Author Topic: BCA AGM - CRoW Report  (Read 12652 times)

Online Badlad

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BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« on: June 06, 2016, 07:42:19 pm »
Access to caves under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act is an emotive issue in British Caving.  Since I took on the role of CRoW Liaison Officer I have posted all my reports on UKcaving so members could read for themselves what is been done.  These reports are first submitted to Council and appear in full with the minutes on the BCA website and are generally summarised in the BCA newsletter.  The BCA AGM was on Sunday and my report to it is posted below for those who wish to read it.

Worth noting that Damian Weare stood down as BCA secretary at the AGM.  He had been pivotal in BCA for many years and highly regarded.    Stepping into the position is Simon Brookes.  Best wishes to him in this new role.

Online Badlad

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2016, 07:44:06 pm »

CRoW Liaison Officer Report to BCA AGM – June 2016.

It has been a busy year for me since I took up the role of CRoW liaison last June.  Campaigning to confirm the legal access that the CRoW Act offers is an emotive issue within British Caving and it has taken up much time and discussion in BCA Council meetings and beyond. 

The basis of the campaign has been to seek clarification, to gather wide support and to lobby the authorities.  I have reported all my work in detail to BCA council meetings and this is available with the meeting minutes.  My reports have also appeared in full on UKcaving and summarised in the BCA newsletter so that the membership can see exactly what is being done in their name.

In addition to the main campaign there are already some fringe benefits for the future.  There is a new invigorated emphasis on cave conservation both from the BCA and other groups and it should be no surprise that conservation has developed alongside the campaign for open access.  The campaign has encouraged new contact with all levels of authorities, landowners and other outdoor organisations which has generally been very positive and demonstrated a willingness to look outwardly from our own organisation. 

I have spoken with a number of landowners and landowner representatives mainly in the north of England, some of whom control access to over 100km of caves on their land.  Most have been accepting of any potential change to cave access and none have suggested any recriminations.  However in contrast, and on Mendip in particular, I am told that the BCA campaign is likely to cause untold problems with local landowners, so this is a very difficult circle to square across the north/south divide.   I hope that through BCA’s continuing discussions we can find a solution which is acceptable to all interests.

Across the country some landowners already allow open access including on SSSIs, others require systems of control and a few permit no official access at all.  The present situation relies on hundreds of voluntary access arrangements which can be subject to regular renegotiation as the situation and land ownership changes and are quite a burden on our Access Controlling Bodies and Regional Caving Councils.  A legal right will guarantee future access to at least some of our caves and relieve some of the effort required to maintain agreements.  That effort could then be channelled into other areas such as conservation.

I have also looked at how the BCA Public Liability Insurance impacts the majority of our access agreements.  In nearly all cases access agreements are reliant on the landowner indemnity cover it provides.  Should this become too expensive or unavailable to us then we could lose access to hundreds of our popular caves.  Under CRoW, even if we lost insurance cover, we could still enjoy the access freedoms to those caves provided for by the Act – food for thought.

There are many indications that active caving is on the decline, and has been for a decade or more.  There is a view that unnecessary access restrictions send out an unwelcome message and this contributes to the decline.   Whilst fewer cavers may well be good for conservation in the short term, it is not good for the long term health of British Caving.  Many of our councils, committees, conservationist groups, etc – the people who make British Caving happen rely too heavily on an aging population of retiring cavers.  At some point numbers become critical and we need to work hard to make caving more attractive to the new generations of British Cavers.

I am confident that the correct path for British Caving is to seek a legal right of access to caves where that is possible.  Other outdoor organisations such as ramblers, climbers and paddlers have all determined to follow this route with some notable successes.  The freedoms we enjoy in the countryside today would not have happened without groups campaigning for those rights against strong oppositions as the Kinder Scout trespass demonstrated all those years ago.  The improvements to access that cavers enjoy today can be directly attributed to the atmosphere created by other campaigns and the principles, such as the Right to Roam, that enshrine them in law. 

The BCA poll showed that the majority of its members want CRoW rights to apply to them too.  The 63% who voted in favour of a campaign is a majority that the Scottish and European referendums would die for.  Many in BCA who voted against in the poll support the democratic nature of the organisation and accept the result.  Unfortunately others do not and a vocal minority continue to campaign against CRoW with some vigour as evidenced by their relationships, in letters, PMQs and the media, all designed to undermine the BCA majority position. 

None of this reflects well on British Caving.  The law is unclear, as caving is not excluded under the CRoW Act and whilst there are differing opinions of the interpretation of the law this position is likely to persist.  It may be that, as DEFRA have stated, in the end only a court can decide.  Should this route be something that the BCA consider?  It would settle the matter once and for all and prevent, in the meantime, other cavers taking matters into their own hands, especially in the midst of acrimonious access disputes.

