Report of SGM
The Special General Meeting of the Croquet Association held at the Hurlingham Club on Saturday, 28th March, to consider these motions, was attended by 46 Individual Members, who included the authorised representatives of 9 Member Clubs which had not already voted. Although the weather for the day was reliably forecast as blustery (the doors out to the terrace were rattling), there was less confidence in predicting the tone and length of the discussion.
In fact the meeting took an hour and a quarter, although there nearly wasn't any discussion at all, as immediately after Jeff Dawson had introduced the first motion, Roger Staples proposed that it should be voted on immediately. However, a motion that "the question now be put" was roundly defeated after the Chairman of Council, Tim King, said that the Council wanted to hear the views of the membership, to guide it in its future deliberations.
Most of those who spoke were in favour of the principle of the proposed change, to allow Council to increase the per-capita subscription rate for all but small clubs by up to £1 a year above inflation for each of the next five years, but some voiced doubts about the details of its implementation. Although the stated aim was to re-balance rather than increase the CA's income, several people felt that the money raised should be used to develop the game, rather than reduce the subscriptions of tournament members, many of whom retained their membership to support the game, despite having ceased to play in tournaments.
When it came to the vote, the motion was passed comfortably, with 200 individuals in favour and 24 against, and 80 clubs in favour with 11 against.
That allowed the meeting to progress to the second motion, which was to entitle all club members to membership of the Association. Unlike the first motion, this would not take immediate effect, as a number of detailed decisions need to be taken about implementation and administrative systems, both human and computer, require changing. In the absence of other points or queries, the President introduced the topic of whether the Gazette should be distributed in paper and/or electronic form to the enlarged membership, which was one of the issues yet to be decided. A vigorous debate ensued, but the straw poll taken at the end of it showed a clear consensus amongst those present for providing both options.
The second motion, which needed a 6 to 4 majority, easily attained it, with fractionally higher support than the first one.
After Jeff Dawson had emphasised that the Council would still consult with clubs, the third motion, to remove their voting rights once the second motion took effect, was also passed, though with a slightly smaller majority.
The Chairman of Council then thanked the President for chairing the meeting and Jeff Dawson for his work in getting the changes through. He reiterated the point that Council will continue to listen to the Association's members and saw itself as being on a journey which had begun rather than finished. He thanked members who had taken the trouble to attend the meeting and noted that valuable points had been made about the Gazette and Tournament Membership. The dependence of the sport on voluntary effort at all levels had been mentioned earlier (one of our problems is that, compared to other sports, we all keep playing for too long so have less time to put something back into the game), and he cited the example of Samir Patel, who has just been co-opted to the WCF's Management Committee.
In closing the meeting the President thanked the tellers, David and Eileen Magee, Jeff Dawson, and myself for having drafted the motions.