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Minutes of the 1995 B.E.C. Annual General Meeting, Saturday 7th October.

The Meeting was opened somewhat late at 10.45am, by the Hon. Secretary, and he called for the handing in of any outstanding Ballot Forms.  The Secretary then requested nominations for a Chairman, and Bob Cork was proposed [P] by Stuart McManus and Seconded [S] by Brian Prewer, there being no other nominees, Bob Cork was duly elected.  The Chairman then called for nominations for Ballot Tellers, Betty Dawes [P: Martin Grass, S: Stuart McManus], Brian Prewer [P: Martin Grass, S: Chris Batstone] and Chris Batstone [P:Chris Smart, S: Nigel Taylor] and there being no further suggestions were duly elected.

Mike Jeanmaire then proposed that all officers' reports published in the Belfry Bulletin were to be taken as read, this was seconded by Estelle Sandford and carried nem.con.

Apologies were then given from Hon. Sec as follows: Stuart Sale, Nicola Bone, Barrie Wilton, Nigel Dibben, Emma Porter and Jenny Sandicott.  The floor: Brian Murliss, Tony Jarrat, Graham Johnson, Jeff Price, Nicola Slan, David Irwin, Mike Barnes, Peter Bolt, Mike McDonald, Kevin Gumer, Joc Large, Ali Cooper.

Forty-one paid-up members signed the attendance sheet, these are recorded as follows: - C. Smart, A. Hole, G. Munnings, H. Harper, R. Harper, M. Jeanmaire, M. Grass, D Bradshaw, J. Buxton, P. Hellier, T. Large, P. Romford, A. Sparrow, M. Torbett, C. Duberry, L. Dawes, R. Wyncoll, G. Villis, R. Mathews, D. Ball, E. Sandford, N. Gymer, R. Stephens, A. Cave, B. Williams, J. Williams, A. Gee, T. Hughes, R. Gray, C. Wethered, I. Sandford, B. Campbell, H. Wilson, M. Wilson Snr, M. Wilson Jnr, R. Cork, N. Taylor, M. Willitt, D. Tumer, C. Batstone.

Item 5, Matters Arising from the minutes:- Tim Large asked about Practice Rescues, Nigel Taylor replied that the outgoing committee had no firm policy on these.

Item 6, Hon.Secretary's Report:- (Published)

Tim Large then asked about the situation with the St. Cuthbert’s lease, and Nigel Taylor explained that he had this already in hand as the lease has only some four years left to run. Stuart McManus voiced concern that perhaps the club should have a management plan for the site, and Nigel replied that he had advocated the same point in his "From the Belfry Table" Articles in the B.B.  He added that he had been in correspondence with English Nature over the site, and that he was concerned as they had obviously gone direct to Inveresk to find out the lessors' identity.  Tim Large stated that he was aware that English Nature maintained an active and ongoing interest in all S.S.S.I.

[P: Rob Harper, S: Tim Large, Unanimous].

Item 7, Hon. Treasurer's Report:- (Unpublished)

Stuart McManus queried the repayments' program for the St. Cuthbert’s loans.  Chris Smart explained that with the exception of one creditor, all had been repaid 50% of their loan.  Stuart McManus felt that this was not in line with the 1994 AGM directive to the 1995 Committee that all creditors should be repaid equally. Nigel Taylor interjected that as several members had contacted him directly and asked for a full repayment of their loans this year, then if the committee had followed the directive to the letter then the club would have gone into the red and the committee should not have acted responsibly, thus they had acted in good faith and within the best interests of the club Stuart McManus asked that the new committee bare in mind the likelihood that any failure to repay the Loaning creditors, could well lead to dissatisfaction and problems later on.  Nigel Taylor suggested that they were well aware of the situation and felt that it was under control.