Whatever the eventual outcome we would get to where we are going in much better shape if we pulled together rather than working against the majority view of the membership.

Tim Allen
21st May 2016

Online droid

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2016, 08:18:07 pm »
Pointing out potential problems with CRoW that should be addressed is neither anti-democratic or 'designed to undermine the BCA majority position'.

It's something that any responsible caver should do.
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Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2016, 08:24:15 pm »
It's just an opinion being expressed in the report, Droid. Even BCA council members are entitled to them. In a report, it should be made clear that this is just opinion, and not opinion presented as fact. The word "designed" suggests deliberate  intent. That's accusatory. Anyone else would start claiming "libel"!

Online droid

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2016, 08:35:35 pm »
It's a report of one person's opinion on how the 'campaign' is going.

Badlad has spoken to 'some' landowners.

He recognises the 'Mendip situation'

He also links lack of free access with diminishing participation, though without any supporting evidence.

There's the usual complaint about the CroW-cautious.

Pretty much par for the course, Peter.

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Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2016, 08:47:42 pm »
Be fair, it says a bit more than that.

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2016, 08:53:46 pm »
It's a report of one person's opinion on how the 'campaign' is going.

.... It's the report of the BCA CRoW liaison officer who, notwithstanding his own views, put across the position as a spectrum.

Of course it is an "opinion" but it is one he has worked tirelessly on since his appointment.

I think it is perfectly reasonable to credit him for his hard work and recognise the position he is portraying. He recognises something of an impasse and suggests that "maybe" a court hearing would be the only final solution.

He has also suggested that we all pull together to get the best result (and he has recognised difficult areas).

Why would he need "supporting evidence" for any of that?

Excellent report Tim and thank you for your continued hard work.

 :)

Ian
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Online droid

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2016, 08:54:38 pm »
Peter:

Not a lot.

And that isn't a criticism. The campaign is likely, in my opinion, to be a very long one.
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Online droid

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2016, 08:58:12 pm »
Why would he need "supporting evidence" for any of that?


Are you serious?

It's a report published under the auspices of the BCA.

Some evidence-based factual content might be expected. That which isn't might be better identified as 'in my opinion'.

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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2016, 09:00:37 pm »
The BCA poll showed that the majority of its members want CRoW rights to apply...

This is a misinterpretation, oversight, or misquote of the facts though, as evidenced in the Electoral Reform Services' official and accurate summary of the BCA Ballot, available to download from the BCA website, here:

http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=about:crow_poll_result_2014.pdf

The real figures show that the majority of BCA members didn't vote. However, of those that did vote there was indeed a majority, namely around 61%.

Because of the fact that only 37% of UK cavers voted, the claimed 'majority' is only 23% of UK cavers, thus meaning 77% (the REAL majority) did not vote for lobbying to take place.

Therefore it is patently untrue to claim that the majority of BCA members voted in favour. This is simply incorrect and provably so, as shown above.

It's important to get published documents which represent national bodies factually correct.

Therefore the report should more accurately read:

The BCA poll showed that the majority of THE MEMBERS WHO VOTED want CRoW rights to apply...

This post is merely a statement of fact and not of opinion. It's important get things right, especially if they form part of the archive of a national body.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2016, 09:10:24 pm by Cap'n Chris »

Offline mikem

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2016, 09:02:29 pm »
Quote
There is a view that unnecessary access restrictions send out an unwelcome message and this contributes to the decline.
How does that not qualify as "in someone's opinion"?

Climbing was originally not included in CRoW, but after the BMC canvassed for it, it now is.

The campaign will be pursued whether BCA are involved or not, so do you really want to cut them out?

Mike

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2016, 09:08:55 pm »
This is going to be a locked thread real fast because of the "mischief" caused by three of the usual people.

(Mischief includes maliciousness in dictionaries)

The Statistics on the BCA voting was represented the same way as UK National reporting statistics and have not been "twisted" or "spun" to create a different picture. People who don't vote are said to go with the majority who do. That is the basis of British voting law.

As for evidence based fact-yes, it is better than "opinion". I asked "Why do we need it?". Tim is better placed than any one of use to report on this matter and he did not condemn the side of the fence he is not sat on. You may be making his exact point about a small minority continuing to undermine the democratic and lawful vote of the BCA members.

Lastly, "libel" refers to written untruth's and Peter's reference was quite clearly an attempt to cause "mischief" from the previous thread that was locked. No need for it at all.

