Nearly two dozen members of the CA's Council met at Hurlingham on Saturday, 26th January, chaired by John Bowcott, who is a member of the club which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The two major items on the agenda were the accounts and associated budget decisions, and governance, which has featured prominently at most Council and Management Committee meetings over the last two years.
There was good news on the governance issue, in that a clear decision was reached by Council ... something that has so far eluded the rather larger assembly which meets on the north bank of the Thames! Changes to reduce the size of Council and to focus its role on policy, delegating its implementation to an Executive Board, had been agreed in principle last October. This meeting agreed the recommendations of a working group set up to flesh out the detail of how those could be achieved.
However, the final decision rests with the membership in a "peoples vote", as the Council can only be reformed by amending the constitution, which requires a general meeting. To avoid a further year's delay, a Special General Meeting will be held at Hurlingham on Saturday 30th March and will require a quorum of 25 attendees. However, electronic or postal voting will be available beforehand and therefore all individual members of the CA, including the new Standard ones, will be able to vote on the proposed changes. Please support your Council's attempt to improve its effectiveness: the changes will only be adopted if at least 60% of those voting do so in favour of them.
Peter Death reported on the financial outcome for 2018, which was less good, with a deficit of £50K. The bulk of this had been expected: the cost of employing the National Development Officer, which is being met by a transfer from the Development Fund, and expenditure associated with the membership changes. Other negative factors were a decline in shop sales, losses on CA tournaments and increased staffing costs; on the plus side, levies from club tournaments had increased. Although not income to the CA, some £44K of tournament entry fees were received through the online tournament entry system on behalf of clubs. This is a valuable service to both players and clubs, but is not without cost, due to the card payment fees incurred.
An even larger deficit is budgeted for 2019, which led to greater than usual scrutiny of some of the items. A major one is the cost of posting paper copies of the Croquet Gazette to the new Standard members. It had originally been decided to do so just for their first year of membership, but it was now agreed to extend this for the remainder of 2019. A significant reduction in production and distribution costs has already been achieved, but we will investigate other ways to further reduce the burden, including the possibility of raising advertising revenue in the light of the increased circulation.
Dave Gunn was thanked for his work as National Development Officer, but as it was clear that we couldn't afford to make this a permanent post, the discussion was about ensuring the continuation of the projects he initiated.
The final motion was one proposed by the Chairman, about the need for increased transparency and communication, to which Tim King replied with a suggestion that committees should be more active in publishing information about their activities on the website.