Author Topic: Access in private or democratic groups.  (Read 17394 times)

Offline bograt

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #25 on: May 14, 2016, 01:51:39 pm »
I see people complaining about an organisation that has provided legal access where non was available before.

I do NOT see any suggestions how this could be improved,
only mutterings that at sometime in the future, something might change.
Therefore the set up is wrong and possibly a conspiracy.

I also can not see anyone offering to help!

 :) :) :) :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Offline Brains

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #26 on: May 14, 2016, 03:03:20 pm »
I see people complaining about an organisation that has provided legal access where non was available before.

I do NOT see any suggestions how this could be improved,
only mutterings that at sometime in the future, something might change.
Therefore the set up is wrong and possibly a conspiracy.

I also can not see anyone offering to help!

 :) :) :) :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Me three- well done to all of you.
had I the time and the energy I would volunteer my services on a regular basis.
I could manage the odd day here or there, especially during my rest days from work (M-Tu-W)

Offline badger

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #27 on: May 14, 2016, 09:35:23 pm »
did not think I was complaining, I think the 3 (CAL) have done a great job, asked the what if, and also suggested that CAL may have already put things in place, which from Davids reply it seems they have

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #28 on: May 14, 2016, 10:44:14 pm »
I see people complaining about an organisation that has provided legal access where non was available before.

I do NOT see any suggestions how this could be improved,
only mutterings that at sometime in the future, something might change.
Therefore the set up is wrong and possibly a conspiracy.

I also can not see anyone offering to help!

Not complaining and thought that was clear from my post
(by the way, good work  :thumbsup:)

Just pointing out that the OP's question might not be as ludicrous as some seem to suggest, when one looks to the future.

I am sure that all those involved with CAL have considered this point, prior to reaching their decision on management structure, however for someone not party to these discussions to have concerns seems pretty legitimate.

Nobody has suggested any kind of conspiracy and surely an open discussion on what the set up is, and why, should be encouraged to reasure anybody who might have concerns.
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Offline Ian Adams

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #29 on: May 15, 2016, 09:51:38 am »
I think the OPs question is reasonable and I think the concerns raised are reasonable. In the interests of transparency I will give a detailed account of how all this came about.

It won’t be popular and it will ruffle some feathers but in comparison to the CRoW debates, it is extremely mild.

A number of years ago, the late Elsie Little of the Cambrian Caving Council (CCC) was in liaison with the then Forestry Commission (FC) to secure unfettered access to mines and caves on FC land. From conversations and meetings I personally had with her during this period I understand that she was struggling in part because she was not well supported within the CCC and was being actively blocked by a commercial operation in North Wales. (The commercial operation wanted to control some of the mines alone). The commercial venture was headed up by an individual who wanted to set up an Access control group to manage some mines in North Wales and then extend that control across Wales (competing with Elsie Little and the CCC).

I attended a meeting of this rival group who had plans to restrict access to a “permit by permit” basis and to charge an annual subscription fee. They also wanted to gate everything and only allow entry to pre-approved applications. (for instance, I suggested that if I had a friend come up from South England, would I be able to take him into such a mine if I had a permit and my friend did not – the answer was “no”.).

There had already been a tremendous amount of posturing over access control in North Wales which had gone so far as involving the police and allegations of criminal damage and, frankly, a good number of us were sick of it.

The existence of this new Access control group was seen by some (including me) as a path to further doom and trouble especially in light of Elsie Littles (CCC) attempts to secure unrestricted and unfettered access for all. I raised this issue at the meeting and was effectively shouted down by the sitting committee and told to make my own arrangements if I were not happy about how they were handling it.

I continued to liaise with Elsie Little and Elsie proposed a solution that included commercial groups within the access agreement she was proposing with the FC (which I think was very sensible). She did not see the commercial groups as the “enemy” but rather another element to account for. The FC provisionally agreed but they wanted a list of people on those trips to be recorded and, of course, the commercial operations required their own insurance (BCA insurance does not cover commercial trips). This was met with objections from at least one commercial operation who believed that providing a list of names of people entering on the commercial trip was unreasonable (and/or breached the data protection act). This was seen as “smoke and mirrors” and was going to be addressed on Elsie’s return from holiday abroad. Sadly she died on her return and no further progress was made.

Following on, I was in communication with the CCC and it appeared she was not being replaced until at least the next AGM and all her work was shelved (and subsequently lost). I won’t speculate as to why or how that happened.

Suffice it to say, I was “peeved”, especially since so much work had been done and we had got so far already.

In advance of the next CCC AGM, a number of fairly “peeved” people put our heads together with the purpose of addressing the stagnation of permissible access (not just North Wales). We each had our own grievances with the manner in which various issues were being handled by the CCC (well, “not” handled) and as our constant and numerous requests for action had fallen on deaf ears we decided to take definitive action.

In 2014 a number of like-minded people attended the CCC AGM with a view to bringing about change. Change that would facilitate better access for everyone in Wales. Better access that would not be subject to subscriptions. Better access that would not be subject to restrictions and better access that would not be subject to an empire of gates and locks.

