UK Caving

ORGANISATIONS => BCA => Topic started by: Cavematt on February 07, 2019, 09:58:28 pm

Title: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on February 07, 2019, 09:58:28 pm
Hello all

Tonight I have submitted my application for the position of BCA Secretary, to be voted upon at the BCA AGM on Sunday 9th June. Details about the AGM itself can be found below:

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In line with the BCA Constitution, each year one third of the posts are up for election. For 2019 these will be:

In addition the following Representatives' posts will be up for election:
Nominations for posts should include:
Nominations, plus Items for the Agenda, must reach the Acting BCA Secretary no later than midnight on Saturday, 13 April 2019. The Agenda and Election Statements will then be published on the BCA website by 28 April 2019.

BCA Group Members (e.g. clubs) should note that for the purposes of voting at the AGM each Group may send one voting delegate who must bring with them a letter signed by an officer giving them the authority to represent that group.

Individual Members (i.e. all CIMs and DIMs) should bring their membership card.

Keep an eye out for more details at: http://british-caving.org.uk

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Below is the exact statement from my application letter (which has to be limited to only about 300 words, hence fairly brief). In due course I plan to put together here a more thorough summary of what I hope can be achieved in the BCA. For now I urge cavers to put the date in your diary and come to the BCA AGM this summer (either as an individual or to represent your club), to show your support for the BCA, regardless of whether you support me. I am seeking to get involved in the BCA to drive change, something I cannot do alone, and there can be no better mandate for this (or not) than a strong turnout of cavers to vote. Furthermore, there are likely to be some interesting proposals forthcoming which would benefit from input by as much of the caving community as possible.

If anyone else is/was considering standing as Secretary, please do get in touch directly with me (PM me). Sometimes two heads are better than one.

Matt Ewles


Application for BCA Secretary (Matt Ewles)

I have served as Chair of York Caving Club since 2009, Secretary of the CNCC since March 2014 and member of the Northern Pennine Club since 2015. My main caving area is northern England, but I spend lots of time in South Wales too.

I greatly value the BCA and our Regional Councils. They play an essential role in facilitating our sport and have allowed me to enjoy 15 years of recreational and exploratory caving with minimum fuss.

Sometimes however an organisation can get stuck in a rut; bogged down by process and procedure, lacking the churn of personnel to bring in new ideas, and slowly running out of energy. The BCA is close to slipping into such a rut, which could jeopardise its contribution to British caving.

This was exemplified by the January Council meeting, where the lack of positivity for change was palpable, despite opportunities being offered. There is so much more the BCA could be doing, but the spark of energy and spontaneity for embracing new ideas needs recharging.

As Secretary I would want to make the BCA an easier organisation to get involved with, and one which is more receptive to new ideas. I would seek improvements to the way documents and emails are administered and how BCA communicates with its members, plus a full overhaul of the website (including BCA Online to enable online participation).

Such changes echo those made within the CNCC over the past five years and will only be possible with the support of a like-minded webmaster.

I would like the BCA to become an organisation that showcases the joy of caving in Britain. The BCA should be admired by cavers nationally for its excellent work, much of which is already being done by passionate and dedicated volunteers, but in rather an unsung way.

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: David Rose on February 07, 2019, 10:08:01 pm
Well done for stepping up, Matt.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: damian on February 07, 2019, 10:23:12 pm
As a former post-holder with a fair idea of what the role entails, I cannot begin to think of a better candidate. Matt has done amazing things with CNCC and it says an awful lot for his character that he is willing to step up to do a similar thing again with BCA. This is a fantastic day for British Caving. Well done, Matt, and thank you.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: nickwilliams on February 07, 2019, 10:43:07 pm
I agree with Damian in every respect!

Nick.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: GarDouth on February 07, 2019, 11:07:10 pm
I may be a tad bias but I can think of no one better for the role. Matt's dedication to caving, most notably withing the CNCC, is never-ending and I know he will do all cavers proud just as he makes me proud every day.  ;D
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Pegasus on February 07, 2019, 11:58:40 pm
You have my vote, Matt.

Do we have to wait, can't Matt take over asap so change can begin?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on February 08, 2019, 12:11:13 am
The CNCC has changed unquestionably for the better during Matt's reign as secretary.  In many ways the situation at CNCC five years ago mirrors that of BCA now.  I hope Matt can steer us through any difficult times to come so that we can all look forward to a brighter, happier more cavey future.  Matt will have my vote although I doubt there will be any challenge but I do hope he is going to continue with the CNCC job as well  ;)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kay on February 08, 2019, 07:03:37 am
Matt has steered CNCC through difficult times. Under his leadership, people who were completely opposed to each other have come together to work as a team towards the current achievements of CNCC. I cannot think of anyone better to become secretary of BCA. I've enjoyed working with him in CNCC and we will all miss him (that's assuming he is relinquishing his CNCC role).
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: MarkS on February 08, 2019, 07:40:30 am
I'd hoped Matt would put himself forward as BCA secretary for a while. I'm delighted he has.

I marvel at your patience and diligence when it comes to caving politics and admin, Matt. I'm in no doubt you'd do a super job within the BCA.

It does seem like you missed something from your statement though: your huge support of York University CPC for almost 15 years (yes, I did just look that up!).
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: JJ on February 08, 2019, 11:40:18 am
Excellent Matt

Well done for coming forward, your forward thinking is greatly needed and commitment much appreciated.

You deserve lots of support from all regions of the UK.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: MJenkinson on February 08, 2019, 05:07:00 pm
Having seen the way Matt works as Secretary of the CNCC, and the positive changes that he has overseen there, I can't think of anyone better for the role. Well done on stepping up and good luck with the nominations. I hope you stay at with the CNCC as well mind (who needs a life outside of caving......!)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: ahinde on February 08, 2019, 05:11:13 pm
Well done Matt. It is only fitting that all regions of British caving have the opportunity to benefit from your enthusiasm, organisational talent and hard work.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Ian Ball on February 08, 2019, 05:20:53 pm
Is there a postal vote for BCA officer elections?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on February 08, 2019, 05:25:22 pm
Is there a postal vote for BCA officer elections?

No - in the event of an actual election (which is extremely rare, apparently) you will have to make yourself physically present at the AGM (this year in the Dales). However, in doing so you will end up representing something like 100 BCA members, since only 30-60 people normally turn up. Some might suggest this is not the best possible democratic process, but my attempt to get proxy/postal voting a few years ago was voted down by the groups.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: GarDouth on February 08, 2019, 05:36:56 pm
you will have to make yourself physically present at the AGM

It's a pain to have to turn up but hopefully, as it's in a caving region, there might be a better turn out than usual. At least you can go caving after or on the Saturday. I would urge everyone who can to turn up and vote - it's the best way to make a difference if you're not happy with things as they are.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on February 08, 2019, 06:41:26 pm
One of the key things the BCA needs to address over coming years is participation.

It is important to make it as easy as possible for anyone who wants to be involved in the BCA, democratically by voting, or just putting forward ideas, to be able to do this, and to feel welcome and encouraged to do so. The BCA must never appear a closed-shop. At the same time, it is important not to undermine the value of the face-to-face meetings, where lots can be achieved that would struggle to happen otherwise.

Clearly it cannot be expected that the entire BCA membership, or even close to that, will turn up at the AGM, and as Andrew has said, typically ~50 people attend AGMs (out of something like 6000 members). More would be good. However, if we got any more than about 100-150 people turning out all the time, we'd start encountering venue issues, meetings become far too complicated, and you end up in a situation where the logistics exceed what can be accomplished by the resources of a voluntary organisation.

The last part of that sentence is important; the BCA is a predominantly voluntary organisation run by very dedicated people, who all share the same passion for caving. It's important not to lose sight of this and start trying to run BCA like a big business. There is a middle ground which is fit for purpose without being unnecessarily bureaucratic.

Furthermore, I know that most cavers don't want to sit in meetings... they want to be caving!  ;D

The way forward is clearly online participation, and Will has made an excellent start into looking how this might be achieved. I think he and I are thinking along similar lines. There are obviously lots of online companies who can administer online balloting on the BCA's behalf. However, what I would really like to see is this eventually brought in-house, through BCA online. The BCA post any motions that membership need to vote on, then members simply log in using BCA number and password, and vote on all current active motions.

To simpify voting and to make this work, the BCA would need to consider restructuring voting to remove the two-house system, limiting voting to individual members (CIMs and DIMs). Of course, clubs could still be free to put forward motions and lobby their members to vote a particular way. I suspect there are others who can provide more accurate historic information for the reason begind the two house system (Jenny/Bob are you there?), however, one of the benefits I can see that it currently brings is to prevent spurious motions getting through due to just 20-30 individuals turning out at AGMs and bloc-voting. Without group voting it would be very easy for a single club to turn out on-mass and get pretty much anything voted through.

But of course, once voting has been opened up online and all members can vote on important motions quickly and easily and over a several week process (rather than an on-the-day decision), this will hopefully increase participation (ideally hundreds of people having their say) and thus spurious motions will cease to be something the BCA need worry about. This is not likely to be a straightforward change (it will involve the dreaded constitution), nor one that will be universally popular; however, I think it really needs to be explored.

If online voting goes ahead, matters such as what motions are put out to all members are of course up for discussion (e.g. if something is a non-controversial no-brainer at a meeting and has the support of most people physically there, does it need to go out to all members... or should all members have a say on all matters arising at or from an AGM no matter how trivial)? There's lots to consider here about the practicalities, so for now this remains a concept. However, this seems to me to be the ideal solution to getting more people involved in BCA decision making, thus helping BCA become more democratic, and also driving more people to BCA online too where other facilities can be made available... and more importantly, we can use BCA online to compliment the newsletter to show BCA members what excellent things their membership fee is doing, why it represents superb value for money, and why it is critical to making caving in Britain better.

Interaction between cavers and the BCA, and the BCA and cavers is something that must improve, and online voting, BCA online and the continued and extended use of social media are clearly going to be important tools in achieving this. 

OK... essay over... it's Friday night and think I could benefit from a beer...  :beer2:
 
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: PeteHall on February 08, 2019, 11:47:04 pm
hopefully, as it's in a caving region, there might be a better turn out than usual. At least you can go caving after or on the Saturday.
Unless I am mistaken Gary, the AGM is usually held in a caving area and recently has been organised to coincide with other weekend events to improve turnout.

It is the quarterly council meetings that occur outside a caving region at a mutually inconvenient location, in the middle of the country.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Pitlamp on February 09, 2019, 08:46:08 am
"mutually inconvenient"   :lol:
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Stuart France on February 09, 2019, 09:49:26 pm
I recommend attending a BCA council meeting to anyone in any doubt of how dysfunctional it is.  The Midlands venue is not the problem:  it does a good pub lunch, which you have to pay for yourself by the way, downing a beer or even two to sustain you through the afternoon session which sometimes runs on until 4-5pm.  Anyone can attend, so come along and you will leave in a state of shock, if you last the course.

I have been to many of these meetings since 2014 when I joined Cambrian:  the others being attended by our secretary of that time, and "once only each" when our editor and treasurer went along.  I think that's right.

Generally, very little of any substance is said or decided but of those who do speak - which is a minority of those present and claiming travel expenses - there is a lot of hot air in pursuit of entrenched positions or venting frustrations.  Some seem to play musical chairs, first appearing as a Club Rep, then as a DIM rep, or some such, ad infinitum, saying and contributing next to nothing all the while.  Matt Ewles is right to call time on this.

Individual officers and subcommittees do work hard behind the scenes, but the national council itself is not working as it should in full support of real caving activities. It needs new people, younger and more active than most who attend now - thus excluding me - to join and contribute for a few years to transform the council.  Cavers at large must attend some AGM in quantity to appoint new people with a strong mandate.

There also needs to be limit on the total number of years that any one person can sit on council in their lifetime (regardless of differing roles or gap years) so as to guarantee fresh input. Any such new constraint needs applying retrospectively so as to reboot the system.


Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: CavefestUK on February 10, 2019, 09:22:46 am
I believe that caving need a future with someone at the helm who looks to the future. Change is inevitable, progress is made, and i honestly believe Matt is your man.
I dont actually know Matt, but his reputation precedes him, and from what i have read here,  i believe the community wants him too.
Neil
CavefestUK.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on March 06, 2019, 09:13:59 pm
Hi again everyone (you may want to get a cup of tea...)

Firstly, I just wanted to say thank you for the phenomenal show of support both in the posts above and in private messages. I am overwhelmed. I have also received very encouraging messages from the current Acting Secretary and Treasurer too.

I am certainly not seeking to take on this role for any kind of power-grab. Plus, I have quite enough work to keep me busy in the CNCC, as a club chair and as an active caver and digger. In fact, I was rather hoping to scale back my involvement in caving ‘politics’ this summer! This has not gone well so far! I am seeking to take on this role because I am disappointed by the current public opinion of the BCA and the lack of enthusiasm within the organisation to embrace change and move with the times, and I hope I can help be part of changing this culture.

I cannot do this alone though; it needs the support of others within the BCA to move outside of comfort zones and to look forwards, not backwards.

One thing that surprised me at the January Council meeting was the number of barriers to change. Any kind of change seems to get ‘outsourced’ to a Standing Committee or Working Group to discuss. I’m hugely in favour of these sub-committees and groups working behind the scenes to discuss BCA matters off-line and do the legwork of the Council in its key facets outside of the core meetings. Matters that require input from various sources and careful consultation are best handled by them before they come to Council.

However, excessive outsourcing of relatively simple proposals has the effect of devaluing the Council meeting itself (for which numerous people have travelled hundreds of miles at considerable travel expense to the BCA). Council meetings have much greater democratic representation than any Standing Committee ever could, and we should be taking greater advantage of this. Furthermore, seeing simple decisions outsourced may discourage people from presenting new ideas in the first place. Not everyone has the willpower to navigate such a lengthy procedure.

Jane Allen came to the January Council meeting in her P&I role. She presented a proof of a new BCA website homepage and a more-or-less finished and ready-to-go BCA-branded New-to-Caving leaflet to be distributed nationally to promote caving. Jane was essentially instructed to come back when she had convened the P&I Standing Committee (requiring all regional councils and constituent bodies to be given the opportunity to get involved; a lengthy process).

The leaflets could have been adopted there and then by the Council… this did not need to go away for consultation in a currently unconvened Standing Committee!

This is an occasion where a little more positivity and spontaneity could have delivered an excellent result for the BCA immediately. Instead these leaflets now need to be discussed by a Standing Committee that hasn’t convened yet! An excellent initiative has been delayed for several months, sufficiently long to discourage all but the most determined of people from putting such good initiatives forward in the first place.

The new website homepage proof received a very mute reception; this surprised me. At the rate things are going, it may be years before a new website is up and running, despite this being one of the recurring themes in various questionnaires.

Website homepage proof: http://british-caving.org.uk.77-68-41-30.cfxhosting.co.uk/

Therefore, something I would like to consider is Standing Committees and how they are constituted and used. The BCA has five Standing Committees:

> Conservation and Access
> Equipment and Techniques
> Youth Development
> Training
> Publications and Information

A problem with Standing Committees is that it’s very hard for them to all work as they should. Ideally, they should be well represented, with (according to the BCA constitution) contributors from each Regional Council and constituent body of the BCA (a total of 13 groups).

The CNCC, like many Regional Councils, struggles to get people to fill our key roles (we are going into our AGM in a few weeks with one Officer position still vacant), let alone enough volunteers to be representatives on all the BCA’s five Standing Committees (the CNCC has representation to only two). I suspect this problem is echoed in several organisations. This means some Standing Committees fall short of the level of representation the BCA constitution allows, which undermines their effectiveness.

In short; the way the BCA is constituted is perhaps too ambitious for the number of people willing to get involved in running British Caving. I do feel that some reconsideration of the structure of the BCA in terms of its makeup is needed; In particular, which facets actually need a Standing Committee, and which would be better off delivered by a single Officer consulting nationally as required to bring final proposals to Council.

I will say now that my current thinking is that the P&I may be better served by a single Officer or additional member of the Executive (free to co-opt assistants as they see fit of course) rather than as a Standing Committee.

Most importantly for now is that Standing Committees and Working Groups should not stand in the way of well-presented initiatives and ideas from enthusiastic individuals being voted upon by Council. In other words, Standing Committees and Working Groups should not be used as somewhere to ‘park’ good ideas that are ready to implement.

Overall, I favour streamlining some decision making to get more things done using the limited resource the BCA has available.

To get the ball rolling, there will be several proposals forthcoming to the AGM in June. Exactly who is proposing and seconding these is to be confirmed (I am still in discussion with several individuals about these), however, they all have my full support. The actual wording and specifics of the proposals also need to be finalised, but here is the gist of what they will involve and why they are important.

Proposal 1

The first proposal will be for the immediate adoption (subject to any minor tweaks or corrections agreed at the AGM) of Jane Allen’s New to Caving leaflets, under the BCA name (and new logo, subject to the third proposal being accepted). A £1000 budget has already been agreed. Unfortunately, the PDF of these leaflets exceeds the size allowable for attachment to this post, but it will no doubt be part of the BCA AGM agenda documentation. These leaflets are exactly what the BCA should be encouraging to promote caving.

I am also hoping Jane will restand for the P&I position following her resignation in January; there is nobody better for the role (but that’s a separate matter).

Proposal 2

The second proposal will be for the appointment of Gary Douthwaite as BCA webmaster and for Gary to redevelop the website, BCA communications systems, and BCA online, and be provided with all necessary access, rights and information needed to achieve this.

In the interests of transparency, Gary is the CNCC webmaster (plus the web designer for Hidden Earth, EuroSpeleo 2016, Northern Caves, Northern Pennine Club and York Caving Club, if anyone wants examples of his work). He is also my husband.

Gary has been one of the greatest assets in overhauling the CNCC over the past five years. Having the Secretary (me) and Webmaster (Gary) working on adjacent computers has massively helped in the CNCC to streamline efforts.

At the January Council meeting, Jane Allen presented a proof of a new BCA website homepage which Gary had designed (see link above). Jane’s idea was for Gary to develop the BCA website commercially (he is a professional web developer) as his free time is very limited. By doing this commercially it would enable him to justify working on it during office hours and thus able to designate more time to the project to achieve a better result.

However, since that meeting, Gary has decided that he would not wish to do this commercially as it creates conflicts of interests and means he would essentially be working for the BCA rather than with the BCA. This would limit what personal input he could have as it would essentially generate a client-customer relationship. Gary is therefore willing to provide his time for free (in his spare time) as BCA webmaster.

Although Gary would be providing his time for free, it will be necessary to pay for specific web services that the BCA do not provide, that will be essential to the good running of the site (e.g. use of Microsoft Office365, relevant security software etc). A reasonable budget should be made available for such things.

The new website will be modern, fresh, appealing, while still containing all the useful information that the current one does, albeit restructured somewhat. Communications systems would be overhauled. Finally, if proposal #4 is accepted, Gary would also redevelop BCA-online to include online voting for all individual members in time for the 2020 AGM.

I would like to end this by expressing my respect for the current webmaster, who has maintained a perfectly functional website for many years, keeping the content as up to date as possible (hampered by a lack of new content being provided to him). The work involved should not be underestimated, and frankly, anyone who has given up so much of their time to benefit caving deserves the upmost respect. However, for the BCA to modernise, I feel the input of a new webmaster is needed, to bring new ideas and vision. This will allow the current webmaster to focus more on his other BCA roles, and thus improve the robustness of the BCA (i.e. not having so many roles so dependent on one person).

Proposal 3

The third proposal will be for the adoption of a new logo for the BCA.

While the current logo is recognisable and has served BCA well for many years, it appears a bit dated and amateurish. General feedback on UK Caving is that cavers are not keen on it.

The logo presented by Jane Allen at the January Council meeting seems to have been popular and I would support this being adopted, subject to a few refinements to address any reasonable comments. Jane will be presenting a portfolio for this logo to accompany the proposal (e.g. black on white, white on black, landscape, portrait etc). The discussion on BCA logo was on this UK Caving thread: https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=24341.0

The logo is of course a caver looking out of Dollytubs over Alum Pot, an iconic viewpoint in British Caving.

Given the initiatives to push ahead with the national leaflets and new website (assuming these proposals are accepted), the decision on whether to adopt a new logo needs to be made now so that the new material can be launched with the logo that our membership wishes to move forward with, be that the current or new one.

Proposal 4

The fourth proposal will be the biggie.

There will be a series of proposed constitutional amendments to remove the two-house voting system at General Meetings and to make voting for individuals only (i.e. CIMs/DIMs) and not groups (i.e. clubs, constituent bodies, regional councils). This will be accompanied by some other proposed amendments to make online voting a mandatory option for most or all proposals and motions presented to an Annual General Meeting.

If successful, and assuming Gary is appointed BCA webmaster, BCA online would be redeveloped before the 2020 AGM to allow this online voting to happen using our own bespoke system, without having to employ the services of an external company.

These changes would reduce bureaucracy and simplify the voting system by removing the two houses. The current system essentially gives the same weight to a vote from a club with five members as it does to a club with 200 members, all of who already have a vote anyway as an individual BCA member (thus it creates duplication of representation). The BCA Chairman raised this very issue at the January Council meeting.

Clubs of course would still have an important role in promoting voting to their members. If there are any motions a club (or regional council or constituent body) feels strongly about, they can encourage their own members to vote accordingly, and thus the number of votes originating through that club/body will be proportional to the number of members it has. These measures will encourage clubs/groups to engage with their members about BCA democratic decisions, something that may be rather lacking at the moment.

This creates a much better, fairer, simpler and more modern-minded democratic system.

These changes are in no way intended to devalue the importance of clubs in British Caving. I am a club caver (through three different clubs, one of which I was involved in founding) and I probably always will be a club-orientated caver. However, to make participation available to more people via online voting, without increasing the bureaucratic burden of the two-house system, these changes are needed.

As this proposal relates to the constitution, it needs to be accepted in both houses (i.e. groups and individuals) with 70% majority and then accepted in a ballot of all members. This will require 70% of groups at the AGM (e.g. Regional Councils, Clubs, Constituent bodies) to essentially vote to abolish their own vote. I hope that groups (and individuals) can support this and see that it is part of the bigger picture for positive change in the way the BCA operates; and that it would go hand in hand with introduction of online voting, which will allow all CIM and DIM members to democratically participate in BCA business. A huge improvement in democracy overall, rather than a reduction.

Conclusions

I hope that these proposals set the BCA in the right direction for the future.

None of these proposals are set in stone yet and they do not need to be submitted until the 13th April deadline. I will be liaising with various people over the coming month or so to get these finalised. However, I wanted to get these ideas out into the public domain now for everyone to start mulling over, and to provide the opportunity for comments/feedback which could help to refine the proposals prior to submission.

I know that this all sounds very fast; these kinds of changes would usually happen much more gradually and after much more consultation within the BCA arena. I apologise if I appear arrogant for presenting such proposals without wider consultation.

I am aware that there are many who will see these proposals as unnecessary. I know some in Council believe that the BCA needs a period of stability rather than change. I do not think I am the right person to provide this. I have heard some suggest that we shouldn’t waste time fussing over the website. I disagree, and the results of the Vision Group questionnaire would support me on this.

Some people may be of the belief that unilateral proposals by individuals direct to Council or AGM has little place in a National Body. Unfortunately, participants for such Committees aren’t queuing up and we must be realistic about the fact that the BCA is a volunteer-led organisation… and people are very busy these days! Embracing the enthusiasm of proactive individuals with a well-considered idea/proposal is essential.

There will also be many BCA members who believe the current two-house voting system is a critical part of the BCA and fear that removing this would undermine the role of clubs in British Caving. I believe that the changes I propose and the importance of clubs in British Caving do not need to be mutually exclusive.

At present, I think I am the only applicant for the Secretary role, meaning I will be appointed by default without a vote. This could end up with me being appointed, but my objectives for change being rejected, which would be a problematic situation that would benefit nobody. I would therefore welcome other applicants from individuals providing an alternative vision or agenda. It would be democracy at its finest to have a proper election! If someone else was elected Secretary, I would do my best to support and assist them (if they wanted me to of course). My standing for the role is borne out of perceived necessity rather than a burning desire to take the position on.

Whatever your opinion, please come to the AGM and have your say. Even if my application and proposals are rejected, but serve to get loads of people along to the AGM and to engage with the BCA then this will be a pleasing achievement. The BCA does amazing things thanks to many dedicated volunteers (many of who are largely unsung) and it deserves more attention and thanks from British cavers than it currently receives.

Thanks everyone (especially if you've had the patience to read this to the end).

Matt Ewles

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: MarkS on March 06, 2019, 10:01:48 pm
As a current member of the BCA council, I couldn't agree more with these comments and would fully support the proposals.

Something I'd been meaning to do was to attempt to quantify the level of bureaucracy in the BCA. A quick scan of the current constitution shows the BCA council itself is made up of between 21 and 29(!) volunteers, and the standing committees nominally involve a further 25 volunteers (excluding co-opted volunteers) That's a total of 46 - 54+ volunteers for BCA to run according to its constitution, excluding people involved in working groups. To a first approximation, that is about 1% of the total membership. Put that way, it suddenly seems obvious why volunteers are hard to come by.

I've know Matt for >10 years. British cavers would be foolish not to make the most of his motivation!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: nearlywhite on March 06, 2019, 11:53:35 pm
There's a lot I agree with you on there Matt.

With regards to the constitution, it is my hope that the Vision group write an entirely new one with all of the policy positions taken out and items regarding procedure moved to the manual of operations. So an interim constitutional change that allows electronic voting is a critical step in actually getting real change down the line. This argument needs advancing on more than just UKC (sorry Jane  :-[) because I think there will be widespread support if you reach people.

I think working groups work well if you find the right person to get volunteers involved and P&I does need a team of people. That said I think you are best off removing all the extra IT and P&I positions on council (Cave Registry, IT, Newsletter Editor, Webmaster, Web Services Officer).

There are plenty others that can be managed under existing groups too:
Crow, Rope-Test Officer,  Insurance Manager, Library Rep, Media-Liaison, Safeguarding, Membership Administrator, Training Administrator.

Many of these are the same people which is why I think things can get a bit confusing.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on March 24, 2019, 11:55:42 am
Hello all

Thanks again for all the support from so many UKC users for my proposals.

Unfortunately, this support has not been widely echoed outside of this forum, particularly within groups who will be voting at the AGM. In several discussions and messages, it has been made clear that proceeding with these proposals will damage the BCA and British caving, and the proposals will be rejected in favour of alternative proposals likely to also be on the table.

It seems that for me to push ahead with the vision and proposals I have outlined above would require me to lead a coup, which is not something I am willing to do, as it would split British caving in half; This really would damage our sport which is the last thing I want to achieve.

It seems that the wish to avoid ‘rocking the boat’ too much is vastly stronger than I anticipated. I am therefore withdrawing my application and will not be progressing any proposals.

I am aware of one other individual who was considering standing for Secretary (and may have done so had I not). I have decided to withdraw before the application deadline (13th April) to provide opportunity for him (or anyone else interested) to come forward with an alternative vision/ agenda, one which is perhaps a little less controversial and more likely to be supported; but hopefully still one which will steer the BCA in the direction of the modernisation it needs.

Sorry to disappoint UKC users here who have been extremely supportive (and have taken the time to read my very long posts). Unfortunately, there is just too much opposition outside of this forum for me to push forward and I have no desire to suffer humiliation at the AGM which now appears inevitable.

Hopefully modernisation can still happen under alternative leadership, albeit more sympathetically, which can gain greater support from all regions.

On a positive note (for me at least) I can now start planning holidays for the next three years of my life that I had essentially ‘written off’ and focus on continuing to work on behalf of northern cavers within the CNCC, who have been extremely supportive.

Hopefully my discussions above will make people more aware of or interested in what is going on within the BCA and will encourage more individuals and clubs to sit up and pay attention to our national body, which can only be a good thing in the long run, regardless of what happens this summer.

