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Cambrian Caving Council (Cyngor Ogofeydd Cymreig)

report by Dave Turner

The last meeting of the Cambrian Caving Conference was held on Saturday, January 25th 1969 at 10.30am at Penwyllt.  The purpose of the conference was to set up a Welsh Regional Council on the lines of similar organisations.  The B.E.C., although not invited, managed to have delegates appear at Penwyllt in close company with members of the Wessex and U.B.S.S. (also not invited) exactly at 10.30am. Paul Allen, Bob Lewis and others of the Severn Valley C.C. were found already installed and making their feelings known.

There were strong feelings amongst members of many Welsh based clubs that the new council should limit its members to those who are totally Welsh based or willing to forgo all interest on other regions.  It was this strong ‘closed-shop’ attitude which made the above Mendip clubs go to the Conference to ensure that all clubs who work in Wales should have some say on the newly formed Council.

After the customary reading of the minutes; election of the Chairman (John Osbourne, Hon. Sec. of the S.W.C.C.) etc., the next hour and a half was spent voting on who should be allowed to vote at the meeting.  (Ed. note: the first part of the meeting was the Cambrian Conference and after the discussion of the proposed constitution it would become the Cambrian Caving Council). Initially only the Welsh clubs who had been invited were allowed to vote and after some discussion it was decided that the Mendip Clubs should give reasons as to why they should be given the vote.  Valid reasons being a hut or headquarters in Wales or evidence of scientific work in Welsh caves in the recent past.  Paul Allen spoke first for the Severn Valley – they had just rented a hut in Wales and were doing work in the Hepste and Trefil areas – this was passed as O.K.

Pete Stanging spoke next for the U.B.S.S. – discovery, exploration and survey of Little Neath – this was queried by Mel Davis (I.C.I. Nylon Spinners) who considered that they had only found the cave by chance and weren’t really interested in it!! However other Welsh clubs were not swayed by this argument and so the U.B.S.S. could vote.

Next the B.E.C. – Dave Irwin spoke of the work (both discovery and exploration of Roman Mine) also of members work in the Chepstow area.  After Mel Davis claimed the discovery of Roman Mine for the I.C.I. Nylon Spinners, the B.E.C. were elected to vote.

Tim Reynolds justifying Wessex claims made reference to Warburton’s survey of Aggie (Agen Allwedd to the Welsh).  This news surprised Mel Davis and the other Aggie wardens as the Wessex had not applied for the key more than a couple of times in the last year.  It soon transpired that they were obtaining the key from the Chelsea cottage – ‘but this makes it a Chelsea survey!’ says David Leach (Hereford C.C.) With the other Mendip Clubs voting for them the Wessex were elected.

Now the business of the day could begin.  The motion to form a Cambrain Caving Council; was quickly passed and the tedious business of deciding on the constitution started.  A draft constitution based in general on that of the Southern council, had already been circulated and this was used as a basis.  First the name: - Cambrian Caving Council, Welsh Caving Council, Cyngor Ogoffydd Cymru – all combinations were proposed.  The Welsh members wanting the Welsh name first; the English wanting the English name first!  There being more English members present the English name comes first. Cambrian, we were told by experts is a bastard word and so no direct Welsh translation exists.  Cymru meaning Welsh.  Cymraig was suggested as the best translation and after ten minutes discussion as to the correct Cymreig won.

The objects and guiding principles were dealt with little more ease and then the meeting adjourned for lunch, The Gwyn for most and the Courage House half a mile down the road for the B.E.C.

The next clause to be discussed was considered by the Mendip Clubs to be the most offensive.  The draft constitution was worded “A club is eligible for membership of the Council if its major interests are in Wales and who wishes to be represented by the above Council only.”  The required changes were passed with far less opposition than had been expected. The amended clause reads “A club is eligible for membership of the Council if it has major interests in Wales and the Marches.”  This amended wording allows Mendip and others not based in Wales but who have interest there to have a say in the running of the regional council.

The clauses relating to the number of delegates, the officers of the Council and Council meetings were passed with few amendments.

Voting came again in clause 8.  The Southern Council have the right of veto but the chairman’s casting vote carried the motion not to have the veto.

Subscriptions took a while to be agreed upon, the final compromise was ten shillings a year and ten shillings entrance fee, but the Committee reserved the right to waive all or part of it at its discretion.

The arrangement of dissolution was then discussed at length - completely unnecessary as it was pointed out by Dr. Oliver Lloyd that the Southern Council only have the clause on dissolution to avoid a veto if persistently used.  Not having the veto the clause became redundant.

At this stage the B.E.C. & Wessex left the meeting leaving the U.B.S.S. and Severn Valley to protect our mutual interest.  It was felt that the journey was not wasted as the Mendip Clubs had helped in the formation of a more useful and workable council than would otherwise have been the case.

The B.E.C. delegates were Dave Irwin, Martin Webster and Dave Turner.

Letter To The Editor

Dear Sir,

Before we know where we are it will be time to attend another A.G.M.   In common with other meetings of this type there are several faults as a result of following standing orders for procedure.    In the past these have only led to temporary feelings if disgruntlement, but at the present time, when the club is expanding in many ways, they could have more serious consequences.

Let us first consider the causes.  The problem is that there is a finite amount of time and apparently an infinite amount of business to be carried out.  Minutes and reports from the various club officers take up most of the time and when important business; motions and their discussion, has to be hurried and inevitable curtailed.

The remedy is simple and may I suggest that it is applied this year?  The reports of all club officers should be published and issued to every member, together with the financial statement.  They could be published in the B.B. (hmm – Ed.).  At the meeting the formality of reading the reports could be then be bypassed, discussion and voting on them would quickly be finished and ample time left for the more important business.

Improvement in the discussion of member’s resolutions would also occur if the example set by ‘Sett’ and Mike Palmer last year were followed, and members publish their thoughts on their proposals.  This would enable people who don’t get down to Mendip very often to go to the meeting with informed and up to-date opinions, where as at the moment they have to spend half the time at the meeting catching up with the thoughts of those who see each other frequently and can discuss these matters.

A case in point will be ‘Alfies’ constitution.  I am sure that I shall not be confronted with it at the A.G.M. and have to vote for or against, but I not only want to know what it is long before the meeting, I also want to hear other people’s views on it before the meeting.  Surely the B.B. is an excellent medium for propagating these views and if people just don’t write, may we have some ‘political journalism’?

                        Yours faithfully,
                                    Mike Luckwill

Ed. Note:          Thanks Mike for this interesting letter – I feel that there’s much in it for discussion.  I am prepared to keep aside a page or so a month for members letters on this subject so that your Committee can gather members feelings on this and associated subjects.