Council met at Hurlingham on 19th March. While reviewing a number of matters arising, it was decided that, in future, a larger than the minimum necessary number of selectors for world championship teams would be appointed, with those people deciding which of them meet the criteria of being either definite or not members of the team two months before the advertised selection date.
Committees are to look at a paper from Dave Kibble suggesting possible management metrics and the Council Practice Book (a long and complex document) is to be published in HTML on the website to make it more accessible.
Peter Death reported that the draft accounts had been signed off by the Examiner and they were approved for submission to the AGM. In discussing the unusually larger surplus, which was primarily due to a lack of applications for development grants, Council was urged to look favourably on proposals to appoint national and/or regional development or project officers. However, it was recognised that, in view of the forthcoming membership changes, next year may see a substantial deficit and that the outlook was uncertain.
Under the Hon. Secretary's report, the retirement of Alan Pidcock from Council after 18 years of service was noted and he was warmly thanked for his contribution to its work.
Several items were discussed under Liz Larsson's Manager's report, including encouraging clubs to make use of the online tournament entry system (both for their and potential tournament players' benefit); a so far unreproducible login problem with the new website, which had otherwise settled in well; the format of the new handicap cards; a data sharing agreement between clubs and the CA and new accounting software.
Strat Liddiard introduced the report of the Management Committee, in the absence of its Chairman, Brian Shorney, who was one of several members unable to attend due to ill-health. None of it was controversial. The first item for ratification was to move the date of the AGM and subsequent Council meeting to 22nd October, and reschedule dates for committee meetings. The second was to approve the report of the Membership Changes Implementation Group, in particular for membership categories and subscriptions for 2017, if the necessary database enhancements have been completed. The third was to approve budgeting and authorisation procedures and the final one to give representatives of coaching academies a seat on the coaching committee. Items for information included one that Strat himself had been appointed to chair the Governance Working Party.
The main business for the afternoon was to consider a petition in the name of some 80 members expressing concern about the imposition, by the AC Tournaments Committee, of a suspended ban on playing in the "eights" on a player who had mistaken when last year's event started, and thus arrived too late to complete all of his games in the round-robin event. As it happened, this didn't affect the eventual winner, but it could well have done.
Much patient and useful work before the meeting had resulted in an agreement between representatives of the committee and the petitioners, which Council was asked to adopt. It contained 10 points, which Tim King, the Chairman of Council, asked the meeting to consider in turn. It had emerged that, whereas the Tournament Regulations gave tournament officials such as the manager summary power to impose sanctions on a player during an event, to ensure that it could be completed in an orderly fashion, the Tournament Committees only had power to refer players in breach of the regulations to a Disciplinary Panel, rather than impose further sanctions itself. It was thus agreed to quash the suspended ban, and further agreed that, given the circumstances, it would not be in the interests of the Association to seek to have it re-imposed in this instance. The final point was to set up a working party to examine whether the CA's disciplinary and appeals processes could be improved and how they could be better documented and communicated.
The last substantive item was to award the Council Medal to Robert Fulford, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the game over the last 25 years.
The meeting concluded with a plug for National Croquet Day, and, by way of light relief, an extract from (12 minutes into) the Radio 4 comedy programme "The Now Show", in which a foreign dictator was purportedly offered the Presidency of the World Croquet Association, as a suitable sinecure in his enforced retirement and as a means of livening up the sport! I suspect that Council's Chairman felt that the meeting had been lively enough already!