Matt Ewles
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Pitlamp on March 24, 2019, 12:48:45 pm
I'm really sad to learn of your decision Matt. You're exactly the sort of sensible statesperson we need.

I can follow your reasoning - and respect your decision. But I would add that there's no "humiliation" in putting well considered suggestions forward, even if others do decide to vote against them.

Now you've recovered some free time, perhaps you'd consider going into proper politics, to sort this Brexit fiasco out. Someone like you would probably do a far better job! 

Or perhaps progress at a certain underground project we were both involved with a while ago will now accelerate? Every cloud . . . .    ;)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on March 24, 2019, 01:13:25 pm
Sad news for us all.  Thanks for at least giving it your consideration.  It appears that any sort of forward thinking progressive modernisation is too much for the BCA old guard.  You'd have to have the strength of Hercules to push back against those negative waves and then some.  Many good people have come and taken a look at BCA and run a mile.  There is still hope that someone else will stand up and lead it out of the dysfunctional shambles that many people perceive it is.

I've thought about the root problems at BCA a lot during my time as CRoW officer and CNCC rep.  The depth of problems and the diverse views within caving seem insurmountable.  I concluded that the only real answer is to establish a new association for the progressive members and groups within caving and leave those who like it the way it is to remain with the current outfit.  That would cause a split of course but it is a feasible answer and, as Matt has found out, the prospects of changing things from within are a very big ask.

Still, the chances of someone setting up an alternative is pretty slim so the modernisers amongst us must just keep trying.

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: droid on March 24, 2019, 01:34:29 pm
Point is, Matt, that if people are discussing your proposals you've sown a seed

The seed might not have germinated yet, but it's there and won't go away. Have patience and there might be movement.

Many people 'of a certain age' don't like change, but if given time will tolerate it.


Good luck.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: GarDouth on March 24, 2019, 03:50:30 pm
This is a shame indeed. I had tried hard to change Matt's mind but have to respect his decision.

My personal view on this is that we have lost probably the only chance the BCA had to modernise. Matt would have been a breath of fresh air to our sport and would have brought with him several equally enthusiastic supporters for change. I was really hoping to have a governing body to be proud of in the coming years.

This has affected me more than I thought it would. I feel disheartened and frustrated by the views of some and find myself thinking more like "what's the point in trying?". No one I have ever spoken to has a good word to say about BCA and I am aware of several clubs and individuals who are no longer going to continue paying to be apart of it. If this happens, the BCA will continue down-hill to a point of no return.

Along with Matt I will also not be perusing my proposal for modernisation of web services and want no further involvement unless things change.

I can only hope that someone else takes up the roll with some new ideas but I fear a continuation of "we're ok as we are" and "we better not upset anyone" approach.

A sad day for caving.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: David Rose on March 24, 2019, 05:52:55 pm
Hold on a sec.

Matt, who are these people who have been arguing against you in the shadows? Are you sure they have any followers? Because an awful lot of cavers read and use this forum, and so far as I can see, there has not been a single voice dissenting from your excellent proposals and general vision. And I haven't come across anyone anywhere else who disagrees with your approach, and doesn't think you becoming secretary would be a hugely positive step.

I don't think we have to split the British caving world. We simply have to win some important debates. And judging by the forum, we have the numbers to do this, comfortably.

Are you certain you won't reconsider? The old guard reactionaries - whoever they are - may be vociferous, and they may have put  pressure on you, but that may be because they realise they're unlikely to prevail - but only if those who support modernisation stand up to them. We've already lost Jane Allen. We can't afford to lose you too! 
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: GarDouth on March 24, 2019, 06:38:29 pm
We simply have to win some important debates. And judging by the forum, we have the numbers to do this, comfortably.

The problem is that it's easy to pass comment on the forum and many people give support - which is great - but how many of the supporters will actually give up a day to turn up the the AGM to vote? Historically a VERY small proportion of UK cavers will turn up to an AGM or meeting so until that changes, nothing in the BCA will change. It's the same people with the same views that turn up to vote so they have no opposition.

EVERY individual member has the option to vote or submit a proposal for change - and it's not too late. If you don't want to get involved personally, check what your club is planning to vote for or against and make sure someone is going to represent your views.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: PeteHall on March 24, 2019, 08:57:13 pm
Many people 'of a certain age' don't like change, but if given time will tolerate it.

From the grave perhaps...

I feel like many problems in British caving will be resolved as one generation dies off and another steps forward.

Just got to hope they don't kill off too much with them, or that the next generation doesn't fall into the same trap as they age...

Matt, you may be voted down if you stand, but if you don't stand, you've let them win without even having to fight it. I can't say I blame you at all, but I would urge you to reconsider. If they vote you down, so what, you've got your holidays back, at least it will be on the record that you tried.

If on the other hand, enough people turn up and support you... You'll be busy, so forget the holidays!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Ian P on March 24, 2019, 09:25:56 pm
Matt

I have never been to a BCA AGM and never had a desire to go to one.

However this one I was going to attend and give my support in person.

Obviously the choice is yours and I understand your reluctance to proceed.

Enjoy those holidays  :)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: blackshiver on March 24, 2019, 09:50:28 pm
A sad day for caving indeed; when I find two very well respected and highly proactive caver's, declining to get involved with the BCA - especially when one uses the words "I have no desire to suffer humiliation at the AGM which now seems inevitable".
I also read that the Jane Allen, used the words "humiliated, embarrassed and chastised" to describe her feelings prior to her resignation last year (detailed in full in the Jan 2019 BCA newsletter).
This sad state of affairs regarding the feelings of three highly progressive and selfless individuals cannot be acceptable, given that we (as general caver's) have to rely on the good nature of new volunteers to drive the BCA day to day.
In order to (hopefully) make Matt and Gary feel a little better about their combined decision - I would like to point out here - that at Euro-speleo I took time to personally introduce Matt and Garry to two of Caving's God's (The Brooks) whom I have known since I was a child. I naively thought this would give them an "uplift" in terms of their exploration and digging exploits. What happened was quite the reverse - with Dave and Alan enthusiastically thanking Matt and Gary for their selfless work in bringing positive and very well accepted change to the CNCC and, quite to the contrary - being highly delighted to meet them!
As a guy rapidly approaching 60 and having caved since the age of 14 I just got back from Wales having spent over a week caving with 20 students - there is no more sobering experience as to a generation gap than that. When we find people like Matt, Gary and Jane having to step aside from the BCA what on earth are the (really) young people, who are the future lifeblood of our lifelong love of caving going to think of our National Body.
Myself, I'm just a Moldywarp and am therefore inherently not "political", have no axes to grind and alway's try to be positive when I post on UK Caving - so I'll end on a positive note.
With the weight off Matt's mind I look forward to an excellent presentation on the North York Moors at Sam's Northern Explorers Forum!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kay on March 25, 2019, 07:45:08 am
Matt

I have never been to a BCA AGM and never had a desire to go to one.

However this one I was going to attend and give my support in person.


I went to one, and lost heart after 2-3 hours. An hour or so later everyone piled out, and I thought it had finished - but, no, it was just the lunch break. I've not been to one since. But I was going to go to this one. And I still am - even though I won't have the opportunity to support Matt's secretaryship, perhaps there will be chance to comment or to vote and suggest that not everyone is in favour of "business as normal".

This year it's in the north - how about a big turn out of northern cavers to do what we can to ensure that our concerns are brought to the attention of the meeting?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: TheBitterEnd on March 25, 2019, 11:40:12 am
Really sorry to hear that you won't be standing Matt but I understand your position.

Still, the chances of someone setting up an alternative is pretty slim so the modernisers amongst us must just keep trying.

I would guess that this idea has probably occurred to a few people but I’m going to say it out-loud

N(orthern)Exit? (I know, I know  ;) )

But seriously, the CNCC has been doing a great job in recent years and the BCA, for all the talk of National Bodies, etc. has had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards representing the views of cavers nationwide and is, it seems, still fighting against that. So why not make the CNCC the main voice for progressive cavers? I realise this is not a trivial suggestion, for most people the main role of the BCA is to provide insurance cover so it would mean the CNCC having to take on the role of organising that cover and collecting subscriptions etc. It might also need changes relating to representation etc. (just as the BCA does) but that could be further down-the-road. I wonder if clubs would be prepared to chip-in out of any cash reserves they may have, or a club subcription levy, to kick-start something like this? (knowing cavers, probably not, but you never know unless you ask).
 
I know this suggestion represents a split and that is often not a good thing but giving people a choice and getting them to vote with their wallets is the strongest possible mandate for change.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: CatM on March 25, 2019, 12:10:56 pm
Matt

I have never been to a BCA AGM and never had a desire to go to one.

However this one I was going to attend and give my support in person.

Obviously the choice is yours and I understand your reluctance to proceed.

Enjoy those holidays  :)
Exactly this.
I do hope you'll reconsider, Matt.

Sent from my Moto G (5) using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on March 25, 2019, 12:13:17 pm
I would also point out that disapproval is often much noisier than approval. At the CNCC AGM where proposals were suggested, there appeared to be quite a bit of disapproval about elements of them, but when it came to a vote it was 11-2 in favour (if I remember correctly) which is a landslide.

If all the Northern clubs that turned up to the CNCC AGM turned up to the BCA AGM I would be very surprised if they didn't hold a majority in the House of Groups (and quite possibly in the House of Individuals as well via their representatives).
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: PeteHall on March 25, 2019, 02:15:20 pm
Can someone remind me why the NCA became the BCA.

As I understand it (bearing in mind that this is before my time), there were various insurmountable constitutional issues in the NCA and the easiest solution was to dispand it and reform as the BCA.

Assuming I haven't completely missed the point, could a similar thing happen again, with sufficient will power?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: not_a_climber on March 25, 2019, 02:26:41 pm
Matt and Gary - it's a great shame that you both won't be joining the BCA council, I was really looking forward to the addition of a few more people under the age of 50. I understand the reasons Matt has given for retracting his nomination but I'll echo the comments of others on here that if you don't put up a fight then you've no chance of winning at all. 'Modernisation' as everyone is calling it will come to the BCA - there is no way of stopping it (not that anyone would want to ;D). The inclusion of fresh voices in council and on sub-committees will simply speed up the process and get us where we need to be faster and more easily.

To this end, I'll be putting myself forward for the position of Conservation and Access Officer at this year's AGM, to continue the fantastic work that Andrew Hinde and the C&A committee have been doing for the last three years. If anyone is interested you can read my letter of nomination below - and I hope that those who've said they're attending the AGM will consider voting for me!

For the attention of the BCA council and wider membership,

My name is Louise, I’m a caver with SUSS and the BPC and currently sit on BCA council as a Direct Individual Member representative. I would like to put myself forward to fill the role of Conservation & Access Officer at the AGM in June.

One quarter of university club cavers stated that access rights and campaigns are an important part of the work of the BCA, in a questionnaire carried out at the 2018 CHECC forum. I’m proud of that figure; it shows that the work that the Conservation and Access team do is noticed and appreciated by the membership. This strong belief in responsible access by the future of British caving is one I share, and one I want to champion for all BCA members as Conservation & Access Officer.

I work as a ranger in the Peak District, in an area that is partly owned by the Peak District National Park Authority, Severn Trent Water and Sheffield City Council. This area is divided into an overlapping patchwork of open access and private land, SSSI and Scheduled Ancient Monuments, containing a network of permissive paths, public footpath, concessionary and public bridleways and byways. We host 3 different farming tenants, attract climbers to the gritstone edges, wild swimmers to the reservoirs, and fell runners and dog walkers alike to the open moorlands.

Working in such a complex landscape has introduced me to the intricacies of working with land owners, managers, farmers and user groups in many different forms to sustainably manage access. This juggling act is something I believe can readily be applied to British caving and the C&A role. I will represent British cavers and champion our access rights at a policy level, to ensure our future access is not a freedom we must fight for but a right we are entitled to in law through the recognition of caving as an activity in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 as well as in other legislation.

Alongside this I will continue the work that the C&A committee does to promote conservation conscious caving and ensure that the delicate nature of our caves and mines are maintained for future generations.

At a recent meeting of the Sport and Recreation Alliance which I attended on behalf of the BCA C&A committee, it was clear that we all have common aims; to increase sustainable access for the continued pursuit of the sports we love. Through taking part in the wider discussion of recreational access, the BCA can fit into this bigger picture and add our voice and our support to the community of sports to which we belong, as well as receive support from them when we need it.

I will happily represent the BCA at this level to show these other organisations that the BCA is looking to the future and is ready to work together, putting on a fresh new face to represent our long term interests.

The role of the BCA Conservation & Access Officer and committee is only part of the picture; regional councils, clubs and individual cavers are all a vital part of the access to and conservation of Britain’s underground places. We all need to work together for sustainable access and I look forward to working with you all over the next three years.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Mike Hopley on March 25, 2019, 02:43:49 pm
I'm hugely impressed by all of Matt's posts here. He has great ideas and a cooperative, positive, and respectful attitude. He has a track record of being effective in the CNCC.

While I'm really an outsider to caving politics, I can't help despairing at the apparent mothballed state of the BCA, and Matt seems like the ideal person to effect positive change. I feel this is a huge missed opportunity for British Caving. :(
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Ian Ball on March 25, 2019, 04:22:50 pm
That is a disappointment, I do hope there will be an alternative candidate for the Old Guard to make feel humiliated  :doubt:

Who are this old guard?  All the people I've had dealings with in the BCA have been most helpful and welcoming.  I must have managed to steer clear of this old guard.

Good luck not_a_climber.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: alastairgott on March 25, 2019, 08:26:45 pm
Who are this old guard?

My thoughts exactly, who are they, and what vision do they have for the BCA?

Perhaps a middle ground can be sought which is not as radical as proposal 4 (assuming this is where the friction is causing the old guard to squeal with Chinese burns) https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=24666.msg307058#msg307058

I thought i'd briefly take a look at a few other societies and organisations, the RYA have an interesting take on a one house system for both clubs and individuals:
"25.3  Subject to Article 25.4, on a poll at a general meeting, and on a ballot for the election of Nominated Directors (a) each individual Member has one vote; and (b) each organisation Member has one vote for each complete £100 of the amount of the affiliation fee which became due and which was paid by it to the Association in the twelve months preceding the date of the notice convening the meeting. "
https://www.rya.org.uk/about-us/governance/constitution/Pages/articles-of-association.aspx

This would still make the bigger clubs more powerful, but wouldn't stop a mass movement of individual members.

You could apply the rule directly (ie total paid directly to the BCA, eg £700 gives 7 votes*), or you could just harness some of the brackets of membership which already exist within the BCA.
 I would say that a one house system based on the "number of members" cost basis could provide a fair representation.
http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=membership:club

Increments of £25 could be used. with the amount being rounded up.
Thereby:
No. of Members     BCA Fee      Number of Votes
up to 10               £25             1
11-20                  £35             2
21-30                  £50             2
31-40                  £60             3
41+                     £70            3

This would take into account that sometimes clubs are not always run by the masses, and sometimes do not have to consult their members on BCA matters.

*but producing a direct translation of the £100 rule would skew towards a club which had a lot of CIMS, clubs which encouraged DIMS or had a large proportion of DIMS would loose out.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: alastairgott on March 25, 2019, 09:11:18 pm
and a direct translation of the £100 rule would also skew out of favor of clubs with large numbers of student or youth members.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: NewStuff on March 25, 2019, 09:12:37 pm
Shenanigans like this are exactly why we declined to renew (read as - fucked off) membership with the BCA, and now actively want fuck all to do with it until it changes. We will not be associated with a "governing body" that lets a small minority dictate against the wishes of the far larger masses. Here you have motivated people, actively volunteeing to do work and get stuff done. They have skill and experience in the relevant area they are volunterring for. Any other body would be overjoyed, not resentful and oust them. The idiots behind this cant seem to fathom that by "sticking with tradition", they're killing the very thing they claim to revere the most.

For anyone wondering - Not being a BCA member is *very* liberating. We can say what we want, when we want, go where we want, and the old farts can't do a bloody thing about it.  :icon_321:

Burn it down - it's not fit for purpose. Start afresh. We'll be happy to join a progressive body.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: ZombieCake on March 25, 2019, 11:09:02 pm
I'm not very good at politics, but here goes.  I've very nearly ditched caving a few times 'cos of various politics.  What would be nice is to tell us people who aren't in the inner illuminati circle what the BCA does apart from insurance, because I genuinely don't know, I just get a green bit of plastic each year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYQTL-ws6p4
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on March 25, 2019, 11:20:38 pm
Is there a list of Council Members and other Officers on the BCA website. I'd like to see the names of those supposedly representing us?

I don't know Matt, but from what I've read here he seems an ideal candidate. I hope that he reconsiders. I've never attended any sort of BCA meeting, but I'd attend the AGM to support and vote for him.

As for another representative body. I think the BCA would lose members in droves if another body offered Public Liability Insurance. Personally, I can't see why anyone would join the BCA for any other reason.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: 2xw on March 25, 2019, 11:22:44 pm
You'll find a list of council members here:

http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=about:contact_bca

My name is there - I'd like to think I do reasonably good work.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: alastairgott on March 25, 2019, 11:44:59 pm
Is there a list of Council Members and other Officers on the BCA website. I'd like to see the names of those supposedly representing us?

Or the most recent minutes are available here http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=about:documents:council_meetings:start (http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=about:documents:council_meetings:start)

They also show a list of names on the January 2019 draft. My name is nort there.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: droid on March 26, 2019, 11:46:33 am
As for another representative body. I think the BCA would lose members in droves if another body offered Public Liability Insurance. Personally, I can't see why anyone would join the BCA for any other reason.

I said in a previous thread (I'd  search it out, but being a bit of a gobshite.....life's too short....) that the main reason most people have *anything* to do with BCA is the insurance.

I was comprehensively shot down in flames. Mainly (if memory serves) by an individual who is now seriously disillusioned with BCA....

These shenanigans, and the absolute farce over CRoW and the Constitution have done little to change my opinion.


Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Pegasus on March 26, 2019, 12:14:50 pm
What would be nice is to tell us people who aren't in the inner illuminati circle what the BCA does apart from insurance, because I genuinely don't know, I just get a green bit of plastic each year.


Just back from holiday and catching up...

Remember this? 

(https://media.ukcaving.com/wl/?id=M0STou38YR9vrWOyCdJw2IXMLz06qbMN)

During my time with BCA I designed (with help) this advert for publication in Descent - because 50% of the previous ones were about disease  :o  The new advert gives a more positive message.  I showed the above at the start of my report at the last, ill fated (for me personally) BCA meeting - it was met with stony silence, I knew then it was going to be all down hill from there.  I had actually been excited to show what I'd been up to since the last meeting only to have procedure thrown in my face  >:(

The advert isn't perfect, however is better than what went before.  Who's going to improve it for the next issue of Descent I wonder or will the above appear again and again?

It is a terrible shame, Matt has decided not to run for Secretary and I hope whoever has put him off thinks long and hard about what they have done.

Like it or not, BCA needs to modernise.  If you are standing in the way of this, please tell us why - what was so wrong about Matt's ideas??

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on March 26, 2019, 03:52:30 pm
Yesterday was rather a dramatic and busy day for me; I was contacted by email, PM on here, Whatsapp, text message and spent two hours on the phone last night, all with/from people trying to urge me to reconsider my choice to step aside. This is in addition to the posts above. The contact came also from several existing members of BCA Council.

I have been staggered by the enthusiasm for change; it has exceeded my expectations.

It seems that I have made a mistake. During my holiday last week, the ‘final straw’ for me was a very disappointing discussion with one existing and highly respected (by me and many others) member of BCA council. This played on my mind during my holiday and it really got to me; not least because this person is someone I respect immensely, and had not expected to be so opposed to the fairly radical modernisation I wish to see happen.

One of the biggest concerns I keep hearing is how bad it will be if key BCA individuals, who currently do a large amount of the work, are upset by these proposals and leave. I have heard it described as a potential disaster waiting to happen. I am certainly not here to upset anyone or cause any disasters.

It seems that more people support a modernising agenda than I had expected. I have been made aware in the last few days of numerous clubs and individuals who were going to turn up to the BCA AGM specifically to vote in favour of BCA modernisation; and some younger BCA council members who were considering stepping aside had this not happened. I have also had a long discussion by phone with an alternative modernising BCA Secretary candidate who was willing to take on the role, albeit reluctantly. He has been rather persuasive on me to step back into the arena.

Therefore, after some reflection, I am back, to stand as Secretary and to see my proposals to fruition.

This time, I go forward with confidence of a good show of support for my proposals, not only from UK Caving users (who have been nothing but supportive) but also from many individuals and clubs who I have heard over the past few days are going to be voting at the BCA AGM in June.

I also take on board Pitlamp’s characteristically very diplomatic and commonsense comment that there is no humiliation in putting forward well considered proposals that get rejected.

I am also encouraged to know that I will be joined on BCA Council by several other very progressive thinkers, who have voiced support not only for the vision I have personally presented, but beyond that. Thank you to Louise for putting yourself forward and publishing your statement here; I’m looking forward to working with you.

So apologies all for my ‘wobble’ and allowing a small handful of people to rattle my cage. It is clear that the time is now for cavers to rekindle their interest in our National Body and move it forwards out of the rut it is currently in, ideally with support from as many cavers as possible, young and old, newcomers as well as BCA stalwarts. 

Even if you feel that this is “too much too fast” I’d urge you to see the opportunity here and respect that many people do want to see change. People DO want a better website, greater opportunities to participate electronically, and a national body that can be proud of and perceive as being more than just an insurance broker (which of course it is, as Pegasus has shown). Younger cavers are discussing our National Body more than any time I can remember. The BCA must embrace this, and I urge that all those with reservations about what changes may lay ahead to try to overcome these and work with the modernisers rather than against them.

It’s also worth saying that the term ‘old guard’ used here by some people can be interpreted different ways. It is easy to interpret this as a bunch of people who have held various roles for a long time and who are keen to keep control, and to view these people in the wrong light or talk about them disrespectfully, or to make assumptions about their motives. The term was used in this way five years ago to describe the then incumbent CNCC Officers. I see the term more as meaning individuals who have given up huge amounts of their free time to work in the interests of British Caving, and whose efforts should be acknowledged, and praised, regardless of whether you agree with their approaches. Mutual respect is needed if we are to move forward... but move forward we must!

I want the upcoming AGM to be about progress and positivity, not about personality clashes or regional disagreements. I hope to see lots of you (including individuals and club reps) there in June.

Matt Ewles
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Ian Ball on March 26, 2019, 05:02:23 pm
Good for you :-)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: rcfindlay on March 26, 2019, 05:31:37 pm
Hope has been restored! Really great to hear you have changed your mind Matt.

We will miss you on all those holidays though..  ;)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Pegasus on March 26, 2019, 05:35:08 pm
Phew, thank goodness for that. Looking forward to voting for you, Matt :)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: christine on March 26, 2019, 05:41:50 pm
You have just saved yourself some harassment from me then  :halo:

I was about to message you and try to get you to reconsider. I'm glad you have. That alone is refreshing that you're not so stubborn as to not be able to change your mind on something - a quality among many others that I suspect makes you the obvious choice for the job.

You have my 100% support.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: ahinde on March 26, 2019, 06:05:57 pm
Well done Matt. I realise how difficult it can be to "get back in the saddle" when you have been brought down by  caving colleagues that you have always respected. It must be a bitter and deflating experience to see one's loyalty abused the way you have. It is a very brave decision that I am sure you will not regret. I will be encouraging support for you and your proposals at the AGM. Radical change can be distressing for some people ,but change will come. As I prepare to stand down from BCA I feel confident that the cavers coming forward to take on officer roles at BCA are of outstanding quality and will quickly earn the trust and support of the membership through their actions. I appreciate Matt's reconciliatory tone which I hope will not be abused.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: blackshiver on March 26, 2019, 06:33:53 pm
Good Grief - a very sensible turnaround.

I don't think there is going to be enough parking space given the AGM is in Horton on the 9th of June.

Anyone wishing to do Sell Gill that Sunday might need to walk from Ingleton.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: GT on March 26, 2019, 06:44:13 pm
:) Good man....
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Pitlamp on March 26, 2019, 07:19:51 pm
Your most recent post above is cracking news Matt - I'm delighted.
Best of luck.   :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: GarDouth on March 26, 2019, 07:56:22 pm
Nowt like a good political u-turn (just kidding). I told you that you had lots of support.

Of course you have my full support and I will also continue with my roll in your proposals as required.

This does seem to be an odd thing to be typing as Matt is currently sat three feet away from me but we now only talk via the medium of UKC  :lol:
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on March 26, 2019, 10:03:26 pm
I'm glad that you've reconsidered your position Matt. I'm sure the BCA and all its members will benefit from your enthusiastic involvement.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Tseralo on March 26, 2019, 10:33:13 pm
I will happily try and drag as many TSG members up to vote as I can.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andys on March 27, 2019, 07:24:36 am
Great news - just what the caving world needs just now. Can I also ask if you'd also consider taking on Brexit?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on March 27, 2019, 07:29:16 am
Having looked at the calendar, I've found that the wife is away over the BCA AGM weekend. This means that I'll be looking after our Spaniel. I want to attend the AGM and support Matt. Can anyone tell me if dogs will be allowed in the AGM/Village Hall? Otherwise I might have to mooch around outside and just go in for the voting.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kay on March 27, 2019, 08:12:20 am

I want the upcoming AGM to be about progress and positivity, not about personality clashes or regional disagreements.


This above all is why I believe Matt is the person for the job - his ability to bring together people with radically different views and opinions and unite them in a common purpose.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: MJenkinson on March 27, 2019, 08:46:28 am
So when voting for new position is it based on a club vote ( 1 per club rep) or is it individual votes for all BCA members? Not that au fait with all this business.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andys on March 27, 2019, 09:06:06 am
So when voting for new position is it based on a club vote ( 1 per club rep) or is it individual votes for all BCA members? Not that au fait with all this business.

And therein lies part of the problem - the current voting system has to be one of the prime candidates for the very first phase of any reform of BCA (imho!)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on March 27, 2019, 09:17:29 am
Worth noting that if Matt is the only applicant for the post of secretary (by the deadline of 13th April) he will automatically take up the role without a vote.  I suspect he would be wise to ask for a vote of support at the AGM for his declared modernising agenda so that it is clear that this is what the voting membership have asked for.  It will help enormously in the weeks and years to come.

Otherwise the BCA has two voting houses - the house of individuals and the house of groups/clubs.  For most things to pass you need to get a straight 50% in each house. 50% of voting individuals and 50% of voting clubs/groups.  This is of those who attend the AGM and have either their BCA membership card to vote as an individual or a letter of authority to vote for their club/group.

For a constitutional change, a motion must reach 70% in both houses of those eligible to vote at the AGM.  If it passes that it must then go to a second vote of the entire membership, both houses, where it needs to achieve 70% again.  This can be done by a combination of postal voting and email voting.

What could be simpler :-\
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: ali_mac on March 27, 2019, 01:39:03 pm
I'm not new to caving, but new to all this BCA stuff.

Do I understand correctly... that to vote for Matt, I would need to be in the meeting, in person, at the time... and have a personal membership...
And if the club I am in wanted to vote for Matt, they would need to send a member, with a written letter , in person too?

Thanks,

Ali.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: GarDouth on March 27, 2019, 01:42:27 pm
Do I understand correctly... that to vote for Matt, I would need to be in the meeting, in person, at the time... and have a personal membership...
And if the club I am in wanted to vote for Matt, they would need to send a member, with a written letter , in person too?

Correct Ali. If Matt is the only candidate there will be no vote for him as such but his proposals will need a vote.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on March 27, 2019, 03:01:50 pm
Can a Individual Member apoint someone present at the AGM to vote on their behalf/by proxy?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: 2xw on March 27, 2019, 03:41:51 pm
I want to note that I am a direct individual member of council (that's someone who votes but isn't an officer), and I have been trying to get electronic voting for the BCA now for two years (!). I really very much welcome Matt's proposals and fully support him!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on March 27, 2019, 03:43:01 pm
Hi Madness; Proxy voting was proposed a few years ago but rejected.

