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Minutes of the 1973 Annual General Meeting of the BEC

The meeting opened at 10.35 a.m. with 32 members present.  The Secretary opened the proceedings by calling for nominations for a chairman.  R.A. Setterington ('Sett') was proposed by Roy Bennett and seconded by Alfie.  There were no other nominations and 'Sett' was therefore elected Chairman.

Apologies for absence were received from D. Hasell; B. Prewer and R.S. King.

The Chairman then called for the collection of ballot papers and members resolutions.  He then asked for volunteers to act as tellers for the ballot.  Geoff Standing, Frank Jones and Keith Glossop volunteered.

Alfie asked, on a point of order, whether we should keep a list of those who voted, so that members could check that their votes had been recorded.  He pointed out that the new ballot system would allow this to happen without infringing the secrecy of the ballot, provided that the name slips were retained after the voting papers were destroyed.  The Chairman put this at once to the vote, and the meeting adopted this procedure without dissent.

The Chairman turned next to the minutes of the 1972 A.G.M. and asked if the meeting wished them to be taken as read.  It was proposed by Roy Bennett that they should be read in full.  This was seconded by Mike Palmer.  The Chairman called for a vote, and the motion was defeated by a large majority – no actual count being made.

The Chairman then asked Alfie, as Chairman of the retiring committee, to read out all the actions placed on that committee by the last A.G. M.  This was done, and it was agreed that, except for the question of access to the Belfry site, all the actions had been properly discharged.  On the latter subject, Dave Irwin spoke.  He said that Alan had, in fact, seen an independent solicitor in accordance with the action placed on the committee by the last A.G.M. This solicitor had referred him back to the club's normal solicitors Dave said that he had then contacted 'Digger's' partner, Martin Cavander.  Owing to illness, Dave explained, Digger was now entirely ecclesiastical.  On the subject of payment Dave said that he had been assured that the existing arrangements whereby we obtained free legal service were still satisfactory to our solicitors, but if we insisted on payment, they would be prepared to quote us favourable terms.

On the subject of rights of way, it appears that the Dors family have the right to erect a gate at the entrance to the track, but must supply keys to the owners of the Belfry (i.e, the trustees.)  We have a right of way written into our deeds.  On the subject of the Foxwell track, it appeared to depend on the exact wording of the agreement.  If we gave an alternative right of way to the road we might well be on uncertain ground. If we only gave it over our land the situation became clear.

Alan Thomas said that the change was stated on the agreement as being 'as per attached plan' which, in fact, shows a join to the track.  Dave Irwin replied that, even so, it was not expressly stated that we were giving the alternative right up to the track, but only implied on the plan.  In any case, our ignorance of the exact ownership of the wall which separated our land from the track at the point of entry did not invalidate the agreement as far as we were concerned.  It was up to Mr. Foxwell's solicitor to have checked this point. It appeared that Mr. Foxwell could request us to change the terms of the agreement, but could not demand that we did so. In any case, Ben had shifted the track some two feet and the argument is to a large extent academic.

The Chairman asked whether the entire subject was not now academic, since there seemed now to be no action threatened.  Alan agreed that this appeared to be the case.  The Chairman advised that, in the circumstances, the subject was best left alone. Alan replied that the committee had come to the same conclusion and were, in fact, doing just that.  He said that it appeared that Ben and Walt had now settled their differences.  The Chairman said that the subject was now closed and that any further developments should be dealt with by the incoming committee.

The Hon. Secretary's Report came next, and the Chairman asked Alan if he had anything to add to his report.  Alan said that he had nothing, but would, of course, answer any questions which might arise.

Dave Irwin said that there was no mention of the political implications of C.S.C.C. and N.C.A. etc. The Chairman said that, since there was a member's resolution involving this question, it should be brought up at that stage of the meeting.  Bob Bagshaw then proposed that the report be adopted.  This was seconded by Dave Irwin and carried unanimously.

The Hon. Treasurer's report then followed.  There was a correction to the financial statement.  The item under 'telephone' should read £44.84.  The Chairman then asked for any comments.  Alfie proposed that the report be adopted and this was seconded by Chris Harvey and carried unanimously.

The Hon. Auditor's Report followed.  Again, there were no comments, and its adoption was proposed by Doug Stuckey and seconded by Nigel.  It was carried nem. con.

The Caving Secretary's Report followed.  Alan Thomas proposed a vote of thanks to the Caving Secretary.  This was seconded by Chris Harvey and carried unanimously. Nigel Taylor then proposed that the report be adopted.  This was seconded by Colin Sage and carried without dissent.

In the absence of the Climbing Secretary, his report was read by the Chairman.  There was no discussion.  Its adoption was proposed by Barry Wilton and seconded by Martin Bishop. It was carried without dissent.

The Hut Warden's Report also provided no discussion.  Its adoption was proposed by Fete Franklin and seconded by Bob Bagshaw.  It was again carried without dissent,

The Hut Engineer's Report was read by the Chairman, in the absence of that officer.  Once again, there was no discussion.  Adoption was proposed by Nigel Taylor and seconded by John Bacon and carried without dissent.