Chris Smart informed the meeting that he was concerned that despite several requests Gary Jago had still failed to provide the Club with a report, a standing condition of the grant of an ''Ian Deer Memorial fund loan".  Richard Stephens pointed out that Derek Targett is offsetting his subscriptions on a reducing basis against his loan to the St. Cuthbert’s Publication. Several members agreed that this appeared a good idea.  Nigel Taylor expressed the view that it would be important to ensure that if several members wanted to do the same, then this would have to include any annual subscription increase otherwise the club could suffer in the long term if a set amount/time scale was agreed at the outset.

The Telephone Call charges were then debated at length, several members claiming that it was extortionate and that they would rather drive to the village green and use the public call box.  Stuart McManus suggested that perhaps the rate charged should be reviewed and lowered to attract greater use.  Nigel Taylor was concerned that this could then become a drain on the club again and urged caution, however the mood of the meeting prevailed and the 1996 committee was told to examine the charges and act to increase phone use. [P: Martin Grass, S: Dannie Bradshaw, this was carried with 1 Against and 2 Abstain.].

The Non-Domestic Rate was then discussed with many comments and concerned views, and Chris Smart advised the meeting that Mendip District Council had sent him a pro-forma requesting details re our usual claim for reduced payments.  Martin Grass, Mike Jeanmaire, Stuart McManus, Dave Turner all expressed views upon this generally all in agreement and concern. Mike Jeanmaire suggested that if the rate reduction application went against us, then we should make an official appeal, Stuart McManus advised the meeting that the Government was looking closely at "Charitable Causes" with fresh zeal, there ensued much talk upon the subject, and the Treasurer was instructed to complete the application pro-forma and monitor the situation.

British Mountaineering Council Membership (B.M.C.):- Chris Smart stated that the Secretary had had several requests from Climbers within the BEC to see if we could renew our membership to BMC, lapsed at the direction of a previous AGM on cost grounds. Nigel Taylor asked that the AGM favourably consider this request as he felt that we didn’t give much special value to our climbing members, and that he felt that this was a small price to pay for them.  Both Trevor Hughes and Rob Harper added that there was also a useful benefit for members in Foreign matters and use of Mountain huts etc.

A proposal was raised that "Members could elect the option of paying an extra £3.50 upon their subscriptions in order to cover BMC Charges on a personally nominated basis".

[P: Robin Gray, S: Rob Harper. 37 For, 1 Against.].

The St Cuthbert’s Report: - Stuart McManus, Martin Grass, and others then asked questions relative to this matter, regarding sales, stock in hand, and the matter of pledge repayments again.  Nigel Taylor and Mike Wilson both advised the meeting that they had both attempted throughout the last few months, to obtain an up-to-date position on this, and that they still awaited advice from Mrs. Joan Bennett as to the location of stored books, no firm position could be assessed until they were in possession of these details, and they both assured the meeting that the matter was not only in hand, but had been monitored well prior to the AGM.  The Vote was then taken upon the Treasurers' report. [P: T. Large, S: N. Taylor. 34 For, 5 Abstn'].

Item 8. Hon. Auditors Report:- (Unpublished).

Nigel Taylor told the meeting that he had a letter from the auditor confirming that he had inspected the records and found them to be a true and accurate record.

[P: S. McManus, S: T. Hughes, Unan.].

Item 9, Caving Secretary’s' Report:- (Unpublished).

Estelle Sandford then gave a verbal "Acting Caving Sec." report, due to the absence by suspension of the Caving Secretary.  Stuart McManus praised Jeff Prices' ability respecting the organisation of St. Cuthbert’s trips and leaders, but felt that it was high time another leaders meeting was arranged, this was turned into a formal proposal. [P: S. McManus, S: D. Turner, 22 For,7 Abstn, 0 against, (several non voting)].  The meeting went on to fix Saturday 4th. November 1995 as the set date, location and times to be arranged by the Caving Secretary.