However, if my fourth proposal (to amend voting to individuals only and introduce online voting) is accepted then of course it will mean that all individual members will be able to vote on AGM proposals via an online vote conducted after the meeting ;D

It is likely that I will be the only Secretary candidate (unless someone plans to jump in last minute... that would be exciting) so Gary is correct that I would be appointed without a vote if no other candidate is available. Tim's idea for me to get a broad vote of support for a modernising agenda is a good one and one that I shall consider requesting.

My proposals (and any other proposals anyone else puts forward) will be voted upon at the meeting and will need to pass in both houses (Individuals and Groups).

Perhaps the most challenging will be the constitutional amendments to change the future AGM voting system, as this will require 70% support rather than the usual >50% support as it affects the constitution. This motion will require groups to support removal of their own vote in future, so will be particularly challenging and maybe a hard-sell. Most of the groups I have spoken with so far have understood why this is a good idea (and that it represents an increase in democracy rather than a decrease) but a few have raised concerns.

This proposal would also introduce online voting for the 2020 AGM.

For my proposal about changing voting to get through, a strong turnout of supportive groups (i.e. clubs) will be required, as getting this through the House of Groups will be the biggest challenge. Currently I am working to get these constitutional amendments finalised and watertight in time for the 13th April submission deadline. Once these are in, I will start campaigning to gain support for them, and to address any concerns groups (or individuals) may have with this proposed way forward. I know the CNCC will be supporting this proposal, and there was good support from all but two northern clubs at our recent AGM; I've yet to get any tests of the water in other regions.

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on March 27, 2019, 04:06:02 pm
I am fully in support of Matt's nomination as BCA Secretary.  I reckon he will do an ace job and having a volunteer to step up to offer to do the job is a real plus.

My only worry is that we already have a working group, appointed at the 2018 AGM, i.e. only 9 months ago, and called the "Vision and Constitution Working Party", headed by Hellie Adams. This was tasked with looking at the best way forward for BCA, given that we are all aware that the present situation is not good and that we need to make some changes.  It would seem sensible to give this group a chance to finish its work and report back to the AGM, rather than jump the gun and try to pre-empt its work.  The changes Matt is suggesting should surely be part of the input to this existing working group; not least because changes suggested by others may conflict with the ideas he is putting forward.

Don't forget that we also have a Youth and Development Working Group, headed by Rostam Namaghi, which is looking at how BCA works and may well itself suggest changes.

There really is a will to change and improve the way BCA operates - it certainly needs it - but past experience of attempting to modernise both NCA and BCA shows that it's no good trying to blast things through in a rush.  This isn't "kicking the can down the road" - you need to ensure that everyone understands what is proposed and, as far as is possible, is on board so that you don't meet resistance to the proposed changes.

We have come an immense distance in the 50 years since the very early days of NCA, when AGMs and Council Meetings were limited to regional council and constituent body reps. only and we were bedevilled by the constant threat of VETO.  Even club membership was anathema to some hardliners then!  Along with others, I fought long and hard, against determined opposition, to achieve club membership of NCA and was delighted when BCA came into existence and we finally achieved individual membership.  BCA needs to continue to evolve and part of this is encouraging its individual members to take more interest in their own national body - how best to achieve this level of support is not clear but we have to work at it.

I'm sure having a secretary, like Matt, who is determined to ensure that change and progress do take place, will benefit us immensely and I'd welcome his election.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: JoW on March 27, 2019, 06:01:27 pm
Jenny - fear not, Matt's suggestions are also being discussed and in a number of cases backed by the vision group, which Rostam is also a member of too.

The vision group so far have been generally well aligned in what they would like to see change, and realise that such things will take time, and proper consideration to implement.

I feel that having Matt has secretary would be a big help in allowing BCA to make the changes it needs to progress, in the short term and with the longer term 'vision' as well
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on March 27, 2019, 07:49:17 pm
Jenny, I think the key to achieving the involvement of Individual Members is to bring in a voting system that means they don't have to travel miles and miles to vote. I believe an online voting system is part of Matts proposals.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: 2xw on March 27, 2019, 11:20:16 pm
Jenny, I think the key to achieving the involvement of Individual Members is to bring in a voting system that means they don't have to travel miles and miles to vote. I believe an online voting system is part of Matts proposals.

Two years I've been trying. Two bloody years! 1/13th of my entire fucking life!

 :wall: :furious: :wall: :furious: :wall: :furious:
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on March 28, 2019, 08:47:36 am
Jenny, thanks for your comments and your supportive words.

Certainly the Vision Group is likely to help bring about positive change in the BCA. I attended the first meeting of the group last month, and it was a very positive meeting indeed with lots of passionate and dedicated individuals, young and old, and of all levels of experience in the BCA.

However, I think there is some frustration that people are looking to the Vision Group to deliver every change that the BCA needs, and that until they have completed their process, we must stand still and hold fire on anything else.

My understanding is that the original aim of the Vision Group was to look into the long term future of the BCA and how it can adapt to fulfil its aims and meet the needs of cavers, not just now, but in future years. Matters such as ‘should we redevelop the website’ and ‘should we get a new logo’ are not what the Vision Group was set up to discuss or address, and I suspect in fact that my proposals about changing the voting system and introducing online voting are below the ‘higher level vision’ which the Vision Group should be considering. Online voting, of course, has already been agreed by BCA Council and Will has done a great job at driving enthusiasm for this and looking into ways that this can be achieved. Simply changing who can vote at an AGM is maybe not so visionary, but more procedural to drive engagement, improve democracy and also to make online voting easier to implement.

The kinds of changes the Vision Group are likely to be looking at may make my proposals look rather lightweight, and may include full reassessment of the BCA’s membership system and a full overhaul of the constitution, not just a few tweaks here and there, to ensure the BCA remains a modern and fit for purpose organisation for the future.

Therefore, I think the Vision Group is a great thing, but I’m not convinced about holding off on my proposals for 2019 as they are relatively small on the scale of what the Vision Group will be aiming to accomplish, and I think they align well as groundwork for what the Vision Group will say.

Furthermore, the Vision Group are not due to report until the 2020 AGM; and of course that may end up only being a report; it may be another year before constitutional amendments to enact that vision are able to be put forward (and then more time after that to enact these). The changes I am proposing don’t need to wait that long.

I do worry that if we don’t strike now with some modernising changes, and take advantage of the enthusiasm being demonstrated now, we risk losing the momentum.

I have not had any official statement of endorsement for my proposals from the Vision Group (they are of course a Working Group, so a non-voting entity), so I can’t say for sure whether they support what I am putting forward; they are certainly aware, and as JoW has mentioned above, gut feeling is that there is positivity for them. If the Vision Group felt that my proposals were treading on their toes and going contrary to the direction they were considering taking, I would certainly consider redacting or amending the offending proposal.

So in conclusion, I share Jenny’s enthusiasm to see what the Vision Group says; it will likely drive the longer term direction of the BCA, but I don’t agree that the Vision Group should be a reason to stall on the relatively simple changes I am putting forward, which could make a big difference now.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on March 28, 2019, 09:12:38 am
The motion passed on vision and reform at last years AGM was as follows;

“This AGM instructs council to establish a ‘working group’ to determine a new mission and vision for the organisation.  To outline a strategy to achieve this vision and make recommendations for any changes to the organisations structure and constitution.  The group should be made up of a majority of younger cavers from the constituent bodies, regions and membership under an established convener agreed by council.  The group should aim to be established within six months (by the January council meeting) and should report on recommendations to the 2020 AGM.”

A vision for BCA could be as simple as "we want to be the organisation that every caver wants to join".  A slightly longer mission would outline what we do and the vision and reform group would recommend any changes to the constitution which make achieving the vision and mission easier.  If anyone wants to learn more about vision and mission for organisations such as ours the Sports & Recreation Alliance offered a webinar on the subject last year.  It is a bit slow to get going but it does demonstrate the basic principles.  See here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0CdgEk2Q3Y&feature=youtu.be

I fully echo Matt's thoughts above.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on March 28, 2019, 09:27:50 am
On the matter of electronic voting last year's AGM also passed the following motion;

“The BCA to investigate a process of electronic voting on motions and nominations properly presented to the Annual General Meetings.  This process to be founded upon that used for the 2017 ballot but with greater use of professional help.  The process, and any constitutional changes required to implement it, to be presented to the 2019 AGM with a view to full implementation at the 2020 AGM.”

Will Burns took this on and tabled a report to last October's council meeting where it was deferred without discussion.  Hopefully we will hear some more about it at the next council meeting in a few weeks time.  In any case I expect there will be a further push to ensure this is acted upon at the BCA AGM in June.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: GarDouth on March 28, 2019, 12:18:51 pm
Online voting is not a problem at all. There is nothing complex about doing this and I don't know why people seem to think it is. I have built systems like that all my working career without any trouble (or significant cost). The complexity is bureaucracy, not technology.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Canary on March 28, 2019, 02:05:09 pm
I don't have any major objection to online voting for the BCA as the organisation doesn't hold any real power.

For everything else online voting  is a really bad idea:

- Computer are a black box that spits out a number, how do you audit the software and hardware so that everyone can trust the result
- Compared to ballot or vote in person, it is relatively easy to scale up attacks.
- Ensuring anonymity is harder.

There is a reason national elections are still done with pencil, paper and manual counting.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Chocolate fireguard on March 28, 2019, 02:30:57 pm
Ideally, decisions should be made by people who have spent a long time thinking about what might happen thereafter.

Nothing is perfect of course, and the law of unintended consequences will always mess things up to some extent, but allowing more people to take part in the decision-making process can only be a good idea if these people can be relied upon to do the thinking (Why are things this way? I may not like it but is there a good reason? What will happen if things get changed? Do I know enough to have an opinion that’s worth expressing? Could I put forward a reasoned argument to persuade people that I am right?).

I know things are not good now – I clicked the link provided by Alastair and read the whole of the minutes of the last meeting. Even reading a dry set of minutes on a screen, the slow grind of bureaucracy with a background of teddies, rattles, teething rings etc hitting the floor came through all too well. I am not surprised that Pegasus found the experience uncomfortable. I would have walked out.

Modernisation, in the sense of getting more dedicated younger people involved is essential and thankfully it seems to be happening, but it is not true that everybody over the age of 50 is moribund. Many of the older people present at that meeting will still have a lot of positive things to contribute. And experience should not be written off without good reason.
Letting every BCA member vote with the click of a button would not be a good idea (although describing it as “modernising” and “more democratic” makes it sound superficially attractive). Even postal voting  (I know it’s too expensive) at least filters out those who care so little that they can’t even be bothered to post a letter.

The idea of taking the decision-making process away from a group of people who are perhaps not well respected but best able to come to a reasoned conclusion, and farming it out to others who can’t be guaranteed to put the same amount of thought into it (but can express an opinion without any real commitment of time or trouble) was trialed for us a while ago by a chap called Cameron. The final verdict is not in yet, but early indications are that it has not gone as smoothly as was hoped.

I know all this sounds negative and old fashioned. Perhaps I should have pressed “Post” at the end of the first sentence then nobody could object.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: 2xw on March 28, 2019, 03:03:46 pm
 Some things I can address after my last report to council about electronic voting:

1. I don't have any concerns about people trying to attack an electronic ballot. If anybody is passionate enough to do that they need recruiting to council anyways, and there is much else labour intensive ways of influencing the direction of the BCA than botnetting votes/faking BCA membership numbers etc. You could have more influence by just turning up to an AGM or running for an officer position (there are plenty unopposed!)

2. It's not going to be a fire and forget vote. In my ideal world, you'll log in to BCA Online and have access to the AGM minutes (perhaps summaries or even recorded as a video :o ) you can then vote on a number of motions. The experienced people who do be thinking will be the ones proposing the motions, and undertaking normal business in council meetings etc. Electronic voting, as I envisage it, will fulfil exactly the same function as an AGM, but you don't have to drive 400 miles to be bored to death.


The problem is not that people aren't thinking about decisions. The problem is that the current structure of the BCA allows motivated individuals and small cabals to waste enormous amounts of everyone's time (and members money!) with constitutional minutiae and spurious tripe.

If you value the time of council members at £7 an hour then the CRoW debacle, which was held up and filibustered by a vanishingly small %age of the membership would run to a cost of tens of thousands of pounds. Electronic voting would have solved this... If just 3% of the membership had voted then it wouldn't have taken as long.

To be a modern, useful, efficient organisation, we need the membership to be involved with the bca. But being involved with the BCA is shit. Imagine "a tale of two cities" as an audiobook slowed down to x0.1 and that's what it's like. I'm worried I might have some sort of brain death in the middle of a 7 hour meeting and nobody would notice. So we need to make it easier than travelling to sit in a 7 hour meeting just so you can put your hand in the air a few times, and electronic voting is one of those ways.

It can be better!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on March 28, 2019, 03:13:28 pm
Ideally, decisions should be made by people who have spent a long time thinking about what might happen thereafter.

The current AGM model is a wonderful demonstration of poorly-considered off-the-cuff decision-making and all that entails. In an ideal world, as practiced by most larger bodies, all the politics (and in many cases the voting) is done well before the AGM so that by the time you get to the AGM everyone has had a change to at least have a think about it. Sadly, this is not (currently) how the BCA AGM 'operates' (using operates in the loosest sense of the word)...

Most of the BCA AGMs I've been to have been an absolute cluster of motions and amendments. If I got a pound for every time someone asks 'could you read it out again so we know what we are voting for' after the second or third amendment I'd probably pay for my petrol to the next BCA AGM. These amendments are generally taken from the floor and accepted by the proposer without debate or a vote so the final motion you vote on bears little resemblance to what was published in advance. One year there was a tangled mess of amendments introduced at the start of the AGM which bore little resemblance to what was published in advance. These were of course again amended on the basis of one or two people making a comment, and the proposer of the motion accepting the amendment without debate or a vote.

Personally, I think having a bit of time after the AGM to actually vote on all these things (and at least have a chance to complain about the wording even if it's too late to change it) would be a massive improvement.

I think the BCA AGM needs significant procedural changes in the way it operates (it should take 45 minutes - the BMC one has done in the past and they have ten times the members!), but online voting would go a massive way to increasing the democratic reach and robustness of the BCA.

Matt is putting the effort in here, by posting here on UKCaving for debate (and through other channels), to make sure people know what the score is before they get to the AGM. This is how it should be done.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Chocolate fireguard on March 28, 2019, 05:26:56 pm
2xw & andrewmc: you both talk a lot of sense re the way a meeting of the BCA seems to run (or perhaps crawl) at the moment. At least so far as I can see from the minutes of one meeting, and I have no intention of looking at any others - after a working lifetime where I averaged at least a couple of hours of meetings per week I have managed to give them up completely.

With modern (to me at least) technology such as group emails, webinars etc I imagine it would be possible to do away with travel to meetings entirely, and voting by the committee could obviously be done electronically.
That sounds like a great idea, for the environment as well as for the people involved. Election of the committee would be a piece of cake too.

Anything from the current system to the one above (depending where the people who do the work want to stop) would be fine by me, and probably fine by most people.

That's not what I am on about.

In an ideal world the decisions would be made on behalf of BCA members by a committee elected and trusted by those members.

When you've stopped laughing: I know things are a bit short of that ideal at the moment, but the way forward is not to allow the whole membership to have an input on every decision, it is to elect a committee that can do it right.
And yes, I also know that people willing to serve on committees from club level upwards are thin on the ground. Or have been. It does sound as though things might be getting better for the BCA at least, and hopefully will continue to do so especially if the committee procedure can be streamlined.

All analogies fail if pushed far enough, but here's one anyway: when you're performing a scientific experiment you need to get as many results as possible, for various reasons mainly to do with how confident you can be about the final conclusion. If you think you don't have enough and throw in a few thousand random sets of results to make it look more impressive, all you finish up with is ....... shit (thanks 2xw :))

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kat on March 28, 2019, 05:35:12 pm
why would a move to on-line voting mean there would need to be a move away from club votes? Surely 2 disconnected issues that should be considered separately?

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kay on March 28, 2019, 06:11:59 pm

... but the way forward is not to allow the whole membership to have an input on every decision, it is to elect a committee that can do it right.


The way most organisations run is to  have major decisions on direction taken by the whole membership at the AGM, and a Committee to get into the technical detail of how to implement those decisions, and to take day-to-day decisions. That's a long way from "allowing the whole membership to have an input on every decision".

The problem with the Brexit referendum wasn't that too many people were allowed to vote.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on March 28, 2019, 07:08:01 pm
I don't think that anyone has suggested that the entire membership needs to be consulted and allowed to vote on every decision. That would serve no useful purpose. I don't want to vote on how much to set the stationery budget at or what colour the BCA logo should be, but I'd quite like to vote on important matters without having to travel hundreds of miles to the AGM to do so.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Chocolate fireguard on March 28, 2019, 07:49:48 pm

The problem with the Brexit referendum wasn't that too many people were allowed to vote.

You are right.
The problem was that too many people did vote.
I didn't because I realised that I didn't understand the issues and that in order to do so I would have to spend many weeks of my life on the subject (with no guarantee of success) and even then my careful decision would be cancelled by someone voting on a whim.
I have stopped asking the leave-voters I know how they thought the Irish border problem, or the Gib. question would be sorted when they voted - it's too depressing.
The decision was too complicated for the vast majority of people, including me.

It's interesting to reflect that, whether leaving turns out to be good or bad for this country, about half the voters will have made the wrong decision. That's the effect of the random results of course.

Returning to the BCA voting system, I think electronic voting to elect committee members would be good, as I said.
It has been suggested that electronic voting would only be used for important decisions, but really that means more complicated decisions and then it would seem best that the people having a say on those should be the ones who are willing to go to a bit of trouble to get to a meeting because they are the ones more likely to go to the trouble to do a bit of research.
And do we really think that if a system is set up there won't be pressure to use it for more and more decisions?


 

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on March 28, 2019, 09:36:11 pm
Chocolate Fireguard: You make some perfectly reasonable points and you justify your opinion well.

Perhaps it is worth pointing out (in case it was not clear) that the online voting is going to be limited to General Meetings. The annual day-to-day running of the BCA will still be managed by the elected Council. In theory only motions of major significance to the way the BCA functions should go to an AGM, where I think it only fair that everyone who has paid to be a member of the Association is given good opportunity to vote without travelling across the country. I don't agree that being able to vote on such a matter should be exclusively limited to those willing to travel, nor that someone willing to travel has any more a well-researched opinion than someone who is not.

Kat: A very astute question! Changing who can vote at General Meetings and introduction of online voting ARE two matters, but I disagree that they are disconnected.

Online voting could be arranged using the current two-house voting system. The problem is that it would be significantly more complex and would involve much more work for the Secretary (which perhaps unsurprisingly I would like to avoid if I am to sustain any kind of life after June 9th). The two house voting system requires some kind of proof that the person who is voting for a club truely represents that club, which would be hard to administer via an online system. My vision is that online voting is administered via BCA online, where login is via your BCA number as username, so is only easily workable when voting is individuals only. To include group voting would require a more complicated system... not impossible but not easy!

Removing the group vote but without bringing in online voting is unfeasible, because it then puts the fate of motions into the hands of the small number of individuals that attend a General Meeting in person (typically around 1% of the entire membership). This means any club could turn up with its entire membership and pass anything it wants. On the other hand, introducing online voting without removing group voting will be very challenging for the online system.

Naturally I wouldn't wish to remove the group vote just for convenience. I genuinely believe the BCA needs to move away from group voting, which gives the same weighted vote to groups regardless of how many cavers they represent, and duplicates representation (why does a club need to vote, when all it's members can easily do so; If the club feels strongly about something they can lobby their members to vote accordingly). Therefore, you are right Kat; the two issues could be considered separately, but there is so much overlap that I have chosen to link them together in my proposal because I feel this is the most efficient and practical way to administer online voting while simultaneously improving BCA democracy.

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: alastairgott on March 28, 2019, 10:53:06 pm
Personally, I think having a bit of time after the AGM to actually vote on all these things (and at least have a chance to complain about the wording even if it's too late to change it) would be a massive improvement.

Wow, no, Meetings are for making decisions. you say there is too many changes at the meeting, but delaying the decision till afterwards means that nothing will actually get decided.

You'll have to wait for the minutes to be released before you can produce the "vote", then you'll have to circulate the vote to membership.

At least, tying people down in a room and not letting them leave till a decision has been made, means a decision actually gets made.

A constitution should not need to be changed every year, so constitutional amendments should be well thought through and rigorously ironed out before they are taken to the meeting. If an amendment needs amending, then it strikes me that the person submitting didn't get pedants to proof read it.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Chocolate fireguard on March 29, 2019, 06:54:30 am
Cavematt

My opinions on this sort of thing have never gone down well.

It seems obvious to me that if someone is going to vote on something that will affect others then as much thought as possible should have gone into it.

Some people are willing to put in a lot of thought, some not very much. But electronic voting allows both to have the same influence on the outcome.

With people nothing is certain, but generally if you have spent the time to think something through to the best of your ability you are more likely to want to be heard, and to go to more trouble to make sure you are.

You don’t have to be right, just thoughtful.

But I know I am on a loser. Our electoral system doesn’t require any proof of thought, and politicians are so desperate to increase turnout to lend credibility to the process that electronic voting will surely come.

For BCA in the future, hopefully a streamlined committee system made up of people the active cavers feel they can trust to make important decisions will not require much in the way of voting by the membership.

Ideas on electronic voting apart, I am sure you will do a good job.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on March 29, 2019, 09:53:09 am
Online voting could be arranged using the current two-house voting system. The problem is that it would be significantly more complex and would involve much more work for the Secretary (which perhaps unsurprisingly I would like to avoid if I am to sustain any kind of life after June 9th). The two house voting system requires some kind of proof that the person who is voting for a club truely represents that club, which would be hard to administer via an online system. My vision is that online voting is administered via BCA online, where login is via your BCA number as username, so is only easily workable when voting is individuals only. To include group voting would require a more complicated system... not impossible but not easy!

The current requirement for proof is to stop a person turning up at a GM and claiming they represent a group.  (Individuals have to show their membership card.)  Currently each group has an identified individual who is the link with BCA and who receives the notification of a GM.  The same process can apply to an on line vote.  If the named individual for a group is sloppy about the security of their vote, then that is their problem.  We ran the 2017 ballot on the same process for individuals and clubs; we just had two spread sheets covering one for individuals and one for clubs.  We included a unique number on the ballot form as a means of proof that the version we sent out to a named individual (be DIM/ CIM or Group) was the form / vote we got back - equivalent to a password.  You will need at least an ID and a password for security for individual on line system since membership numbers are well known.  I suggest the need for having voting systems for individuals and groups is surely not a significant elevation in complication; it is just duplication bar the name heading the web page? 

Naturally I wouldn't wish to remove the group vote just for convenience. I genuinely believe the BCA needs to move away from group voting, which gives the same weighted vote to groups regardless of how many cavers they represent, and duplicates representation (why does a club need to vote, when all it's members can easily do so; If the club feels strongly about something they can lobby their members to vote accordingly). Therefore, you are right Kat; the two issues could be considered separately, but there is so much overlap that I have chosen to link them together in my proposal because I feel this is the most efficient and practical way to administer online voting while simultaneously improving BCA democracy.
Please don't think I am against removing the group vote but when we negotiated the constitution for BCA there was a substantial opposition to having individual votes.  A sizeable contingent of individuals still think their club is a better representative of themselves. :shrug:

I would however suggest that we should learn from the Swiss who hold regularly hold referendums that there should be a participatory threshold of say 40% of the membership.  So if less than 40% of members vote, then the matter fails. 
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: mikem on March 29, 2019, 02:55:36 pm
So if less than 40% of members vote, then the matter fails.
For comparison, what percentage of the membership have actually provided email addresses to the BCA?

Mike
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on March 29, 2019, 04:31:16 pm
For comparison, what percentage of the membership have actually provided email addresses to the BCA?
Under Data Protection rules, I was not allowed to keep the data for the 2017 constitutional ballot and I don't have the time spare to search my 1000 plus emails on the topic to see if I did release the summary data.  But from memory, in that vote, we sent out some 4000 plus emails and some 1000 plus letters containing the ballot paper.  Cookie will have accurate figures but my memory is around 1000 members have indicated they are prepared to receive news and other information. 

One key point is there is a difference between using an email address to communicate to a member on some matter specific to membership, like a vote or membership renewal and for sending them information like news.  This could of course be changed by 'simply' making it a condition of joining BCA that a person accepts they will receive both membership related material as well as a newsletter by email if they have an email address.  Having said that there is a minor problem in that most of the email addresses were indirectly supplied by clubs and not by the individuals.  I am not overly confident that clubs had the required permission to do so, especially given the current standard of granting permission based on last year's GDPR. 

I would add for Matt's information that checking the postal addresses was a time killer which I managed to step around by finding a company who would bulk mail without checking post codes matched addresses.  Even then I had to do a moderate amount of tiding up the addresses to ensure the post code came last and supply ones where it was missing.  Poor Damian got caught by using a company for the previous ballot who insisted that every address had to match the post code.

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: mikem on March 29, 2019, 04:48:22 pm
Thanks, that suggests 20% haven't.

I think that the liking for club voting may have been that members didn't have to attend the meeting themselves, rather than the club being a better representative! & that opinion may be changed by electronic voting.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on March 29, 2019, 06:02:12 pm
I think that the liking for club voting may have been that members didn't have to attend the meeting themselves, rather than the club being a better representative! & that opinion may be changed by electronic voting.

I am of course citing views expressed back in 2003.  The logic used by certain representatives was NCA had club & RCC only voting so that was all that was required for BCA.  The counter argument started with clubs could only gain insurance cover by all their members being covered and that BCA could only offer insurance to individuals as a benefit of membership.  That position was based on legal advice.  So we had to have individual membership.  But it was inconceivable that we could exclude individuals from having a vote.  They eventually accepted that point.  A suggestion that clubs should not have a vote was rejected outright by the same representatives.  A compromise resulted.

I should add that of the 1000 plus members for whom BCA do not have an email address, we are likely to find a small number (my guess is around hundred) do not have an email address at all.  The key point is not sending the message out which is a fairly simple process either by email or by post, but getting the member to vote on line.  I would suggest that only a handful of members are not able to get to a computer with internet access to vote on line.  (I am thinking of the few who are either now so infirm as to not be mobile and so can't get to their local library, or are so lacking in faculties as to be unable to use a computer.)  And of course they could delegate their vote to another person if they so wish.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Robert Scott on March 29, 2019, 09:29:27 pm


The current AGM model is a wonderful demonstration of poorly-considered off-the-cuff decision-making and all that entails. In an ideal world, as practiced by most larger bodies, all the politics (and in many cases the voting) is done well before the AGM so that by the time you get to the AGM everyone has had a chance to at least have a think about it. Sadly, this is not (currently) how the BCA AGM 'operates' (using operates in the loosest sense of the word)...

Most of the BCA AGMs I've been to have been an absolute cluster of motions and amendments. If I got a pound for every time someone asks 'could you read it out again so we know what we are voting for' after the second or third amendment I'd probably pay for my petrol to the next BCA AGM. These amendments are generally taken from the floor and accepted by the proposer without debate or a vote so the final motion you vote on bears little resemblance to what was published in advance. One year there was a tangled mess of amendments introduced at the start of the AGM which bore little resemblance to what was published in advance. These were of course again amended on the basis of one or two people making a comment, and the proposer of the motion accepting the amendment without debate or a vote.


Might I suggest that there are no amendments allowed on the day of the AGM.

The 2018 agenda has the following-

Motions for discussion (see linked papers).

