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Half a Minute

(An account of the Annual general Meeting taken from the Official minutes)

This year, a new departure from the usual arrangements was made, by the circulation in the B.B. of as many of the club officer’s reports as were available previous to the meeting. The intention was to cut down the lengthy business of having each club officer read his report to the meeting. The method seemed to work well, and it is planned to extend it next year to include all the officers’ reports.

In view of this, the writer felt that perhaps a corresponding change in the way that the A.G.M. is written up in the B.B. might be equally a good idea, so this account will be found to be on less formal lines than previously, and to deal with what actually went on, rather than to include such details as who proposed and who seconded each motion, the general idea being to make the account a trifle more readable.

The Chairman (Sett) – after the usual call for ballot papers, members’ resolutions and the election of tellers for the ballot – was thus able to take most of the club officers’ reports as read and dispense with most of the preliminaries.  The remainder of the reports were dealt with in the usual way, and all reports were open to discussion of members present so wished.  In fact, the reports from the Hon. Sec., the Caving Sec., the Tacklemaster, the Hut Engineer and the Hon. Librarian aroused no comment.

The main features of the discussion which arose from the Hon. Treasurer’s report centred on the way in which the clubs financial position was presented to members.  Some members said that it was not easy to obtain a picture of the position of each facet of the club’s activities.  For example, the Belfry appeared to have been operated at a considerable loss, as did the caving publications, yet the officers responsible assured the club that this was not the case.  Items like the Ian Dear Memorial Fund did not appear, and so on.

The Treasurer said that he was well aware of the position, and that he was taking steps to improve the presentation of the club’s financial state.  He reminded members that it was not easy to do this, because many of the items came in too late to be included.  To quote the earlier examples, he has received monies from both the Belfry and Caving Publications and it was true that both these activities were in a better state than appeared on the accounts.  Subscriptions also tended to come in late, and this appeared to be a tradition of the Club.  The Chairman said that all club officers must co-operate with the treasurer if any meaningful accounts were to be compiled, and that the tradition of being behind with subscriptions was a thoroughly bad one, which all members should try to eliminate.

The Hut Warden came in for some criticism, to which he replied with some spirit.  It was, however, generally agreed in the discussion which followed that the absence of recorded Belfry attendances; receipts and expenditures was not in line with past practice or with good accounting technique.  After a further lively discussion the report was adopted with the rider that ‘The Committee ensure an effective Hut Warden, bearing in mind the comments of this meeting!’

A vote of thanks was recorded to the retiring Editor of the B.B. (Dave Irwin).  On the subject of the B.B. and of Caving Publications, the Editor was able to announce that all sales records had been broken and that the entire club publications were within a few pounds of paying for themselves, even including the B.B. postage.  This effort is obviously of great help in the Club’s present financial position.

A vote of thanks was also recorded to the Hut Engineer (John Riley) who continues in office and faces an even more difficult task than the one he has performed so well.  A vote of thanks was also recorded for Alfie’s preparation of the new constitution.

After the reports, the Chairman dealt with Committee and member’s resolutions.  The first of these – a proposal to widen the Cuthbert’s Leader system to include clubs all over the country – was referred to the 1970 Committee.

The second – to pass the new constitution, including a few minor amendments, was passed after a short discussion with voting 32 -2 in favour.

A resolution defining the position of the Editor of the B.B. was, after some discussion, taken in an amended form.  It was agreed that ‘The Editor of the B.B., if not a full member of the Committee, be automatically co-opted as a non-voting member!’  This was carried 26 – 13.

A resolution that ‘This club deplores the proliferation on national and regional bodies concerned with caving’ was carried by 40 – 4.

Finally came the item that most members had been waiting for.  The plans for replacing the burnt-out Belfry.  Alfie began by recounting the history of our grant application and concluded that our efforts were not going to succeed and that money from this source should be discounted.  He drew member’s attention to the broadsheet ‘After the Fire’ which had been circulated at the A.G.M.  Contained in this was a Committee resolution to be put to the meeting.  The Chairman said that this was all good background information, and that a full discussion should now proceed before this – or any counter resolution be put to and voted on by the meeting.  A long discussion followed, centred mainly on the club’s present and expected financial position.  The resolutions were broken into to separate resolutions, but both were eventually carried, the first non. con. And the second by 28 – 2.  The resolutions were: -

“Provided that the Committee is satisfied that the club has received a sum from the insurance and from further donations to a minimum of £1,600; it proceeds forthwith with the erection of the building as agreed at the 1967 A.G..M.”

“Alternatively, a special committee be set up with the following terms of reference: ‘To examine the situation arising from the destruction of the Belfry by fire and to produce for the future accommodation of the B.E.C. at the Belfry site, bearing in mind the best interests of the club in both the short and long term. This committee is instructed to publish his findings IN WRITING to all club members by a date no later than the first of April 1970 and to arrange their proposal to lie within the financial limits as determined at the time by the 1970 committee’”

A discussion as to whether we should borrow the Ian Dear Memorial Fund for financing the Belfry resulted in a resolution to do this being carried 19 – 18.  In view of the closeness of this vote, the Chairman called for a recount in which the voting was 20 – 20.  The Chairman used his casting vote in favour of the resolution with the rider that interest is to be paid back as well as the capital and that all applications for grants under the fund continue to be granted where applicable.

The meeting was declared closed by the chairman at 3.00pm.

S.J. Collins, Minutes Sec.