Report of AGM and Council Meeting
A number of members wrote their names in the attendance book, but the terrace room at Hurlingham looked a lot fuller than that. Council's report was presented by its Chairman, Brian Shorney, who was coming to the end of his term of office. He noted that Council and its Officers had again been heavily occupied by the membership and governance changes, and on top of that there had been a complete turnover of staff in the office and shop at Cheltenham. He apologised to those members who had been adversely affected by this, but was confident that once the new staff had gained experience the normal high standards of service would be resumed.
He was pleased, and to some extent relieved, by the progress made with supporting Standard Membership, but somewhat disappointed by the lower than hoped-for take-up. The CA now has just short of 5,000 members, out of an estimated 7,500 club members.
Progress with changing governance had also been slower than he wanted, though some had been made and more was possible at the afternoon Council meeting. Although change was desirable, he was satisfied that the CA continued to be fundamentally well run.
He congratulated David Maugham on his astonishing feat of winning 9 out of the 11 domestic AC Championships and thanked all those who had supported him during his Chairmanship.
The issue of the level of the CA's reserves was again raised by Hugh Carlisle. Brian Shorney agreed that it was a matter of policy rather than book-keeping, but pointed out that Council had been spending some of the capital, on things like the National Development Officer and investing in IT, and asked the Treasurer, Peter Death, to give a detailed analysis. He noted that total reserves had fallen by £11K in 2017 and a further significant fall was expected this year.
George Noble and others raised the proposed change to abolish the concept of primary membership, to which his and a number of other clubs had raised objections. He was assured by the President that Council would take these into account.
There being no further questions, Brian was thanked to applause for his thoughtful leadership over the last two years.
Jonathan Isaacs, a Vice-President who had been chairing a working group on Governance, then outlined the proposals which were to be considered by Council that afternoon. The essence of them was to take a step-wise approach, starting by reducing the size of the Council from over 30 to 12 voting members, elected by CA members on a geographical constituency basis. The new Council would be tasked with deciding policy and scrutinising the effectiveness of an Executive Board in carrying it out. The working committees, which have generally been working well, would continue unchanged while that change was made. The meeting was assured that it would have the final say, either at an SGM in the spring or next years AGM, if Council approved them.
The remaining business moved more swiftly, starting with the Treasurer's report, much of which had already been given in reply to the question about reserves. The elections were uncontested, though there was a vacancy on Council arising from the later withdrawal of one of the candidates. Patricia Duke-Cox was elected a Vice-President nem. con.
The recipients of the most improved AC player awards, Chris Coull and Sarah Melvin, were at the the rival attraction of a development squad weekend at Ealing, where the trophies were presented, but Richard Bilton was available to receive the Spiers trophy for the most improved GC player in 2017. Roger Mills received the Coach of the Year award and Ian Plummer a lifetime one. Jeff Dawson and Michael Hague were presented with Council Medals. 18 members were awarded CA Diplomas.
At AOB, Roger Barnacle, speaking on behalf of Ian Harrison, asked for more flexibility to be given to experienced club handicappers and was assured that this would be considered by the Handicap Committee. Thomas Wills-Sandford, while noting that the Nottingham List was quite independent of the CA, asked contributors to be less aggressive to each other.
In closing the meeting, Quiller Barrett welcomed the increased number of women involved in administering the sport, suggested that clubs that were finding it difficult to get their members to volunteer might benefit from following good practice elsewhere, and praised Kevin Carter for organising the annual one-ball event, which had raised over £35,000 for various charities. Next year's cause would be Alzheimer's research.
Sam Murray, Chris Roberts and John Reddish were welcomed as new members of Council, and Patricia Duke-Cox as a returning friend.
John Bowcott was elected to take over from Brian Shorney as Chairman of Council, with John Dawson as Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Management Committee. A number of committees have new chairmen: Frances Coleman (Handicap), Eugene Chang (Marketing), Brian Havill (Publishing), Lionel Tibble (GC Selection), Beatrice McGlen (AC Tournaments) and Jonathan Powe (GC Tournaments).
The main business, as foreshadowed at the AGM, was to consider the Governance proposals, which were again presented by Jonathan Isaacs. After a substantial discussion, in various valuable points of detail were raised, it was agreed by a majority that the Chairman of Council should be elected by the body itself, rather than the wider membership, after which the other proposals were agreed unanimously. Strat Liddiard, who had chaired the working party that researched and developed the original proposals, was thanked for having done the groundwork. The next steps are to draft the necessary changes to the Constitution and draw up a detailed plan for implementation, with the aim of implementing them next year.
Arising from the AGM, it was agreed to promote the One-Ball tournament through the fixtures book, waiving any levy that might otherwise accrue so that the charity would benefit to the maximum extent. The reserves would be considered, along with a risk assessment, at the January Meeting, and the concerns about Primary Membership were noted.
The AC International Performance Director's budget was agreed, after the Management Committee had enforced the policy that only coaches, rather than players, should receive expenses. It was agreed to buy six sets of Atkins Quadway hoops and refurbish the President's Cup ones. However, the proposed differential rates for lawn and ball hire charges, the top rate of which the Management Committee had restricted to larger events, were referred back for further consideration. The new, 5th Edition, of the GC Rules was adopted for use from 1st March next year.
Finally, the new Chairman exhorted his colleagues to work as a team to serve the enlarged membership, emphasising the need for leadership, good communication and mutual support.