24.   Working Group to establish BCA future vision and strategy

25.   Appointment of a technical adviser to set up remote access to meetings

26.   Electronic voting

27.   Rename Training Committee and Training Officer

28.   Training Committee terms of reference

29.   Establishment of Youth and Development standing committee

30.   Disbanding of the Legal and Insurance standing committee.

I would suggest replacing "Motions for discussion" with "Proposals", where for each topic there is a simple statement of what should be done or what should be changed and if necessary by whom and by when. Of course, you might still have linked papers giving the rationale for the proposal.
There might be some little discussion around the proposal but the aim of the meeting should be to vote Yes or No on the proposal and not to change or refine the meaning of the proposal.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kat on March 31, 2019, 08:58:49 am
Thanks Matt & Bob on your helpful comments regarding on-line voting and the Club/Group voting considerations.

Have to admit I struggle to understand why it would that much more complex to enable Groups to be included in an on-line voting system and do not believe this should be a justification for removing that Group vote.  Any such on-line system needs to be fully transparent and stand up to rigorous independent scrutiny anyway. 

There may of course be other perfectly valid reasons for changing the system.  The BMC went through a similar process many years ago.  However my recollection is that by that stage the BMC direct membership outweighed those who were members via clubs and it was a logical progression for that organisation.  The BCA situation is currently very different (I don't know the ratio of DIMs to CIMs but imagine it is pretty low). 

It is the Clubs that bear the administrative burden of the BCA insurance scheme for their members.  I believe most believe people are members of the BCA purely because they are members of a club and have to be under the insurance scheme, or they want individual insurance, rather than actively wishing to be members of the BCA for other reason.  Given that current state of play I find it very difficult to agree with the proposal to remove the Group vote.

Change is good but sometimes certain aspects have to be given due consideration and time for debate in open consultation (not simply on a forum such as UK Caving) and not a whole raft of changes made at once.  Why not focus on improving cavers awareness of the BCA and what it does, and can do in the future, for the caving community and all the other really good aspects (including on-line voting) of what is being proposed here?

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andys on March 31, 2019, 09:38:33 am
My take on the group vote thing is simple - and should be even more simple to implement in an environment where electronic voting is enabled. Its premise is that of "one person, one vote" - which I suspect we all think is "a good thing" - but with the ability to appoint a proxy.

If "Fred" appoints "Louise" as his proxy, then "Fred" does not get a vote but "Louise" get two. If "George" also makes "Louise" his proxy then, likewise, "George" loses his vote but "Louise" goes up to three votes. It doesn't matter if "Fred" or "George" (or "Louise" come to that) are CIMs or DIMs, the same rules apply.

Replace "Louise" in the above with "My club rep" and you'll see that club reps will get the group vote for all who cannot, or don't wish to, vote in person. Likewise, a DIM (who possibly doesn't have a club rep) can appoint a stand in in those circumstance where it is needed.

For electronic voting, it follows that each member has to have a "secure account" from which to place their vote: add to this the ability to - at any time - set or remove a proxy, and bingo - you have a mix of individual and group voting without breaking the principle. No need for "two houses", no need for anyone to be left out or feel disenfranchised, no opportunity for anyone/any group to be accused of blocking tactics. It just means that some electronics will be needed at any meeting which may need to vote on something - though in an ideal world and full inclusivity, all voting like this should have been done in advance of the meeting anyway.

Simples.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: 2xw on March 31, 2019, 09:40:51 am
Andy's suggestion above would get rid of one of the prime reasons for getting rid of the house system, which is that 5 cavers in a club have the same voice as 300.

Still, if members can appoint a proxy via their online login, they might as well just vote there instead.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on March 31, 2019, 10:21:12 am
Sorry andys but I don't think it is that simple.  I am a DIM plus a member of two clubs who hold insurance.  There are a fair number of CIMs who like me, hold duplicate club membership.  (And I know that a moderate number were members of more than just 2 clubs, 6 springs to mind as the highest.)  I wish to retain my individual vote.  Whilst clubs have a vote, I am content to let my clubs decide on their individual vote.  (Which often is opposed to my view - but that is notionally the majority decision of the club.)  So how does one divide up a vote between 2, 3 or more clubs?

kat is right, there are roughly 500 DIMs and 6000 CIMs (from memory).  And much to my disappointment, BCA has failed since 2004 to make a sufficient mark to get many cavers to feel they are a member of BCA as well as their clubs. 
 
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kat on April 01, 2019, 07:50:30 pm
Andys - these things are often never as simple as they first appear.

Worth bearing in mind too that not only do the Clubs administer their member's membership of the BCA (and according to  the BCA website take responsibility for communicating all of BCA's correspondence to their CIM members on our behalf they also pay Club membership rates.  Should the Club as an entity not then have a right to a vote on an aspects that may affect this?

Plus if a Club doesn't take out the liability insurance option (hadn't even realised this was an option until I looked at the website now) does that mean those Club members are not members of the BCA and hence neither them or the Club would have a vote if you removed the Group vote option?

Issues regarding Club size are possibly valid points - however to an extent this is off-set by the fact the individual CIMs of those clubs each have a vote.  Hence this serves to provide a balance - which is one of the key benefits of such a 2 House system.

There has been mention about 'blocking tactics '.  I've no idea if this is based on fear or actuality.  But if all the Clubs and other bodies were to try to 'block' a particular motion surely this implies that those bodies, as important entities within the caving world, have concerns about something that affects them?   

Interesting point on the actual functionality of on-line voting and an AGM.  When would the vote occur?  How would you enable any discussion / debate / amendment on a topic?  Okay for a single yes / no type decision on a single point but for all decisions to be made at an AGM?  If no discussion can occur at an AGM, then on what forum is any debate held that is open and transparent and appropriately chaired? Just curious as to how this would actually work in practice.
   
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on April 01, 2019, 09:24:46 pm
Worth bearing in mind too that not only do the Clubs administer their member's membership of the BCA (and according to  the BCA website take responsibility for communicating all of BCA's correspondence to their CIM members on our behalf they also pay Club membership rates.  Should the Club as an entity not then have a right to a vote on an aspects that may affect this?
When we set up BCA we were at pains to reduce costs, so created the CIM / DIM concept, where a DIM paid more because they would get material direct from BCA (such as a magazine we produced for a couple of issues before it fell apart).  A CIM paid less in part because the major costs of communication were already borne by clubs so BCA could piggy back on that.  (The sole exception was ballot papers - bluntly we were afraid that some clubs would fill them in on behalf of the individuals and return them.)  The club paid a separate fee as they were a separate 'person' because it was accepted that the club as a whole could have views different from a minority of its membership.

Plus if a Club doesn't take out the liability insurance option (hadn't even realised this was an option until I looked at the website now) does that mean those Club members are not members of the BCA and hence neither them or the Club would have a vote if you removed the Group vote option?
I don't think it was the intention of to put it another way 'to do away with club membership' (as opposed to a club vote), rather the vote the club had would be counted along side the vote of an individual.  As I said, it took some argument that clubs and individuals should have a vote and the agreement was that the voice of clubs would not be 'drowned out' by all the individuals.  Hence separate houses.   
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on April 02, 2019, 08:09:45 pm
Andys' idea seems simple and sensible. Club members can each decide whether to vote themselves or whether to allow their club to vote for them. Essentially, even if you're in a club you're still an individual when voting unless you give your proxy vote to the club or someone else. If a club wants it's members to vote a certain way then they would need to put a strong case to their membership to convince them which way to vote. I can't see any democratically run club arguing that this is unfair. Why should anyone be against what is essentially a fairer voting system.

Obviously voting like this would be for AGM matters etc and not for day to day running type matters.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on April 03, 2019, 11:33:57 am
Andys' idea seems simple and sensible. Club members can each decide whether to vote themselves or whether to allow their club to vote for them.
But you miss the point that I am a member of 2 clubs.  Are you suggesting I could give both my clubs the right to vote on my behalf?  If so that means I get two votes.  (Or in some cases 6 votes.)  That does not seem sensible or democratic.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: TheBitterEnd on April 03, 2019, 01:14:53 pm

But you miss the point that I am a member of 2 clubs.  Are you suggesting I could give both my clubs the right to vote on my behalf?  If so that means I get two votes.  (Or in some cases 6 votes.)  That does not seem sensible or democratic.

But I bet you only pay your £17 once so you get one membership and one vote which you can only proxy to one club.

That said, I am finding hard to see why clubs get a vote at all. A club is just a collection of members; a club per-se  isn’t an entity that is separate from its members. If the committee running a club can persuade its members to proxy their vote then the club vote has some legitimacy.

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on April 03, 2019, 03:20:15 pm
But I bet you only pay your £17 once so you get one membership and one vote which you can only proxy to one club.
Yes I only pay one fee for which I get one individual membership.  But your description of the proposed system then requires the voting software to be able to check that I can dedicate my vote to a specific club, as well as check that I have not voted before.  I am not into computer software but I suggests this makes the software far from simple plus require a data base of members names and their clubs to be linked to it.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 03, 2019, 04:10:49 pm
It's quite possible for anyone to belong to more than one club which, according to the majority of their members, hold diametrically opposed views on various topics.  Bob's point about multiple memberships is valid but, since the clubs vote in one "house" and the individuals vote in a separate "house", the idea was that this would even it out.

Note that there is no differential voting for clubs in BCA based on the size of a club.  (DCA once had in its constitution: individual has 1 vote; club of up to 10 members has 2 votes; club of 11-30 members has 3 votes; club of over 30 members had 4 votes.  We came unstuck on this when 3 individuals turned up at a meeting, each claiming to be the authorised voter for 3 large clubs, thus swinging 9 votes between them and outvoting everyone else!  After this DCA changed its constitution to the 2-house system, similar to BCA's.) 

I suspect it is more likely that the larger clubs will be the ones with more duplicated memberships so the 2-house system was designed as an attempt to get over this problem.

What we really need to concentrate on is getting more individuals sufficiently interested in BCA to want to support it as a national body and to vote at AGMs.  At present, many BCA Club Individual Members don't give a stuff about BCA and are members only because they need insurance and therefore don't really bother about what their so-called "club rep." does in the way of representing them or speaking for them.  Many clubs never discuss BCA matters at all because their members regard it as a turn-off - so it's that you have to overcome.

In a perfect world we would all consider carefully before casting a vote and would not be swayed by the advertising and gimmickry which prevail in social media.  But hey, it's not a perfect world, so we do the best we can and try to devise voting systems which won't allow people to subvert them.  One might be cynical and say, "Good luck with that!"

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 03, 2019, 04:28:10 pm
It's quite possible for anyone to belong to more than one club which, according to the majority of their members, hold diametrically opposed views on various topics.  Bob's point about multiple memberships is valid but, since the clubs vote in one "house" and the individuals vote in a separate "house", the idea was that this would even it out.

The point of the 2-house system being that BOTH houses have to have a majority for a proposal to be accepted.  Neither can "out-vote" the other but, theoretically, there could be a stalemate if the two "houses" did not both vote the same way.  I may be wrong but I can't recall any vote in the years since the system was introduced where the two "houses" did not vote in agreement with each other.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on April 03, 2019, 05:23:29 pm
  I may be wrong but I can't recall any vote in the years since the system was introduced where the two "houses" did not vote in agreement with each other.

I think proxy voting was passed by individuals and rejected by the clubs (which use proxy voting...)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on April 03, 2019, 10:20:17 pm
What we really need to concentrate on is getting more individuals sufficiently interested in BCA to want to support it as a national body and to vote at AGMs.  At present, many BCA Club Individual Members don't give a stuff about BCA and are members only because they need insurance and therefore don't really bother about what their so-called "club rep." does in the way of representing them or speaking for them.  Many clubs never discuss BCA matters at all because their members regard it as a turn-off - so it's that you have to overcome.

I thought Matt's proposals we're aimed at doing that - making the BCA more about individuals.

Let's be honest here, the only thing the BCA has to offer most cavers is access to liability insurance. Without that it would probably cease to exist and we'd just have regional associations. The caving world would not fall apart if there was no BCA, and the BCA Council would do well to remember that. People need to stop burying their heads in the sand and realise that the BCA is in crisis and they need to make big changes and quickly.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: 2xw on April 03, 2019, 11:31:40 pm
Quote
Let's be honest here, the only thing the BCA has to offer most cavers is access to liability insurance.

This demonstrates the one of the primary problems the BCA has is advertising. Because nobody seems to know what it does. There's two caving clubs this year that wouldn't exist without the BCA

Quote
Without that it would probably cease to exist and we'd just have regional associations.


The BCA is essentially all the regional associations plus other interested organisations working together. Most of the council members are involved in the regional associations. They're not independent of one another.

Quote
The caving world would not fall apart if there was no BCA, and the BCA Council would do well to remember that.

A similar organisation could replace it. We could call it the Association of British Caving. Centralisation and coordination of the resources (that includes volunteer time) of interested organisations is quite efficient.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: droid on April 04, 2019, 12:12:37 am
Regional associations are just people, and people don't need a 'governing body' to communicate. And given the arcane nature of the BCA, the term 'efficient' doesn't seem appropriate.

Clubs can govern themselves, regional associations can govern themselves. They don't need the bureaucratic melange of the BCA to do that. It's just jobs for the boys in its present form.

Matt's proposed restructuring will help though.

This post was sponsored by JD 'n' Coke and cheese sandwiches.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: NewStuff on April 04, 2019, 06:51:53 am
It's just jobs for the boys in its present form.

Therein lies the problem. This needs to change.The BCA went from being something that you wanted to be a part of, to something we currently refuse to be associated with. If us bunch of reprobates and ne'e'r-do-well's doesn't want to touch your* organisation with a bargepole, you're* doing it really, really wrong.

*You/You're In the BCA as a whole, sense of the word
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: badger on April 04, 2019, 07:43:03 am
So firstly let me stick up for the old boys and or ladies, I think if anyone was bothered to ask them why they are still there you might find they are the only ones who volunteer and most would gladly step down if a younger person stepped forward. This is slowly happening, there is more young people every year on BCA council.

Andrew I think is also right the proxy voting was, individual members voted for and the clubs voted against.

It is a failing of the BCA that most cavers see it just as a means to insurance, when it does do a whole lot more, and thats a problem for council to solve.

Change, yes BCA does, but change things for the right reasons not just for one section or club cause they dont like something, a change has to make something better for the whole membership , we need to get the young people involved so they can mould the BCA into the future, their future not mine, apparently one of the old fart brigade, but how long has it taken CNCC to change 5 years? this is the reality, its going to take time.
 
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: TheBitterEnd on April 04, 2019, 08:01:10 am
Yes I only pay one fee for which I get one individual membership.  But your description of the proposed system then requires the voting software to be able to check that I can dedicate my vote to a specific club, as well as check that I have not voted before.  I am not into computer software but I suggests this makes the software far from simple plus require a data base of members names and their clubs to be linked to it.

Any voting system, be it paper, electronic or whatever needs some way of checking that a vote is only cast once. When you go to the polling station for local and national elections you need a polling card and your name is checked off on a list. It would be a simple matter to issue each BCA member a polling number* and this is checked when a vote is cast. Clubs could submit a list of polling numbers for which they have proxy when voting.


*a polling number separate from the BCA membership number would help to keep the tinfoil-hat brigade happy that no one is tracking what they are voting for. Also a randomised non-sequential number that changes for each member each year would help to prevent people trying to steal someone else’s vote by guessing the next few likely numbers.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: moorebooks on April 04, 2019, 11:55:30 am


 When you go to the polling station for local and national elections you need a polling card and your name is checked off on a list..
You have it wrong there you do not have to present a polling card at a polling station if you want to vote in Elections. You have to state your name and address, that is marked off on the register of voters. Your word is good enough. Can't see cavers being arsed to vote more than once if they can be bothered at all!

All the political clap trap going on above is getting us no where and makes a laughing stock. No wonder Parliament can't sort out Brexit. When all we want to do is go caving or mine exploring. I suggest you all calm down, lead by example and find simple compromise on the scheme of things it won't affect the price of Beer. :beer2: :beer2:

Mike
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: langcliffe on April 04, 2019, 12:26:26 pm
You have it wrong there you do not have to present a polling card at a polling station if you want to vote in Elections. You have to state your name and address, that is marked off on the register of voters. Your word is good enough.

Trials were conducted in the May 2018 elections in certain areas (Swindon, Woking, Watford, Gosport and Bromley) whereby electors had to present their polling cards or specified identification documents (depending on the area). See https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/244950/May-2018-voter-identification-pilots-evaluation-report.pdf

These trials are being extended in the 2019 local elections. See https://www.gov.uk/government/news/next-round-of-voter-id-pilots-announced-for-2019
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: BradW on April 04, 2019, 01:10:31 pm

All the political clap trap going on above is getting us no where and makes a laughing stock. No wonder Parliament can't sort out Brexit. When all we want to do is go caving or mine exploring. I suggest you all calm down, lead by example and find simple compromise on the scheme of things it won't affect the price of Beer. :beer2: :beer2:

Well said, Mike. It's clear that there is some animosity around out there, but forcing what one faction thinks is the best on other factions won't remove the acrimony. Compromise is the ONLY way to resolve divisive issues, especially in a small community.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on April 04, 2019, 01:21:24 pm
Mike; I wouldn’t describe the above as ‘political claptrap’… I’d say it is well mannered discussion on various thoughts for how the BCA should interact democratically with its 6000+ members. Everyone is going to have a different view on the best way to achieve this. I have presented one idea/plan, which of course will not please everyone, and I'm enjoying reading all the other ideas being put forward.

I don’t think there is anything above to present cavers as a laughing stock.

Moreover, this forum topic has been read >6500 times! Surely a good thing for raising awareness of and interest in our national body.

Of course, the price of beer is also a very important issue… I will be conducting some field studies on that this weekend around the Yorkshire Dales ;D
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on April 04, 2019, 02:50:47 pm
Why do cavers need BCA?  Primarily to provide a unified front to others (like the government) when changes are being mooted which could impact on all cavers.  One simple positive example was the Work at Height regs which if representation had not been made, would have left cavers outside of the exemption from using double ropes.  I will concede that there has been a failure over CRoW, both back in the late 1990s and then in the past few years when no compromise was reached between the pro and anti groups.  (Just like BREXIT; which incidentally is why nothing is being progressed in respect of CRoW on the political front.)

In addition BCA should have been doing things which should sit above regional level.  Whilst the Minimal Impact Caving Guidelines was one piece of good work, other areas such as digging (go look at the DCA & CNCC advice and come back with similarities, differences and omissions), safeguarding of vulnerable persons (good luck Chris), advice on pieces of law and fixed aids have failed to come to fruition for one reason or another. 

Coming back to a voting system.  I accept TheBitterEnd's description could be the basis of a system; but what I would like is some good reassurances that a club could not get hold of all of its members votes and vote without each individual member's say so.       

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 04, 2019, 05:16:20 pm
  I may be wrong but I can't recall any vote in the years since the system was introduced where the two "houses" did not vote in agreement with each other.

I think proxy voting was passed by individuals and rejected by the clubs (which use proxy voting...)

Sorry, I'd forgotten that one.

There is one point which may be relevant to the proxy discussion:
If BCA succeeds in getting electronic voting for all its individual members, whether they be CIMs or DIMs, does this not avoid the need for proxy voting?

If we aim to achieve this individual member electronic voting a.s.a.p. we can stop worrying about proxy voting, which has its pros and cons but could be quite difficult to implement.  As I recall, during the discussion Andy Eavis commented that it had caused problems at the UIS, which was why some of us were doubtful about it.

Another point:
If BCA has electronic voting for all its individual members, would this mean that there would be no need for club votes?

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andys on April 04, 2019, 06:29:22 pm
There is one point which may be relevant to the proxy discussion:
If BCA succeeds in getting electronic voting for all its individual members, whether they be CIMs or DIMs, does this not avoid the need for proxy voting?

The reason I originally proposed proxy voting was to address two issues - first, that someone who couln't vote themselves (ie abroad, sick, etc etc) could pass their vote to someone who they knew who shared their views and would be able to vote; second, that someone who thinks "I don't know enough about this or have time to find out" could pass their vote to someone who they felt was more knowledgeable. The idea is to make it possible for everyone to have a say. Note that I didn't suggest that your proxy had to be your club rep - it could be anybody. But if you know your club has a rep who shares your views - or if you simply want your vote to mirror your club's majority view irrespective of what you personally may think - then they might make a good proxy.

As I recall, during the discussion Andy Eavis commented that it had caused problems at the UIS, which was why some of us were doubtful about it.
It depends on how it is implemented and the use of electronic voting allows the necessary controls to be built into the system anyway. Proxy voting on paper can be fraught with issues since such controls are hard to implement using manual processes.

If BCA has electronic voting for all its individual members, would this mean that there would be no need for club votes?

I still take the view that for maximum inclusion it should be people who have votes, not organisations which have no free will of their own. Since all of any club's/group's members each has their own vote, and an straightforward method for casting it, then - yes - there is no need for club votes. And no need for a two house system.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kat on April 04, 2019, 06:51:27 pm
Certainly no aminosity intended here.  As Matt says, purely trying to have a well mannered and meaningful discussion.  I could simply save it for a rant over a bottle of red wine instead. 

Anyway still curious to understand what is seen as unfair and undemocratic about the current system.  Clubs are able to vote about anything that may fundamentally affect the operation of a club, particularly given the current BCA structure in that most members are so via virtue of being in a club rather than directly.  This should represent the view of the majority of the members (or invariably the committee which has been democratically elected to represent the club, but not the view of all the members).  This system potentially gives the smaller clubs who may be affected by any suggested changes a bigger voice than they otherwise would have. 

All individuals also have the right to their own vote in the 2nd House, so completely democratic.   

The 2 house system effectively provides a mechanism of balance and check of the wishes of all members and member organisations.
If there is only one possible instance in the last few years where the 2 Houses have disagreed then this would indicate a system that is actually working, not a broken system.

Would agree that proxy voting could present problems and the need for it would be alleviated by on-line voting (other than maybe for who don't have access on-line?). 

Anyway my main point really with all this is the combining of the on-line voting and club / group vote issues into a single issue.  A move to on-line voting is primarily a technical procedural issue aimed at enabling a wider take up of existing voting rights (albeit there being implications in how AGMs operate etc for this to work, i.e. there cannot be any potentially substantive amendments to any motions tabled at the AGM after on-line voting has occurred etc etc). Appreciate there are arguements put forward about people making the effort to go to meetings may be more engaged etc.     

However, a removal of the Club / Group vote and 2 House system is a fundamental change to the existing voting structure.  Unless there is evidence that it is technically much more difficult to accommodate the existing voting structure within an on-line system I don’t see why the 2 issues should not be considered separately.  Otherwise the desire to move to an on-line voting system may result in changes to the voting structure with no real thought as to why or the pros and cons. 
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 04, 2019, 07:01:37 pm

The 2 house system effectively provides a mechanism of balance and check of the wishes of all members and member organisations.
If there is only one possible instance in the last few years where the 2 Houses have disagreed then this would indicate a system that is actually working, not a broken system.

Would agree that proxy voting could present problems and the need for it would be alleviated by on-line voting (other than maybe for who don't have access on-line?). 

Anyway my main point really with all this is the combining of the on-line voting and club / group vote issues into a single issue.  A move to on-line voting is primarily a technical procedural issue aimed at enabling a wider take up of existing voting rights (albeit there being implications in how AGMs operate etc for this to work, i.e. there cannot be any potentially substantive amendments to any motions tabled at the AGM after on-line voting has occurred etc etc). Appreciate there are arguements put forward about people making the effort to go to meetings may be more engaged etc.     

However, a removal of the Club / Group vote and 2 House system is a fundamental change to the existing voting structure.  Unless there is evidence that it is technically much more difficult to accommodate the existing voting structure within an on-line system I don’t see why the 2 issues should not be considered separately.  Otherwise the desire to move to an on-line voting system may result in changes to the voting structure with no real thought as to why or the pros and cons.

A fair point.

Does this then also imply that Regional Councils (and other more specialist constituent bodies), should also continue to have a vote in the "House" of clubs/groups?

I'm wondering whether both clubs (as bodies with specific interests), and other constituent bodies, such as regional councils (also with specific interests), ought to continue to have a vote in a separate "house" from individuals?

As you say:  "If there is only one possible instance in the last few years where the 2 Houses have disagreed then this would indicate a system that is actually working, not a broken system."
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: alastairgott on April 04, 2019, 07:58:51 pm
I will interject, if I may, that I was at the meeting where the 2 houses disagreed based on the strength of some of the arguments being put forward. I believe it was the Derbyshire meeting where Crow was voted in.

This meeting had quite a high turnout (highest? don't know). but to argue that the system is working based on the some previous data is not correct. But for, the high turnout of the club and individual votes in this particular year I'm sure there would be more disagreement in the houses.

Andys, thanks for originally proposing the idea of Proxy voting (I was in favour, oops sorry shouldn't give my vote away!), but I think we need to push for Electronic voting.

By skipping the idea of Proxy voting we are not precluding anyone from attending the meeting. If they cannot work a computer and cannot get to either 1) a caving area and arrange to meet a few other cavers so they can vote or 2) the meeting venue.

Then i'm afraid in my very narrow mind these people have no impact on caving democracy for the following reason...

ie. if when we set up electronic voting (when not if...) they can no longer turn up to meetings then vis-à-vis they would not have had access to voting.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 06, 2019, 04:29:38 pm
Worth noting that BCA relies on the clubs to send in lists of their CIM members and supply their email addresses, with the permission of their members.  Some clubs do not supply lists of their members' emails, though they do have them for their own use.

So the provision of electronic voting for individual members relies on the clubs to provide the information to enable this to happen.  I appreciate that some clubs may be unsure of their situation re. data protection but I believe it is correct that, if the club tells its members that it intends to provide this information to BCA so that the members are able to take part in voting, then this is OK provided the member approves.  I assume also that, if an individual member asks the club NOT to provide the information to BCA for this purpose, then the club will not do so.  In which case the individual has willingly disenfranchised himself and there is no obligation on BCA to attempt to send him a postal vote.

I'd also assume that, if an individual does not have a useable email address for any reason and notified his club/BCA of this, then BCA could supply him with a postal vote.

I think Bob Mehew has posted elsewhere in this thread on the difficulties of providing the postal votes for all BCA individual members re. the CRoW proposal - it was done but it cost a lot and took an immense amount of effort.  If we are able to set up reliable electronic voting it would make life much simpler all round and allow us to be far more democratic.

If electronic voting were to be available for all, then the question of someone requiring a proxy vote would be much diminished - though it could be made available for special cases.  Would this not be a different scenario from masses of people voting by proxy because there was no other choice than to attend the meeting?

Note that I don't purport to have all the answers but I'm speculating on possible scenarios to see what other people think and to find out whether there are other quirks or glitches which might catch us out.

I can't remember who it was who said something on the lines of democracy being the worst form of government, until you looked at all the other scenarios ... 
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on April 06, 2019, 08:58:33 pm
I think the CRoW ballot of 2014 cost around £6,000 because we used a certain provider to do all the work (send out ballot paper by post with post paid for return envelope and then count the returns).  The 2017 constitutional ballot cost around £2000 because we used email to send out the ballot paper information to some 4000 plus members and post to the rest plus we got someone to count the returns (members paid to post their vote back if they did not use an email response). 

If we go to an electronic ballot then the cost reduces to around £3000 (postage has gone up since 2017) to post out information to those who email addresses we don't have.  We could insist on every one providing an email address.  Previously (as I can't speak for the current officers) we did not trust clubs to onward transmit a ballot paper for fear the club might use it themselves.  (There was an experience of this back in the mid 90s when a poll was conducted.)  We could send clubs sealed envelopes to pass on to members who have not provided email addresses so letting the club bear the cost of onward transmitting the form.  (Though I suspect this might not be a popular idea amongst club treasurers.)  That would reduce costs to probably well under £1000.