The move was successful and we began work.

Stuart (Access officer) picked up Elsie’s torch. I should immediately point out that this was a project that I (Treasurer) felt very strongly about as well as Dave (Secretary). Stuart was happy to do this but it was not his raison d’etre. Stuart was met with many difficulties during the process of rehabilitating Elsie’s work which included  the fact that FC had transmuted into Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and all the work and paperwork Elsie had done had “mysteriously vanished”. Essentially Stuart started again. He undertook a tremendous amount of work (and still does) that he did not bargain for.

During the process, the three of us were in unison and through Stuart’s hard work, he re-built the agreement with NRW. There were some hoops we had to jump through including undertaking some risk-assessments on certain mines as well as running a probationary period (one year which has now been completed). Additionally, NRW do still want an idea of the amount of traffic going through (but have stopped short of specific detail). After the probationary period was completed we were able to look at expanding the number of mines/caves (which is happening).

One important factor that goes to the heart of the OPs question is that NRW wanted to have an agreement with a “body” (as opposed to cavers in general). Of course that would be the CCC. However, it was felt that the officers of the CCC were at risk of liability especially since we had no intention of gating access points. We (Stuart, myself and Dave) therefore discussed the issue of a “trust” and that is precisely how it manifested. Of course, the Trust is a LTD company but it could not be any other way.

Initially, Stuart and Dave were directors of the trust and we later asked Roy Fellows to join the board of the CCC and also the Trust specifically because of his experience and expertise in the field. Roy’s input has since been, as expected, very valuable and we are very grateful to him and have no doubt he will continue to be an asset to the Trust.

Specifically, the trust exists to preserve and protect easy access to NRW owned “holes” without the need to pay a subscription, without the need to erect gates, without the need for padlocks (unless specifically required by NRW), by using Derbyshire keys (nuts) wherever possible when a gate is necessary and without the need for restrictions. No lectures are dictated to visiting parties, no leaders or guides are required and cavers are trusted to use their common sense (all of which is working just fine). Basically, there is no micro-management.

In essence, it is a benign dictatorship which (in my opinion) beats a democracy every day of the week unless it corrupts. Of course, it is possible that it might corrupt (I think that was the point being originally made) but that would not stop another party/group approaching NRW (as we did) for a new agreement.

So long as this is working for the benefit of ALL cavers (I think every entrance is “open” except one which has a combination lock on), let’s not rock the boat?  The small hoops we still jump through are required by NRW and I am fairly certain we have all agreed that we must respect landowners (lawful) wishes.

Work is continuing to extend the access to further NRW mines/caves and although this may be seen as “empire building”, I would suggest that it is precisely the opposite – we are trying to prevent anyone FROM empire building by securing unfettered access for everyone.

I hope I have been completely transparent and I hope that this is seen as a very positive move for the benefit of all cavers.

Ian Adams
(CCC Treasurer)
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Offline Wayland Smith

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #30 on: May 15, 2016, 03:33:09 pm »
Very well written Ian.
A clear and concise reports on the Trust's foundation.

I think that while the vast majority of people are using and enjoying the access provided.
The "Haters" are still going to hate!  :lol:

Offline badger

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #31 on: May 15, 2016, 06:01:51 pm »
Thanks Ian a detailed account.  :thumbsup:

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #32 on: May 15, 2016, 08:02:34 pm »
Brilliant report Ian. If that doesn't answer the OP's question, I'm not sure what will!

Thanks again for all the work that has gone into it  :thumbsup:
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #33 on: May 15, 2016, 08:04:50 pm »
What about when it ceases to work just fine and cavers aren't using common sense? Will it be a model of excellence?

Offline Jopo

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #34 on: May 15, 2016, 08:36:30 pm »
As the OP I find Ian's open and frank posting very refreshing and informative. It also says a lot about the dark corners of the older CCC. As long as the 'Trust' (a term that is new to me which I read as Cave Access Ltd. but infers a totally different image) operates within the limits laid by Ian then all should be fine.

What a contrast to one of the earlier responses which led me to think 'What a arrogant p****.

I met Elsie the first day she arrived at Penwyllt, as neighbor first in Sutton Coldfield and then Abercrave - so pretty well. Over the years we had many conversations about access, access groups and the various shenanigans that can occur within our outwardly calm and responsible sport. She could also be very choice in her description of some she had to deal with.

It is a great shame to hear that so much of Elsie's work went walk about and had to be repeated. I know of at least one then officer in the CCC who took away "boxes of papers" from Elsie's house after she died so they should still exist but it seems, from Ian's posting, not to be the case.

Elsie herself could, and did sometimes, play her cards very close and athough not always agreeing I never doubted that she had the interests of the majority of cavers and mine enthusiasts at heart. I sincerely hope those who follow are as effective

Perhaps a reminder that if things do change and cavers sleep through it then they ultimately have no-one else to blame.
I still believe a democratic organisation would be preferable as I'm sure all dictatorships start out as benign.

Brilliant report Ian. If that doesn't answer the OP's question, I'm not sure what will!

