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BCA pros and cons

marsrat

Member
Moderator comment: Posts from Memes thread in Idle Chat ( https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?threads/caving-memes.29373/page-25 ) moved to here as requested.

*role
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It is entirely reasonable to criticise the work done by a volunteer, or their opinions on how things should or are done. It gets a lot more murky when you start criticising the volunteer themselves. A lot of volunteers are only doing the job because someone has to and they have been coerced into it. Certainly (for my one current committee position) I would be more than happy if someone started campaigning against me. I'd probably help them write their electioneering material about how terrible a job I was doing :p

Just always try not to be mean, which admittedly can sometimes be difficult (as can, sometimes, the volunteers themselves).

Simple rule for life: don't be an asshat (a good example is posting spelling corrections, which is clearly asshat behaviour).
Comment aside for sake of curiosity.

Do we NEED a BCA and thus by extension does somebody HAVE to fulfil the role?
 
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mikem

Well-known member
Most clubs, access bodies and individuals are insured through them.

BTW I don't know when they were put up, but the AGM minutes are on the BCA website
 

nearlywhite

Active member
Comment aside for sake of curiosity.

Do we NEED a BCA and thus by extension does somebody HAVE to fulfil the role?

I was trying to work out how to respond to this in meme form.

The short answer is yes, if only because if it isn't there then other, more malign organisations will fill the gap. So at the very least you need a placeholder to stop interference. I happen to think a stronger argument is all the services it funds and provides. That takes work. Much like any council/organisation they have downsides but people rarely want to live in places where there's a transaction for road and bin use etc.

A large part of my voluntary service to the BCA has been in advocating for member clubs to stop Unions and the ambiguous 'Health and Safety' shutting down student and under 18 caving. Problem is it's too easy to say we don't need it/it doesn't do anything because for a large number of volunteers, success is the status quo. That said I think we can do better.
 

marsrat

Member
I was trying to work out how to respond to this in meme form.

The short answer is yes, if only because if it isn't there then other, more malign organisations will fill the gap. So at the very least you need a placeholder to stop interference. I happen to think a stronger argument is all the services it funds and provides. That takes work. Much like any council/organisation they have downsides but people rarely want to live in places where there's a transaction for road and bin use etc.

A large part of my voluntary service to the BCA has been in advocating for member clubs to stop Unions and the ambiguous 'Health and Safety' shutting down student and under 18 caving. Problem is it's too easy to say we don't need it/it doesn't do anything because for a large number of volunteers, success is the status quo. That said I think we can do better.
Appreciate the response, it was insightful.

"more malign organisations will fill the gap." Only if cavers decide to subscribe to said organisation. Suppose the situation in which the BCA randomly dissolves leaving a power vacuum. A select few cavers would likely create their own organisation (and as a result, clubs/cavers would decide to either subscribe or not). It is unlikely clubs will be forced to join the new organisation, it's just the status quo is as such.

"I happen to think a stronger argument is all the services it funds and provides" I (personally) haven't seen a single return of service to date, other than the insurance (which in itself is a one time use, the moment an individual claims - the insurance as a service will cease to be). The BCA is too large of a body (and widely spread) to determine how money should be spent (and in particular areas). For example the York SRT training facility - I personally don't remember the members of the BCA ever being asked on whether the money should be spent in this direction (I may be wrong though). Why don't we just allocate money to local caving councils and allow the cavers in those areas to decide how their money collectively should be spent? We have no effective measures against one club deciding to pack the BCA committee and filtering the funds off to their particular region.

"Problem is it's too easy to say we don't need it/it doesn't do anything because for a large number of volunteers, success is the status quo." I'm sure the BCA has done a lot of work (and fair play to the volunteers which choose to contribute - I'm sure it has changed British caving for the better). I'm more of a believer that local clubs contribute to the state of British caving rather than a national body. Giving more power to a national body is not the solution as it will eventually be hijacked (rather we should be placing the power into local clubs, with the BCA merely providing an optional service).