If every one has to use an electronic form to vote, then that removes a burden of manually counting.  If we allow people to alternatively return their vote by post, then that requires we declare a couple of people as tellers to do the count of the postal returns and add them to the votes recorded electronically.  That would take the best part of a day for some hundreds of returns. (My estimate it would take 1 minute to open the envelope, cross check the name & unique number and record the vote(s) with one person doing the task and the other checking for accuracy.)

I have to ask if £3000 / £1000 a year is a reasonable spend to improve voting performance? 

I also think we would have to remove the ability to put amendments during the AGM which would constrain flexibility.  And I suggest we would need a process where by a record of the AGM debate was available to all prior to the ballot opening.  It would add a couple of months to the process, so from proposing a motion for debate in April, my guess is that the result would be known by October - 6 months.  Not very responsive.

But we could also use the electronic system to poll members who have email addresses and vote electronically to get a view on a topic of concern to Council.  That would at least provide for a better feed back than almost non existent system we currently have.  And perhaps do away with the need to have many, if any, motions at AGMs and ballots.  If we get a strong enough response from a poll, then perhaps Council can resolve differences and obtain agreement for notionally contentious issues.  Polling could be done well within 3 months once the motion is defined and the pros and cons written down.  Would that be a better initial step?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on April 07, 2019, 11:21:29 am
If there is a cost implication in seeking a higher level of engagement with the membership then so be it.  BCA has run a surplus of up to £20,000 per year for most of the last decade.  This amounts to an overall surplus around £240,000 sitting in low interest accounts. 

The £3,000 Bob suggests a ballot might run to is very small spending compared to the 100+K BCA take in each year from membership subscriptions.  The annual insurance costs is around 35-40K BTW, so BCA does have around 65K to spend each year on other matters.

I understand electronic voting of the membership could be done at minimal cost.  I suspect it is a condition of membership that a name and address of each member is supplied.  Why that can't include supplying an email address in this day and age is beyond me.  This really is something that requires much greater attention than it receives and I expect is much less difficult to put in place than it is made out to be.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: NewStuff on April 07, 2019, 03:39:50 pm
I expect is much less difficult to put in place than it is made out to be.

It is. Just make it a condition that members supply an email address.  these are free, anyone can help someone without the know-how (however rare that may be these days), and access to email is sitting in most people's pockets right now.

Making it a condition of membership, and having them confirm this via email, is trivial in terms of cost, and satisfies the GDPA requirement for informed consent. No doubt the BCA "webmaster" can tell you how trivial this is. If they say otherwise, I would start asking some pointed questions.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: 2xw on April 07, 2019, 08:41:31 pm
It's very trivial, especially with a stricter membership database.

It wouldn't take months before a ballot either. A video or audio file of the AGM could be released immediately or even livestreamed for those concerned.

All pretty trivial.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Vulcan on April 07, 2019, 08:44:55 pm

I also think we would have to remove the ability to put amendments during the AGM which would constrain flexibility.

As far as i am aware the BCA in the only organisation I know of that sets the exact motion/significantly changes proposed motions at the AGM itself. All the others set a motion, publish it in advance with supporting documentation/evidence/justification (thus allowing for online/proxy voting). Those who wish to be at the AGM in person discuss the motion/evidence/justification before voting on it.

All of other organisation manage fine with predetermined motions so why can't the BCA? Arguably if an motion needs amending at the AGM more time should have been spent drafting and discussing it with appropriate people in the first place before submitting it. 



Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on April 08, 2019, 07:46:08 am
All of other organisation manage fine with predetermined motions so why can't the BCA? Arguably if an motion needs amending at the AGM more time should have been spent drafting and discussing it with appropriate people in the first place before submitting it.

The BCA is at an awkward size intermediate between a club (where you can get away with organising the important stuff in a small committee then arguing about it at the AGM) and a large organized body like the BMC (where you have more people interested to debate stuff and tie everything up at the AGM).

There are clearly huge sweeping changes that could be made to improve the BCA and those _are_ the sort of thing the vision group are looking at, but these simple changes are there to massively improve outreach and democracy with the organisation we have, not the one we wished we had.

Which I guess makes Matt Batman? :P
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kay on April 08, 2019, 08:36:23 am

It is. Just make it a condition that members supply an email address.  these are free, anyone can help someone without the know-how (however rare that may be these days), and access to email is sitting in most people's pockets right now.


Not entirely true. It's true that about 90% of the population has a smartphone. However, the people who don't have email on a computer at home are the same people who either don't have a smart phone or don't use it for anything other than calls, texts and photos.

Still, as Jenny says, it's not an insurmountable problem.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: langcliffe on April 08, 2019, 08:47:33 am
Not entirely true. It's true that about 90% of the population has a smartphone. However, the people who don't have email on a computer at home are the same people who either don't have a smart phone or don't use it for anything other than calls, texts and photos.

Again, not entirely true. I have had an email address since the early 1990s (Compuserve in those days!), but I have never had a smartphone, nor have I felt the slightest need for one.

I do need to ensure that my websites are compatible with them, but I can do that using the emulators offered by the browser development modes.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on April 08, 2019, 10:14:17 am
Email addresses are simple to use and widely available for all - even cavers.  It is harder and harder to function in society without one or without access to the web in some way.  The traditional hard up caver will naturally move towards the internet for much cheaper deals on utility bills etc.  I guess there must be a few genuine cases where through location or learning issues cavers may not be able to access the world by email.  However, most of the reasons I have heard through BCA council for why only two thirds of the membership are prepared to give BCA their email address is just that they choose not to - and this is mostly due to the club/CIM membership structure as I understand it. 

Having to supply an email address to an organisation that you want to be a part of should not be too hard to bare and making it a condition of membership is really not that draconian.  Or at least, making it something you have to opt out from in the knowledge that you will not get a vote or receive relevant information through a newsletter etc, is quite acceptable in this day.  Turning the issue upside down as it is, it places a disproportionate and unnecessary drain on the financial and human resources of BCA that is very hard to justify.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 08, 2019, 12:48:25 pm
It is the responsibility of the Club to supply details of its CIM members, so it's the Club who will have to ensure that their members are prepared to have their email passed on to BCA.  This has always been the stumbling block since some clubs, for whatever reasons, refuse to do this.

There is also a good deal to be said for Vulcan's point:
As far as i am aware the BCA in the only organisation I know of that sets the exact motion/significantly changes proposed motions at the AGM itself. All the others set a motion, publish it in advance with supporting documentation/evidence/justification (thus allowing for online/proxy voting). Those who wish to be at the AGM in person discuss the motion/evidence/justification before voting on it.

All of other organisation manage fine with predetermined motions so why can't the BCA? Arguably if an motion needs amending at the AGM more time should have been spent drafting and discussing it with appropriate people in the first place before submitting it. 

There is also Langcliffe's point about so many people now using smartphones to access the internet, as opposed to PCs, laptops, or even tablets.  Trying to deal with lengthy constitutional amendments and voting on a smartphone adds another layer of complications.

So if we want individual members to vote on proposals, we need to have them much better organised and agreed in advance of the AGM so that the actual process of voting is simplified.

I don't pretend to know the answer but it does need a considerable amount of thinking about it to get this right.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: 2xw on April 08, 2019, 01:21:16 pm
I've been thinking about it for two years, my report to this council will be the same as my prior reports and could be summarised:

Electronic voting would be fine for the BCA and could be either done in house or by an outside organisation for a cost of around £800-£1000

There are lots of way a voting process could be better e.g no amendments at the AGM etc but this is immaterial to the means of voting and could be instituted afterwards.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: langcliffe on April 08, 2019, 01:22:59 pm
Trying to deal with lengthy constitutional amendments and voting on a smartphone adds another layer of complications.

I'm not convinced. It is now straightforward to implement web-based facilities across the full range of web access devices from desk tops to smart phones.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 08, 2019, 02:22:57 pm
Electronic voting would be fine for the BCA and could be either done in house or by an outside organisation for a cost of around £800-£1000

In house would be good if it can be organised so that it's bomb proof and cavers are confident that it's a secure system.  Getting the email addresses for all individual is then crucial.

There are lots of way a voting process could be better e.g no amendments at the AGM etc but this is immaterial to the means of voting and could be instituted afterwards.

Agreed.  As long as the idea of improvements in the process is there in principle, so we all know what we're aiming at, we can work towards a better system.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on April 08, 2019, 10:59:15 pm
Technically you don't even need an email address - you just need a username and password (or equivalent, which could be provided with your BCA card or whatever).
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cap'n Chris on April 08, 2019, 11:30:28 pm
There are clearly huge sweeping changes that could be made to improve the BCA and those _are_ the sort of thing the vision group are looking at, but these simple changes are there to massively improve outreach and democracy with the organisation we have, not the one we wished we had.

Isn't it the case that organisations reliant upon volunteers are unlikely to be steered by democratic diktat since the people who actually engage themselves in tasks do so principally because they enjoy pursuing courses of action which tend to closely replicate their own enthusiasms?

Put another way, people do stuff they want to do, for free, but the moment they get told what they have to do (especially when it becomes contrary to their own vision) they resign as it's no longer any fun. And rightly so.

If I am correct and this is actually the case then attempts to improve democratic representations to the BCA are unlikely to work out as intended.

Nice sentiment, and all that jazz, though.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andys on April 09, 2019, 07:48:02 am
Technically you don't even need an email address - you just need a username and password (or equivalent, which could be provided with your BCA card or whatever).

But on the other hand, an email address (or else a phone capable of receiving text messaging) makes for an easy way to validate that a member is who they say they are when they register/sign on for the first time, whereas an email address makes for a good way of informing folk that there is an issue which they may wish to vote on, along with any supporting material.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on April 09, 2019, 07:59:39 am
Technically you don't even need an email address - you just need a username and password (or equivalent, which could be provided with your BCA card or whatever).
Alas there is no security in the current system of distributing CIM membership cards which is done via clubs.  (Some clubs just leave them in the club hut for members to pick up.)  To impose security would mean posting them out to each member which would cost many thousands of pounds given we are talking of around 6500 BCA individual members.  Hence the desire for email addresses.

Or have you an idea for an alternative method?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on April 09, 2019, 08:13:20 am
All the BCA has to do is state that without a valid email address, members (both DIM and CIM) will not be covered by the Liability Insurance scheme and will not be able to vote.

It appears to me that the BCA spends too much time pondering the minutiae rather than actually making decisions (Faffing around rather than getting stuff done)

Sometimes you just have to make a quick decision and get on with stuff, otherwise nothing gets done.

Granted, quick decisions can sometimes be bad decisions, but with the level of experience within the council they should be few and far between. Perhaps there needs to be imposed deadlines on decision making.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: droid on April 09, 2019, 09:30:16 am
Technically you don't even need an email address - you just need a username and password (or equivalent, which could be provided with your BCA card or whatever).
Alas there is no security in the current system of distributing CIM membership cards which is done via clubs.  (Some clubs just leave them in the club hut for members to pick up.)  To impose security would mean posting them out to each member which would cost many thousands of pounds given we are talking of around 6500 BCA individual members.  Hence the desire for email addresses.

Or have you an idea for an alternative method?

So stick a pound or so on the membership fee to cover postage.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on April 09, 2019, 09:44:13 am
Droid - no need.  BCA have an annual surplus from subscription and now have a huge pot in low interest accounts.  What it needs to do is spend money rather than being frugal - or reduce the membership fee.  What I mean is that money isn't the issue here.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: BradW on April 09, 2019, 10:29:09 am
This idea of effectively saying you must have an email address in order to vote or have insurance cover i.e. be a BCA member is an unfortunate suggestion. There will be clubs, I imagine the older and larger ones, that will have a handful of veterans, and possibly others, that do not use the internet and never will. I refer you to the thread on exclusivity. Surely the BCA should be completely inclusive of all cavers that wish to be members. If it is beyond the wit of BCA to make allowances to include these people, then it cannot claim to represent all cavers, even if it is only a small minority, and an ever diminishing one, that feels excluded.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: MarkS on April 09, 2019, 11:44:21 am
This idea of effectively saying you must have an email address in order to vote or have insurance cover i.e. be a BCA member is an unfortunate suggestion. There will be clubs, I imagine the older and larger ones, that will have a handful of veterans, and possibly others, that do not use the internet and never will. I refer you to the thread on exclusivity. Surely the BCA should be completely inclusive of all cavers that wish to be members. If it is beyond the wit of BCA to make allowances to include these people, then it cannot claim to represent all cavers, even if it is only a small minority, and an ever diminishing one, that feels excluded.

The current situation is that for members to be able to vote at an AGM, they have to be able to travel to wherever it is, whenever it is. I imagine the time and cost implications of this are currently prohibitive to many, and I cannot believe that moving to online voting would result in a lower engagement of the membership. Would moving to a more inclusive system be a bad idea because it is not fully inclusive?


(I think making an email address a requirement of insurance cover is a different issue, and one that I think is perhaps less justified)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: 2xw on April 09, 2019, 12:25:27 pm
This is also something I researched for the report. In 2016, 38.7% of the over 70s were using the internet and 74.1% of the 65-74 age band. The meme of fuddy duddy old people not using the internet is just plain untrue.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: BradW on April 09, 2019, 12:41:15 pm
And that still leaves a significant percentage of our veteran cavers that are not using the internet. This sort of generalisation isn't helpful if we are trying to demonstrate better inclusivity of the BCA.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on April 09, 2019, 12:50:12 pm
I don't think this exercise is particularly about about inclusivity it is much more focused on improving participation.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on April 09, 2019, 01:01:27 pm
This idea of effectively saying you must have an email address in order to vote or have insurance cover i.e. be a BCA member is an unfortunate suggestion. There will be clubs, I imagine the older and larger ones, that will have a handful of veterans, and possibly others, that do not use the internet and never will. I refer you to the thread on exclusivity. Surely the BCA should be completely inclusive of all cavers that wish to be members. If it is beyond the wit of BCA to make allowances to include these people, then it cannot claim to represent all cavers, even if it is only a small minority, and an ever diminishing one, that feels excluded.

I can't see what the issue is withing having to have an email address. Even if you don't have the internet at home, you only have to ask a friend who has it to set you one up, or you can go to a library, or a cyber cafe.

Even my mum has an email address. She's 90, suffers from alzheimers and dementia, lives in a nursing home, and has never touched a computer in her life. She needed an email address a few years back for something, so I set her one up. Likewise, my wife has just set one up for our elderly neighbours. Email is part of modern society, why anyone would want to exclude themselves from it?

But perhaps we've got to the root of the problem - Far to many BCA members are stuck in the past!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: BradW on April 09, 2019, 01:20:43 pm
Perhaps the problem is an inability to take on board whatever it takes to accommodate everyone. Old age has nothing to do with it. There are as many inflexible attitudes in the younger community as there are in the older. There is a wide spectrum of views on all sorts of issues. If the BCA is to represent all cavers then it must accommodate everyone who wants to be a member. Name and address should be the minimum data requirement of any member for most clubs and organisations. Everyone has a name. Everyone can provide an address - it would be difficult to join anything without one. An email address is an option. There are even people around without a phone - in this day and age. Whatever next?!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: PeteHall on April 09, 2019, 01:21:29 pm
What percentage of the BCA membership can't (be arsed to) use the Internet VS what proportion of the BCA can't (be arsed to) travel for hours across the country to sit through a long meeting?

An improvement in inclusivity is surely a good thing, even if it isn't the same people included.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on April 09, 2019, 02:16:05 pm
Great discussions above and thank you to all contributors.

Personally, I simply don’t support an organisation (particularly a volunteer operated one) having to bend over backwards to make things easier for a very small number of people who do not use the internet (in many cases by their own choice).

The job of the BCA with online voting would be to provide the simplest possible system for its members to engage with, so that even those who aren’t too internet-savvy can work it out if they want to. It should be a very simple and intuitive system that doesn’t require multiple complex pages to be navigated and doesn’t require lots of downloads to be installed. It should also be simple for the BCA volunteers who are administering the vote.

I would not favour the BCA offering postal services for voting. Anyway, most of the older (>70 years old) cavers I know are more computer literate than me! Those who know me will back this up!

BradW: If the BCA is to represent all cavers it needs to provide a voting system that is available for everyone to use via a widely used form of media, which again is available to everyone (if not at their home then at least at a library). This is exactly what we are looking to achieve here. The BCA simply doesn’t have the resource to accommodate everyone’s individual personal communication preferences. We have to accept this!

Some people seem to think the BCA is a business with infinite resource, or they compare the BCA to the BMC, who have numerous paid employees.  We have to remember that the BCA is volunteer run, and if it is to continue to remain so, the administrative burden must be minimised. We have been lucky in the past to have people who have been willing to put in huge amounts of personal time into the roles but we cannot assume this will be the case in the future. As someone working a 37hr week (nearly 50hr if you include travel time), I am planning to fit in being BCA Secretary in what little free time I have… ideally while still going caving at weekends. Anything to minimise the workload or the complexity of the workload would be greatly welcomed.

The CNCC and I think the DCA (for example) are already struggling to get volunteers in to fulfil officer roles that are far less time consuming than equivalent positions in the BCA, so making the BCA roles less daunting, less time consuming and more appealing is critical for the future.

Remember, it can take minutes for someone to present an idea which might seem more comprehensive than what is already on the table, and which ‘shouldn’t be hard to implement’ in theory, and which gets lots of support. However that few minutes can then turn into several weeks of unexpected work for the volunteer(s) tasked with implementing it. The proposal I am putting forward for online voting coupled to the removing of the two house system is designed not only to overcome the democratic inadequacies of group voting (a separate matter altogether), but quite importantly, to make the online system as simple and easily implementable as possible. To come back to my reply to Kat earlier, this is one of the reasons I have chosen to address both matters (online voting and the two house system) together as one proposal, and not to split them out into separate proposals even though, as she rightly said, they are two distinct matters.

I also strongly believe that provision of email addresses should be a requirement of BCA membership. An organisation that is not able to communicate directly with its members (relying on Club Secretaries to filter news downwards which may or may not happen) is already badly hampered in what it can achieve. Getting more cavers to provide their email addresses and subscribe to receive email news updates from the BCA is one challenge for the coming year. Changes to the membership system to address this is something that should be explored in future years (and which may be something the Vision group are going to consider)... but that's a discussion for another day!


Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Pitlamp on April 09, 2019, 03:35:57 pm
I'm not sure I can fully agree with all sentiments above Matt. The more BCA treats all members as valuable, the stronger the organisation will be. Some who, for whatever reason, have difficulty communicating your proposed way have great experience and lots still to offer. It doesn't bother me (BCA has my email address anyway) but I think the extra mile should be gone to reach out to all members, even if this sometimes risks making a bit of extra work for our precious volunteers (to whom I'm certainly grateful).  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Martin Laverty on April 09, 2019, 03:37:28 pm
I think that is a very reasonable reply, Matt.

Much of the discussion on this thread seems to have been far too unrealistic: BradW's 'total inclusion', 'covering all views', is just not possible - I doubt there would ever be a time when no cavers cleave to (Groucho) Marx's view that they would never join something willing to accept them! A minimum level of identifiability must be given by those who want to be members - a name (there could be arguments about whether needed to be on a birth certificate/passport/utility bill - all that quotidien rigmarole); an address (could be a building (home/poste restante/office(or tax haven)/c/o club/friend and/or an email (there might be some cavers without family travelling about who don't have other than very temporary physical addresses). An agreement to use email rather than post would entail less communication costs so the associated membership fee should be less (as with BCRA members who elect not to receive printed publications).

And what are all these votes to be so carefully overseen? Election of officers (quite rare, actually, such is the lack of power-crazed bureaucrats jostling to be elected; Cambrian Caving Council are open to offers as well as CNCC and DCA...); the rare referendum; odd constitutional revisions which hardly anyone understands... Plump for direct one-member-one vote (cf referendum) or for voting by representatives of those members (cf clubs/MPs), or both together (clubs/MPs and members/elected Lords), or both (two houses). I suspect most would go for direct election of officers and major constitutional changes (subject to member veto) and otherwise leave policy to officers.

But shouldn't we really be deciding first what the BCA is for? My view is that a single national body is required not so much by cavers as by the society we live in. Government bodies want an organisation to refer to (not that they give much back, now that grants are in short supply; but they can make problems through unintended consequences of their actions, or omissions, being unchallenged). So do the media (as was shown during and after the Thai rescue). For cavers, or their local organisations, it should be a central resource for quality advice and services - insurance, legal advice (I know, they just stopped that..), training, library, web services (but can they do it well enough, some ask),... Perhaps most of all it should provide a forum for views (it does provide an electronic one [ http://british-caving.org.uk/phpBB3/ ] but hardly anyone uses it: should it sponsor this one instead?). This is currently (I guess) only really done at the AGM. Hidden Earth was a BCRA event (when BCRA was the de-facto national body, pace NCA), and is the only regular mass participation caving event we have: could BCA make more use of it?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on April 09, 2019, 05:20:33 pm
The underlying problem of BCA is that often Council is unwilling to make a decision because there are disagreements and people are unwilling to make big enough compromises or accept 'defeat'.  So things either get dropped, booted into a corner, wear down one side until they give up (usually with a resignation or two) or escalated to an AGM and forced to a ballot after um-ing and ahr-ing over whether the ballot could be won.  The saga of CRoW is a classic example of this. 

"I think the extra mile should be gone to reach out to all [my emphasis] members, even if this sometimes risks making a bit of extra work for our precious volunteers" is a devious argument when a reasonable majority exists for one direction.  All it does is stop progress until an overwhelming majority shout for it to take place; by which time those pushing it have often given up.  Again, CRoW is a classic example of this. 

I will reiterate, having a mixed voting / paper ballot system in place will also give BCA a simple polling process to obtain the view of members who care one way or the other.  That way when Council can't get a substantial vote to force an item through, it can go for a simple poll of members to hopefully enable it to make decisions more quickly and with confidence in the face of a minority of Council who try to continue to block progress.  Again, CRoW is a classic example of this. 
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Pitlamp on April 09, 2019, 06:29:29 pm
Bob, when you're partially quoting me, altering the emphasis and then publicly describing these incomplete words as "devious" - who is really being devious?. I can assure you all my words were genuine; the BCA should aim to be as inclusive as possible and I believe true democracy is best. I also tried to make clear that the work of the volunteers who keep the ship afloat is very much appreciated.

What would count as a "reasonable majority"? Where do you draw the line? Who should be the arbiter of this? I don't want answers because I genuinely hope such questions are only ever hypothetical.

In fact - I'm struggling to understand exactly what you mean by a "mixed voting / paper ballot system". (Doesn't a paper ballot count as "voting"?) My view is every BCA member should have the opportunity to vote, including those who, for whatever reason, will not do it electronically. Anything different is not proper democracy and would only undermine the credibility of decisions. Regrettably, this might involve more work for our volunteer officers but surely it's a price worth paying to keep things absolutely fair?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: MarkS on April 09, 2019, 06:53:30 pm
 I'm struggling with some of the posts here.

Are some people really suggesting that electronic voting should not be supported because it is not "fully" democratic, when the status quo is that every member has to travel to a specific place on a specific day of the year in order to vote?

Rejecting improvements on the basis that they are not perfect will not get anyone anywhere.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Pitlamp on April 09, 2019, 07:51:54 pm
I can't speak for "some people"  - and I take your point Mark that there may be much better ways than asking everyone to travel to a specific place on a specific day. (As someone who sometimes has to work at weekends, believe me I hear what you say.)

My two main points, in summary, are:

1. If we move to an electronic voting system we should encourage as many as possible to use it (saving money and time) but still have a paper system for those who are unable to.

2. I'm not impressed by being accused of being devious when I'm genuinely trying to be as open as possible and encourage inclusiveness.

That's all really.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 09, 2019, 08:03:13 pm
Electronic voting should be an improvement on what we currently have and we should go for it.  BCA has actually been trying to find a way to work this for some time and, at present, we can't find a way of making it perfect.  So, let's go with what we have and work on the glitches as we go along.

If people who want to vote by this means find that they can't, then we'll have a chance to work out why it failed and improve things for the next time.  At least for the time being we could have a backup of posting to those whose email addresses we don't have.

BTW, out of my club of approx. 100 members, 6 CIM members currently have no email access at all that we know of, even via someone else.  (And I know that all my club members' email addresses are supplied to the BCA Membership Secretary when we renew each year, and around 8 of the club are DIMs anyway.)  Not sure if that is typical but, assuming it is, if we're talking 6000 BCA members in all, then it's 6% of that number we may have to post to - so around 360 members.  That's do-able isn't it? 

In other words, we could assume that of the 6000 members, we'd expect around 5640 to have email addresses we can use and, if we posted to the others, we're talking less than 400.  Now all we have to do is persuade the rest of the BCA CIM members to ensure that their club supplies their email addresses when they renew their BCA memberships each year.  I'm assuming that all DIM members already supply their email addresses.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Pitlamp on April 09, 2019, 08:15:13 pm
Bless you Jenny - you talk so much common sense!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on April 09, 2019, 08:29:36 pm
As someone who has attended most of the recent AGMs I have been able to cast my vote at each one.  I was among a select group of around 40-45 other members who did the same.  But this was 40 people out of around out 6000 total members.  Just getting a few hundred more would be a considerable achievement. 

To go to some of the AGMs I have driven there and back in a day.  For others I've had to plan to be away for longer to make the travelling worth while.  To be honest I've only really done this because I have been an officer or representative to BCA.  I don't intend to do this forever but I still would like to cast my vote without having to drive for seven hours and sit in a room for three more.  I want to be able to cast my vote from home just like I can post this reply.

In the main electronic voting isn't replacing postal voting (it can do that already for ballots) it is replacing having to turn up at an AGM on a specific date in person.

In the 30 day period that is traditionally open for voting I will be able to engage with BCA and cast my vote and I'll still be able to do that if I am on holiday or have to work on a specific day.  Electronic voting is the best way to improve all of this.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on April 09, 2019, 09:53:00 pm
Bob, when you're partially quoting me, altering the emphasis and then publicly describing these incomplete words as "devious" - who is really being devious?. I can assure you all my words were genuine; the BCA should aim to be as inclusive as possible and I believe true democracy is best. I also tried to make clear that the work of the volunteers who keep the ship afloat is very much appreciated.

What would count as a "reasonable majority"? Where do you draw the line? Who should be the arbiter of this? I don't want answers because I genuinely hope such questions are only ever hypothetical.

In fact - I'm struggling to understand exactly what you mean by a "mixed voting / paper ballot system". (Doesn't a paper ballot count as "voting"?) My view is every BCA member should have the opportunity to vote, including those who, for whatever reason, will not do it electronically. Anything different is not proper democracy and would only undermine the credibility of decisions. Regrettably, this might involve more work for our volunteer officers but surely it's a price worth paying to keep things absolutely fair?
It was not you that I was describing as devious but those who used the approach you describe before allowing progress on a point. 

RANT ON

You may not recall that CRoW was first formally discussed at an AGM in 2013.  In late 2014 BCA had a poll where 62% voted in favour.  But that was not enough for some.  It then took another three years to get to the ballot where 88% of individuals and 85% of clubs voted in favour.   

That line in your post has all the attributes of letting some one say 100% minus one is appropriate, which is what it felt like for the over four f##king years to get to silencing those who opposed the idea.  (Though I rather doubt the antis have gone away; rather they wait in the side lines to frustrate further work - work which is suspended whilst BREXIT carries on.)

It took me over two bloody months of working near full time 10 hour a day, most days a week and handling over 1000 emails to get the ballot run in 2017.  (And Cookie handled the email send side of it and others did the count, for which I was most grateful.)  Pity the idiot Jenny wants to make it doable next time.  Hardly an extra f##king mile? 

RANT OFF

Whilst I don't accept a vote of 50% plus one is a reasonable basis for a decision, perhaps 60% is appropriate.

