Council met by Zoom on the morning of the Saturday after the AGM and quickly re-elected Jonathan Isaacs as its Chairman. Samir Patel was elected Vice-Chairman and Beatrice McGlen appointed to chair the Executive Board.
The main focus of the meeting was to take stock after the first year of the new governance structure. It exercised its scrutiny function by receiving reports from the officers and the Executive Board, before moving on to consider submissions from some of the working groups it had created.
The Treasurer, Ian Burridge, who ruefully pointed out that he had taken over just days before the first lockdown, presented a projection which showed a deficit of £20K for the year, compared with a budgeted one of £30K. This variance happened to match the £10K Small Business Support grant the CA had received, but there were other significant swings in a topsy-turvy year. Meeting and travel costs had reduced, but income from tournament levy had halved, due to cancellations. Shop sales had held up well under the circumstances. Financial support had been offered to clubs, but it was good news that few had needed to call on it.
Budgeting for next year would be challenging, as a first draft, assuming a normal playing season, again showed a deficit of £30K, even before some proposed initiatives were included. Ian asked that committees should flag up any proposed new expenditure early, so that it can be considered alongside other outgoings. The CA had the advantage that most of its income came in the first quarter of the year, so we may be faced with cutting our cloth according to how strongly it does.
The Secretary reported that the proposed constitutional changes had been agreed at the AGM. The Membership Working Group, chaired by Ian Burridge, will notify affected clubs and was asked to consider the introductory rates for new Full Member clubs, along with possible further changes to individual membership. The General Meetings working group is to be re-convened to re-consider its recommendations in the light of experience with the virtual AGM this year and the comments made about the lack of voting at it.
He ended his report by confirming his intended retirement from the role of Hon. Secretary and was authorised to advertise for a deputy, with a view to finding someone willing to take it over next October, after a significant overlap period.
Roger Staples, the former chairman of the Executive Board, reported that it had been somewhat challenged by the double whammy of Coronavirus and the significant number of policies which it had been asked to implement by Council. Good progress had been made with some of those, notably the e-mail Newsletter, but the majority would need to be tackled this year.
Roger was thanked for leading the board in a difficult year, having been thrown in at the deep end.
He thanked Council for its support and trusted that would be extended to his successor.
Eugene Chang, who was retiring from it,as his partner was expecting a child, was also thanked for his energetic contribution in the areas of marketing and communications, both within the CA and with the Federations.
After a short break, David Openshaw joined the call to present an interim report from the Competitive Play Working Group. It had three initial recommendations: that there should be more level play GC tournaments for those with handicaps in the range 0-2; similarly in AC for 3-12 handicaps, and that there should be a budget of £5K for junior development next year. These were accepted, though Beatrice McGlen was keen that there should be a clear set of aims, including recruiting more juniors into clubs, and a co-ordinated strategy before a budget was allocated
John Dawson then went through the recommendations of the Safeguarding Review Group, noting that Jean Hargreaves was standing down after long service as the CA's Safeguarding Officer. The review had concentrated on safeguarding of children: that of vulnerable adults would be tackled separately this year. Its principle recommendation, that all clubs should be required to adopt the policy in principle and appoint a Safeguarding Officer, was agreed, though it was recognised that detailed implementation would vary according to local circumstances. A major effort would be required to communicate this to federations and clubs.
Samir Patel requested Council to review the proposed authorisation matrix, which was to clarify which person or group within the organisation had authority to take decisions of certain types, to avoid uncertainty and speed up decision making. As the Chairman pointed out, the devil is in the detail.
Looking ahead, the Chairman put some flesh on his proposal for a review of Coaching and Performance, and announced that Rich Waterman had agreed to lead it. Dave Kibble offered to try and resolve the issue of merit awards for GC, possibly by polling the membership. Patricia Duke-Cox offered to recruit a more diverse group of members to sit on disciplinary and appeals panels, pending a review of the process.
Finally, it was agreed that there would be a short meeting of Council in mid-December, with a full one on 30th January, 2021.