The Tacklemaster then read his report to the meeting.  The Chairman asked if the club was desperately in need of assistance in making tackle.  Mike Palmer replied that there was a need to make tackle, but that volunteers had come forward and it was now a question of organisation.  Mike said that the club had all the necessary raw materials and said that Derek Targett and Chris Harvey had volunteered to hold some sessions on tackle making.  A vote of thanks to Mike Palmer and to Dave Turner was proposed for the efforts they had both made in getting the club tackle situation sorted out.  This was carried unanimously by the meeting.  Mike replied to this, and said that the biggest problem had been sorting it out.  He said that many people had helped.  The Chairman asked if digging ropes were, in fact, old caving ropes. Mike said that they were.  The adoption of the report was then proposed by Alan Thomas and seconded by Pete Franklin.  It was carried without dissent.

The B.B. Editor's Report came next.  There was no discussion.  Its adoption was proposed by Martin Bishop seconded by Joan Bennett and carried without dissent.

The meeting then moved on to the Librarian's Report.  Dave Irwin said that some books have been out for over a year and appealed once again for members to return books and publications.  It was agreed to put an appeal in the B.B.  He said that, apart from this aspect, we have not actually lost anything this year.  The adoption of the report was then proposed by Tony Meaden and seconded by Nigel Taylor. It was again, carried without dissent.

The publications Report then followed.  Dave Irwin asked whether the meeting felt that the report on shoring of swallet cave entrances should be re-published.  It would, he said, need bringing up to date before this could be done. The meeting appeared to have no strong feelings on the matter and the chairman suggested that Dave take this into account.  Alfie said that he would be prepared if required to revise the manuscript.  Alan Thomas then proposed the adoption of the report.  This was seconded by Dave Turner and carried nem. con.  A vote of thanks to Dave, Irwin was then proposed by Alan Thomas and seconded by Dave Turner and again carried without dissent.

The chairman then announced the result of the ballot.

The votes of 82 members had been recorded.  The nine candidates who would for, the 1973/4 committee were, in order of votes cast, Alfie; Dave Irwin; Nigel Taylor; Nigel Jago; Barry Wilton; Alan Thomas; Martin Bishop; Doug Stuckey and Graham Wilton-Jones.  The chairman then asked for permission to destroy the ballot papers. Mike Palmer put this in the form of a proposal, which was seconded by Dave Turner and carried unanimously.  The papers were immediately consigned to the Belfry stove.  The chairman then handed the name slips to Alfie with the advice that voters could appear in the annual list of members with some distinguishing mark against their names.

The chairman then counted those present.  There were 45 members present at 11.50 a.m.

The chairman then took the report of the Ian Dear Memorial Committee.  Mike Palmer read this to the meeting.  There had been one applicant during the year, and this had caused some surprise, as more had been expected.  In the ensuing short discussion, it was agreed that publicity had been adequate.  The adoption of the report was proposed by Roger Stenner and seconded by Dave Irwin. It was carried without dissent.

The chairman then turned to committee resolutions.  The first of these was "that the word 'ratified' be inserted in Article 5 of the club constitution so that it will then read, "both of whom shall be ratified members of the club."  Alfie reminded the meeting that Alan Thomas had proposed at the 1972 A.G.M. "That nobody shall be able to propose or second a membership application until his own membership has been ratified."  This had been ruled, by the chairman of the 1972 A.G.M., to be a constitutional change, since it added a condition to Article 5.  The chairman then proposed from the chair that the subject be referred to the 1972/3 committee in accordance with Article 53. This was agreed by the 1972 A.G.M. with 3 votes against.  Since then, the committee have put forward the resolution now in front of the meeting, and also published it in the B.B. in accordance with Article 53.  If the meeting now adopts the resolution now before it, it will become an amendment to the constitution.  The chairman thanked Alfie for this reminder and put the resolution up for discussion.  Roger Stenner declared himself against the proposed change.  He pointed out that applicants for membership were not normally admitted unless sufficiently known in the club, and that the proposer and seconder were not consulted as a rule unless they happened to be at a committee meeting, in which case it was unlikely that they were probationary members. Nigel Taylor also expressed himself against the idea and said that it would place an unnecessary brake on new membership.  Dave Irwin said that it would provide a safeguard against the formation of cliques. Under the present arrangements, two freshly elected members who also belonged to a small club could propose and second other members of that club who might otherwise be unknown and thus build up a clique which might never integrate with the general membership. Nigel Taylor said that the club committee should act as a watchdog to prevent this or any other bad situation from developing and should not have to depend on detailed legislation to make it occur.  He wished it to be placed on record that he was very strongly again this resolution. Dave Turner then proposed the adoption of the resolution.  This was seconded by Chris Rowell and carried by 25 votes in favour to 12 against.  The chairman then announced that the constitution had been amended for the first time, and that Article 5 should be officially amended in accordance with the resolution.

