CNCC Meeting 21st October 2023

cap n chris

Well-known member
Cavers inhabit a joyful rose-tinted world where loads and loads and loads of HSE type stuff doesn't affect them*. Until it's part of a business or professional outfit, then it kicks in. Welcome to the world of diktat. It involves effort, time and money, lots of money. I shouldn't find any glee in this, but it's definitely an interesting bystanding experience to see how cavers react to things which cavers/caving in other realms have had to deal with for decades. Welcome to the party. Now cough up.

[* Many cavers appear to consider a single £1 coin to be an ingot of gold and a bridge too far for pretty nearly anything, so an annual 'routine maintenance' account running into low thousands is beyond the wildest dreams of Croesus by comparison. The wake up call is massively overdue, imo].

Perhaps cavers now understand why the activities industry charges (entirely reasonable and modest sums) for caving experiences. If you want to offer freebie caving to people crack on, but this thread should alert people somewhat. Maybe.
 
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thehungrytroglobite

Well-known member
*I'm posting this in a PERSONAL capacity (just like everything I post, but feel the need to emphasise it with this one!) and NOT in my capacity as CNCC Y&D*

York's request to maintain their training facility is very reasonable as the facility is clearly of great benefit to them, they are a very active club and the proposal very clearly outlines the necessity. I agree that 5k is a lot - though the BCA certainly has the money to fund it.

Agreed, the fact it will only benefit one club may be problematic. In recent history York have not been involved with CHECC or attended many joint uni club events as lots of other student clubs tend to (most frequently run joint training trips etc). So I'm not entirely convinced how this benefit for other clubs will be put into practice. Will York make an effort to extend olive branches to support training with other clubs? Or will the facility be made available for CHECC to use for free for nation-wide training every year? Perhaps, if this is clarified / figured out, it may benefit the application further.

There are indeed lots of other uni clubs struggling at the moment. Newcastle, for example, are of great need of new kit and will be putting in a proposal for funding for this imminently. That funding needed is most likely going to be at least 1k. They desperately need this kit and without it cannot run sufficient trips, ultimately a lack of usable kit will lead to the club folding. I know that this is not an isolated case and other clubs have similar struggles, though I am not aware of any others applying for funding as of yet. It could be argued that having necessary caving kit is more essential than a training facility, as mentioned by others trees, quarries and caving huts all provide good enough training for most student clubs in the UK.

I think we need to be careful that the funding for York does not happen at the cost of not providing funding to other clubs. Ie. If the BCA turn around and say 'we've just given 5k to York, we can't give any funding to other student clubs now' that will probably cause a lot of problems. Hopefully this is not the case, but it is a risk I'm aware of. It's difficult when there is no clear system through which student clubs can access funding. How much funding is the BCA willing to donate each year? Can a similar situation to Ghar Parau be set up to fund student clubs?

I think many don't realise how dire the situation is for most student clubs post-covid. The consequences of lockdown mean a lot of uni clubs are suffering from a knock on lack of experience, loss of skills (such as leading, rigging, SRT), loss of funding to buy kit, etc etc. Several are on the brink of folding.

The York issue is good as it has brought many of these issues to light, and highlighted the fact that the BCA and regional councils alike are capable of supporting student clubs far more than they currently do. Student clubs are large feeders for many adult clubs and very valuable for the wider caving community.

Despite some of the concerns I have mentioned above I'm in full support of York getting this funding. I'm also in full support of other uni clubs getting the funding that they need (and there is a lot of discussion amongst the wider student caving community at the moment about how the decision for York will impact them - will it mean they can get funding too?). There is certainly money in the BCA bank for York to get the support that they need, along with all the other clubs too.

*By 'York' here I'm talking about YUCPC and not York Uni.
*I have conflicts of interest in being Newcastle Uni alumni and heavily involved in CHECC committee for the last 3 years.
 

IanWalker

Active member
YUCPC are very lucky to have had a training facility for over 30 years. I can see why they want to keep it.

I would encourage their request to CNCC for words of support and potentially a modest spend from CNCC budget.

I look forward to similar requests from other clubs.
 

JoshW

Well-known member
Agreed, the fact it will only benefit one club may be problematic. In recent history York have not been involved with CHECC or attended many joint uni club events as lots of other student clubs tend to (most frequently run joint training trips etc). So I'm not entirely convinced how this benefit for other clubs will be put into practice. Will York make an effort to extend olive branches to support training with other clubs? Or will the facility be made available for CHECC to use for free for nation-wide training every year? Perhaps, if this is clarified / figured out, it may benefit the application further.
I think this needs to be a really careful consideration with this proposal.

