My Opinion

A place to discuss the issues relating to the proposed change in the national CTC’s structure.
danceswithcats
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My Opinion

Postby danceswithcats » 27 Nov 2010, 6:21pm

I joined a year ago, because cycling had become an important part of my life over the previous two or three years. I care about the politics of transport and value the sense of fellow feeling between cyclists that I experience as a commuter and a mountain biker.
As I want to vote responsibly, I've spent an hour trying to understand this issue before I cast my vote and have come to the conclusion that there is no issue, just some rather overheated and short-sighted people obscuring the situation. What the board says and what the save the CTC group say aren't differences of opinion; one side must be either mistaken on several specifics or lying.
I'm inclined to believe the board, simply because their language is more moderate and their arguments more calmly expressed. As far as I can see, my interests as a citizen of this country as well as as a member of the CTC will be better served by a strong, well funded coherent and moderate voice arguing for the expansion of cycling as a transport option and as a leisure activity. However, my faith in the CTC as a friendly and decent group of people has been rather dented by the 'debate'.

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meic
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Re: My Opinion [ . . . . . Title modified by Graham ]

Postby meic » 28 Nov 2010, 11:11pm

I see a paradox here.

You say there is no issue. If this is not going to change anything, why do it?
If it is going to change things then the membership get to consider and vote about it.

The "overheated and short sighted people obscuring the situation" tend (not including lazy me) to have a rather long history of donating their time and efforts FOR FREE trying to support cycling at a local level.

In fact the leader of our local resistance to Charity status just got nominated for a Sustainable Champion Award.

I think that there is a decision to be made.
I want to be a member of a Cycle Club that exists for the benefit of its members, I dont see why the taxpayer should fund my leisure activity.
At the moment this is the case with some of our funds contributing to charity work and getting a kick back from the taxman for it.

If it changes to a charity it will cease to be our club and be a Charity which offers me some services as a side line. While devoting its main energy to competing with Sustrans.
Yma o Hyd

irc
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Re: My Opinion [ . . . . . Title modified by Graham ]

Postby irc » 28 Nov 2010, 11:35pm

danceswithcats wrote:As far as I can see, my interests as a citizen of this country as well as as a member of the CTC will be better served by a strong, well funded coherent and moderate voice arguing for the expansion of cycling as a transport option and as a leisure activity.


So having understood the argument can you tell me why the CTC needs to be a charity to argue for the expansion of cycling as a transport option and as a leisure activity. I was under the impression that it had been doing that for years in a coherent and moderate way. Although I think any campaigning to promote cycling to the general population should be secondary to serving the interests of it's members.
No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?

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hubgearfreak
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Re: My Opinion [ . . . . . Title modified by Graham ]

Postby hubgearfreak » 29 Nov 2010, 12:04am

danceswithcats wrote:However, my faith in the CTC as a friendly and decent group of people has been rather dented by the 'debate'.


don't let it be dented. the one's you'll meet in the flesh are just about all lovely. even the clicky shoes, 30 gears, helmet and lycra lot. i've argued with everyone on here, but i don't doubt that they're all decent chaps* just because we've debated something 8)

*even mick :wink:

thirdcrank
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Re: My Opinion [ . . . . . Title modified by Graham ]

Postby thirdcrank » 29 Nov 2010, 9:38am

danceswithcats

Welcome to the forum. I'm sorry that you feel the way you do - not about the issues, which is, of course, a decision for you - but your comments about the way this was conducted. The problem for me is that I would have found your observations so much more helpful if they had been made at the time and in a more specific form, rather than so long afterwards and in such a vague way. As it is, the situation can neither be corrected nor can your remarks be usefully answered.

I understand that as a relative newcomer - I don't like the patronising expression 'newbie' - you may feel a little reticent about raising things, especially if they are controversial, but please be assured we do aim for high standards on here and we try to make everybody feel welcome, no matter what their level of experience. I'd sum it up by saying we prefer thought-provoking to provocative.

To reiterate, if you do see something on here that you feel is inappropriate, please raise your concerns at the time. It's my own experience that it's easy in the impersonal medium of the internet for misunderstandings to occur and if they are not corrected immediately nobody gains.

