My Opinion

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

Postby Regulator » 30 Nov 2010, 10:00am

Si wrote:<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>.



Si

I don't think that anyone has made any accusations against the auditors. The suggestion has been raised by one individual as a 'straw man' argument. The same tactics of the pro camp using straw man arguments and red herrings were evident before the AGM.

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Si
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Si » 30 Nov 2010, 10:06am

I don't think that anyone has made any accusations against the auditors.


I know (well, at least in this round of argument), hence, I've not moderated anything. However, the subject of 'defaming' the auditors has arisen and it has been stated that the auditors should defend themselves. This might, to some, invite further questioning of the auditors' credibility - this is what I would like to head off at the pass.

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Simon L6
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Simon L6 » 30 Nov 2010, 10:07am

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

John - yet again you're not reading what I'm writing.

Staff time is not recorded. On March 25th I went to National Office and was shown 'the books'. I was shocked. Gobsmacked. Staff time is allocated from the top down but no record is kept of how it is 'spent'. So, actually, all the assertions you make about how much time is spent on this and that activity are completely groundless - nobody knows, and nobody can know.

Architectural practices used to run by comparing the money that came in each month with the money that went out. And then the hard time came and a lot of them went skint - so those that survived decided to record how much was spent on each job, and how it was spent in order that they could price the next job properly and get out of those jobs that were not making money. Simples, I hear 99% of the people reading this say - we fill in timesheets, it's not difficult..........

And your point about savethectc supporters being satisfied needs substantiation. I was there. My disappointment was shared. (later edit) I see that Reg has already directed you toward Colin Quemby's reservations. Worth a look.

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Re: My Opinion

Postby Regulator » 30 Nov 2010, 10:10am

Si wrote:
I don't think that anyone has made any accusations against the auditors.


I know (well, at least in this round of argument), hence, I've not moderated anything. However, the subject of 'defaming' the auditors has arisen and it has been stated that the auditors should defend themselves. This might, to some, invite further questioning of the auditors' credibility - this is what I would like to head off at the pass.



I agree with you.

But it is perfectly acceptable to say that you don't have confidence in the accounts. I have publicly said it as a councillor and I have voted against adopting the accounts. That's not defaming the auditors - that's doing my duty to the members as a director of the company.

I appreciate that some may be whispering of 'defamation' but that is often used as a tactic to try and shut down legitimate debate.

Karen Sutton
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Karen Sutton » 30 Nov 2010, 8:39pm

workhard wrote: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?


The sole member of staff who provided support for Member Groups has left CTC. I have been led to believe that his workload has been shared between other staff members, who are mainly employed to carry out what is predominantly Trust based work. Does anyone have a contradictory viewpoint on that?

Kevin Mayne
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Kevin Mayne » 1 Dec 2010, 9:56am

I can respond to Karen's quetion because it is a matter or policy, not viewpoint.

Council repeated the survey of member groups this year. Top of groups requirements was a "dedicated point of contact at national office".

This was confirmed as a priority by the committee reviewing the survey and in October Julie Rand took on this role.

In addition managers were asked to look at the support for a number of other areas in the survey and in a recent circular several other staff were asked to take on additional responsibilities for supporting groups, increasing the available resource.

The member groups officer has been an employee of CTC Charitable Trust since the trust was founded, funded by the annual donation from the club to the trust.

These decisions are all minuted policies of the Council.

Karen Sutton
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Karen Sutton » 1 Dec 2010, 10:38am

Kevin,
Thank you for your reply. That makes it quite clear. Also it has prompted me to contact Julie regarding a query I have.

simonconnell
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Re: My Opinion

Postby simonconnell » 1 Dec 2010, 11:31am

Simon L6 wrote:I was shocked. Gobsmacked.


Please. I know it's pantomime season but the discussion will proceed a lot better without the histrionics.

Simon L6 wrote:Architectural practices used to run by comparing the money that came in each month with the money that went out. And then the hard time came and a lot of them went skint - so those that survived decided to record how much was spent on each job, and how it was spent in order that they could price the next job properly and get out of those jobs that were not making money. Simples, I hear 99% of the people reading this say - we fill in timesheets, it's not difficult..........


