Council met on 23rd January at Hurlingham. The strains of "Happy Birthday" from the party next door seemed slightly premature, as the new website had only been launched a week ago, though celebrations were undoubtedly in order.
Frances Colman was welcomed as the new representative for the Southern Federation, as were Lionel Tibble and Brian Fisk, her predecessor, who were co-opted to fill the remaining vacancies.
Under matters arising, the precedent that members of selection committees for world championship teams must not be on the borderline of selection was confirmed as policy. Sadly, Keith Aiton had resigned from the MacRobertson Shield selection committee as, whilst agreeing in principle with that, he disagreed with its decision to select its chairman, David Maugham, so far in advance of the event.
Peter Death, the Treasurer, reported that there had been an exceptional surplus of £33K last year, mainly due to the lack of applications for development grants. It was agreed to transfer £20K of it to the development fund and £10K to a new fund to help cover the costs of implementing the membership changes.
A working party chaired by the President, Quiller Barrett, had made recommendations for changing the way motions brought to general meetings are handled, to enfranchise the soon to be greatly expanded membership. They were to adopt a process of "Iterative Consultation", along the lines of that used by the World Croquet Federation, conducted through an electronic forum. The proposals were generally welcomed, though the working party was asked to ensure that clubs, federations and Council had adequate opportunities to engage with the process, to prevent it being dominated by a few individuals. It was also suggested that the process should be trialled, to iron out any problems with it before it became binding.
Although outside its remit, the working party had also recommended that another group should be set up to consider how Council and its Committees can work more effectively. This turned out to be timely in view of the government's latest strategy for sport, which the Chairman mentions in his column in the February Gazette. As an initial step, it also proposed that Council should use a separate electronic forum for dealing with urgent matters between meetings.
Another working party, chaired by Strat Liddiard, had considered the future of the gazette, again in the light of the expanded membership. It made six recommendations, which were adopted, the first being that it should no longer be a journal of record, which will free up some space for the Editor to use for articles of interest to the wider membership. It was agreed that in the first year of the expanding membership there should continue to be six issues a year, with all of them being sent to the new members on paper.
The proposed system for GC Handicapping, which had been successfully trialled in East Anglia last year, was adopted for general use from this season onwards. Martin French and his team were thanked for their work in developing it and Bill Arliss was thanked for his contribution to the field over many years.
Finally, it was agreed to relieve Roger Bray as a Trustee, replacing him by Peter Death. Both them, and the continuing trustees, Colin Irwin and Stephen Mulliner, were thanked for their service.