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Editorial

(For latest leaders list see page 5)

I do not intend to make a habit of writing Editorials in the B.B. as it can easily become a platform for one member’s viewpoint.  The B.B. exists mainly as a mouthpiece for members and the 'Letters Column' should provide a forum for argument and discussion.

However, a problem is rearing its head and the Committee is likely to find not any disagreement within its ranks but a serious administrative headache.  It all concerns the requirement that Cuthbert's Leaders should be covered by a Third Party Liability Insurance.

To go back into history. In 1975/1976 the Insurance Companies revised the level premiums for all caving clubs insured through STEWART- Wrightson in Bristol. The CSCC negotiated and steered the discussions from a single option to a series of policies with the cheapest at about 35p per head up to £4.00 per head.  Up to that time we had been fully covered not only for club activities and land owner indemnity but also for member to member and member to guest Third Party Liability cover the options offered to the clubs were arranged so that clubs could select the insurance cover best suited to their needs and their pockets.  The new insurance rates proposed by the companies were for all members and they flatly refused my suggestion to allow clubs to break their membership down into two categories; active and inactive members, so that two scales of subscription could be introduced according to the insurance rate.  The companies replied that any cover that we accepted had to be all or nothing there could be no division of membership.

After a long discussion at the 1976 AGM the Club decided that they would accept the 44p offer which covered club activities as a body through the Trustees and landowner indemnity. This meant that NO MEMBER had any 3rd Party cover whatsoever from the club insurance and the meeting strongly recommended that if all active members had make their own arrangements to get their own insurance cover and that Cuthbert’s Leaders, who were the most vulnerable for any potential claim, did have the necessary 3rd party cover (£250,000).

On, or about the February 1977 committee meeting decided that all Cuthbert's Leaders should have an insurance cover though neither the Caving See and the Hon Sec. of the time made little effort to enact the committee decision.  The 1977 leaders meeting requested that this decision be looked at again by the committee to see whether the need was a real one and in early 1978 the matter was again discussed by the committee who could see no way within the constitution of subsidising each BEC leader.  Even if they could the insurance premium would amount to over £100 each year at current rates (about £7 each).  Several leaders were able to get cover through their domestic household policies for their caving activities - not cover specifically for Cuthbert's).  Further as the policy would cover each leader for his caving activity in general (not solely for Cuthbert's - in fact no insurance company would issue a policy for Cuthbert’s only except in the situation of paying an enormous premium) it was felt by some members if the committee that it was unfair that members of the club should be subsidising a few members for their overall caving activity.

The Committee, though split, passed a resolution raising the tackle fee from 5p to 25p (20p of the total would be considered a travel expense to be divided amongst all leaders at the end of each year).  So the situation stands.  Late in 1978 Martin Grass, the Caving Sec., was instructed by the Committee to write to all leaders BEC and guests, stating that from 1st January a new key would be fitted to Cuthbert's and only those leaders with the necessary insurance cover would be given a new key.  As far as I am aware only about 6 leaders of the 20 odd BEC leaders have the necessary cover and not one guest has come forward with their cover notes.  With only about 6 leaders for cave access for visitors is going to be severely restricted and the likelihood of external political pressure on the club via organisations such as the CSCC is great indeed. WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?  The matter is urgent and it is unlikely that the Committee will be in one mind in coming to a decision.  Please let Tim Large, Martin Grass or myself have your WRITTEN THOUGHTS so that the committee can discuss the matter in March and if necessary call a general meeting.

‘WIG’