The second Committee resolution "that the existing Belfry sub-committee continue in office until their findings are completed" was spoken to by Alan Thomas, who said that owing to various circumstances, the sub-committee had not been able to complete its work during the club year just ended.  He felt that continuity here was of importance, and the election of a new sub-committee might well reduce this factor.  Dave Irwin replied that, on reflection, it might be dangerous to perpetuate a sub-committee in this way.  Roy Bennett pointed out that we were allowed two types of committee in addition to the general committee.  We had chosen a sub-committee as from a special committee, and must therefore accept the fact that such a committee becomes automatically disbanded at the end of the club year.  The chairman pointed out that if there was a continuing need for this sub-committee, there was no reason why the new committee could not resurrect it en bloc. Dave Turner agreed that this was the sensible course for the committee to adopt, since they already had the power to do so.  Thus, the resolution had no real meaning. Dave Irwin disagreed with this, and pointed out that the resolution, if passed would compel the committee to do what otherwise they would be free to exercise choice over.  Chris Howell suggested that this aspect could be got round if the word 'existing' were removed from the resolution.  After some further discussion along these lines, Dave Turner pointed out that the resolution was out of order.  It was, in fact, a change to the constitution and, as such, could not take effect immediately.  In spite of this, the resolution said that the sub-committee should continue in office.  Since a finite time must elapse before the resolution could take effect by change of constitution, it was clearly impossible for the sub-committee to continue in the meantime.  Hence the resolution was proposing an impossibility and was thus out of order. The chairman asked if the meeting had under-stood this line of reasoning, and if it agreed with it.  The meeting unanimously agreed the point and the matter was accordingly dropped.

Turning now to members resolutions, a resolution, "that the B.E.C. join the Council of Northern Caving Clubs and do more caving in the North" was proposed by Andy Nicholls and seconded by Nigel Taylor.  Both Alfie and Dave Irwin said that the Southern Council would be debating this point at their meeting in November and it might be prudent to wait and see what happened there first.  At this point, the refreshments arrived, and the chairman declared the meeting adjourned.

After the refreshments, the meeting was re-convened and the discussion continued.  Mike Palmer asked what the back-ground was behind this resolution.  Alan explained that the CNCC had placed an embargo on members of clubs not belonging to CNCC visiting caves controlled by CNCC.  This meant that BEC members could not officially visit these caves unless BEC joined CNCC or its members were prepared to go as guests of a member club of CNCC like the Bradford.  Nigel Taylor said there was no point in waiting for the Southern Council meeting, since he understood that the NCA had said that it could not control decisions of CNCC.  Dave Irwin said that this was not completely true.  CSCC were still trying to bring pressure to bear, via NCA on CNCC.  Our proper course of action was to help bring this pressure to bear, rather than to give in automatically to the decision of CNCC. Roy Bennett said that, in that case, we should instruct our representatives as to what the club expected them to do at the next meeting of CSCC.  Dave Irwin said that, even if things went temporarily against us, joining CNCC would be one more move in the direction of centralised caving, which, in the long run, could mean the end of clubs like B.E.C.  Roger Stenner agreed that this was an important point which the club must consider most carefully.  On the other hand, the restriction of caving was an equally important subject to what is mainly a caving club.  The chairman then called for a vote on the proposal and declared the resolution lost with 2 votes in favour and 30 against.

Roger Stenner then proposed a resolution, "that the defeat of the proposal does not bind the committee NOT to join CNCC should further developments make it desirable to do so".  This was seconded by Roy Bennett.  The Chairman said that the previous proposal, if carried by the meeting, would have compelled to committee to join CNCC.  The fact that it had been defeated meant that the committee were not now so compelled and were now at liberty to do so if they wished.  Thus, there was no need for the new proposal.  The only new proposal which would alter the status quo would be one which forbade the committee to join CNCC.  As no such proposal was forthcoming, the chairman moved on to the next business.  This was a resolution by Roy Bennett and Dave Turner "that the 1973/4 committee should take note of the remarks and suggestions concerning payment etc. for access to Northern caves and incorporate these views into its policy as put forward to the Council of southern Caving Clubs."  There was no discussion, and the resolution was carried 24 - 0.

Under 'Any Other Business', Dave Turner raised the question of payment for legal advice, which had been mentioned earlier.  He asked if we would get better conditions if we paid.  Dave Irwin said that it would make no difference.  Chris Howell wondered whether payment would get us priority, but Dave said that we had not suffered to date.  Alan Thomas said that the independent solicitor had cost a guinea. Nigel Taylor said that he was in favour of leaving things as they were.  Joan Bennett suggested that we should be prepared to pay, but that the bills, in the event, might never be sent to us.  Bob Bagshaw was in favour of the present state of affairs and the discussion ended without any resolution being put to the meeting.

A special speech of thanks was then delivered to mark the occasion of Bob Bagshaw's retirement from office.  Barry Wilton, as the Treasurer-presumptive, reminded the meeting of Bob's long service to the club.

The chairman then asked if there was any other business.  Mike Palmer raised the question of fire risk to the Belfry.  He asked, for example, whether the gas cylinders should be sited outside.  After a short discussion, it was proposed by Frank Jones and seconded by Mike Palmer that the committee take advice from the Fire Service and act at their discretion. This was carried by the meeting without dissent.

There being no other business, the chairman declared the meeting closed at 2.45.p.m.