Report of January 2021 Council Meeting
Report of January 2021 Council Meeting by Ian Vincent
Council welcomed Dennis Scarr to his first meeting following his election to represent the Croquet North and Yorkshire Constituency. It gratefully accepted his offer to lead a group to develop a policy for Adult Safeguarding. The Child Safeguarding policy has now been published and a National Safeguarding Officer, Dr. Ron Carter, appointed, who will deal with both. It was noted that Safeguarding was one of the priorities of Sport England's new 10-year strategy.
David Openshaw joined the meeting to update it on the progress of his Competitive Play Review Group. In consulting clubs it had found that there were various teaching styles for Association Croquet, ranging from structured courses to just starting people playing garden croquet and was concluding that the most important factor in success was enthusiasm, of both teachers and students, rather than the method used. Short Croquet was encouraged as a way to introduce people to competitive play, but other formats were needed to provide a challenge and speed up play as players progressed to the highest levels.
An ambitious, but plausible, budget was agreed, which would break even if new sponsorship and funding activities succeeded. Subscription income had so far been relatively encouraging, but plans may have to be revised if the season is badly affected by Covid-19. The draft accounts for 2020 showed a loss of about £15K, which was a better outcome than might have been expected.
It was agreed to take up the offer from Brabners LLP to give, on a pro-bono basis, advice about the CA's legal structure and execute any changes agreed.
The broad recommendations of the Membership Review Group that the membership structure should largely remain unchanged until the future legal structure had been decided were agreed, though the nomenclature of Large and Small Clubs would be changed to better reflect the existing criteria for discounted subscriptions. Clubs will be encouraged to increase the take-up of Standard membership, but the primary target was to increase the number of players and total primary club membership will be reported when measuring market penetration. Similarly, the current tournament levy system will be reviewed as patterns of competitive play had changed and were no longer being reflected by it. Ian Burridge will convene a separate group to do so.
The 7th edition of the Laws of Association Croquet, the first new one for 20 years, was approved to replace the current laws for use in the CA's Domain from 1st March, following approval by the World Croquet Federation. It was agreed that a free copy should be sent to clubs and referees and that referees should not be charged for courses updating them.
Ian Cobbold confirmed that he was leading a review of Coaching and Performance. It was still at the information gathering stage, but hoped to produce an interim report in March.
It was reported that consultations on a general Complaints procedure, to replace the existing Disciplinary and Appeals one, and a more specific Online Communications policy and guidance were underway. The complaints procedure will add the option of mediation.
Dave Kibble introduced two topics which highlighted the need for Council to lead in supporting its volunteers, preserving its institutional memory and publishing its policies and strategies. The theme was taken up again at the end of the meeting, when the Chairman reflected that the CA was facing the challenge of changing from a small, largely volunteer, organisation with relatively limited objectives to the larger, more professional, one now required to meet modern expectations of governing bodies. This was undoubtedly putting a strain on the existing volunteers.
The next scheduled meeting of Council will be on 27th March, by which time we can hope to have a better feel as to when play will be possible again. One member had to leave early to be vaccinated!