I'd have chosen law firms as an example of resource recording as a fine art. However, both architects and law firms rely on billing clients by the hour for open-ended work - it's the core of their business. I don't know how CTC members would react to getting a subscription rate that reflected their usage of various CTC services (minutes spent on the 'phone to CTC, hours spent on the forum etc).

If staff are assigned to a particular piece of externally-funded work, their time spent on that contract is monitored - so there is adequate oversight of the issue that concerns you. To suggest staff should complete timesheets is to impose an entirely unwarranted piece of bureaucracy on an organisation that patently doesn't require it.

There's a full breakdown of the supporting data on staff costs here for anyone that would like to take a look (in particular the second table);

http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=5363

thirdcrank
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Re: My Opinion

Postby thirdcrank » 1 Dec 2010, 12:33pm

simonconnell

I spent my career in a manpower intensive organisation which had little real idea of the time spent by its frontline workforce on any activity so this type of accounting is something about which I have very little experience. One consequence there was that a lot of time was spent promoting the image of ambitious people and / or covering their backs. (I'm too embarrassed even to take one of my rambling rambles down memory lane :oops: ) I'm not suggesting that the CTC is run by vainglorious individuals but trying to illustrate that staff costs are significant in most organisations and need to be carefully logged and analysed if money is not going to be wasted. Even I can see that if there is some sort of internal market within an organisation its main purpose is to introduce a mechanism to bring a form of discipline to decisionmaking. While you are right that CTC members don't as individuals expect the sort of itemised bill they get from the garage, I think they are entitled to assume that the bill presented by the trust to the club is like that.

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Velocio
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Velocio » 1 Dec 2010, 4:14pm

...I received this by email earlier in the year ...and have voted 'NO' to charitable status in the recent postal ballot...

"The message below and attached is to all CTC members in the South East of England, sent by CTC National Office on behalf of John Meudell, one of the Council members representing South East England. The letter represents the personal views of this member of Council and members should be aware is contrary to the resolution approved by Council as a whole.

CTC Charitable Status – The Case Against

You will now have read, in the latest edition of Cycle, the proposals to turn CTC into a charity. The CTC case for unification centres on a number of internal and external reports which, far from building an overwhelming case for unifying CTC into a single charitable organization, avoid addressing key implications of such a change in status.

Within a charity trustees are obliged to act in the best interests of its charitable aims and, as a consequence, the interests of its members become secondary. Furthermore tax rules limit the value of benefits, both direct (services) and indirect (discounts etc.) that a charity can provide to members. The recent report on tax implications, by Sayer Vincent, provided additional insight and, unless CTC can negotiate successfully on many of the membership benefits, or they can be kept within the value limit imposed by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), it is likely members will lose some benefits. In reality, therefore, it is the HMRC (along with the Charities Commission and future government policy) that will determine benefits, not CTC members.

That said, aside from taxation, there are two principal issues; one the desire of CTC to not only undertake charitable projects but to do so from within a monolithic charitable trust, the other the continued lack of improvement in core functions and services to members and volunteers in recent years.

Despite the best efforts of councillors a catalogue of problems persist in the membership system, along with slow progress on improvements both to support for local campaigners and in addressing the alienation of a significant proportion of local group members through CTC’s handling of the revised policies for local groups. These problems are consistent with loss of customer focus in an organization trying to expand to cope with a trebling of funding to cater for projects significantly larger than any it has handled before.

Couple those issues with potential conflicts between representational and charitable activities and many of the perceived broader benefits of a unified charity also disappear. The conflicts; financial, organizational or motivational; are just too great.

CTC is a complex organization, in my view unnecessarily so, and combining charitable and club functions into a single charity is not the answer. The breadth of CTC’s activities means it is simply not possible to manage either or both effectively under the current proposals.

Splitting the current, highly unsatisfactory, semi-unified arrangement into two more clearly focussed, funded and separately regulated organizations, one a club and the other a charity, each distinct and separately controlled (albeit still linked) will support and protect everyone’s interest, and do so in a much more transparent, effective and efficient manner.

