An open response to the 33 signatories from Mike Eades
I am pleased that those against the proposed changes to the club structure have finally put forward a case for remaining a members group.
I would point out that outcome of the review is not a fait accompli. It has been presented to members and the way forward for the club will be decided by a democratic vote.
I would like to respond to the points put forward.How is the club doing these days?
The paper says we have the most successful members group in the UK, yet our membership has fallen by 30% over the past four years. If the club is to have a long term future it is imperative that we attract new members. Success isn’t about numbers of rides, but growing and holding onto our Members and offering rides that best suit the membership.
Since Cycling UK membership is mandatory for members groups this may be a barrier to attracting new members. How do we know this, well, since Heart of England dissolved and became an affiliated group in September 2015 their membership has grown from 50 to 75, according to a post from their club secretary. Hopefully we can repeat their experience.What about the reserves?
Getting a definitive answer from Cycling UK on funding issues is proving difficult. David Cox, the Chair of Cycling UK Council, sent me an email with advice from the Cycling UK's Honorary Solicitor, which states that the £200 Members Groups receive each year must be spent on the Charity’s Objects. Money members group raise themselves is currently outside the charity and can be used to subsidise Xmas lunches, make donations to other charities and a variety of other purposes that make sense to the Members Group committee. What we don't know is what percentage of club funds are from Cycling UK contributions and what has been raised locally, though this could be estimated.
However, when I contact Julie Rand, who is responsible for Members Groups, and ask for funding advice she refers me to the Policy Handbook guidance that Member Groups must ‘hold in trust for current and future Cycling UK members the financial and intellectual properties of the Member Group to the collective benefit of such members’.
I think one of the committee members summed it up when they said “if we weren't a members group we wouldn't have this problem, we could simply decide what to spend the money on and spend it”.
There are no plans to dispose of the club assets except as outlined in the April newsletter and these have been successfully implemented by other clubs which have dissolved and are in line with the Policy Handbook as the Cyclists’ Defence Fund is a subsidiary of CTC.What about change?
The document implies that the current committee has been ineffective and hasn’t introduced any significant changes. To put the record straight here is a list of the changes I have personally been involved with.
1) Transparency of Committee Meetings
When I joined committee no dates for committee meeting were published, nor were the minutes or outcomes of the meetings. It took pressure from me at several committee meetings before transparency was introduced.
2) Changes to Northern News
When I joined the committee Northern news was printed in three separate sections, cover, photos and text and these were then manually collated and stapled. I streamlined this process so that it could be fully automated and carried out by a single printer. This improved the content as photos could be included throughout the magazine and shown next to the text to which they related instead of being included only at the beginning and end of the magazine. The changes also improved the turn-round time for printing and reduced overall costs.
3) Notice board
I identified a piece of software, which could be used free of charge, to provide a club notice board on the website. I configured the software accordingly and then asked Ian Heys, the webmaster, to embed the software on the club site.
4) Changes to club evenings
I proposed changes to the club meetings so that instead of meeting every week at the club house there would be club house meetings on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday with a pub meeting on the 2nd Tuesday. The pub meetings didn’t go as well as i had hoped but I will try and resurrect them. The change to meeting twice a month actually increased attendance at the club house as well as more than halving costs.
5) Wednesday Evening Summer Rides
Two years ago I introduced the Wednesday evening summer rides and I plan to run these again this year.
6) Garmin and Strava Groups
I have set up and continue to administer the Garmin and Strava groups. Around 40% of club members are members of the Strava group and the software is proving very useful at notifying members of last minute changes to scheduled rides and is also providing a facility for setting up additional ad-hoc rides
I would also point out that Geoff Howle, a serving committee member, set up and manages the NBCTC Facebook page and, in his short time as chairman, Matt Hinckley has created our monthly newsletter, set up and manages the North Brum Bulletin Boards, the North Brum Twitter account and the North Birmingham CTC Group on the “Birmingham Cyclist.com Internet Site”
There is a statement in the case for staying as we are that ‘families and beginners will be referred to Bike North Birmingham’ but this is incorrect.
At the presentation we had a discussion about junior riders and I said I was personally unhappy with Cycling UK policy which stated that leaders were obliged to take unaccompanied 14 year olds on rides if they had a note gving permission to ride from their parent/guardian.
We agreed that there was no issue with taking accompanied juniors on rides which would facilitate family rides.What about the constitution of the new club?
A constitution has been drafted and will be agreed by the new club, if that is the outcome of the vote. The constitution for the new club can only be agreed by the members of the new club. Given that we haven't had a vote and don't know who the members would be we cannot agree the constitution now. I am happy to share the draft with anyone who wishes to see it, email me at email@example.com
to request a copy.Can we stay as one club?
The proposal has always been that we stay as one club. I have publicly stated that if the outcome is to remain a members group I will remain a member of the club, continue to lead rides, may offer to stand on committee again and will continue to press for the introduction of new technology to improve communication with members.
We find ourselves in this position following a virtually unanimous show of hands at the AGM in favour of having this review. The person in charge was also agreed at the AGM and has been monitored throughout by the committee.
This current resolution has been arrived at by this Root and Branch Review and the vote is the natural culmination of this process.What is the best way forward?
We would still be able to celebrate the centenary even after a name change. CTC has changed their name twice now and still say Cycling UK has been promoting cycling and protecting cyclists since 5 August 1878.Conclusion
I recognise that many positive things were done by the previous management in building up and organising the Club and my aim is to continue to develop and enhance this work for the future.
The CTC themselves have recognised the need for change with the move away from a members club to a charity a few years ago and the now the change of trading name to Cycling UK.
The paper does not put forward any actual benefits for remaining a members group and there are no facts within it which change the logic of the original conclusion which is :-
Being a Members Group offers no significant benefits above those available as an Affiliated Group, but it imposes a number of restrictions, as set out in the Policy Handbook. Being an affiliated group would provide more flexibility in membership to assist in the clubs growth, would retain the same level of insurance cover for both riders and organisers, would enable the club to retain all funds raised and to spend such funds in any way it wished and would remove the other restrictions imposed by the policy handbook. Individuals’ Cycling UK membership and the benefits this brings would be unaffected.
Following the presentations these additional policy handbook restrictions have also been identified.
1. we have had several requests to implement postal voting, but this is not allowed by Cycling UK
2. concern has been expressed about the vote being decided on a simple majority, but we can't change this
3. we have received conflicting information from Cycling UK HO on how funds should be spent
4. we have no control over the clubs constitution
former NBCTC Treasurer