As a libertarian, my main qualm with the BCA is as such: why am I forced to subscribe (and pay!) to a national body to join a local club? In reality the BCA don't negotiate the terms of local gates (it is the local caving council e.g Cambrian and local clubs) or maintain the terms we local cavers how with our local land owners. I don't have any real say (other than voting in representatives and personally having to engage in the political bs of it all) where the money or the BCA goes. I much rather have the choice, and if I want to engage in the politics of it all then I can but otherwise I'll just stick to the caving part.

I'm happy to continue this conversation in private/public if you believe otherwise, probably isn't wise to do it in the meme thread..
 
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hannahb

Active member
If people could repeat their posts from the memes thread here, that would be a helpful start.

Please keep it civil.
 

hannahb

Active member
I tend towards the "I'm not sure we need the BCA" side of the discussion at the moment. I particularly resent having to pay into the insurance scheme in order to be a member of a club. I do recognise and appreciate the large amount of money that is collected (?) and distributed by the BCA.
 

LadyMud

Active member
But I thought access to lots of caves depended on you being covered by third-party insurance? Isn't BCA membership the easiest way to get suitable insurance cover?
 

hannahb

Active member
But I thought access to lots of caves depended on you being covered by third-party insurance? Isn't BCA membership the easiest way to get suitable insurance cover?
Where I cave, this isn't the case. It might be the case in other areas in the UK. If that's correct, perhaps regionally administered insurance might work.
 

hannahb

Active member
Would an admin find it easy to move the relevant posts over? If not we can copy and paste them to try to keep it coherent.
 

marsrat

Member
But I thought access to lots of caves depended on you being covered by third-party insurance? Isn't BCA membership the easiest way to get suitable insurance cover?
Not sure, a registry would be useful. Personally I haven't seen BCA insurance being required to access the caves in Llangatwg. BCA membership being required to access sites, from what I understand, has been a thing of status quo rather than necessity in order to maintain good-will relations with the landowner. We do NOT need to pay into the BCA to facilitate this. I'm sure somebody infinitely more knowledgeable about BCA and insurance will comment anyway.
 
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nearlywhite

Active member
Our membership is barely large enough for the existing insurance policy - a lot of work and negotiation went into that. I'm not sure we could replicate it at a national level let alone a regional level and the price we get for the cover is competitive.

It's use as an access instrument is slightly intangible - you often aren't checked but often if you talk to the people who negotiate access it was leaned on for reassurance, if not explicitly codified in the agreement but no one can be arsed to check.

Wouldn't it be better if regional councils spent the money? That is literally what happens. BCA's main power is that it concentrates funds and then moves the money to where it needs to be. I suggest you look at the very significant conservation and access spends in recent years (of the named regions) - that was all BCA money through the C&A committee.

I would suggest trawling through minutes of the regions, prior to the BCA the treasurers jobs were a lot more onerous and funding not always so straight forward.

If BCA wasn't there then you would have caving regulated by commercial providers/have to join multiple clubs and spend way more a year.
 

hannahb

Active member
Our membership is barely large enough for the existing insurance policy - a lot of work and negotiation went into that. I'm not sure we could replicate it at a national level let alone a regional level and the price we get for the cover is competitive.

It's use as an access instrument is slightly intangible - you often aren't checked but often if you talk to the people who negotiate access it was leaned on for reassurance, if not explicitly codified in the agreement but no one can be arsed to check.

Wouldn't it be better if regional councils spent the money? That is literally what happens. BCA's main power is that it concentrates funds and then moves the money to where it needs to be. I suggest you look at the very significant conservation and access spends in recent years (of the named regions) - that was all BCA money through the C&A committee.

I would suggest trawling through minutes of the regions, prior to the BCA the treasurers jobs were a lot more onerous and funding not always so straight forward.

If BCA wasn't there then you would have caving regulated by commercial providers/have to join multiple clubs and spend way more a year.

The insurance is national, isn't it? Or do you mean something else?

Competitive pricing is good, but insurance is absolutely not required to go caving (in some areas at least; I don't speak for areas I'm not familiar with). For example in the Dales we are now encouraged to assume we have a right to access caves on "access land".