Ian
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Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2016, 09:10:00 pm »
In deference to the forum, I shall not be responding to Ian. If it gets locked, look somewhere else!

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2016, 09:11:49 pm »
People who don't vote are said to go with the majority who do.

Really? For real?

Is the Electoral Reform Services document wrong? It clearly shows the figures. 77% of BCA members did NOT vote. That is a majority. Is is the majority. Therefore the majority did not vote FOR anything. Ergo it is completely absurd to claim that the majority did vote and more to the point voted for lobbying to take place.

Publishing something which make claims contrary to independently witnessed facts renders BCA documents risible and liable to derision. BCA needs to ensure it is not a laughing stock.

Both majorities cannot be correct.

Which one is correct?

My hunch is that the ERS document is correct.

Offline cavemanmike

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2016, 09:13:52 pm »
vultures picking over bones again, no wonder caving in declining with all this negativity

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2016, 09:16:27 pm »
Establishing facts as opposed to spin is not negative. It is very very helpful.

Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2016, 09:17:21 pm »
In hindsight, perhaps a "quorum" should have been agreed before the ballot. Say, 50 percent of the membership need to respond to make the result valid - for a very important decision, this sort of mechanism is worth considering.

Offline Brains

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2016, 09:18:28 pm »
It is clear to me there is a very vocal opposition to the BCA mandate, which has included online articles, counter lobbying to parliament etc. How well organised or coordinated? I dont know, but the more confusion is spread (IMO to be deliberately contrary), the longer any resoloution will take. The BCA approach is a preferred option, but it has all gone quiet in S Wales about the legal approach. When that comes to a head I dont think they will be so coy about the p's and q's of how people feel. Being picky about the mandate wont help either - unless another mandate is sought, accept it or pay for another. It is the best you will get
I thank Tim for his efforts on behalf of all cavers to ensure we have somewhere to go caving.
 
(Anyone for a sweep on how long till this one gets locked)

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2016, 09:21:36 pm »
I have no issue with the mandate. The mandate stands and is acceptable. It is not being argued with or against, in and of itself.

What I do take issue with is witting or unwitting misrepresentation of it in official archived documents which will be subsequently referred to in good faith. The documented claim is clearly and irrefutably wrong. It must be more accurated recorded and reported.

The mandate is OK. There was a voted majority.

But it was NOT the majority view of the BCA membership. It was the majority view of the BCA membership who voted. There is a major distinction. It is important.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2016, 09:49:58 pm by Cap'n Chris »

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2016, 09:21:57 pm »
he did not condemn the side of the fence he is not sat on.

 'a vocal minority continue to campaign against CRoW with some vigour as evidenced by their relationships, in letters, PMQs and the media, all designed to undermine the BCA majority position.'

Really?
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Offline Ian Adams

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2016, 09:22:20 pm »
Chris,

You are talking bollocks.

It is an established FACT that;

1) Some people vote (yes or no)
2) Some people don't vote

Those who do not vote, for whatever reason, give way to those that do.

Spouting numbers of people who didn't vote and trying to purport that this in some way diminishes the BCA Ballot is, frankly, contemptible and you should be thoroughly ashamed of your behaviour.

Ian
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Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #21 on: June 06, 2016, 09:23:38 pm »
We are urged to unite behind the proponents of applying CRoW. I can understand why, but can't see it happening.

History tells us that if you want to divide a body of people, whether a nation or just a club, pick a very contentious polarising issue, and take a vote on it.

If you want to unite a body of people, pick a very contentious issue, and work out a position that a majority of people on both sides are content with, and happy to unite on. Then vote on the resulting position, to complete the happy union.


Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2016, 09:24:03 pm »
You are talking bollocks.

So 77% of an electorate do not vote for something.

But 23% of an electorate do.

23% is claimed to be the majority of the electorate.

Is that what you are saying?

If so then it seems that I must obviously be talking bollocks. Clearly.

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2016, 09:24:21 pm »
he did not condemn the side of the fence he is not sat on.

 'a vocal minority continue to campaign against CRoW with some vigour as evidenced by their relationships, in letters, PMQs and the media, all designed to undermine the BCA majority position.'

Really?


Why don't you bother to read the whole report and take it ALL in the context he wrote it instead of isolating single phrases and drawing your own interpretations to them. Read it is as it was written and stop being a prick.

Ian
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Offline Ian Adams

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Re: BCA AGM - CRoW Report
« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2016, 09:25:30 pm »
So 77% of people do not vote.

23% people do.

23% is the majority?

Is that what you are saying?


You need to stop being a prick too. You know EXACTLY what you are doing and it is a total disgrace to the institution of caving and democracy.

Ian
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