UK Caving

ORGANISATIONS => BCA => Topic started by: Badlad on October 02, 2019, 02:43:16 pm

Title: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Badlad on October 02, 2019, 02:43:16 pm
It was with some sadness that I read the new secretary's report posted just yesterday.  It confirmed pieces of information I heard around the BCA stand at Hidden Earth.  Namely that the BCA webservices and IT group convener, David Cooke, was refusing to adopt the mandate passed at the BCA AGM.  As I understand it he has refused, on several times of asking, to hand over access to BCA systems as directed.  What is there to hide?

That an officer of BCA should point blank refuse to accept the instruction of an AGM is bad enough but this is the same guy that likes to bring up arguments based on the minutiae of the constitution to delay and deter matters that he doesn't agree with.

It is sad because most comments around the BCA stall at Hidden Earth were quietly positive about the direction BCA was taking.  There were a number of comments put in the suggestion box (and which appear in the published P&I Officer report) that suggest it is just this sort of thing that puts people off the BCA.

So if a council member of BCA is refusing to carry out the clear mandate of the AGM how can he possibly remain in post?

Link to reports here: https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=about:documents:council_meetings:council_meeting_12th_october_2019_reports.pdf
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: crickleymal on October 02, 2019, 03:42:40 pm
That's pretty bad. Is it significant that the IT officer didn't produce a report. Why wasn't the non compliance discussed?
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: mikem on October 02, 2019, 05:41:03 pm
A new website would be an improvement anyway...
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Goydenman on October 02, 2019, 05:46:52 pm
A new website would be an improvement anyway...

One of my suggestions put in on a slip...yes
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Dave Tyson on October 02, 2019, 06:09:03 pm
Funnily enough this topic has come up on the UCET forum. My suggestion is for the the new webmaster to set up new BCA webpages with a proper web hosting outfit and then get the BCA domain pointed at the new site. Les Williams, as chairman can contact the domain registrar to do this with an official letter comes direct from the BCA Chair and committee. Problem (partially) solved. The old BCA site will still exist, but relegated to obscurity. Some work will be needed to sort the mailing lists, but that is pretty straightforward and I could lend a hand

Dave
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Jenny P on October 02, 2019, 06:30:03 pm
Is it worth also noting that Gary's report also includes the following:

BCA ballot:
I have completed work on a website for the upcoming ballot which will allow members to vote online. I have been leasing with David Cooke on this who has been organising the ballot list from the members database.


So perhaps it may be premature to ask for a full handover until after the ballot has been completed since it's clear that Dave and Gary have been working together on this. 

Be aware also that David Cooke is liaising with the BCA Training Administrator over the databases she uses, which (as I understand it) are based partly on the current BCA membership database and work is still going on to try to find a suitable system to modernise the Training Administration.

It would be great for everyone to be able to get on with everything "yesterday" but it isn't always quite as simple as that so maybe better to leave it to the two people most concerned to work this out together.  Let's not jump straight in with the blame game.

Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: rcfindlay on October 02, 2019, 07:55:08 pm
It's not clear from the reports (or lack of) the reasons why access has not been given. This would be useful to understand why there appears to be no route forward..
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: blackshiver on October 02, 2019, 11:35:12 pm
If you have taken the time to read the BCA report you clearly have a positive interest in BCA matters and the organisation needs people like you. I read that there is a Conservation and Access officer post going.....

I would go for it myself but it would be hippo critical what with all the stalagmites in the garden.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: alastairgott on October 03, 2019, 07:21:03 am
I would go for it myself but it would be hippo critical what with all the stalagmites in the garden.

Don't worry there aren't any caves in the northern dales, so it's fine  :tease:
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: crickleymal on October 03, 2019, 08:11:29 am
I would go for it myself but it would be hippo critical what with all the stalagmites in the garden.
And no one wants to criticise hippos
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: rcfindlay on October 03, 2019, 12:28:28 pm
Quote
If you have taken the time to read the BCA report you clearly have a positive interest in BCA matters and the organisation needs people like you. I read that there is a Conservation and Access officer post going.....