Current and future issues can then be more easily, more effectively and more quickly addressed and resolved. And CTC National Council, management and staff will no longer have their freedom of action limited by considerations elsewhere in a large monolithic organization or through having to negotiate with government regulators.

Hence I would urge you to vote against the proposals to convert CTC into a charity and merge with the Charitable Trust. Vote “No” to motions 8, 9 and 10.

John Meudell, CTC Councillor for the South East, April 2010"
...ever cycle ...ever CTC

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Simon L6
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Simon L6 » 1 Dec 2010, 4:33pm

simonconnell wrote:If staff are assigned to a particular piece of externally-funded work, their time spent on that contract is monitored - so there is adequate oversight of the issue that concerns you. To suggest staff should complete timesheets is to impose an entirely unwarranted piece of bureaucracy on an organisation that patently doesn't require it.

that's simply not good enough. It really isn't. If the CTC doesn't know how much things cost, whether it be Newsnet, Local Groups support, RtR support, whatever, how do they know whether they're getting good value? How do they plan to improve or reduce services? How do they work out how much a new service might cost? You're in the happy position of working for an organisation that charges twentysomething quid for sending letters to customers that they don't need - but the CTC has to run a tight shop. I think that most people would agree that having an entry of £197,000 not broken down is a bit on the ropey side

You might want to do a bit of research. Six staff members left in October. At least two left because they thought their jobs were dominated by pushing meaningless paper around. Who knows, there may even be a written report around. They had both made suggestions about how the job might be improved, but they'd made no progress. If proper timesheets had been kept then the Directors might have looked over them and worked out that something was seriously wrong.

As for the accusation of histrionics - you and Barry made assurances to me that things would change. Would you like to suggest one way in which the Club's communication with the members has become less partial in the last eleven months?

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Simon L6
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Simon L6 » 1 Dec 2010, 4:41pm

Kevin Mayne wrote:The member groups officer has been an employee of CTC Charitable Trust since the trust was founded, funded by the annual donation from the club to the trust.

These decisions are all minuted policies of the Council.

could you tell us please, whether this member of staff is employed full time or part time, and whether she or he has other duties to undertake?

LANDSURFER74

Re: My Opinion

Postby LANDSURFER74 » 1 Dec 2010, 5:40pm

I have read so much imput on this forum, pro, con, charity, club etc. and have made my decision and put the cross on my (correct) ballot paper.
I have been wary of mainstream charities for many years with their highly paid commisioners and there political agendas; they may start out with the interests of the charity close to there heart, but that is differant from the interests of the "members".
The RSPCA is a case in point..an animal walfare charity? Or a dog, cat and horse charity?
After the vote , the wrangling , the cries of foul, most of us will still be cycling without any reduction of pleasure in our passion.
If a club (or charity) has rules and you don't like them ..LEAVE.
Nobody is forcing anyone to do anything they dont want too.
When it is all over put things in perspective; Get on your bike and ride off into the snow.

The road goes on forever.

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Simon L6
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Simon L6 » 1 Dec 2010, 6:25pm

the problem with that approach, Landsurfer, is that a lot of members think 'we were here first, and the Charity thing came along later (And took the club's assets)'. Quite a few of those most exercised by this have been CTC members for decades and have paid their life membership dues.

Regulator
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Re: My Opinion

Postby Regulator » 1 Dec 2010, 8:11pm

Simon L6 wrote:
Kevin Mayne wrote:The member groups officer has been an employee of CTC Charitable Trust since the trust was founded, funded by the annual donation from the club to the trust.

These decisions are all minuted policies of the Council.

could you tell us please, whether this member of staff is employed full time or part time, and whether she or he has other duties to undertake?



I'm a little confused by Kevin's comment. As far as I was aware (and you may have guessed I've looked into this in quite some detail) the post of the Member Groups Officer is covered by the very sizeable (£400k+ per annum) service charge from the Trust to the Club. This is a service charge (a payment for services rendered) - not a donation.

The donation and I'm glad to see it is finally being described as a dontation rather than a 'subvention') is to balance the Trust's books - even the Chair of the Management Committee has confirmed that. Last year the donation to balance the books was £453,000 - we don't know what the final bill will be yet this year...