By "mixed voting / paper ballot system" I should have written "mixed electronic / paper system".  But to make it doable, BCA will need to be much more curt in dealing with idiots who don't know their email or snail mail address.  And BCA will need to sort out its spread sheets / data bases - I had two passed to me and upset one person when I rejected theirs as it would have required even more work than the one I did use.  (And the data base I did use is updated by clubs each year; so no doubt the corrections I obtained in 2017 will have been lost since then.)

Sorry you touch on what is still a very very sore spot.


Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on April 09, 2019, 10:46:30 pm
Personally I think the BCA should suck up the cost and post each member their green card and online login details. This has the following advantages:

a) the BCA gets a direct opportunity to communicate with members (via mail-merged printed letter/welcome pack etc)
b) if the club databases are crap, this shows up quicker when members don't get their green cards,
c) electronic voting logins can be delivered to members.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 09, 2019, 11:27:40 pm
b) if the club databases are crap, this shows up quicker when members don't get their green cards,

In fact most of the club databases aren't crap - I can vouch for the time and effort that goes into compiling ours every year - and I hasten to add that it's not me that does it.  Most club secretaries and treasurers are incredibly conscientious in trying to get it right and follow up on people who haven't supplied their correct details in time.  A great many cavers aren't the sort of people who spend time on the fine details and are incredibly casual about filling in forms, etc.  or even bothering to vote!  So the clubs do the best they can but find it impossible to be 100% accurate every time because their members sometimes can't even get their own postal and email addresses right!

So yes, some do end up not getting their green cards in time to be able to produce them when needed for a trip requiring evidence of insurance near the start of then year.  But hopefully they'll learn for next year so things gradually improve.

Still, even given this, an electronic voting system has got to be better than what we have at present.  It won't be 100% correct 'cos we're dealing with real people, and cavers at that!  But there's a good fighting chance that it may be getting on for 90% correct and that's a start.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kay on April 10, 2019, 07:54:52 am
Not entirely true. It's true that about 90% of the population has a smartphone. However, the people who don't have email on a computer at home are the same people who either don't have a smart phone or don't use it for anything other than calls, texts and photos.

Again, not entirely true. I have had an email address since the early 1990s (Compuserve in those days!), but I have never had a smartphone, nor have I felt the slightest need for one.


Langcliffe, that's the other way round from what I said!  ;) I said, roughly, that not having a home computer implied you wouldn't have a smartphone. You can't disprove that by saying "but I've got a computer  and I haven't got a smartphone".

Roughly, there are 3 groups of people: 1) those who engaged with IT some time ago, and have a home computer and email (and may or may not have a smart phone) 2) those who engaged more recently and do everything on a smartphone 3) those who've never engaged and have neither. You're firmly in group 1! I was pointing out that people with no computer and no email tend to be group 3 people and don't have a smartphone either.


Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Pitlamp on April 10, 2019, 08:09:42 am
Bob - thanks for the explanation. I'm really pleased your "devious" comment wasn't aimed at me personally, as you're not someone I'd want to have a disagreement with. This is particularly because I know you are one of those volunteers I was trying to show appreciation for.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: BradW on April 10, 2019, 11:24:22 am
Jenny and Pitlamp sum up my views very well. My objection is that nobody should be denied the opportunity to get involved. Going to meetings or postal voting allows everyone to get involved, although it is certainly not convenient in many cases. So ADDING electronic engagement to the mix makes it more convenient for a large number of people. Keeping a mix of means to engage is the best option. Just because electronic engagement allows more people to get involved does not make it the answer if this is seen as a replacement for current systems, rather than complementary to them. Currently, everyone can potentially vote, but they don't as it is not convenient enough. If electronic voting is the only option, you may get more engagement, but you reduce the overall pool of people with the means to engage, and this is not acceptable. Disenfranchisement, even of a small minority, is a retrograde step and must not be contemplated.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cap'n Chris on April 10, 2019, 07:15:44 pm
Is it not the case that the Regional Caving Councils have autonomy and BCA cannot interfere in their business? In which case what immediate benefits would electronic voting with BCA confer to individual cavers in the shires, if any?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: alastairgott on April 10, 2019, 08:39:47 pm
Why do people love snail mail... biased opinion: stamps are expensive and welcome packs need keeping constantly upto date.

It sounds like lots of work to me, and yes I have operated a cantankerous old mail shot machine, which triple folded a piece of paper and stuffed and sealed an envelope. I have to say even putting 20 letters through wasn't a painless process. 6000, no thanks!

On welcome packs, what do you think someone created "new to caving" for? For the hell of it?

If we're talking of beefing up the "people process" when people join the BCA then surely we should be moving towards an "App based" system for smart phones where there are tabs for the different caving regions (where the peak district gets top spot by renaming itself "Derbyshire" and ordering Alphabetically).

The dissemination of information to a more tech savvy generation needs to be on-point.

Or we need to consider why we feel the need to send welcome packs to members. What is the critical information that we think new cavers or experienced cavers need to see?

I personally think of every club or organisation I've ever joined. It's been less about the paperwork and information I "need to read" and more about what members I have talked to. Even joining new businesses, the handbooks, charters and documents mean nothing really, what your fellow employees do and say will probably have more of an influence on you.

That's why when we're talking about retaining people in caving we need to surround them with people to encourage, teach, think and read about caving.
 I'd much rather someone tell me about the colonnades as an example in cave conservation or that of the work undertaken in P8 to take out the tubs. Both as aspects of cave conservation and why: we don't touch stal and we don't fill caves with stuff.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: alastairgott on April 10, 2019, 09:29:16 pm
an address (could be a building (home/poste restante/office(or tax haven)/c/o club/friend and/or an email (there might be some cavers without family travelling about who don't have other than very temporary physical addresses)

I couldn't agree with Martin more, I recently found myself in the position where I wanted the address for my BCA card and publications to be different to the address my card was registered to. I had the bank cards registered at one address but was no longer living there, so wanted the card and publications delivered to a temporary new address for a month till I established a different address.

As a DIM, I would like to change my postal address, but I also don't want it to be a labor intensive job for other people. So I guess the Cave and Karst Science newsletters are going to be continually delivered to another cavers house. Saving grace being I've got a card which has my login details for the BCRA website.

Worst case scenario, everyone of the 6000 cavers changed their address twice a year. That's a wildly exaggerated 33 changes of address every day! If only computers could do this work for us.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on April 10, 2019, 09:56:52 pm
Okay let's say that BCA offer every conceivable method of voting to current members, but adopt a policy that all new members need to give a valid email address (No email address = no membership = no insurance)
So a compromise has been made to avoid upsetting the dinosaurs.

At some point the dinosaurs will do what dinosaurs do, and the BCA will be left with a membership all with email addresses.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Fulk on April 11, 2019, 10:50:22 am
Quote
the dinosaurs will do what dinosaurs do

You mean, evolve into birds and shit on you?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on April 11, 2019, 01:00:45 pm
Quote
the dinosaurs will do what dinosaurs do

You mean, evolve into birds and shit on you?

There's always one smart arse! :)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 11, 2019, 02:26:45 pm
"... (where the peak district gets top spot by renaming itself "Derbyshire" and ordering Alphabetically) ..." - the reason for sticking with "Peak District" is that a number of the caves are over the borders in Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire and even Cheshire.  "The Peak District", as understood, is a specific region as opposed to just part of a county.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 11, 2019, 02:32:05 pm
I'm not sure that valid grounds for refusing insurance cover is lack of an email address.  It may be inconvenient but I'm fairly sure insurance likes to know where and who you are and a postal address seems to be part of the deal.

Email is certainly a labour-saving device when it comes to voting and dealing with officialdom but, as I've already pointed out, there are likely to be less than 400 out of the 6,000 members without an email address and they may have perfectly valid reasons for this.  Email for voting is definitely to be preferred but let's not disenfranchise those who, for whatever reason, don't have internet access.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on April 11, 2019, 05:32:55 pm
While I sympathise with those who do not have internet for genuine reasons (i.e. not personal choice), surely, they are already pretty removed from the BCA. Does the BCA send out meeting minutes, agendas, reports, newsletter etc by post (maybe they do… not sure)? I’d have thought that anyone living without internet must be isolated from the ins and outs of the BCA already.

Are there really many BCA members who:

(A)   Have no internet access at home.
(B)   Have no access to a public place where they can use the internet.
(C)   Have no contact with anyone who can help them with internet access.
(D)   And who would vote on BCA matters if it were offered by post.

I suspect the number of people who cannot access the internet or get a friend or relative to help them, and who actually would want to vote on matters arising from a BCA General Meeting, is going to be significantly smaller than the 400 you suggest.

Sorry Jenny; it is a fair point, and I do understand and have heard similar arguments within my own club (NPC). I suspect these arguments will trundle on particularly in the larger clubs for several more years to come. I am nonetheless stuck to my personal view that we cannot keep clinging onto use of non-electronic systems for a small (and perhaps rapidly diminishing) minority, especially when it creates so much additional work (postage, addressing envelopes, designing a paper voting form, counting form returns etc etc).

What I do believe we must do is make the electronic systems we implement extremely simple to use so non-internet savvy people can work them out; or at the very least that if they enlist the help of someone, it won’t be a time consuming or complicated process for the helper.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: darren on April 11, 2019, 07:04:21 pm
I'm sort of following this thread and I think I must of misunderstood something.

Are people really suggesting that in future cavers must have an email address to visit Charterhouse cave?

Seems that we might win the CROW battle hut replace it with an even more bizarre access restriction.

Must have email or access to email to join BCA, must have BCA insurance to visit Charterhouse.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cap'n Chris on April 11, 2019, 07:30:51 pm
I'm sort of following this thread and I think I must of misunderstood something.

Are people really suggesting that in future cavers must have an email address to visit Charterhouse cave?

Seems that we might win the CROW battle hut replace it with an even more bizarre access restriction.

Must have email or access to email to join BCA, must have BCA insurance to visit Charterhouse.

Hi Darren,

Worry not, your misgivings are not based in reality. Surprising though it may sound, when it comes to determining their own actions, regions such as CSCC, CNCC, DCA etc. are actually higher up the "food chain" than BCA and have their own autonomy in which BCA constitutionally cannot interfere so cave access control is nothing to do with the national organisation and is instead overseen and managed by the local  bodies, as has always been the case. This will not change but if attempts were made to do so they would fail as groups/people/organisations are at liberty to make their own arrangements with landowners whenever they wish. It's known as freedom.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 11, 2019, 08:32:22 pm
I'm quite sure there is nothing which says you must have an email address to be able to join BCA, though BCA does ask for your email address if you can provide one.  Equally, I'd be pretty sure that no insurance company is going to refuse you insurance because you don't provide an email address, though you would normally be required to provide a postal address.

Where there is a potential problem is in electronic voting where, if you don't provide BCA with an email address, there is a suggestion that you might not be able to have a postal vote instead.  There is clearly a disagreement on this so it will be for the AGM to agree on what the ruling should be.

I have no idea what the rules for access to a Charterhouse cave might be - are you required to provide them with an email address? If not, provided you have BCA membership insurance if this is a requirement, there shouldn't be a problem.  Perhaps someone with more knowledge of the Charterhouse agreement could answer this query.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: PeteHall on April 11, 2019, 08:46:26 pm
Wildly off topic, but Charterhouse Cave does not require BCA insurance.

This subject has been recently discussed here: https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=24856.0 (https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=24856.0)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: complex on April 11, 2019, 09:00:26 pm
[snip]
I also strongly believe that provision of email addresses should be a requirement of BCA membership. An organisation that is not able to communicate directly with its members (relying on Club Secretaries to filter news downwards which may or may not happen) is already badly hampered in what it can achieve.
[snip]
The BCA currently requires that all members of a BCA club are also members of the BCA. For those who do not want (or are unable) to have an email address, not only are you stopping them being a member of the BCA, you would also stop them being a member of a BCA affiliated club. I'm not sure I would want to be the person to break the news to them:

"Hi Fred, I know you've been a loyal member of this club for 49 years, but since you are unable to supply an email address we are going to have to expel you. Get with the times Grandad"
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on April 11, 2019, 10:01:48 pm
The BCA currently requires that all members of a BCA club are also members of the BCA. For those who do not want (or are unable) to have an email address, not only are you stopping them being a member of the BCA, you would also stop them being a member of a BCA affiliated club. I'm not sure I would want to be the person to break the news to them:

"Hi Fred, I know you've been a loyal member of this club for 49 years, but since you are unable to supply an email address we are going to have to expel you. Get with the times Grandad"
BCA only requires all individual members of a club to be members of BCA if the club wants insurance cover.  If a club wishes to be a member of BCA without insurance cover, then it does not need to get its individual members to be members.  The reason for this is BCA cannot by law sell insurance, it can only give insurance as a membership benefit.  And most clubs are set up in a way (known as unincorporated) by which any liability on the club is by law, a liability on all members, not the club.  Hence the necessity of ensuring all members of a club are individually insured so as to ensure if the club is sued, then cover is there for the club and all in it.  Else you could get the situation which did occur some decades ago where several (richer) members of a club were sued along side the club for a caving incident.  (The case was settled out of court.)

I should add that the insurers were quite clear when we set up BCA that they wanted names and addresses to be collected so that they had a clear idea of whom they were providing cover for.  (Be grateful that they don't want ID like banks.) 

In fact several options have been talked about:

1) each individual member supplies a name, address and email address as a condition of membership, or
2) each individual member supplies a name and address as a condition of membership plus an optional email address.

Then there is a set up where by:

A) notification of voting will be sent to an email address and use of a computer is the only way to vote;
B) notification of voting will be sent to an email or postal address and use of a computer is the only way to vote;

So you could have 1 & A, 2 & A or 2 & B. 

My guess is a vote would go for 2 & A. (The 2017 situation was there were over 4000 members with email addresses and 1200 without out). 

I would add that we did debate whether we could use email addresses in 2017 with respect to data protection requirements since there was no explicit statement we would contact members via email addresses to send them a ballot paper.  I am unclear if the tightening up of GDPR would stop that without it being spelt out a revised policy statement.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on April 11, 2019, 10:03:14 pm
[snip]
I also strongly believe that provision of email addresses should be a requirement of BCA membership. An organisation that is not able to communicate directly with its members (relying on Club Secretaries to filter news downwards which may or may not happen) is already badly hampered in what it can achieve.
[snip]
The BCA currently requires that all members of a BCA club are also members of the BCA. For those who do not want (or are unable) to have an email address, not only are you stopping them being a member of the BCA, you would also stop them being a member of a BCA affiliated club. I'm not sure I would want to be the person to break the news to them:

"Hi Fred, I know you've been a loyal member of this club for 49 years, but since you are unable to supply an email address we are going to have to expel you. Get with the times Grandad"

You or the club could also help Fred get an email address.  It is very simple.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: darren on April 11, 2019, 10:14:53 pm
[snip]
I also strongly believe that provision of email addresses should be a requirement of BCA membership. An organisation that is not able to communicate directly with its members (relying on Club Secretaries to filter news downwards which may or may not happen) is already badly hampered in what it can achieve.
[snip]
The BCA currently requires that all members of a BCA club are also members of the BCA. For those who do not want (or are unable) to have an email address, not only are you stopping them being a member of the BCA, you would also stop them being a member of a BCA affiliated club. I'm not sure I would want to be the person to break the news to them:

"Hi Fred, I know you've been a loyal member of this club for 49 years, but since you are unable to supply an email address we are going to have to expel you. Get with the times Grandad"


Thank you complex, you have said what I was  aiming at better than I did.  Some people refuse to be involved in digital age., Are we really going to ban them from caveing with clubs.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on April 11, 2019, 11:05:57 pm
Alternative solution: if someone doesn't want to be disenfranchised by not having access to the web, they can tell the Recorder in person at the end of the AGM that they want to register their vote on the subsequent ballot immediately because they don't have Internet access. Thus non-Internet person ends up with no less ability to vote than before electronic voting is introduced.

Given the number of people who currently turn up to an AGM, and the fraction of those who don't have Internet access, I doubt this will be arduous...
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: thomasr on April 12, 2019, 07:32:51 am
Why not electronic voting. And should you wish postal, YOU  send a stamped addressed envelope ? I should think these people would number but dozens .  Even the impoverished should be able to afford a few stamps cheaper than running a computer
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: darren on April 12, 2019, 09:33:19 am
I'm not to bothered about the AGM voting.

What really concerns me is that some of the regular contributers, who often post with strong opinions that they defend with strong language fail to see that internet forums are a self selecting bubble, that by definition fail to represent the wider community and it's views.

A certain type of self selected person uses forums, no reputable polling organisation would use this selection of people to be representative.

Forums are useful, fun and informative but not the real world.

Remember if you hold a poll using email to find out who has access to the internet,  you will get a result of almost 100%

Just useful to bear in mind..
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: BradW on April 12, 2019, 09:37:15 am
Good point Darren. None of these people without the internet have come on here to express their concerns.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: droid on April 12, 2019, 10:32:19 am


some of the regular contributers, who often post with strong opinions that they defend with strong language fail to see that internet forums are a self selecting bubble, that by definition fail to represent the wider community and it's views.

A certain type of self selected person uses forums, no reputable polling organisation would use this selection of people to be representative.

Forums are useful, fun and informative but not the real world.


UKC doesn't represent the Will of the People?

What heresy is this?

Shocked and stunned  :lol: :lol:
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: mikem on April 12, 2019, 10:50:00 am
That's okay as they won't know what is to be voted on anyway ;)

Only practical way I see this working is for proposals to be discussed before the AGM, with online voting if deemed necessary (don't need something like the boaty mcboatface debacle), then they can be taken to the meeting to be ratified - where a majority decision could only be blocked if it was illegal, unconstitutional or ridiculous. A close decision could then be turned around if enough people attended the meeting.

Other option is a live feed of the meeting, where non-attendees can vote online or by phone at the time.

Mike
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on April 12, 2019, 05:16:39 pm
How about adding a £5 or whatever premium to the membership fee of anyone who doesn't submit an email address. That would cover the cost of sending stuff out by post rather than email.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: darren on April 12, 2019, 06:06:30 pm
How about those of us are intelligent enough, computer literate enough, lucky enough and privileged enough to have computer access, club together and cover the cost of postage for those that aren't?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 12, 2019, 06:17:01 pm
How about adding a £5 or whatever premium to the membership fee of anyone who doesn't submit an email address. That would cover the cost of sending stuff out by post rather than email.

I think this would be almost impossible to implement because this would involve CIMs and their membership is via their club.  I can't see club secretaries wanting to be involved in another layer of complications.

I quite like this idea, posted by Thomasr:
And should you wish postal, YOU  send a stamped addressed envelope ? I should think these people would number but dozens .  Even the impoverished should be able to afford a few stamps cheaper than running a computer

I worked out the non-email members might be of the order of 400 or so - and posting out this number of letters in advance to these people would cost BCA of the order of 400 x 80p including postage, envelopes, paperwork, etc. - say around £320 - plus the hassle.  (More, of course if my estimate is too low.)

Provided that the requirement to send in your own S.A.E. to a specified BCA address (well in advance of the date of the AGM at which you wish to vote), is advertised as widely as possible in print as well as on websites, etc. Thomasr's idea might work.  BCA uses the S.A.E. received to send a voting paper, which the member then returns to BCA at his own expense.  So the expense falls on the member who wishes a postal vote rather than electronic and all that BCA needs to do is to arrange to receive the returns and count them.

It's another possibility ...

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: droid on April 12, 2019, 08:22:44 pm
Tell me again how much BCA has sitting in bank accounts....
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: mikem on April 12, 2019, 09:01:01 pm
BMC AGM for comparison:
https://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmc-agm-2019-report
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on April 12, 2019, 10:34:47 pm
BMC AGM for comparison:
https://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmc-agm-2019-report

I suspect there will be no comparison to the BCA AGM!


Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on April 14, 2019, 08:19:02 am
So the deadline has passed, at midnight last night, for proposals to go before the AGM in eight weeks time.  Matt put his forward as described - I seconded one!  They are with the secretary and we will all find out in due course what others there are.  The only opportunity to vote on any of these is by being present in person at Horton in Ribblesdale village hall on 9th June.  Please come with your BCA membership card if you wish to vote.  Clubs can vote too by sending a representative with a letter of authority from a club officer.

This is an opportunity to change BCA for the better and make it an organisation that cavers can be proud of.  It is only a start but the green shoots are there in all quarters.  I hope that in years to come we will look back fondly on BCA, our organisation, and remember how close we came to loosing Matt before he even started.  Not everyone in BCA welcomes change so we do need to make it happen.

Yesterday - another six hour marathon council meeting.  Some battles fought but none too bloody and a lot of good business done... and just to please Droid it is now £252K  ;)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on April 14, 2019, 12:54:55 pm
It was certainly a marathon BCA Council meeting, but one that covered a lot of ground and which was well chaired and mostly good natured. I took 27 pages of hand-written minutes, which I’ll be trying to make sense of and write up over the coming weeks.

It is perhaps no surprise that the meetings are long; there is a lot to get through, and a reasonable amount was achieved yesterday. Praise is due to the current Acting Secretary who has addressed a lot of the untidiness resulting from the lack of a long-term Secretary for about four years. Lots of this isn’t high profile or glamourous stuff, and is easily overlooked or overshadowed by some of the more radical modernisation discussions here, but it must not be forgotten. It’s fair to say that Robin (current Acting Secretary) and I differ in opinion on many things, but we share the same enthusiasm to see the BCA be successful, and I am extremely grateful for him serving as Acting Secretary over the last year or so. If indeed I am to become Secretary in June, I know I inherit a house that has much of its background infrastructure well in order thanks to his efforts.

There are lots of very encouraging signs of modernisation ahead too, and applications forms for Council positions and proposal documents were floating around in abundance yesterday.

The new Insurance Manager/Treasurer is doing an outstanding job and presented options for the BCA to be able to offer personal accident (Death and Disability) as part of the BCA insurance which is given as a benefit of membership. There will be a consultation over the coming months to see if this is something the wider membership wish to adopt. There is also lots of work ongoing to set up an expedition/overseas insurance policy via an insurance provider, which can be available to cavers, and which will hopefully be much more suitable than any current policy on the market. The hope is that cavers can take out this policy in the confidence that the BCA has give it the thumbs-up for covering everything an expedition/overseas caver might require.

There was a lengthy discussion about the BCA newsletter. Currently this is not emailed out to members (those who have provided their email address) due to GDPR fears. There was frustration with this, and a general belief that GDPR does not prevent the BCA from sending newsletters to their members. Some concerns were raised that the newsletter constitutes ‘marketing’ but these fears were quashed by citing examples of much larger national organisations who send out newsletters regardless. Fear and overinterpretation of GDPR seems to be the main reason hampering the BCA from communicating with its members, and of 20 voting Council members, 18 clearly felt this was unjustified and voted in favour of emailing the newsletter out to members who have provided email addresses and who, as part of this, have opted-in to receive such communications.

I would like to appeal to BCA members to please register for BCA online and opt-in to receive email communications:

https://members.british-caving.org.uk/users/login

By doing so it means the BCA can communicate important news and details to you relating directly to your membership, BCA activities or matters of key importance to British Caving (not marketing!). We’re not talking about tonnes of emails here… probably only a handful each year.

My proposals (discussed earlier in this thread) were put forward and will appear in the AGM Agenda, which should be made available no later than 28th April on the BCA website. They are going to be controversial, as they represent a big change to some of the cornerstones of BCA operations, so it is important to take time to consider them carefully.

My gut feeling from all the conversations I have had, and my perception at the last few Council meetings, is that assuming the turnout to the BCA AGM is limited to the usual regular attendees, my most significant proposals will split the room and thus have a strong chance of being rejected. Therefore, if you feel strongly about my proposals, then I urge you to turn out to the AGM to vote; as Badlad has said above, this means both individuals (BCA cards needed) and voting clubs (letter of authorisation from club Officer needed).

Tim and Jane Allen have also put forward a similarly controversial proposal regarding the P&I Committee, which has my full support and endorsement.

Personally, I’m excited about the future of the BCA and really encouraged by the number of new and young people getting involved, all passionate about making a big difference for British Caving. What we need from BCA members is the same positivity and a little more engagement… even if this is just in the form of registering for BCA Online, reading the newsletters and understanding more about what the BCA does.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cookie on April 14, 2019, 05:41:15 pm
[Re] BCA newsletter. Currently this is not emailed out to members ...

Matt did you mean to write this? The statement isn't true as you should know because you are signed up to receive the Newsletter by email.

The Newsletter is sent to all those who have given consent.

From the last Newsletter on, it is sent to all the clubs with a request to forward to their members.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: NewStuff on April 14, 2019, 05:57:23 pm
[Re] BCA newsletter. Currently this is not emailed out to members ...

Matt did you mean to write this? The statement isn't true as you should know because you are signed up to receive the Newsletter by email.

The Newsletter is sent to all those who have given consent.

From the last Newsletter on, it is sent to all the clubs with a request to forward to their members.

While I certainly can't speak for Matt, it seems to me you've answered your own question.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 14, 2019, 06:05:00 pm
Problem is that not all club secretaries who receive the Newsletter forward it on to their members, so many of the club individual members won't even know it exists.

I thought we had agreed yesterday that, from now on, we would email the Newsletter to all individual members whose email addresses we have, provided that the email contains an option to "unsubscribe" for those who definitely do not want it.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cookie on April 14, 2019, 06:22:24 pm
Hi Jenny, yes that is what the majority of Council agreed.

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on April 14, 2019, 06:30:20 pm
Cookie; I am confused. We had a 30 minute discussion in yesterday's Council meeting in which you voiced your objection to emailing the newsletter out to all members on GDPR grounds. However you say above that we are already doing this. Is the word 'individual' simply missing from my original posting?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cookie on April 14, 2019, 06:37:29 pm
Since the Newsletter went digital it has been emailed out to those individual members who have consented to receiving it. Consent is obtained for DIMs on their renewal form. CIM need to go to BCAOnline to give their consent because we do not ask the Clubs to gain their members consent on BCA's behalf.

An addition the Newsletter is emailed out the all the Clubs with a request to forward on to their members.

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 14, 2019, 06:47:42 pm
I think the problem comes in referring simply to "members".  This can mean club members, direct individual members or club individual members.

Basically, BCA has the email contact addresses for all Clubs, because it uses them to send out membership lists for "club individual member" subscriptions - but this will normally be the email of the officer in the club who deals with subscriptions for "club individual members" each year, and this may not be the Secretary. 

BCA also has all the DIM emails because these are "direct individual members" who communicate with BCA when they renew their subscriptions each year. 

BCA does not have the emails of all the "club individual members" because some clubs supply this information on behalf of their members when they send in their lists; however other clubs do not supply this information.  BCA has no direct contact with these "club individual members" whose emails are not supplied by their club.

That's why we have a problem communicating with some of our individual members.

Hope that makes sense!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cookie on April 14, 2019, 07:23:35 pm
[Re] BCA newsletter. Currently this is not emailed out to members ...

Matt did you mean to write this? The statement isn't true as you should know because you are signed up to receive the Newsletter by email.

The Newsletter is sent to all those who have given consent.

From the last Newsletter on, it is sent to all the clubs with a request to forward to their members.

While I certainly can't speak for Matt, it seems to me you've answered your own question.

I should have said In addition from the last Newsletter on, it is sent to all the clubs with a request to forward to their members.

The digital Newsletter has always been emailed out to individual members with consent. Recently we started emailing it out to the clubs as well.

Matt's statement  that "[Re] BCA newsletter. Currently this is not emailed out to members ..." is false.

Cookie; I am confused. We had a 30 minute discussion in yesterday's Council meeting in which you voiced your objection to emailing the newsletter out to all members on GDPR grounds. However you say above that we are already doing this. Is the word 'individual' simply missing from my original posting?

I objected to sending out the Newsletter to Individual members where we do not have consent. PECR requires that we have consent.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cookie on April 14, 2019, 09:08:43 pm
There's clearly some confusion. Not surprisingly since this came up in AOB at the end of a long meeting.