Most important of all - enjoy your cycling :D

lobsterboyuk
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Re: My Opinion

Postby lobsterboyuk » 29 Nov 2010, 11:28am

Thanks for that dancewithcats - I too am trying to puzzle my way through the pros and cons and reach a conclusion and I appreciate your views because it helps me firm up my own view on the debate here. I'm not sure I see the two sides are in agreement in the way your posting suggests? I see a proportion of the CTC membership and seemingly all of the "big wigs" wanting to evolve the organisation into a cycling advocacy who's primary focus is participating in the politics of transport funded by donations - i.e. the conversion to a charity. There is a also a portion of the membership who want a membership organisation who want primarily to provide services and benefits to the subscribed members with respect to cycle touring, from the very beginners who have little or no experience right through to round the world expedition riders.

The above is a bit "black and white" and no doubt a fair number of the membership fall between bits of both. Personally I see the current situation of a club and a charitable trust as keeping us unified? So will probably vote against the board. However I do intend to keep reading the posts, especially pro-charity posts such as yours and keep an open mind until I feel I properly informed of the debate.

It's a good point you've raised that your feelings have been hurt in all of this and I hope no matter what the outcome we all remain friends, given the sometimes hostile world out on the road there we need to keep building that camaraderie amongst us all...

peteredin
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Re: My Opinion

Postby peteredin » 29 Nov 2010, 11:35am

Melc and Irc seem to be on the same side in the argument, but their statements are contradictory. Irc says:"...to argue for the expansion of cycling as a transport option and as a leisure activity. I was under the impression that it had been doing that for years in a coherent and moderate way" - which I entirely agree with - in other words we've been doing "outreach", "charitable" activities for years.

Melc on the other hand says he wants "a Cycle Club that exists for the benefit of its members, I dont see why the taxpayer should fund my leisure activity" as if the only thing CTC does at present is to "fund his leisure activity" - which is patently not the case. It is therefore quite reasonable that the taxpayer should support such activity.

In other words, the Club has been doing both, for years - serving the [narrow] needs of the members, while at the same time reaching out to the wider community, if for no other reason than to attract new members like danceswithcats. If we're doing the outreach work, we deserve to be treated as a charity, and gain the benefits therefrom.

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meic
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Re: My Opinion

Postby meic » 29 Nov 2010, 3:48pm

peteredin wrote:Melc and Irc seem to be on the same side in the argument, but their statements are contradictory. Irc says:"...to argue for the expansion of cycling as a transport option and as a leisure activity. I was under the impression that it had been doing that for years in a coherent and moderate way" - which I entirely agree with - in other words we've been doing "outreach", "charitable" activities for years.

Melc on the other hand says he wants "a Cycle Club that exists for the benefit of its members, I dont see why the taxpayer should fund my leisure activity" as if the only thing CTC does at present is to "fund his leisure activity" - which is patently not the case. It is therefore quite reasonable that the taxpayer should support such activity.

In other words, the Club has been doing both, for years - serving the [narrow] needs of the members, while at the same time reaching out to the wider community, if for no other reason than to attract new members like danceswithcats. If we're doing the outreach work, we deserve to be treated as a charity, and gain the benefits therefrom.


You were reading a bit too quickly then.
The next line was "At the moment this is the case with some of our funds contributing to charity work and getting a kick back from the taxman for it."

Yes the club has been doing both, quite successfully. Yet it appears that it cant go far enough in its present structure and wants to tip from being a members club that dabbles in campaigning to a Charity that dabbles in members.
The change is sufficiently great that it requires changing the constitution.

There are many people opposing the change for many different reasons, I dont have to concur with IRC on anything. We may have completely contradictory views about the way the club should be run and just happen to agree on the small point that we wish to keep the existing constitution.
Yma o Hyd

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Mick F
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Re: My Opinion [ . . . . . Title modified by Graham ]

Postby Mick F » 29 Nov 2010, 4:22pm

meic wrote:I want to be a member of a Cycle Club that exists for the benefit of its members, I dont see why the taxpayer should fund my leisure activity.
At the moment this is the case with some of our funds contributing to charity work and getting a kick back from the taxman for it.

If it changes to a charity it will cease to be our club and be a Charity which offers me some services as a side line. While devoting its main energy to competing with Sustrans.
Nicely put, and the way I feel too.