How much is this spend actually going to benefit the wider caving/uni caving community.

In my time as y and d I easily spent this amount several times over (granted split between various projects, not just one) but in all these cases I could see the coins being actively involved in the scene and any investment in them would filter out, either through sharing of kit or sharing of good practice, or having additional leaders available to help other clubs in need.

I just don’t necessarily see this from YUCPC who I’ve never really had any interaction with (short of a brief meeting with some in long churns recently- where it became apparent, whilst not unsafe they could definitely benefit from views from outside the echo chamber).

I think a big commitment from them to get more involved, like attendance at the upcoming Northern Checc, would make me feel more comfortable about this amount of money on one project being spent.

Whilst BCA have money in the pot, and as some have pointed out is lowering in buying power, and so potentially has more value in being spent than sitting in an account; there is also a view that with the rising cost of things (insurance, admin support for BCA’s core functions, efficient membership systems to name just a few) and this moneys buying power being lower, the BCA should be more careful with its expenditure not more flagrant.

There was recent very negative opinions on increasing the BCA membership fee by a couple of quid a year (something the then treasurer warned might be a useful thing to do), and I fear that at some point an increase in fees will be due as a reactive measure rather than a proactive one.
 

SamL

New member
The internet is a bad place to get technical advice but I would suggest that if you ask a rope access company about an SRT facility, you'll get a rope access answer - it's what they know. I would recommend asking a technical advisor with experience of EN795, BS7883 but also an awareness that these explicitly do not cover 'leisure activities or professional and private sport activities'. Ideally someone with experience of installing similar facilities and/or climbing walls (though similar caveats to 795 apply to 12572-1).
 

Mark Wright

Active member
There was recent very negative opinions on increasing the BCA membership fee by a couple of quid a year (something the then treasurer warned might be a useful thing to do),.
Treasurers, particularly retired accountants, have never been very good at spending money and will usually always recommend putting membership fees up. They'd certainly never suggest a decrease!

Having said that BCA have donated £5K annually for many years to the GPF for handing out to eligible expeditions. This is pretty much the same amount the GPF actually hand out every year. GPF very rarely dip into their own reserves, which, like BCA's, are considerable. GPF's Treasurer is another retired accountant and when I was on the committee some years back we were always encouraged to only spend the BCA's contribution. Expeditions could probably make more than the typical GPF grant by simply having a raffle at their club dinner.

When we decided to donate a big chunk of the profits (+£13K) from the Berger book to GPF, the treasurer actually recommended against it, saying it would just end up sat in a low interest account and benefit nobody. He was right.

I wouldn't be surprised if BCA's annual £5K donation to GPF benefits less than 5% of BCA's membership. Whilst I agree that £5K as a one off cost for sorting out YUCPC's training facility does sound a lot (it isn't, I would actually charge more than their quote), it will probably benefit a hell of a lot more people over the next 10 years than just one year of GPF funding ever would.

To answer SamL, YUCPC did get a technical advisor with significant experience in all the relevant standards and legislation relating to all aspects of the installation and testing of EN795A anchor systems and setting up both industrial rope access and SRT training facilities.

While we are spending BCA's money, the mining community, who probably make up about 20% of the membership, should also get £5K (or how ever much they need) so they can finally get their AditNow website brought back to life.

Get it spent.

Mark
 

hannahb

Active member
I think a big commitment from them to get more involved, like attendance at the upcoming Northern Checc, would make me feel more comfortable about this amount of money on one project being spent.

Why are you equating attendance at CHECC, regional or otherwise, with active involvement with the caving scene?
 

hannahb

Active member
Conveniently ignoring that the word like would imply an example 👍🏼
Sorry, wasn't meaning to be inflammatory - I should have worded it better.

I just wondered whether there was an expectation that uni clubs attend CHECC, and if that's the case, why.
 

JoshW

Well-known member
Sorry, wasn't meaning to be inflammatory - I should have worded it better.

I just wondered whether there was an expectation that uni clubs attend CHECC, and if that's the case, why.
There’s a good sharing of knowledge between uni clubs that happens, generally enabled by CHECC as a hub. Providing funding/time to a club who cave within this “gang”, just makes it much more likely that that time/money will affect a much larger range of people than uni clubs who don’t ’buy in’ to the principle of CHECC.

There are of course other parts of the caving scene that clubs who don’t buy in might share with, but it seems like the reach would be smaller.

(Equal apologies for the snapping back)
 
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