I have offered a way forwards to Council at a previous meeting. It does require some programming effort to upgrade BCA Online in order to implement it and thus has to jostle with all the other priorities.

Council's alternative solution isn't a quick fix because it also requires some programming effort to implement.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on April 14, 2019, 09:53:50 pm
I objected to sending out the Newsletter to Individual members where we do not have consent. PECR requires that we have consent.
And I wonder how many clubs who forward it have sought consent from their members? 

Cookie is right about CEPR given that BCA's policy at http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=about:documents:privacy_notice (http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=about:documents:privacy_notice) states:

"E-news items

With consent we email items of news that we believe will be of interest to our members. "


So Council is proposing to break the law rather than just change the policy.

It could all be easily solved by changing the conditions of membership by changing the policy to include receiving the newsletter as well as for good measure, receiving material relating to all general meetings - something which is not spelt out.  But I suggest who ever is going to sort out this mess has a look at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/principles/ (https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/principles/) before making a move (Cookie excepted - though it might be nice if he got his draft checked for omissions).
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: 2xw on April 15, 2019, 12:31:39 am
It should be a check box whenever someone renews/gets aembership, like every other organisation on earth. Logging on to BCA online is a pain in the arse (I've never been able to)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on April 15, 2019, 12:38:15 am
We shouldn't even be asking for consent, as consent is not required under the 'legitimate interest' basis and it is misleading to ask for it. We should ensure that a) there is no marketing in the BCA newsletter (which I don't believe there is) and b) an opt-out is available.

But otherwise, we really, really need to start getting this useful information out to people.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on April 15, 2019, 08:17:20 am
Hi Cookie; I agree that there seems to be some misunderstanding here so my apologies. From the nature of the discussion on Saturday it seemed to present to me that the BCA weren't emailing the newsletter out to anyone. Certainly, I haven't ever received it (although I will happily concede this is more likely to be my email system filing it as spam or junk). Therefore, my statement in my original post is incorrect as you have said.

However, I am in agreement with Andrew that under Legitimate Interest we shouldn't need to be asking permission to communicate essential information about the BCA to our members, and I would have thought that a newsletter communicating the current work of the BCA would be considered a reasonable expectation of membership, along with emails about membership, meetings etc.

The CNCC cites legitimate interest for this purpose: https://cncc.org.uk/data-protection.php

I note that the BCA privacy policy does specify a need for specific consent for the BCA to email news items out (although 'distribution of publications' is listed as a membership service in the above line thus not requiring specific consent, so where the newsletter falls is unclear... is it news...  or a publication... I'd say both);

http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=about:documents:privacy_notice

I suspect a slight review of this policy in respect to the Council decision on Saturday is needed, OR a Council decision that the newsletter is considered to fall under the category of publications rather than news (that one may be a difficult argument).
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on April 15, 2019, 08:24:00 am
There's clearly some confusion. Not surprisingly since this came up in AOB at the end of a long meeting.


I'm not sure who is confused but this issue was discussed under item 13 on the agenda (out of 26 items).    We discussed it for about 20 minutes of a six hour meeting, voted on a proposal and agreed to send out the newsletter to all members we had email for.  I know you voted against for GDPR reasons but numerous attendees made the case against applying a narrow interpretation.  I particularly liked the exasperated view expressed by the ex-chairman which went something like this,

We are cavers, not timid tiddley winkers.  We go underground, take risks and face dangers on every trip.  Yet we don't seem to have the bottle to send out our own newsletter to our own members.

Whatever the confusion, council was clear in its direction.  Whatever needs to be done, changing the wording on the membership forms, changing the policy, taking the risk, we should be sending our own newsletter out to all our members.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cookie on April 15, 2019, 08:56:53 am
Badlad, you clearly went to a different meeting from me. It was discussed at the end of the meeting. Matt will be able to confirm that.

But I agree with your account of the wishes of Council. The only problem is that it is against the law. It was suggested that Council consult a third party expert. As they don't believe me, and as the person Council appointed to deal with this I have researched this in great detail, I recommend that is done before acting.

The law you need to be looking at is the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) not GDPR. As such the Legitimate Interest argument doesn't apply.

There are ways but Councils current choice is not it.

To most people receiving unsolicited email from an organisation they are a member of isn't a problem, we all get so much spam anyway. However to a few it is a real trigger point. We should be respecting their wishes.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cookie on April 15, 2019, 09:18:03 am
Hi Matt, no need to apologise but thanks anyway.

The problem only applies to CIM members. Whatever you do, you need consent from the individual at some point.

One option is to ask the clubs to obtain that consent for us and pass it along to BCA with the other membership information which they pass on in the form of a spreadsheet already. I doubt the clubs will be amenable but we can ask and see what response we get.

The other option is to exercise BCA's rights under the soft opt-in. That allows, as part of the joining/renewal process, BCA to send an email to ask the question. That's is my preferred option but requires an upgrade to BCA Online to make the process manageable. If you can think of a practicable manual system, be my guest.

At my initiation, Council did agree at this meeting to form a sub-committee to be responsible for the ongoing data protection issues. I suggest that that sub-committee look at this again.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: MarkS on April 15, 2019, 09:24:44 am
Does PECR not just relate to marketing?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on April 15, 2019, 09:25:32 am
Badlad, you clearly went to a different meeting from me. It was discussed at the end of the meeting. Matt will be able to confirm that.

The early agenda items all appear to take more time so I think you can both be right here? I think it was discussed under item 13.2, but this did occur later in the meeting then the numbers alone would suggest.


Quote
The law you need to be looking at is the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) not GDPR. As such the Legitimate Interest argument doesn't apply.

Am I right in thinking that this is (privacy policy aside) the only major disagreement here?

If the newsletter is direct marketing, then it requires opt-in consent. You believe the newsletter is, or contains, direct marketing. Council has decided it is not direct marketing and thus PECR does not apply.

Quote
However to a few it is a real trigger point. We should be respecting their wishes.

An opt-out is always a requirement. If we are using legitimate interest then it has to be something that a reasonable person would expect to get (as a membership benefit, in our case). Some people may not be reasonable but we can't permanently hamstring the BCA for those.

From the ICO guidance:
"Direct marketing is not limited to advertising goods or services for sale. It also includes promoting an organisation’s aims and Ideals. This means that the direct marketing rules in the DPA and PECR will apply to the promotional, campaigning and fundraising activities of not-for-profit organisations. For example, a charity or political party contacting particular individuals to appeal for funds or votes, or contacting supporters to encourage them to write to their MP or attend a public meeting or rally, would be covered by the direct marketing rules."

I think this is something we should be aware of but in the newsletter we are not encouraging people to donate, or asking them to do anything, we are just providing information as a membership benefit.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: mikem on April 15, 2019, 10:00:34 am
Even if it does contain marketing, CIMs have bought in to membership, so you have a prior business relationship anyway...

Mike
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: ali_mac on April 15, 2019, 03:03:34 pm
I for one can say that I have signed up to receive the newsletter by e-mail, but have never actually received it.

IMHO, this all comes under legitimate interest anyway.

I still think that the worst thing, is that in order to vote for change, I must travel from central London, 5 hours assuming no breaks, for a meeting on a Sunday, presumably taking a day off on Monday to do so.
Unfortunately, I can't justify the diesel costs, or the time.

My club will also likely not send a representative for similar reasons.  We aren't a big club, and we aren't a rich club, and I suppose that means we don't get a say.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: badger on April 15, 2019, 04:43:01 pm
newsletter aside, driving to the agm, I will be travelling up Friday night from Chichester so even further than London, in fact where ever the agm is be it mendip 3 hours, south wales 3 1/2, Derbyshire also 3 1/2 to 4 or north 5 hours plus, I have a lengthy journey, I like a few in the south make the effort, all depends if you feel the need to get involved or your happy with the way things are.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: badger on April 15, 2019, 04:46:29 pm
cost by train £85.00
for me about the same for fuel
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: ali_mac on April 15, 2019, 05:45:34 pm
[...]all depends if you feel the need to get involved or your happy with the way things are.


cost by train £85.00
for me about the same for fuel


Don't want to spend the best part of £100 to vote?
Don't want to spend 10 hours driving?
Obviously I don't give a shit.   :clap2:



Quite clearly I would like to get involved, and quite clearly I am not happy with the way that things are.
It's just that I don't have a spare £85 (optimistic for my 25+year old car) and the idea of spending over 5 hours driving each way doesn't exactly fill me with excitement.

If only there was a way I could participate remotely.... perhaps some kind of device to allow secure communication with those geographically far away...


I really don't understand why an organisation people pay to belong to, would be reluctant to make engagement easier.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: GarDouth on April 15, 2019, 07:24:18 pm
At least it's in a caving area so you can also have a day underground. Maybe this will make the drive a bit more worth it :)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: NewStuff on April 15, 2019, 07:37:18 pm
At least it's in a caving area so you can also have a day underground. Maybe this will make the drive a bit more worth it :)

Or maybe, as a lot of people want, the BCA can move into the current era and remove the archaic need for people to spend £££'s and a couple of day's to be physically present.

To some people out there, £100 is a lot of money. Using a couple of days holiday (not everyone works 9-5 weekdays) may be out of the question. It doesn't mean they don't care, or want to get involved, it means they're priced out of being involved.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: alastairgott on April 15, 2019, 09:46:33 pm
From the ICO website, it suggests you can send out information to members (even without express consent), "such as changes to terms and conditons" so an email with the information that people need for the AGM can be sent out to all members you have an email address for.
 Within that email (probably at the top) you could have an opt in box for the newsletter. you might get a good uptake.

This will not constitute direct marketing. but as we do want to advertise things like hidden earth in the newsletter, then the newsletters themselves probably do constitute "direct marketing".

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/?template=pdf&patch=10#directmarketing

I work round the corner (3mins walk) from the head office of the ICO. So if you want me to pop by for advise and post it here i'm more than able to. https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/who-we-are/
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cookie on April 15, 2019, 10:17:48 pm
Hi Alastair,

Yes that approach is similar to the one I mentioned above and is my preferred way forward.

Thank you for your offer. The ICO thoughts on whether our Newsletter constitutes direct marketing would be useful. The term direct marketing is poorly defined. Show them some example back issues.

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on April 15, 2019, 10:42:16 pm
Using Alistair's example. Surely telling members of an event such as Hidden Earth is not direct marketing, it's merely informing the membership of an upcoming event. Even suggesting places to buy caving gear would just be passing on useful advice ;)

Do we really need yet another sub-committee to hum and haw over this? Can the committee not take responsibility for making the decision rather the palming it off to somebody else?

If the BCA were a business it would have ceased trading long ago because no-one seems capable of making any decisions.

Ali-Mac - If no-one from your club can attend then I'd be happy to vote on your behalf, with an official letter of authority obviously.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: alastairgott on April 15, 2019, 10:54:47 pm
I'll pop in and ask them how much notice they need me to give to "be seen".  :blink:
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on April 16, 2019, 10:36:05 am
I had some dealings with the Information Commissioner last year.  I found them to be very reasonable in the way they applied the regs.  The regs are there to protect individuals and prevent misuse of their data.  I am sure they would not consider a caving organisation sending out a newsletter about caving to its members an illegal act.

BCA can just go ahead and send out its newsletter as council has directed (twice). We heard from many council members on Saturday how everyone from parish councils to the BMC send out newsletter type information as standard to its members always with the ability to unsubscribe.

If someone feels so strongly about receiving it then they can put in a complaint to the IC.  The IC would contact BCA to hear their views, consider the matter carefully and then they would issue a decision and advice on the correct way forward. 

BCA council has made itself clear (twice).  If the officer charged with implementing council decisions is unwilling or unable to carry them out then they should reconsider their position at BCA.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 16, 2019, 05:00:16 pm
That last remark seems rather unnecessary sniping!

The problem seems to be that, whilst Council has indeed voted to send the Newsletter to all individual members for whom we have email addresses, there appear to be a number of people (both council members and others), who seem to be uncertain whether this is legally OK under the most recent data protection acts.  I happen to think it probably is OK; however, I am not a legal expert and Council cannot "instruct" one of its officers to do something illegal.

In this context Alastair's offer to check with ICO directly by taking examples of the Newsletter to show them and seeking their advice is extremely helpful.  Once we have clear advice, one way or the other, then it may be possible to go ahead with what Council wants to be able to do.

If it turns out that this is acceptable legally then, provided we ensure that there is the option to "unsubscribe" for those who really do not want to receive the Newsletter, then we may be able to go ahead.  As Cookie said yesterday:
The other option is to exercise BCA's rights under the soft opt-in. That allows, as part of the joining/renewal process, BCA to send an email to ask the question. That's is my preferred option but requires an upgrade to BCA Online to make the process manageable.

He also said:
At my initiation, Council did agree at this meeting to form a sub-committee to be responsible for the ongoing data protection issues. I suggest that that sub-committee look at this again.

It may also be worth noting that my own club sent out its latest subscription reminders with the following note included:
NB, Email addresses:
BCA would like to use your Email address to contact you for specific purposes such as Constitutional changes or Ballots. It guarantees not to supply addresses to other persons/companies or to use them for advertising.
If you object to BCA using your Email at all please inform ----- by email before the end of 2018
.

So you see, some clubs are trying to be helpful.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jopo on April 16, 2019, 05:24:09 pm
For clarification. Is there any difference between, for example, caving clubs, Cambrian Caving Council, BMC, CNCC newsletters being sent to members and a BCA newsletter being sent to members?

If the BCA emailed every member it has email addresses for asking if they DID NOT WANT a BCA newsletter sent direct then the ball could get rolling, I would guess a very, very small % would decline.

Jopo
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: ali_mac on April 16, 2019, 05:59:23 pm
I do feel that most here are missing the point of GDPR.

I struggle to think of a reason why there isn't a Legitimate Interest for sending a newsletter to paid up club members...
https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/lawful-basis-for-processing/legitimate-interests/

I'm certain that it has already been done, but may I suggest that someone more involved with the BCA takes the time to look at this:
https://www.sportandrecreation.org.uk/pages/gdpr-clubs

It is the resource pushed by the BMC, to aid smaller clubs - https://www.thebmc.co.uk/gdpr-mountaineering-clubs
Quote
This guidance has been written for the committee of a mountaineering, walking or climbing club to use while reviewing the way that their club processes data within their club to ensure compliance with GDPR.  It is based on information available at the time of writing.  There are several topics where the Information Commissioners Office still has to provide full guidance, therefore additional information may be made available to clubs in the future.


Madness,
Thank you for your offer.
I will try and put this to the club I'm in, and PM you once I have a result.

Ali-Mac - If no-one from your club can attend then I'd be happy to vote on your behalf, with an official letter of authority obviously.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on April 16, 2019, 06:10:13 pm
If sending out the newsletter did turn out to be 'a bit naughty' (and I'm of the firm belief that it isn't) and someone did take exception (someone will, just to be an arse). Then I suspect the BCA would be sent to the naughty step and told not to do it again.

Come on BCA Council, get real and grow a pair!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on April 16, 2019, 06:24:52 pm
Come on BCA Council, get real and grow a pair!

I think that it exactly what happened (sensibly or otherwise)?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kat on April 17, 2019, 06:56:04 pm
Been away from this for a week or so so bit a catch up. 

I do find it concerning to see a suggestion that having, and providing, an e-mail address to the BCA should be a requirement of membership.  Membership should be open to all irrespective of whether or not they wish to use or provide an e-mail address.  Plus for as long as someone has to be a BCA member if they wish to be a member of a BCA Club this again seems a very undemocratic requirement.  What does the Club do if someone doesn't have an email address - throw them out?     

My Club still has a small number of such members.  We continue to aim to respect them and engage them with the Club as best we can - and yes they get Club newsletters by post.

There has to be a better way for the BCA to deal with the issue and enable communication with those members. Even if its simply advising them (via the Club route if appropriate) that without an email address they won't receive direct communications.

That debate however is different to the voting aspect. Here you can offer online voting or attendance in person - or if deemed necessary voting in proxy as well (which may be seen as less of an issue if on-line voting is introduced at the same time).  This should cover those without email.     

Several posts ago Jenny asked about whether non-Club Group Members should retain a vote. (I have no idea how to post a quote).
 
I would suggest yes.  Otherwise where in the BCA is the voice of cave rescue, cave research etc. Certainly any thought of removal of such a vote should be considered in the wider context of the objects and roles of the BCA and not removed merely because the 2 House system is thought of as a little bit complicated or difficult to manage with on-line voting.


Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: NewStuff on April 17, 2019, 07:18:02 pm
My Club still has a small number of such members. 
So, for the sake of these few, the rest of the BCA has to physically turn up. If it's at the other end of the country, you can't get time off work, can't spend on a ticket or fuel to get where ever, hell, even a late train,will mean you can't vote. It doesn't take a massively left progressive to see that looking after the few at the expense of the majority is the undemocratic thing to do, no matter how nice they are, or what they contribute.

We continue to aim to respect them and engage them with the Club as best we can
Then help them get an email address, show them how to use it, or do the clicking for for them. It'll help with many other things in this day and age besides BCA stuff.

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Peregrina on April 17, 2019, 07:27:42 pm
My Club still has a small number of such members. 
So, for the sake of these few, the rest of the BCA has to physically turn up. If it's at the other end of the country, you can't get time off work, can't spend on a ticket or fuel to get where ever, hell, even a late train,will mean you can't vote. It doesn't take a massively left progressive to see that looking after the few at the expense of the majority is the undemocratic thing to do, no matter how nice they are, or what they contribute.

kat is clearly saying they don't want to see an email address being required for BCA membership, not that they are against online voting.

That debate however is different to the voting aspect. Here you can offer online voting or attendance in person [...] This should cover those without email.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Ed on April 17, 2019, 11:43:55 pm

Bit of a sticky wicket for the BCA asking third parties to send its newsletter to its  members . As BCA members rather than club members that is

Does the BCA have an appropriate data sharing memorandum with said third parties and do said third parties have approval from their members to use their data on behalf of another organisation? Or is there a valid reason that for would stand up in a court of law.

It's hard enough sorting legitimate data sharing between Local government and police for regulatory enforcement......
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Ed on April 17, 2019, 11:46:16 pm
Double posted
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: ali_mac on April 18, 2019, 07:01:16 am

It's hard enough sorting legitimate data sharing between Local government and police for regulatory enforcement......

Which presumably includes actual, you know, personal data... Stuff like names, date of birth, identifying features, allegations of criminality, and so bears no relationship or relevance to a caving club newsletter...
Some top mental gymnastics going on here.
If half of you you applied the same caution to caving, none of you would leave your houses without a safety horse...

(https://i.imgur.com/5MHWokt.jpg)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Ed on April 18, 2019, 10:00:18 am
Ali_mac

My point was that BCA should be sending information to their members  directly not using third parties.

Caving clubs get the 'personal data' of folk as their members and BCA as members of separate organization......yes it muddied as one sometimes requires membership of the other.

My final paragraph was just to highlight what a mine field it is even between organisations that are supposed to be sharing it.....Does make work more difficult.

I can see a design fault in your safety horse....no wheel arches.....unguarded wheels are dangerous  :o :tease: :clap2:
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: mch on April 18, 2019, 01:29:51 pm

There has to be a better way for the BCA to deal with the issue and enable communication with those members. Even if its simply advising them (via the Club route if appropriate) that without an email address they won't receive direct communications.


To take Kat's point to its logical next step, why should the BCA not bring in online voting and those members who do not have or will not provide an email address simply don't get to vote? This may (or may not) be an incentive to individuals to resolve the issue.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: BradW on April 18, 2019, 01:41:16 pm
Its not their problem to solve. You are asking / forcing people to solve a BCA problem as they are not able to find a solution themselves.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 18, 2019, 02:54:06 pm
My preferred option would be to have electronic voting where this is possible, i.e. where a member has an email address, but to arrange for a postal vote to those who do not have an email address. 

As Kat has said, there are members of clubs who, for a perfectly valid reason, do not have an email address and their club accommodates this by arranging postal communication between the club and such members.  I would like to see BCA take the same route.

I absolutely agree with Ed: that as far as possible BCA should be sending information to their members directly not using third parties.  With the caveat that it may not always be possible; thinking that postal votes are one thing and might be considered a legitimate expense, whereas posting a printed Newsletter 3 or 4 times a year might be considered too much.

I also agree with Kat on the subject of non-club group votes.  I don't see why including such votes necessarily means you cannot have electronic voting - such groups could be given an electronic vote if need be.  As Kat says:
Otherwise where in the BCA is the voice of cave rescue, cave research etc. Certainly any thought of removal of such a vote should be considered in the wider context of the objects and roles of the BCA and not removed merely because the 2 House system is thought of as a little bit complicated or difficult to manage with on-line voting.

I suppose what I'm getting at is that none of this is absolutely black and white, there are shades and compromises which need to be arrived at through considered discussion.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on April 18, 2019, 03:13:04 pm
Its not their problem to solve. You are asking / forcing people to solve a BCA problem as they are not able to find a solution themselves.

So the BCA will be laying on a fleet of coaches to take us all to Horton in Ribblesdale so that we can vote at the AGM then? ;)

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: MarkS on April 18, 2019, 03:28:15 pm
...where in the BCA is the voice of cave rescue, cave research etc.

I would say that the voice of cave rescue, cave research etc. is given by the cavers who make up these groups. Presumably "the voice" of each of these groups in the house of groups is (or should be) the democratic view of its members, which is represented anyway by those members when they vote in the house of individuals.

All that the two-house system brings is an arbitrary extra vote for each organisation, regardless of its size. The voices of CRO/BCRC/BCRA will be far outnumbered by loads of little clubs that most of us have never heard of (if they choose to turn up), and the votes are equal regardless of whether a group comprises 3 people or 300 people.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on April 18, 2019, 04:08:31 pm
Very well said Mark!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 18, 2019, 04:09:35 pm
You have misunderstood the 2-house system.  The votes in the two houses are recorded separately so that a majority is required in both houses to pass a proposal. 

If both houses agree, there is no problem and the vote passes - which is what usually happens.  Only if the two houses disagree, i.e. if one house votes for and the other against, does the vote fail (and I think it was established earlier in in this thread that this has only happened once since the system was instituted).

If a vote fails it is probably a fair indication that you haven't got it quite right and need to think again.  Wouldn't you normally want to ensure that the majority of individual cavers and the organisations which might be affected by any proposal are happy with it?

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: zomjon on April 18, 2019, 04:44:30 pm
Jenny, in my view, caving and membership of clubs has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. My gut feeling is that there are many cavers out there who don’t belong to a club, or if they do: do it to tick a box, get slightly cheaper insurance, use a hut, reciprocal hut rights - but not to be fully involved in the politics of their club or even know how it is voting on BCA matters. The amount of cavers out there without club membership or probably BCA insurance, I’m sure is growing daily, and part of that will be not wanting to be an active part of a club or for certain people to have double votes on more contentious issues.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 18, 2019, 07:05:06 pm
A fair point but I think it depends on which club you belong to.  There certainly does seem to be more inter-club caving nowadays among some groups of friends and possibly there are more independent cavers who are members of BCA.  (A look at BCA membership stats. year on year would be your best guide here - is individual membership of BCA going up?.) 

However there are a fair number of cavers who still regard their club caving and interaction with other members of their club through social activities as the main scene and they don't want to be bothered to vote themselves but are happy for their club to vote on their behalf.  I suspect that many of these, if their club couldn't vote on their behalf, wouldn't bother to vote at all, even if they could do so online. 

When we do manage to achieve individual electronic voting (and I hope we do!), then it will be interesting to see just how many of the 5000 - 6000 individual members actually do bother to vote.  This may well depend on how electronic individual voting is organised.  I suspect it may be a bit optimistic to assume that cavers would sit glued to their screens for hours at a time, watching an AGM held at some distant venue, quivering with anticipation at being able to hit the "vote" button at the instant the Chairman of the meeting gives the go-ahead in real time.  But that's a whole other debate ...

As for "... certain people to have double votes on more contentious issues ...", you could easily get round it (that's if you think it happens now), by saying that no-one may cast a vote both as an individual member and also as the representative of a group.

I really don't know and that's why I'm interested in exploring all the options.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on April 18, 2019, 07:26:13 pm
As for "... certain people to have double votes on more contentious issues ...", you could easily get round it (that's if you think it happens now), by saying that no-one may cast a vote both as an individual member and also as the representative of a group.

Why would I have to throw away my individual vote to vote as a club? Who would want to be a club representative if they couldn't then vote?

Although I would point out that I turn up to the BCA AGM as EUSS representative and, in so doing, have as much of a group vote as the BCRC, CNCC, CDG, CHECC etc. This gives me democratic power in the house of groups that I shouldn't have, since according to the AGM minutes there were 16 group votes. Effectively I had 375 people's worth of votes... If all the clubs actually turned up, the national body and regional body votes would become irrelevant. It's a messy system.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: MarkS on April 18, 2019, 08:17:10 pm
You have misunderstood the 2-house system.  The votes in the two houses are recorded separately so that a majority is required in both houses to pass a proposal. 

I have not misunderstood the 2-house system, but I have perhaps not phrased my previous post in the most unambiguous way. When I said, "All that the two-house system brings is an arbitrary extra vote for each organisation", I was meaning that organisations have a vote in the house of groups that is extra to those cast by individual members in the house of individuals.

Wouldn't you normally want to ensure that the majority of individual cavers and the organisations which might be affected by any proposal are happy with it?

Yes I would, but those organisations are already represented by the individual vote. Views of organisations are nothing more than the combined views of their constituent members.

[...]there are a fair number of cavers who still regard their club caving and interaction with other members of their club through social activities as the main scene and they don't want to be bothered to vote themselves but are happy for their club to vote on their behalf.  I suspect that many of these, if their club couldn't vote on their behalf, wouldn't bother to vote at all, even if they could do so online. 

If people care little enough about an issue that they can't be bothered spending the tiny amount of time to click a few buttons to vote online, so be it. I'm not sure that hypothetical apathy of some of the the membership is a good reason not to adopt a more democratic system.

When we do manage to achieve individual electronic voting (and I hope we do!), then it will be interesting to see just how many of the 5000 - 6000 individual members actually do bother to vote.  This may well depend on how electronic individual voting is organised.  I suspect it may be a bit optimistic to assume that cavers would sit glued to their screens for hours at a time, watching an AGM held at some distant venue, quivering with anticipation at being able to hit the "vote" button at the instant the Chairman of the meeting gives the go-ahead in real time.  But that's a whole other debate ...

I think confirming proposals and having a voting period in advance of meetings is the only really sensible route forward, which is how I understand most organisations operate. I don't think anyone anticipates members watching an AGM and voting "live".
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on April 19, 2019, 02:51:19 pm
Good!  That's what I am aiming for - a sensible discussion on ways and means as to how BCA might move forward.  :)

The 2-house system was put in place originally because some constituent bodies didn't seem to like the idea of their members voting independently of them.  (Remember that in the earliest days of NCA there was no voting at all for clubs, let alone individuals - the only votes were held by the constituent bodies!  We had a real fight on our hands in the 1990's to get clubs to be allowed to vote - and that was just the start.)  The 2-house system seemed to be the fairest way out at the time it was put in place when BCA came into being in 2004 - but maybe you are right and it's now about time for it to be replaced completely by individual member voting. 

However, I tend to think that we really need to have individual member voting by electronic means up and running properly before we discard the old 2-house system.  At present, with AGMs rotating round the regions and people reluctant to travel for hours just to sit in a meeting, it is perhaps all too easy for policies to be totally swung one way or another by the individual members actually present and voting at the meeting.  I could be wrong, but I'm of the opinion that the 2-house system probably tends to stabilise things because you are more likely to get an overall view from group representatives. These are likely to be people who know how things work in their region and are also aware of the different way things have to work in other regions because they have sat and discussed the issues, either in BCA Council meetings or, where they are a nationally accepted specialist body (e.g. BCRC or BCRA), in their own national meetings. 