Sounds like it's not worth getting involved if old systems are 'holding the BCA by the bollocks'
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: NewStuff on October 03, 2019, 05:54:23 pm
Sounds like it's not worth getting involved if old duffers are 'holding the BCA by the bollocks'
It's worth it, if you have the inclination towards that kind of thing. The only reason the people that *just won't accept change* are still around is no-one else will fill the roles they currently occupy. Things are changing, The CNCC and CCC have had a decent enough turnaround, it shows it can be done.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: thomasr on October 03, 2019, 06:12:13 pm
Mr Cooke may have valid reasons for not passing on the data as requested.  Though their can be no excuse for not giving a reason in the first instance 
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: mikem on October 03, 2019, 06:39:47 pm
The CNCC and CCC have had a decent enough turnaround, it shows it can be done.
I assume you mean Cambrian rather than charterhouse.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Jenny P on October 03, 2019, 07:38:30 pm
It's not clear from the reports (or lack of) the reasons why access has not been given. This would be useful to understand why there appears to be no route forward..

Dave Cooke's Report to the BCA Council Meeting has now been sent out separately and should answer any questions raised.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: NewStuff on October 03, 2019, 07:39:45 pm
I assume you mean Cambrian rather than charterhouse.

One of them is a shitshow of epic proportions showcasing exactly how you piss off a large percentage of the caving population, and the other is a caving council that covers Wales.  ;)
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: mikem on October 03, 2019, 07:52:49 pm
Well, it does seem as though nowadays you have to choose whether the caves or the cavers are more important.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: kay on October 03, 2019, 09:23:41 pm

Dave Cooke's Report to the BCA Council Meeting has now been sent out separately and should answer any questions raised.

Is it available on-line? I haven't managed to find it
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: MarkS on October 04, 2019, 07:43:35 am

Dave Cooke's Report to the BCA Council Meeting has now been sent out separately and should answer any questions raised.

Is it available on-line? I haven't managed to find it

It is now, at https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=about:documents:council_meetings:bca_council_meeting_12th_october_2019_supplementary_documents.pdf
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Ed on October 04, 2019, 08:08:28 am
Well, it does seem as though nowadays you have to choose whether the caves or the cavers are more important.

Or the over inflated sense of self importance
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Cavematt on October 04, 2019, 09:17:17 am
To clarify a few facts in the above discussion (Badlad is correct in his statements):

At the AGM a clear written mandate was produced as part of my proposal to accompany the standing of Gary as the new BCA Webmaster (Note; this is a different position to Web Services). This mandate was intended to allow overhaul of some of the outdated back-end BCA systems including the way the BCA interacts with its members and the way members interact with the BCA (e.g. membership database functions and BCA online).

Quoted from my proposal:

"This is more than just a cosmetic refurbishment of the public facing pages. The BCA should take advantage of Gary’s offer; to redevelop the BCA website, including internal and external communications systems, the public website, the behind-the-scenes systems, and BCA online."

The proposal also specifically detailed the exact accesses Gary would need.

The AGM provided instruction to BCA Council to appoint Gary on this basis, which they did. I can confirm that at the meeting at Hidden Earth, the Web Services Officer clarified that he is refusing to provide Gary the necessary accesses to fulfil my proposal. Gary’s level of access at the moment is limited to the public facing website only (something he has nonetheless done a lot of work on, and a beta-version of a redesigned website will hopefully be available in the coming months).

I need to be absolutely clear; if BCA wish to email our members about anything, or wish to implement any changes relating to any back-end systems (e.g. relating to membership or how any of our databases work), the current Web Services Officer is, I believe, the only person elected by BCA Council or members who has the access and knowledge to do this. He has shown willing to disregard the wishes of BCA members if he doesn’t personally agree. He therefore has the BCA held by the b*llocks in that respect.

Clearly this is a terrible situation for any organisation to find itself in, but one which we have no choice but to live with as the situation is a stalemate and nobody can agree who is right.

I do not wish to disrespect the amount of work the current Web Services Officer does for BCA (much of it is good). However I cannot help but be disappointed by what has happened over these last few months as it represents a barrier to the extent of modernisation I wished to see initiated this year. I hope this can be resolved before the Vision Group report in 2020, because their recommendations are likely to be much further reaching than anything I have come up with and will require absolute cooperation from the entire BCA team to implement.

On a separate note, a request has now been submitted to BCA Council to try to stop BCA Officers using UK Caving to make cavers aware of such goings-on in the BCA. I can assure everyone that I have no intention of being silenced and I expect BCA Council will dismiss this request. Nonetheless I am posting this as myself personally and not in my capacity (or using my login) as BCA Secretary to avoid any confusion and to clarify that the above is not an official BCA statement; simply my personal narrative and interpretation of the current situation.