Tim Large went on to ask re the BEC position regarding the NCA Bolting policy, this was explained by Nigel Taylor who had much correspondence upon the matter with NCA and others, and the relevant letters were shown to Tim Large to save the meeting time.  Tim Large also asked about the latest position on D.Y.O, and he was advised from the floor that it was 'Situation normal' again.  Stuart McManus suggested that even though the Secretary had been in contact with C.S.C.C re the "Bolting Policy", he should pursue them again, and try to obtain a written policy statement.  Brian Prewer suggested that in the light of a recent MRO Callout and abortive search in Redcliffe caves that the BEC should contact Bristol City Council to establish a BEC Leader for the system, then formally proposed, [P: T. Large, S: B. Prewer, 31 For, 2 Against, 3 Abstn].  (No formal vote was taken on the report).

Item 10, But Wardens Report. (Published.).

Tim Large raised the issue of a sign he had seen at the Belfry, showing hut debtors of £170, he pointed out that the 1979 AGM (when discussing the Hon. Treasurers Report of that year) had voted that no monies were to be owed for longer than One Month or by that persons' next visit to the Belfry, whichever was the shorter.  The meeting instructed the 1996 Committee to enforce this directive.  Martin Grass spoke on the subject of the Belfry long-term users' and he asked the committee look into this as he saw it could become a problem.  Stuart McManus was in accord with this, and much talk followed involving the above, Dave Turner and others.  Nigel Taylor spoke in defence of some of those people who were using the hut on an extended summer holiday basis this last summer, and that they had in fact kept the hut in a very clean and tidy state unlike some short term users or members visiting for St. Cuthbert’s trips, and he added that considerable exterior work had been done by at least three of these persons, and that in fact he believed they did not stay continuously throughout the period, but conformed to the principle as best they could, in any event they also paid up their dues on time and he saw them as worthwhile members of the club. Nigel Taylor then asked that future Hut Wardens reports contain actual facts as to type of users, bed nights etc. as in previous years reports, albeit he understood the novel intentions behind the Hut Warden’s prose this year.  Business moved on to a proposal that all "Official Mail" sent unsolicited by the BEC to individual members to the Belfry should be returned" Not known at this address". [P: D. Turner, S: S. McManus. 19 For, 7 Against, 11 Abstn.].

Brian Prewer complained that he had visited the Hut late at night on occasions, and found that mid-week overnighters were locking the main door from within, preventing key access, he was worried about MRO constraints that could be occasioned.  The meeting noted the concern.

A vote upon the Hut Wardens report was then taken, [P: D. Bradshaw, S: R. Harper. 34 For,6 Abstn. 0 Against].

Item 11, Hut Engineers Report:- (Published).

Virtually no debate, [P: John Williams, S: Mike Jeanrnaire. 30 For, 8 Abstn, 0 Against].

Item 12, Tacklemasters Report:- (Published).

Mike Wilson spoke upon his proposal as published in his report to restrict access to the tackle, Rob Harper suggested that some ladders be put by on open-access, and added that this discussion surfaced every year.  Stuart McManus suggested the club purchase its' ladders to make good the shortfall.  Chris Smart was against this as he had tried this proposal years before and it did not work. Andrew Sparrow reminded the meeting that St. Cuthbert’s required an available ladder, Bob Cork suggested the meeting vote upon the matter, [P: M. Wilson, S: Ron Wyncoll. 34 For, 3 Against, 2 Abstn.]  The Tacklemaster’s report was then voted on, [P: J. Williams, S: D.Bradshaw. Unan.]  A Vote of thanks to Tacklemaster was proposed by Trevor Hughes and seconded by Rob Harper.

Item 13, Librarians' Report:- (Unpublished).

This was presented verbally by David Turner, Martin Grass was critical that only £5 had been spent this year, and that was for a video. Dave Turner agreed.  Richard Stephens asked just how many reciprocal exchanges worked, no conclusive answer was available.  Stuart McManus queried the possession and location of library key holders.  Nigel Taylor read the full list to the meeting. [P: R Harper, S: Robin Grey. Unan].

Item 14, B.B Editors' Report:- (Published).