I will be voting to stay as we are.
I will be voting AGAINST the Council's Proposal.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Simon L6
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Simon L6 » 29 Nov 2010, 6:59pm

the first big question is this - what do members want to pay for, and what are they actually getting?. The answer is that most members, myself included, don't mind paying for stuff that doesn't benefit us directly, but that there has to be transparency and a bit of proportion. Everybody agrees that the club can be run to provide the stuff that members value on about eighteen pounds per member per year - and a new entrant, scorning paper membership and a print magazine could do it for twelve pounds. If the CTC was candid about that then we'd be getting somewhere.....except that the level of service to local groups, to RtR reps, to the very stuff that makes the CTC stand out as a membership organisation, is pretty poor.

the second big question is where is the money going? And that's not easy to answer because historically the CTC didn't properly account for staff time, which is where the bulk of the cash goes. Suffice to say that some of us, having seen what passes for 'the books' don't have any confidence in the accounts

the third big question is why the change? Our five year plan, set out as recently as 2007, was clear about the separation of the CTC Trust from the Club. No mention at all of a merger/takeover. What changed? What overwhelming reason emerged between 2007 and 2009?

the fourth big question is whither democracy? We run the Club if we put in the effort. The Charity has to look to charity legislation.

the fifth big question is hello......government cuts????? The papers are full of them, and, as we've been pointing out for a year, government spending on cycling is likely to diminish. Why would we combine the Club, with it's entirely manageable cost base with a contracting organisation that is going to take a whack? See also construction companies going to the wall etc, etc,

the sixth big question is why would we compromise our independence? The Trust relies on government cash. I've heard Kevin speak about the need for caution on certain subjects in the run-up to a Big Lottery bid. Why on earth would we compromise our ability to say it as we see it? In fact, wouldn't we be better off retrieving all the money that we've lent the Trust (setting aside the £1.4M building we gave them) and sending them on their way to enter in to as cosy a relationship as they like with government while we do the stuff we do best.....

workhard

Re: My Opinion

Postby workhard » 29 Nov 2010, 9:53pm

I'd pop in question no. 7.

How many staff do club member focussed stuff rather than trust "for the greater good of all cyclists, members or no"/"advance the cause and careers of the professionals" stuff, and why the heck don't RtR people stay for more than a very short while whilst enduring what sounds like an unsupportable workload?

John Catt
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Re: My Opinion

Postby John Catt » 29 Nov 2010, 11:04pm

Simon L6 wrote:......the second big question is where is the money going? And that's not easy to answer because historically the CTC didn't properly account for staff time, which is where the bulk of the cash goes. Suffice to say that some of us, having seen what passes for 'the books' don't have any confidence in the accountst.....


Simon, please clarify that you are referring to Management Accounts (the way costs are allocated to activities [an art rather than a science]) and not the audited accounts.

Our auditors would not be very happy (nor I suggest some of the SavetheCTC supporters who have been through the figures at a low level and confirmed they were content with the audited accounts) at such an aspersion.

Regards,

John

Regulator
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Regulator » 29 Nov 2010, 11:11pm

John Catt wrote:
Simon L6 wrote:......the second big question is where is the money going? And that's not easy to answer because historically the CTC didn't properly account for staff time, which is where the bulk of the cash goes. Suffice to say that some of us, having seen what passes for 'the books' don't have any confidence in the accountst.....


Simon, please clarify that you are referring to Management Accounts (the way costs are allocated to activities [an art rather than a science]) and not the audited accounts.

Our auditors would not be very happy (nor I suggest some of the SavetheCTC supporters who have been through the figures at a low level and confirmed they were content with the audited accounts) at such an aspersion.

Regards,

John



Actually John, the figures were gone through at quite a detailed level and Colin Quemby (a very experienced accountant) confirmed that he still had questions over the accounts. His comments can be found here.

thirdcrank
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Re: My Opinion

Postby thirdcrank » 30 Nov 2010, 9:31am

John Catt wrote:[ ... Our auditors would not be very happy .... at such an aspersion. ...


I know nothing about the CTC auditors or their work, except to say that the same firm has apparently been doing it a long time. On auditors more generally, they work to their own professional standards. Whenever their is some financial shipwreck, the auditors are only very rarely in breach of those standards, often to the utter amazement of ordinary people who naively assume that published accounts, audited by auditors, give them security. This applies, mutatis mutandis to the professions more generally. They work for their client, protecting their clients interests, within the law and the standards of their profession. This is why we have organisations like the FSA.

If anybody is defaming the auditors, let them stick up for themselves. In the meantime, you are standing behind a flimsy veil.

===================================================================
PS Austin Mitchell MP is always interesting on the subject of what he calls 'chaps auditing chaps.'

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Si
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Si » 30 Nov 2010, 9:49am

<Regarding the issue of defaming the auditors, please do not make any accusations of wrong doing (either intentional or not) against the auditors unless you back them up with proof. Questioning why the same auditors have been used for many years is fair enough, but please realise that any unsubstantiated claims that anyone is on the fiddle or negligent will be removed immediately for the good of both the forum and the person that makes the claim>.