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Last, but not the least Tim Large presents his monthly….

As the year progresses it looks inevitable that subscription rates will need to be raised at the next A.G.M. From all quarters costs are rising. Recently the Belfry insurance was revised and consequently the premium has risen substantially.  When you consider that at least 2/3 of the sub goes on publication and distribution of the B.B., there is not much left for all our other expenses.

At a recent committee meeting the guest rates at the Belfry were raised from 45p to 70p per night in an attempt to cover the running costs.  But the Belfry income will go nowhere towards long term projects of improvement and any structural maintenance that may become necessary. Already the Belfry is beginning to age and fall behind normal domestic standards which it is desirable for us to maintain.  For a property that is now insured for £30,000 we have not much, to show for it. In the past the Belfry, regulars have taken care of this maintenance, but it appears to be a much bigger job nowadays.  Much of the problem is caused by the design of the building, lack of adequate heating and lack of easily maintained facilities.  Basically I think the Belfry needs money spent on it to bring it up to a standard suitable to attract the right sort of members and be worthy of the Club Headquarters.  The running costs are greatly helped by the Navy groups that say midweek.  Take that away and we have problems.  At present we resist any increase in adventure sports trends. Despite our cries it may still continue to increase.  Perhaps the club should have the forthright to be in a position should it occur to take advantage of it and offer suitable accommodation, during midweek periods, to school groups, filed study parties and the like.  Thereby we could relay on a steady income to more than cover running costs and plough the excess back into club activities or future projects.

At present the finances of the club are arranged so that the Belfry has to support all its costs which include rates and insurance.  Perhaps it is not unreasonable for such expenses as rates, insurance, etc., to be borne by subscription.  These are not running costs but necessary and obligatory overheads of having a club headquarters which I consider should be paid for by the membership.

From what I have said some members may think that the Belfry regulars and the Hut Warden are not pulling their weight.  I can assure you that is not so.  With the high usage that the Belfry gets, in particular, by guests, it is not surprising that all is not well.  I might add that the BEC is not the only club to experience problems in running their H.Q.

Consider these points: -

1.                  Is heating and ventilation adequate?

2.                  Is a stove in the centre of the main room desirable – consider utilisation and cleanliness.

3.                  Are the showers adequate?  How often have you found the water cold?  Is it desirable to have the wettest room in the building right in the centre of the building?

4.                  Are there adequate storage facilities for members, bearing in mind the recent losses and apparent thefts.

5.                  As a caving club perhaps more priorities should be given to the changing areas, showers and drying facilities.  A drying room could be incorporated with a locker room!

6.                  Isn’t is about time we utilised the attic, possibly putting the bunkroom upstairs and releasing some space downstairs for other facilities.

7.                  Separate kitchen facilities would keep the main living room more respectable and confine one of the dirt producing factors in another room.

Just a few ideas which I am sure all reasonable members have thought about at one time or another, and could probably add some of their own.  I think I can just about hear the cries of ‘a country cottage on Mendip’ and ‘it’s up to the Belfry regulars to look after the place’.

All I am trying to point out is that we need a practical H.Q. with facilities that can cope with usage and ensure that then fabric of the building is preserved in good order. The facilities at the Belfry I am sure fall below those in even the most modest home.

Soon after the increase in guest rates I heard one person state, ‘Why stay at the Belfry when facilities are better at the Wessex?’  Recently the Committee had the idea of reciprocal member rates with clubs that we visit in Yorkshire, Derbyshire etc.  On discussing the matter with some of our Yorkshire friends their comments was ‘Good idea, but the Belfry facilities are not as good as our.’  So I hope the right message has got home.  To get back to where I started, the subs, when they go up perhaps it is a good idea to have a portion for the Belfry as a permanent feature? (That is the general idea at the moment and has been for many years to build up a fund for capital expenditure on the Belfry – Ed.).

Money is only half the Belfry problem.  As with all jobs in the club, volunteers are always needed.  Since the appearance of Nigel Taylor’s list of jobs (in the BB and on the Belfry notice board) I have seen only a few bods doing some work – the same ones as usual.  Food for thought!  Any comments? (ED. NOTE – please let the committee have your thoughts in writing so that they can be published in the BB during the run up to the AGM).

TYNINGS BARROW SWALLET

At last, after much effort by all the diggers the cave has been re-opened.  At present quite a lot of work is still needed to ensure it stays open this time.  The squeeze into the cave from the mud blockage is very tight being difficult on the return.  After crawling up the mud slope which resembles the texture of thick porridge you are not in the best condition for negotiating an uphill squeeze.  Until the entrance is finally stabilised it would be appreciated if anyone wanting to visit the cave males sure of the access position.  We now have to set up an access arrangement with the new owner.  In the meantime cavers should call at the Belfry and find out what the current situation on access is.

WELCOME TO THE FOLLOWING NEW MEMBERS:

948       Axel R. Knutson, 21 Milford Street, Southville, Bristol.
949       John C. Watson, 113 Abbey Road, Westbury-on-Trim, Bristol.
950       Stephen Smith, 39 Tintagel Close, Keynsham, Bristol.
951       Roger Smith, 39 Tintagel Close, Keynsham, Bristol.
952       Bob Hill, 32 Ridings Mead, Chippenham, Wilts.
953       Jim Watson, c/o 15 Farm Close, Southfields, Rugby, Warks.
954       Elaine Ilse, 50 Warren Close, Stockwood, Bristol.
955       Jack Culvert, 19 High Street, Steeple Ashton, Trowbridge, Wilts.
956       Ian Caldwell, 44 Strode Road, Clevedon, Avon.
957       Dave Morrison, 27 Maurice Walk, London NW11.