Andrew Sparrow asked why an article he had jointly submitted was not yet published.  John Williams replied that it would be, but stressed that he must retain "Editorial Override", Andrew Sparrow retorted that he was still accountable to the AGM.

[RHarper proposed Vote of thanks S: S.McManus].  Phil Romford asked if C.S.C.C material could be included if relevant.  Chris Smart, Nigel Taylor and John Williams all added that there was not much really available.  Andrew Sparrow insisted that we must obtain minutes etc for the BEC. P: R Harper, S: M. Grass. 36 For, 1 Against, 1 Abstn.].

Item 15, Membership Secretary’s' Report:- (Published).

Trevor Hughes asked when members would receive their membership cards; Richard Stephens replied that this was in hand.  John Williams proposed a vote of thanks, S: C. Smart. Voting on the report took place; [P: M.Jeanrnaire, S D. Bradshaw. 37 For, 1 Abstn.]

Item 16, Ian Deer Memorial Fund Report:- (Unpublished).

The only grant this year had been £150 to Garry Jago.  The debate on the floor suggested that no further transfer into the fund take place this year as a £500 bonus windfall had been gained by the C&G/Lloyds Bank merger. That No transfer be made: [P: D. Bradshaw, S: R. Stephens. 35 For, 2 Against, 2 Abstn.].

The meeting then adjourned for Lunch.

On resumption, the results of the 1996 Committee Ballot were announced: 67 Members had voted.  Nigel Taylor 65. Mike Wilson 61. Chris Smart 57. Jeff Price 57. John Williams 54. Hilary Wilson 44. Richard Stephens 44. Ivan Sandford 41. Estelle Sandford 41.

Three candidates were unsuccessful: Mike Willet 25. Alex Gee 23. Robin Grey 22.

Item 17, The Election of Officers to posts then was made as follows:-

Hon. Secretary:   Nigel Taylor.          Unan .                                                        

Hon. Treasurer:    Chris Smart.          Unan.                                                         

Caving Sec:         Jeff Price.              [P: Tim Large, S: Nigel Taylor]      31 Votes    Appointed

                          Estelle Sandford.    [P: Dave Turner, S: Dave Ball ]      4 Votes    

Memb; Sec:        Richard Stephens   Unan.                                                         

Hut Warden:        Ivan Sandford.        [P: Trev. Hughes, S: Mike Willit]   37 Votes    4 Abstn.

BB Editor:           John Williams.       Unan.                                                         

Hut Engineer:      Estelle Sandford.    [P: John Williams, S: Rob Harper] 18 Votes    Appointed

                          Hilary Wilson.        [P: Angie Cave, S: Babs Williams]                 7 Votes           

                          Ivan Sandford         [P: Tim Large, S: Rob Harper ]      5 Votes    

Auditor:               Barrie Wilton          [P: Chris Batstone, S: N. Taylor ]  35 Votes    4 Abstn.

Librarian              Mike McDonald      [P: S. McManus. S: R. Harper ]   30 Votes    Appointed

                          Alex Gee               [P: Angie Cave, S: M. Grass ]       4 Votes    

                          Mike Willit.            [P: J. Williams, S: Rebecca Campbell]           2 Votes           

The AGM Directed the 1996 Committee to look carefully at the position of Club Archivist, and to action accordingly.

Members of the New 1996 Committee were then asked to declare any Special Interests:-

a)        John Williams declared that he was "Descent Correspondent for Mendip."

b)       Chris Smart declared that he would be abroad caving all November/December.

c)       Nigel Taylor declared that he was now establishing his Explosives Demolition & Excavation Company "Mendip Demrock" and that this might involve some quarry work.  He assured the meeting of his strong conservation views notwithstanding.

Trevor Hughes was concerned at Nigel Taylor’s' activities.  The AGM however, accepted all of these.

Item 18, The Destruction of Ballot Forms:-

At the Direction of the Chair these were consigned to the Fire.