So, if we agree that we want to switch to individual member voting and do this by electronic means, we probably need to re-think the way AGMs are run. 

One way would be, as you suggest, to have voting before the meeting - but in that case, what's the purpose of the meeting?  How can you have amendments to proposals - that's if you agree that you need to allow amendments.

The other way would be to have "confirmatory" votes after the meeting - but that probably pre-supposes that BCA Council takes a much larger role in organising proposals and sorting out possible amendments and difficulties well before the agenda goes out with proposals to vote on.

I've heard a number of people saying, "... BMC does it OK so why can't we do it like they do ...".  So is it worth considering in detail how BMC and other similar organisations organise their AGMs?  It really does seem worth thinking through very carefully all the implications and potential catches before we launch out into our brave new voting system.   ;)

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: darren on April 19, 2019, 07:41:59 pm
I'm sure you've though it through, but you are changing the whole democratic process to make voting more accessible.

The traditional proposing of a motionl, followed by a debate will be totally meaningless.  Most people will vote online so not bother listening to debate. The debate is supposed to bring the knowledge of the crowd into action which frequently produces a much improved motion.

What you are proposing will change the AGM into a series of referendums on predetermined questions, what could possibly go wrong.

Instead of people getting in a room and debating  motions face to face we could do electronically, perhaps on a forum with a thread for each motion. That way you could just read the last post and completely misunderstood the purpose of the motion.

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cap'n Chris on April 19, 2019, 07:59:00 pm
Good points Darren; obviously BCA is keen to engage with its membership and voting (and ignoring votes) is all the rage nowadays.

However it is worth checking out the BCA's own constitution just to raise awareness of the scope of its portfolio.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: NewStuff on April 19, 2019, 08:40:40 pm
I'm sure you've though it through, but you are changing the whole democratic process to make voting more accessible.
Yup, the whole thread is based on that point of discussion.

The traditional proposing of a motionl, followed by a debate will be totally meaningless. 
Good.

Most people will vote online so not bother listening to debate
Conjecture, and why would they need to? Plenty of places for people, that want to get involved, to discuss proposals, issues etc.

The debate is supposed to bring the knowledge of the crowd into action which frequently produces a much improved motion.
Says who? I find it usually brings boredom, bitterness, or awkward silence, subject dependant.

What you are proposing will change the AGM into a series of referendums on predetermined questions, what could possibly go wrong.
Yet more conjecture.

Instead of people getting in a room and debating  motions face to face we could do electronically, perhaps on a forum with a thread for each motion. That way you could just read the last post and completely misunderstood the purpose of the motion.
And spend an entire, utterly dull day, probably in a different part of the country, listening to people pick munuitae apart? No ta, I have a limit on how much boredom I can stomach.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kat on April 19, 2019, 09:23:50 pm

However, I tend to think that we really need to have individual member voting by electronic means up and running properly before we discard the old 2-house system. 


Fully agree with Jenny.  It may be that the way forward in the future is to remove the 2-house system but this should be subject to proper consideration of the reasons for change and of the potential implications.  No system is perfect and there are reasons why 2 house systems developed originally. 

I'm not entirely convinced that the individual votes necessarily fully replace the group votes and don't believe group votes are giving individuals multiple votes.  An organisation may have a certain remit or objective. By removing voting rights from an organisation it could no longer be considered a Full Member of the BCA and that removes any real voice - however small that voice may be.  Individuals may be members of those organisations or have views on those objectives but that is different to a consensus view that is come to by a committee /group.       

If there is a perceived concern with the two-house system bringing an arbitrary extra vote for each organisation regardless of its size, and is a cited reason for removing the system,  maybe a solution is to weight the vote against the size of the organisation (as per BCA membership rates).

There could also even be an argument that the votes of DIMs should carry more weight than those of CIMs.   

As for AGMs, my understanding is the BMC on-line voting occurs before the AGM.  It ceases at the start of the AGM - results are unknown as this stage.  In person and proxy voting are allowed at the AGM.  Reading the minutes of last years meeting there was acknowledgement that no substantial amendments to any motions could be agreed at the AGM because of the preceding voting.  Hence it does require a certain approach to AGM - all debate needs to occur beforehand and motions need to be carefully worded etc so that changes are not needed.

All other organisations I'm a member of seem to follow a similar pre-AGM on-line voting system.  I can't see realistically how the voting could occur after the AGM.  This approach would probably be beset with even more problems. 

Also agree with Jenny that the preferred option should be to have electronic voting where this is possible but to arrange for a postal vote to those who do not have an email address. 

Happy Easter
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on April 20, 2019, 02:11:50 pm
One of the anomalies with the group system is the nature of the group and the number of cavers they represent.  For example.

The CNCC has one group vote, however it represents over 30 northern clubs and more than 1000 cavers.

A typical large northern club has one vote, is a member of CNCC, and may have 300 members

A typical small northern club has one vote and may have as few as 4 members.

Therefore two small clubs representing 8 people can negate the votes of two organisations/clubs representing more than 1000 cavers.

Another example which I'll relate with fictional organisations/clubs on a fictional poll but has happened.

In the Council of Anglia Caving Clubs area which has 20 caving clubs eligible to vote they do not like the new national policy on using bright lights.  The regional council and 20 clubs vote against the policy.  However, in all clubs individuals are split on the subject at around 60-40 on average.  So the area still has a lot of individuals who support the national policy on bright lights but there is not a single club or group vote to show for it.  Only in the individual house is the true view on bright lights reflected (pun intended).

One member one vote is the only true democratic way to run an organisation.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kay on April 21, 2019, 04:19:49 am
This is an important point


In the Council of Anglia Caving Clubs area which has 20 caving clubs eligible to vote they do not like the new national policy on using bright lights.  The regional council and 20 clubs vote against the policy.  However, in all clubs individuals are split on the subject at around 60-40 on average.  So the area still has a lot of individuals who support the national policy on bright lights but there is not a single club or group vote to show for it.  Only in the individual house is the true view on bright lights reflected (pun intended).


I'd also add that in a larger club the decision will be made by the Committee and may or may not be representative of the members' views. In a small club, the decision is more likely to be the result of consulting all members.. So weighting the club vote according to the number of members isn't necessarily more democratic.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: cavemanmike on April 21, 2019, 09:07:48 am
One man one vote makes it more representative and democratic it's really that simple.then a committee won't be able to override the members it's supposed to represent
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: mikem on April 21, 2019, 09:29:49 am

...So the area still has a lot of individuals who support the national policy on bright lights but there is not a single club or group vote to show for it.  Only in the individual house is the true view on bright lights reflected (pun intended).
However, at another AGM, a majority of individual anti bright lighters turn up & the result is much the same...
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: alastairgott on April 23, 2019, 07:08:39 pm
reply on newsletters
https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=24949.msg308697#msg308697
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on April 28, 2019, 08:17:54 pm
The BCA AGM Agenda has now been published;

http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=general_meetings:2019_agm

I would like to say thank you to the Acting Secretary, Robin, for his work putting this agenda together, which I know has taken him many hours over the past two weeks. It is a complex document made no easier by my proposals, which are the four listed earlier in this thread. There is also a proposal from Jane Allen too which has my full support. I am extremely surprised to see no proposals from other members.

Robin has added two notes in Italix to the supplementary information for two of my proposals, which I would like to explain here:

(1) Regarding the 'New to Caving' leaflets


It is argueable whether the leaflet was 'discussed and approved' at the last Council meeting. The P&I report for that meeting included mention of their wish to push ahead with this leaflet post-AGM, however, this wasn't specifically discussed, and saying this was 'approved' is only based on lack of objections to the report (which may be because it was about four hours into the meeting and everyone was flagging by that point).

Usually a lack of objections can be taken to mean everyone is happy with the content of a report or the direction detailed within... otherwise we'd spend our lives voting on every little matter! Therefore getting this leaflet published seems likely to happen without my AGM proposal. I take Robin's point and realise that this proposal probably isn't needed any more, but I have chosen to leave the proposal in place simply to ensure a clear and undeniable mandate.

(2) Regarding the webmaster appointment proposal


Robin is absolutely correct; the BCA Manual of Operations does say that the webmaster is appointed by the P&I Committee at the first Council meeting after the AGM. Note that the Manual of Operations is a very different document to the constitution.

BCA Constitution: http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=about:documents:bca_constitution
BCA Manual of Operations: http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki2/doku.php

Here we have someone (Gary) putting themselves forward to undertake a massive overhaul of the BCA Website and periphery systems. It would be a substantial change to the stutus quo and as such I feel it needs a very strong mandate, one that only the wider membership can give.

I accept that this would be in contradiction to the Manual of Operations, and I think it is important that everyone else is aware of this too for transparancy. Robin is right to flag this up as Acting Secretary. We have had a very friendly discussion about this and we agree to disagree on whether this proposal can be heard in its current form. The AGM will have to decide.

Finally...
Whatever your opinion... please get involved in the AGM! Sunday 9th June, Horton-in-Ribblesdale

Clubs you can send a voting representative (letter of authorisation needed) and individuals come along (bring BCA card to vote). Get involved, regardless of how you plan to vote on the proposals, and regardless of what direction you feel the BCA should be taking. The process of revitalising caver interest and positivity for our National Body starts now!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on April 28, 2019, 10:17:13 pm
I honestly only managed to read as far as 22.6 of the agenda before I got bored and gave up!

That doesn't bode well for the actual AGM itself.

On the day of the AGM can I turn up, give my membership card to Matt (Letting him vote on my behalf), while I go for a nice walk with my spaniel?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Oceanrower on April 28, 2019, 10:50:17 pm
I honestly only managed to read as far as 22.6 of the agenda before I got bored and gave up!


You did better than me. Can I come with you? I like spaniels...
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on April 28, 2019, 11:02:44 pm
Sorry Madness... I'm afraid not (Proxy voting was rejected a few years ago).

Of course if my fourth proposal (to scrap the two house system and introduce online voting) is accepted at the meeting and then in the subsequent member ballot, then for 2020, you will be able to vote online on all AGM proposals rather than have to attend in person.

That's not to say we don't want people coming to the physical meetings; there's lots to be gained by face to face discussions. I am certainly aware that meetings need to be made more concise though.

Many of the agenda items are simply adoption of policies, or terms of reference for the various Standing Committees. As these have all been carefully developed/considered by the respective designee(s) on Council then the AGM should hopefully just be a matter of waving these through and they should not take too long.

Come on folks... it's just one day and it will probably be raining anyway :lol:
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jeanrr on April 29, 2019, 03:36:53 pm
How many people can fit in the hall ?            I think there will be a big turn out, especially if it rains.

Are under 18's allowed to vote ?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Cavematt on April 30, 2019, 08:05:20 am
Hi Jeanrr

The village hall will seat approximately 50 people and will accommodate at least the same number again standing (perhaps bring you own folding chair). We are checking on the absolute capacity in terms of fire regs. I would be extremely surprised if more than 100 people attend; that would be a record. Experience tells me that only a small fraction of non-regulars who say they will attend will actually do so on the day (particularly if it's nice weather and Penyghent looks stunning). We will however be bringing PA equipment in the event that it is a packed room and audibility becomes compromised.

There is no age limit in the constitution or Manual of Operations about voting, so I personally see no reason why under-18 CIM and DIM members cannot vote. I am not sure if there is some kind of unwritten rules on this, but as far as I'm concerned there are no issues. Individual members (CIMs and DIMs) can vote in the House of Individuals (you must bring you membership card), and groups (i.e. clubs) can vote in the House of Groups (you must bring a letter from your group Officers to authorise you to deliver a vote for that group).

Cheers
Matt
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on April 30, 2019, 08:27:24 am
The only other conditions based on past practice that I am aware of are one can only vote once.  So you can't bring letters from several clubs authorising you to vote for all of them; just one.  Ditto membership cards; just one.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: kay on April 30, 2019, 09:46:27 am
The only other conditions based on past practice that I am aware of are one can only vote once.  So you can't bring letters from several clubs authorising you to vote for all of them; just one.  Ditto membership cards; just one.

Is that one vote per house or one vote total? ie can you place a vote as a club rep and still retain your individual vote?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Badlad on April 30, 2019, 11:07:09 am
You can vote as an individual and as your elected club or group rep.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Robert Scott on May 05, 2019, 10:18:42 pm
........................

Robin is absolutely correct; the BCA Manual of Operations does say that the webmaster is appointed by the P&I Committee at the first Council meeting after the AGM. Note that the Manual of Operations is a very different document to the constitution.

BCA Constitution: http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=about:documents:bca_constitution
BCA Manual of Operations: http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki2/doku.php

...........................
[/quote]

Hello Matt,
I clicked on the link to the BCA Manual of Operations and got to a "BCRA" page which showed

Welcome
Welcome to the BCA Manual of Operations. (For the BCRA Manual of Ops, click here).

This is a working document detailing BCA's standard operating procedures. Please feel free to browse.

Minor amendments, to keep the document up to date, should be made regularly.

More substantive changes that affect how BCA runs, must gain approval of BCA Council, and subsequently the AGM, before being made. If you are in any doubt as to the type of change you wish to make, please contact the Secretary BEFORE making the change.

However there seemed to be no link to the Manual of Operations, so I've still no idea what the BCA Manual of Operations looks like and how the BCA thinks it should operate.

HELP!
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on May 05, 2019, 10:31:22 pm
That is the only version of the BCA Manual of Operations I know of; you have to use the links in the left-hand navigation pane (it's all a bit 90s).

Of course, the AGM is only bound by the Constitution. If the AGM voted that the webmaster should be a certain person, it might not be clear whether or not it would be a binding vote but it would certainly reflect the will of the AGM and it would be most unusual for Council to ignore the will of the AGM and, by proxy, the membership...
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Bob Mehew on May 05, 2019, 10:46:49 pm
my thought was to propose an amendment to replace the word "appoints" in the motion:

"That the AGM appoints Gary Douthwaite as the BCA webmaster, with immediate effect, and with a mandate to redevelop the website including, but not limited to BCA online and communications systems, and that Gary is provided with the necessary accesses and mandates as outlined in Appendix 7 to fulfil this role.”

with "instructs BCA Council to appoint".
 
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on May 06, 2019, 07:42:51 am
Does it really matter what it says in the 'Manual of operations'?
It very much sounds like it's an incomplete/work in progress document that very few of the membership are aware of and I doubt that it has been formally accepted at a previous AGM - perhaps someone can clarify this?

It should not be allowed to be used to scupper any proposals put forward to an AGM. In my mind a vote at the AGM would be able to over rule anything that isn't written into the constitution.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: nearlywhite on May 06, 2019, 09:21:05 am
Surely it doesn't matter either way as the P&I committee only suggest someone for ratification by council. Therefore if the committee suggests anything else it can be overturned by council.

Given the P&I committee hasn't existed in any meaningful way for a while, and the appointments made in that following council meeting it's pretty evident no one's really following the MoO anyway.

Last year things seemed to just tick over:
P&I Committee:
Newsletter Editor: Dave Rose
Webmaster: David Cooke
P&I: Jane Allen
Web Services: It was felt more appropriate that this came under Commercial Services, and should be
under the IT working party, with DC continuing in role.
Rope Testing Office: In absence, Bob Mehew continued with role


The year before...

(c) Committee Appointments
1. L&I Committee: Child Protection
BM agreed to act as Child Protection Officer. TR proposed. RW seconded.
2. P&I Committee: Newsletter Editor, Webmaster, Web Services
Newsletter Editor: RW stated that he would do next one but then was
standing down. LW emphasised this was an important function. He asked
that suggestions be given to him. RW volunteered to provide information
on the role. Webmaster DC as acting; will see if can find someone.
Web services. DC standing. LW proposed. TA seconded.
3. E&T Committee: Rope‐Testing
BM standing. RW proposed. LW seconded.
The proposals were accepted without comment.


And the year before that...

Committee Appointments
NB: The Act involves both children and vulnerable persons. Maybe we should have an alternative title for the post of
Child-Protection Officer?
BM: Not wishing to do the job full time, but happy to hold the post temporarily until a replacement can be found.
Proposal: That the following Committee Appointments be ratified by Council:
i. Acting Child Protection Officer Bob Mehew
ii. Newsletter Robin Weare
iii. Webmaster David Cooke
iv. Web Services David Cooke
v. Rope-Tester Bob Mehew
vi. Insurance Manager Nick Williams
vii. CRoW-Liaison Officer Tim Allen
Prop: LW Sec: TR agreed unanimously
LW: What about website content? We used to have a Handbook Editor but the role switched to updating the website
instead. Do we now need a replacement for DW as Handbook Editor?
DW: Had seen it as the role of the Secretary, but maybe there should be a person responsible for ‘Information’?


This is clearly just being done by council with the incumbents in the room staying put. The draft minutes of the April council meeting indicate that the P&I have now met but haven't proposed anyone yet.

So I wouldn't worry Madness, the AGM will take primacy

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: damian on May 06, 2019, 12:39:00 pm
Does it really matter what it says in the 'Manual of operations'?
It very much sounds like it's an incomplete/work in progress document that very few of the membership are aware of and I doubt that it has been formally accepted at a previous AGM - perhaps someone can clarify this?
It has. I drafted it (quite a few years ago now), it was debated and improved by Council over the course of the following year and approved by the subsequent AGM.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Madness on May 06, 2019, 04:06:33 pm
Does it really matter what it says in the 'Manual of operations'?
It very much sounds like it's an incomplete/work in progress document that very few of the membership are aware of and I doubt that it has been formally accepted at a previous AGM - perhaps someone can clarify this?
It has. I drafted it (quite a few years ago now), it was debated and improved by Council over the course of the following year and approved by the subsequent AGM.

Thanks for the clarification Damian.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of Standard Operating Procedures/Manuals of Operations/whatever you choose to call them. In my experience they lead to inflexibility, inefficiency and can be used to prevent continual improvement. There's more than one way to skin a cat after all.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Canary on May 06, 2019, 07:06:32 pm
A standard way of operating is ALWAYS needed, as it means everyone is treated in a similar and open way, when dealing with the BCA.

If the BCA council did not have this, it would lose the faith of its members and other organisations.


Additionally it should prevent BCA from carrying out acts that may harm the organisation in the long run (if written well).
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: NewStuff on May 06, 2019, 07:10:25 pm
A standard way of operating is ALWAYS needed, as it means everyone is treated in a similar and open way, when dealing with the BCA.

By the same token, writing such a thing would likely mean infexibility and people using it as a tool to prevent others from doing (insert activity here). There needs to be a common ground decided upon by common sense.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: mikem on May 06, 2019, 07:23:41 pm
& if you don't have them then unpopular jobs don't get done at all, it works both ways...

Mike
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Canary on May 06, 2019, 07:55:58 pm
As my ability to give a f**k about any motion at the BCA agm is rapidly decreasing i will say this once.

Any democratic organisation needs checks and balances in place at both the electoral level and within its governance.

Just because a decision doesn't go your way or its hard to make progress doesn't mean the entire system needs to be scrapped. Yes the electoral system could do with some refining but it was designed when membership numbers were lower and i suspect, has protections to stop acts such as carpet bagging built in (i.e. the club vote). This does not mean that procedure should be ignored.

End Rant
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Canary on May 06, 2019, 09:48:51 pm
Rant Addendum:

To elaborate, the second house/club vote is designed to prevent a club or other group bussing out its full membership to the AGM unannounced. This would give unfair advantage to the club as they could propose and win every vote, giving significant control over the BCA.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: 2xw on May 06, 2019, 10:08:34 pm
Rant Addendum:

To elaborate, the second house/club vote is designed to prevent a club or other group bussing out its full membership to the AGM unannounced. This would give unfair advantage to the club as they could propose and win every vote, giving significant control over the BCA.

This can happen WITH the the two house system. And it will be dispelled with electronic voting.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Canary on May 07, 2019, 07:18:04 am
I don't see how replacing one voting system with flaws that can be fixed (i.e. the BCA's poor definition of a club) with another that has structural problems is in any way an improvement.

The obvious problem with online voting is that every single BCA member has to trust the one person running the webserver is competent, unbiased and has integrity. Online voting is a black box that someone pulls numbers out of, unlike voting by ballot or by raise of hands there is no easy way to check the results (without going through millions of lines of machine code). Even simple mistakes such could bias the vote.

Although the obvious choice for developing and carrying out the vote system has expertise and integrity beyond reproach, his successor may not. This is exactly the reason why the British mountaineering council uses a third party to carryout its voting, even this does not fully address the problems.

As it is painfully obvious that trust is limited with regards to the BCA at the moment, i don't see how using a voting system that cannot be verified by members is in anyway an improvement.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: 2xw on May 07, 2019, 07:36:07 am
I don't see how replacing one voting system with flaws that can be fixed (i.e. the BCA's poor definition of a club) with another that has structural problems is in any way an improvement.

The obvious problem with online voting is that every single BCA member has to trust the one person running the webserver is competent, unbiased and has integrity. Online voting is a black box that someone pulls numbers out of, unlike voting by ballot or by raise of hands there is no easy way to check the results (without going through millions of lines of machine code). Even simple mistakes such could bias the vote.

Although the obvious choice for developing and carrying out the vote system has expertise and integrity beyond reproach, his successor may not. This is exactly the reason why the British mountaineering council uses a third party to carryout its voting, even this does not fully address the problems.

As it is painfully obvious that trust is limited with regards to the BCA at the moment, i don't see how using a voting system that cannot be verified by members is in anyway an improvement.

My report uses third party voting system (the same one as the BMC). Actually pretty cheap.

Even if one is made in house (cheaper), it's remarkably simple (millions of line of code? For what?) Somewhat easily checked over by the other BCA IT folks (it should never be just one person) - and the same problems are inherent to the paper postal ballot and the current "hands in the air" ballot anyways.

You're right of course that there are problems with one councilperson having control of that, by having the same person across multiple roles. I've also suggested a limit to the roles and committees one person can have on council, and term limits. Obviously not all of this will be taken on board.

The problem is that the voting system doesn't work now and it is costing the BCA a huge amount of time and money. It excludes the membership and that is wrong, and this can only be fixed by wider engagement of the membership. It used to be that this wasn't possible without enormous expense, now it is.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: MarkS on May 07, 2019, 07:39:30 am
flaws that can be fixed (i.e. the BCA's poor definition of a club)

Altering the definition of a club would not 'fix' the current system. It may make it a bit less bad.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: mikem on May 07, 2019, 08:41:15 am
Are you that sure it's not just cavers having different opinions that affects the voting far more than whatever system you use?
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: droid on May 07, 2019, 02:05:58 pm
Main problem is the small numbers voting if it's live voting at an AGM

That means people of certain opinions can find it easier to influence the outcome of votes. Just get a minibus up and job done....
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: damian on May 07, 2019, 06:07:06 pm
As it is painfully obvious that trust is limited with regards to the BCA at the moment, i don't see how using a voting system that cannot be verified by members is in anyway an improvement.
To clarify, I assume you are not suggesting that there is anyone involved in BCA at the moment who is not trustworthy? I assume instead you mean some members are not able to trust the organisation as a whole to do what they want it to?

I  worked for a long time with a lot of the 'old guard' and never came across any reason to question anyone's integrity. Everybody I know of cares deeply, is in it to do their best and, although some members may hold different views from them, it would be desperately sad if anyone reading this were to misinterpret your sentence above.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Canary on May 07, 2019, 06:34:03 pm
Hi Damian, that is correct. i am not implying anyone is untrustworthy and hope they would not think that. i suspect 'trust in the system' would be a better phrase .
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: NewStuff on May 07, 2019, 07:12:17 pm
Main problem is the small numbers voting if it's live voting at an AGM

That means people of certain opinions can find it easier to influence the outcome of votes. Just get a minibus up and job done....

I'd have to set up a popcorn stall to watch the fallout if that happened, I'd make a killing.
(https://media.giphy.com/media/RHiD0K65NxxLO/giphy.gif)
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on May 07, 2019, 07:59:58 pm
flaws that can be fixed (i.e. the BCA's poor definition of a club)

Altering the definition of a club would not 'fix' the current system. It may make it a bit less bad.

The requirements for being accepted as a "club" by BCA are straightforward but it does ensure that, at least when the club first applies, it is a genuine club.  I also know, from my time as BCA Secretary, that if there are any questions about the organisation applying, then the BCA Secretary or the BCA Membership Secretary do check up.  It's all on the website if you look it up and it does require that the club applying provides a copy of its constitution and also explains a bit about itself. 

What BCA can't "police", of course, is whether a club voting does so just by the club secretary's say-so or whether the club actually considers the proposals being put and decides as a body how it wants to cast its vote.  Some clubs and constituent bodies may take this more seriously than others but the idea of the "two house" system was to try to avoid the potential of a sizeable group of individuals being "bussed in" to cast their votes and so swinging a meeting.  If we can get electronic voting working properly so that all individual members have a chance to be involved (if they want to), then it will be time to decide whether the two-house system is still appropriate and we might then consider removing it.


Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Canary on May 08, 2019, 07:37:42 am
flaws that can be fixed (i.e. the BCA's poor definition of a club)

Altering the definition of a club would not 'fix' the current system. It may make it a bit less bad.

The club voting system prevents the system becoming more broken. As there are no check as to whether DIMs are real people, i could sign up to the BCA 100 times for the not so astronomical sum of £2200. This is well within the means of individuals and clubs.

Getting rid of the club voting system does not mean that it becomes one man one vote. It just becomes how many votes can one man buy.

Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: andrewmc on May 08, 2019, 08:05:39 am
Getting rid of the club voting system does not mean that it becomes one man one vote. It just becomes how many votes can one man buy.

Has there ever been a single case of electoral _fraud_ (rather than just abuse of a poor system i.e. bussing real people in) in the BCA? It almost never happens at general elections, which actually matter...

I'd worry a lot more about the real problems the BCA and its members currently have with voting, rather than the unlikely hypothetical ones. If someone cared enough about caving to spend £2k getting voting members (not to mention an enormous amount of faff organising at least 50 separate mailing addresses) they could probably get what they wanted much more easily by volunteering for Council...
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: mikem on May 08, 2019, 08:38:18 am
Last year the BMC had almost 68OO people vote electronically & only about 1OO at the meeting (scroll down for the AGM report - they have about 75OOO members, 51OOO individual & 24OOO
through 28O clubs):
https://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmc-agm-2018
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: MarkS on May 08, 2019, 09:09:42 am
flaws that can be fixed (i.e. the BCA's poor definition of a club)

Altering the definition of a club would not 'fix' the current system. It may make it a bit less bad.

The club voting system prevents the system becoming more broken. As there are no check as to whether DIMs are real people, i could sign up to the BCA 100 times for the not so astronomical sum of £2200. This is well within the means of individuals and clubs.

Getting rid of the club voting system does not mean that it becomes one man one vote. It just becomes how many votes can one man buy.

The current system is not very representative and unnecessarily complicated in that 1 house arbitrarily gives the same weighting to different groups whatever their size, and members have to turn up in person to vote.

Discussion of fraud seems a bit of a leap from this subject, and any system (including the current one) is open to abuse in some form.

In the council elections last week all I had to do was provide my name and address. I could have gone in later pretending to be a neighbour/friend/whoever.
Title: Re: Application for BCA Secretary
Post by: Jenny P on May 08, 2019, 11:43:01 am
I suspect it's the perception that "others" may somehow get one over on you which is the problem - not any evidence of fraud attempted by anyone.

What is apparent from past BCA AGMs held at venues in different caving regions is that the numbers of local cavers from wherever the meeting is held will always outweigh those who have to travel a distance.  This can lead to a perception that "they" have an inordinately large effect on the voting on points which are contentious.  That's why getting electronic voting up and running is so important: because it means that there that there can be no "regional bias" in decisions reached nationally.

It still won't be perfect but it's bound to be at least some improvement on the present system.  It also means we would have to re-think how we arrange AGMs and proposals so that cavers are able to vote electronically.  Certainly BMC would seem to have something to teach us in this respect.