On a separate lighter note, let's celebrate some excellent work that has happened in the BCA over the past few months. Hellie has visited Westminster to push the CRoW matter with MPs and the Glover report has specifically acknowledged caving in its recommendations regarding countryside access, all thanks to the work BCA volunteers have put in to raise the profile of this issue. The BCA now have loads of 'New to Caving' leaflets to see our sport promoted nationally, and Jane Allen organised an excellent stall at Hidden Earth (if you haven't read the Publication and Information Officer's report yet then you should... it is great). There's been some excellent work done looking at Radon, something which I'm sure we can all agree that a better understanding of is in all cavers interests. The Youth and Development team have been making real benefits for younger cavers and identifying more ways the BCA can support them; just see the last BCA newsletter for examples. Other work has continued in all of the BCA's key facets including conservation, access, training and equipment and techniques, and the BCA has continued to fund our Regional Councils in their work.

Therefore, all issues aside, the BCA is a valuable organisation, so let's stay positive and hope the above difficult situations can work themselves out.

Matt Ewles
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Pitlamp on October 04, 2019, 10:07:11 am
Matt makes a good point immediately above; we should all remember the many excellent ways in which BCA serves its members, rather than becoming overly preoccupied with individual issues which may, or may not be, to everyone's satisfaction.

I've always been grateful for all that BCA does for me as a regular caver, none of which would happen without collective volunteer effort, from all camps.

I think British cavers are very lucky. Count your blessings.  ;)
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: NewStuff on October 04, 2019, 12:37:26 pm
On a separate note, a request has now been submitted to BCA Council to try to stop BCA Officers using UK Caving to make cavers aware of such goings-on in the BCA.

This kind of bullshit (and it *is* bullshit) is the reason why so many people want nothing to do with the BCA, it's a large part of why the BCA currently has such a bad image. The fact that that a minority are hellbent on dragging everything back to the way it was, no matter what dirty little tricks are needed, speaks volumes. I sincerely hope they get told to go forth and fornicate by the BCA.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: BradW on October 04, 2019, 12:53:04 pm
Of course BCA Officers should use caver forums and the like to communicate factual BCA matters to cavers.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: alastairgott on October 04, 2019, 01:06:53 pm
Cookie stood up in the meeting and openly said he wanted either the individual tep or the club rep. His reasoning for this is because he wanted to make decisions on what he would be doing within the BCA.

At the time the meeting did not see this as tallying with the role of an individual rep or that of a club rep. Both of which should be championing the ideas of individual cavers or that of the club cavers.

I would hasten to say that in my mind the following are things that the individual or club cavers should be fighting for:
1) emails to be sent out to individual members
2) communication methods to be used to ensure the members know what’s going on
3) a revamp of the website to fully allow members to update details.

There is nothing in cookies actions so far which show that he would have been a good candidate for those roles which he was put forward for. Ergo the dissidence which has come as a result of the BCA Agm is uncalled for.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: andrewmc on October 04, 2019, 04:05:43 pm
If anyone went to Rob Middleton's (excellent) Hidden Earth talk, they would know that while he had various preconceptions about talking to individuals from certain caving organizations what he found was that everyone he talked to was passionate about caving and doing the best they could to help. It is also, of course, very true that different people have very different views about what the 'best for caving' is, and some people hold very unpopular views. But then, the majority view isn't always right, either...

Now of course in politics more generally it isn't always the case that everyone is in it for 'good' reasons.. There are always those with no principles, or freely abandon them, to sail on a wave of popularity (see the British Government for example). But if you have people taking unpopular positions and receiving nothing but flak for it, then chances are they _do_ believe what they are saying.

If you don't understand at all how someone could come to a conclusion they reached, then you haven't learnt enough about the issue to properly debate it.

As an individual member representative, I will be attending the council meeting and I intend to represent what I believe individual members want (and if you have opinions, feel free to message me and I will attempt to convey at least the spirit of these to Council). I will be waiting to hear exactly what access the webmaster wants and with what justification, and what access the IT Services officer is denying and with what justification.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: GarDouth on October 07, 2019, 01:59:13 pm
For those who don’t know, I am the current webmaster. I just wanted to clarify a few facts as mentioned above, just so people know my side of things.

Firstly, I am not all that interested in caving politics, bitching and personal attacks. I just want to do the thing I know I’m good at and to help improve and modernise the BCA and caving for everyone.

When I was elected at the AGM I was very excited about cracking on and bringing something new for people to be proud of and on the whole, I’ve had a lot of support so thanks for that. However, recently I have found this whole situation very stressful and it has been on my mind a lot to the point where I keep asking myself ‘what’s the point in trying?’.  I do want to continue, and I will do the job to the best of my ability, but I cannot face a constant up-hill battle at every turn. If things don’t change, I will have to consider ceasing involvement in BCA for my own sanity.