Item 19, Members' Resolutions:-

Andrew Sparrow proposed more practice rescues, and to re-institute a proper Team Leader for the BEC. Stuart McManus thought that it was necessary to balance these needs with conservation of St. Cuthbert’s. Considerable discussion took place, principally Rob Harper, Dave Turner, Stuart McManus, Martin Grass, Ivan Sandford making strong contributions. Martin Grass thought that it was important to remember that often Team Leaders were often later asked to become MRO Wardens, thus he felt a need for younger leaders should be remembered.  Andrew Sparrow asked how many MRO wardens had been BEC Team leaders, a show of hands revealed in excess of five.  Rob Harper called for a decision, a view echoed by Bob Cork as Chairman.

Several proposals and amendments rose and fell, Andy Sparrow: two practises a year, one to be in St. Cuthbert’s, [S; P. Romford] Stuart McManus amended: "To be held in any cave (Not specifying St. Cuthbert’s)" [S; M. Grass] 20 For, 9 Against, 2 Abstn.

A further amended proposal; "The club will carry out a minimum of two rescue practises each year" was passed 30 For, 4 Against, 3 Abstain. (As above P: & S:).

Nigel Taylor then proposed Rob Harper as BEC Team Leader, [S: Chris Smart]     15 Votes. (EI).

Stuart McManus proposed Alex Gee as a Team Leader,[S: Martin Grass]             11 Votes.

Babs Williams proposed John Williams, [S:Ivan Sandford]                                   2 Votes.

Nick Gymer was proposed by unknown P: & S:                                                  1 Vote

Tim Large then proposed that the 1995 Committee suspension on Jeff Price be revoked and wiped clean from the club records.  This was seconded by Trevor Hughes.

Nigel Taylor spoke upon this matter as he had been the last years' Secretary, and explained that much heart searching and agonizing had gone into the three suspensions.  He emphasised that though every committee member had their own personal feelings about the matter, they had all agreed to be seen as united in a firm response to the problem they were expected to arbitrate over, and that they would all have it only discussed within the BEC and not aired around Mendip and the Hunters.  They had been scrupulous about being fair and gave each member a full hearing at committee.  Personal feelings had been put to one side, and all three members had been written to by the Secretary and a full and frank explanation about their suspensions given to each, further he had advised all three of the right of appeal to an AGM, and none had decided to do so.  In fact all three appeared to him to admit their errors, and were all contrite and accepted their suspension, although not enjoying them.  Mike Wilson and John Williams supported this.

Considerable debate took place upon the matter, Rob Harper felt that Tim’s' proposal would place the value of one member above another, this he stressed was unfair.  Rob Harper felt that the AGM should ratify the committee decision, Dave Turner concurred.  Tim's proposal went to a vote, 4 For, 26 Against, 7 Abstain. A fiery debate ensued about Rob Harpers feeling that the AGM should ratify the decision, Stuart McManus strongly stating that he thought it unnecessary, as in fact that the last vote had effectively done this.  Several Committee members expressed their feeling that failure to support the committee made them feel that this was a vote of no confidence, John Williams and Nigel Taylor suggesting that they would probably now then resign on moral grounds.  The meeting was tactfully steered by Bob Cork out of stormy waters and no such vote was called for, on the grounds that the club had just re-elected those same people and that was the best show of support they could have.  Stuart McManus commented that since the Committee action there had been no further instances of violence or damage.

Nigel Taylor then Proposed "As a gesture of goodwill, all three members should have their bans actually suspended in a spirit of magnanimity in celebration of the Clubs' Sixtieth Year" [S: n/k]. 11 For, 21 Against, 4 Abstn.

Item 20, Any Other Business:-

Chris Smart as Treasurer proposed that there be no increase in Club subscriptions in the New Year. The meeting accepted this with great support.

Nigel Taylor as Secretary stated that the Next AGM would be at 10.30 am, Saturday 5th. October 1996, at the Belfry.

Bob Cork as Chairman then declared the meeting closed at 4.10pm.

Minutes recorded by, and later typed: Nigel Taylor Hon Secretary, Sunday 15th. October 1995