA.

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Cornish is particularly angry at the move to cut the number of elected representatives in favour of appointees, and dismisses the suggestion that was fully discussed by board members.

“It was never properly discussed, not in any detail,” he said.

Cornish fears the loss of so many elected positions will drive smaller members away, saying: “The first priority has to be the allegiance of the members.”

He also suggests the board will control the position of president by controlling the nomination of candidates for the post – in effect, giving the chief executive, president and appointees control of the board, with five seats out of nine.

Fellow board member Noel Josephides agreed the proposal on appointees “did go through on the nod”. But he said: “People were not particularly worried. A smaller board will put a lot more power in the hands of those elected.”