Here are a few facts…

If you would like to know my credentials…
I am a professional web developer and IT engineer with 20 years’ experience. I have done quite a lot of caving related sites (all un-paid) including CNCC and the CNCC Cave Booking System, Hidden Earth, Northern Pennine Club, York Caving Club, Northern Caves and EuroSpeleo as well as various back-end system such as the Northern Caves Monitoring system.

Gary
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Pegasus on October 08, 2019, 11:16:37 am

Firstly, I am not all that interested in caving politics, bitching and personal attacks. I just want to do the thing I know I’m good at and to help improve and modernise the BCA and caving for everyone.

When I was elected at the AGM I was very excited about cracking on and bringing something new for people to be proud of and on the whole, I’ve had a lot of support so thanks for that. However, recently I have found this whole situation very stressful and it has been on my mind a lot to the point where I keep asking myself ‘what’s the point in trying?’.  I do want to continue, and I will do the job to the best of my ability, but I cannot face a constant up-hill battle at every turn. If things don’t change, I will have to consider ceasing involvement in BCA for my own sanity.


For goodness sake, what image does all this give of BCA??  I see my role, amongst other things, as to promote BCA in a positive manner to cavers.  Without Gary's help I would really struggle to do this - who do you think designed and arranged for printing of the excellent BCA banners etc for the Hidden Earth stand?  Who do you think finished off designing and again helped with printing of the New to Caving leaflets?  Who helped finalise the new BCA logo?  I could go on and on and on listing the things Gary helps me to do - notwithstanding the new BCA website he is designing and which is sorely needed!

So please would certain cavers please stop finding ways of halting the modernisation and progress at the BCA.  If we lost Gary's help it would be a flippin disaster.  I don't want to go back to the old website, the old logo, no stand, poor Descent adverts, no leaflets to encourage new people to our sport etc etc etc - do you??
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: NewStuff on October 08, 2019, 01:09:20 pm
I'm a bit more blunt - Cookie needs to grow up and stop trying to take his ball away because he doesn't like the way things are going. It's pathetic, not just for the act itself, but for the image it projects. Children act like that, not grown men with responsibilities and skills.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Jopo on October 08, 2019, 01:21:10 pm
Is it his ball? What would be the situation if Cookie was voted out or stood down. How could the BCA enforce the return of data?
What it does mean is that it should be put in place that no one officer should have sole access to ANYTHING the BCA and it's members own.

Jopo
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Roger W on October 08, 2019, 01:27:11 pm
Is it his ball? What would be the situation if Cookie was voted out or stood down. How could the BCA enforce the return of data?
What it does mean is that it should be put in place that no one officer should have sole access to ANYTHING the BCA and it's members own.

Jopo


Always a good idea, never mind the politics.  If one person has sole access to anything, and something happens to them (caving accident, motorway crash, sudden illness, whatever...), then you have problems.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: David Rose on October 08, 2019, 01:38:00 pm
Gary, your post only underlines what I already knew.

We need you.

Whatever you do, however unpleasant this current spat gets, PLEASE do not resign. It will, eventually, pass.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Mike Hopley on October 08, 2019, 02:06:59 pm
I have done quite a lot of caving related sites (all un-paid) including CNCC and the CNCC Cave Booking System, Hidden Earth, Northern Pennine Club, York Caving Club, Northern Caves and EuroSpeleo as well as various back-end system such as the Northern Caves Monitoring system.

I'll stay well clear of talking politics, as I feel too ignorant to comment. But I can talk about the websites.

I've heard nothing but praise for the EuroSpeleo and CNCC websites, and it's well-deserved. Everyone found them helpful, informative, well-designed, and easy to use.

The new CNCC booking system is a fantastic development. It's a great example of using the web to make ordinary caving better. It could have been quite complicated, but again Gary made it clean and simple.

Based on the universal praise for his work so far, I feel Gary is clearly the right person for this role. I hope the current personal/political issues can be resolved so that he can get on with more excellent work.
Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Ed on October 08, 2019, 02:42:12 pm
 Any way as a BCA member I can expressly request my data to be handed over?

Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: Benfool on October 08, 2019, 02:50:35 pm
https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=about:documents:privacy_notice#access_to_personal_information

Title: Re: Things coming to a head at BCA?
Post by: cavemanmike on October 08, 2019, 03:49:50 pm
The "ball" is the bca's and no-one elses