I'm not sure what you mean by "wouldn't it be better if regional councils spent the money" - I think that's what I was acknowledging in my post, and I can't see another mention of it.

In what sense regulated? Several people on here are adamant that the BCA is a national body, and specifically not a regulatory body. What is there to regulate?
 

marsrat

Member
Our membership is barely large enough for the existing insurance policy - a lot of work and negotiation went into that. I'm not sure we could replicate it at a national level let alone a regional level and the price we get for the cover is competitive.
Why is the BCA still raising membership prices when there is a significant amount still left in its coffers? Insurance should be a choice, not forced (otherwise have we not just beholden ourselves to commercial providers which you have so quoted as doom and gloom). If we impose BCA membership (and insurance) as terms to accessing caves, all it takes is one individual to claim or the insurance provider deciding to ramp up the prices - we now have a significant problem and are forced to pay the cost of over centralisation to even access our beloved caves. Nothing is stopping ANYBODY from suing the landowner, so what is the point of insurance? If we want an insurance policy, make it an option - not a forced subscription.

It's use as an access instrument is slightly intangible - you often aren't checked but often if you talk to the people who negotiate access it was leaned on for reassurance, if not explicitly codified in the agreement but no one can be arsed to check.
Local caves have always been reliant on the good faith enacted by local cavers (and the relationship said cavers have with their landowners). I'm sure the BCA can be quoted as a means to an end, but this does NOT need people to be forced to pay into its pot.

Wouldn't it be better if regional councils spent the money? That is literally what happens. BCA's main power is that it concentrates funds and then moves the money to where it needs to be. I suggest you look at the very significant conservation and access spends in recent years (of the named regions) - that was all BCA money through the C&A committee.
My money is my money. I should not be forced to pay into a central pot to be managed centrally by some committee diverting money to other areas as a stipulation to join a local caving club. All I'm saying is, we DO NOT need a national body to decide where caver's money should go. A better solution is to simply downsize, and allow local caving councils to collect the money and decide accordingly. Local clubs are the ones who lead local caving projects, take for example the conservation taken in OFD - the local club should be the one collecting the money (and making this clear) - not the BCA.

If BCA wasn't there then you would have caving regulated by commercial providers/have to join multiple clubs and spend way more a year.
This doom and gloom situation did not occur when no such body existed. Commercial providers will only step in when there is profit to be made (and as such caving is largely regulated by the good will interactions between cavers and the landowner. If the landowner wants to turn Daren Cilau into a theme park on the hills of Llangawtg then there is nothing a national body can do but beg to do otherwise).
Besides the point, the BCA is a national body NOT A GOVERNING BODY - therefore the BCA have never regulated cavers so I'm not entirely sure what the reasoning behind this is.

TLDR: I'm not saying the BCA is a bad idea, I'm saying forcing people to be apart of it (and paying into it) is.
 
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mikem

Well-known member
The insurance is there to protect the landowners from being sued because they allow access, not the other way around.

You do have the choice of not being in a club - there's probably as many explorers who aren't, but that does limit your access to kit and some caves (& club membership is incredibly cheap for what you get compared to many sports clubs)
 

marsrat

Member
The insurance is there to protect the landowners from being sued because they allow access, not the other way around.
Just a little snippet below (the rest is similar in wording) - though I could be wrong as I don't specialise in law. The policy insures each member of the BCA as an active caver, not the landowner, against court action?
 

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mikem

Well-known member
"The Public Liability Scheme is fully administered by BCA and is integral to BCA Membership for individuals. The fundamental purpose of the policy is to indemnify landowners over whose land cavers need permission to pass in order to visit certain sites around the UK, but it also provides for liability insurance for BCA members"

Because of past incidents at cheddar south side climbers are required to have BMC or equivalent insurance, and staff do check membership cards.
 

MarkS

Moderator
You only need to be a BCA member because the club you want to be part of has that as part of their membership requirements, surely? Or maybe I'm missing something. Presumably it just so happens that most caving clubs deem it beneficial to be BCA affiliated.

There are probably plenty of cavers who choose not to be BCA members. I have been in that category before now.
 
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