Thanks again for all the work that has gone into it  :thumbsup:

Ian in his frank transparency has actually highlighted some other thoughts.


Jopo

Offline RobinGriffiths

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #35 on: May 15, 2016, 11:59:55 pm »
I can't see how the circle can be squared. Taking risk away from the landowner, providing free access, and in a democratic way. First two solved.  Democracy wise unless you bring in external shareholders for voting purposes I can't see how to do it. And in that case what would be the shareholder criteria?

As has been said, a benign dictatorship is probably the best result. And given the historical access problems with Forest bods, especially Gwydyr this is actually a great result.

Offline droid

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #36 on: May 16, 2016, 11:07:22 am »
What a contrast to one of the earlier responses which led me to think 'What a arrogant p****.

Jopo

Perhaps the response might have been a little less 'arrogant 'if you had contacted the Directors direct, before launching a public debate?
No longer 'Exceptionally antagonistic' 'Deliberately inflammatory'

Offline miles

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #37 on: May 16, 2016, 11:17:50 am »

Ian

A PM is on its way to you.

Miles

Offline Jopo

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #38 on: May 16, 2016, 01:23:58 pm »
What a contrast to one of the earlier responses which led me to think 'What a arrogant p****.

Jopo

Perhaps the response might have been a little less 'arrogant 'if you had contacted the Directors direct, before launching a public debate?

Perhaps I wanted a public debate and chose to do it through this forum. Are you saying you don't agree with public debates?

Jopo



Offline droid

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #39 on: May 16, 2016, 01:59:59 pm »
No.

However in this case it might have put your mind at rest if you'd contacted the Directors first.

If it didn't, then the public debate could have been pursued.
No longer 'Exceptionally antagonistic' 'Deliberately inflammatory'

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #40 on: May 16, 2016, 02:22:48 pm »

Ian

A PM is on its way to you.

Miles


Miles,

Just in case you haven't noticed the little icon next to the word "messages" (Messages(1)) - I have replied to you.

 :)

Ian
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Offline Clive G

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #41 on: May 16, 2016, 03:20:33 pm »
What a contrast to one of the earlier responses which led me to think 'What a arrogant p****.

Jopo

Perhaps the response might have been a little less 'arrogant 'if you had contacted the Directors direct, before launching a public debate?

Perhaps I wanted a public debate and chose to do it through this forum. Are you saying you don't agree with public debates?

Jopo

I was personally involved with the impetus to set up the Mynydd Llangattwg Cave Management (Advisory) Committee, which started on 9.4.1985 with a discussion document that I drew up with four other cavers, and proposed by two more, containing a 'Proposal for the Formation of a Daren Cilau Management Committee'. In the end, through open public discussion, it was agreed that, for the area concerned, it would be best if a combined new cave management committee, incorporating the original Agen Allwedd Cave Management Committee, the proposed new cave management committee for Daren Cilau (prompted by the extent of the recent extensions to the cave), plus bringing on board those who managed access - through a private agreement with the landowner - to Ogof Craig a Ffynnon.

Through open public debate and discussion the new constitution was drafted and amended as appropriate by Frank Baguley, as Secretary of the Cambrian Caving Council, and the MLCMAC inaugurated with an open public election on Saturday 16th April 1988. There were 23 applicants for 12 places, standing for a term of 2 years, after which a new election would be held for the subsequent two years, etc., etc.

Now, this was purely for the Llangattock area and intended to be the best solution for dealing with access to and management of a number of separate caves in the region that are in fact linked underground, although the connections still remain, to the present day, to be discovered and opened up.

What Jopo has brought to public attention is that a private limited company has been set up to manage access to mines over a non-specific area and that, in fact, the name of the limited company, Cave Access Ltd, has nothing to do with mines at all and leaves open the widest possible remit.

Has anyone studied the articles of association?

I think public discussion on this is absolutely essential and the suggestion that "it might have put your mind at rest if you'd contacted the Directors first" has all the hallmarks of secret controls and 'favours by return' being put in place behind the scenes, to the complete absence and detriment of any public accountability, apart from producing proper accounts and the usual limited company annual reporting.

For example, who owns the limited company? There must have been at least one share issued.

Offline royfellows

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #42 on: May 16, 2016, 04:09:23 pm »

For example, who owns the limited company? There must have been at least one share issued.

Its a company limited by guarantee with no share capital. Been already stated in the thread.

This type of company is usually referred to as a 'not for profit' type company, have I said this before, oh well carry on anyway. Its very popular for sports clubs and other non profit type organisations. The advantage is a robust legal frame work (1), and protection of its 'officers' from personal liability.(2)

Note 1. Any non incorporated organisation only exists in law because its members are contractually bound to a constitution. A corporate body is an independent legal entity in its own right and will continue in existence as long as it has a board of directors and submits returns to Companies House.

Note 2 Limited Liability means what it says on the tin. That is, the liability of its members is limited to the value of their guarantee or investment as the case may be, the liability of the company is therefore limited to its own assets.

Hopefully, this will add to an explanation of the methodology adopted, but I can do little else to allay any other concerns.

'Ownership' resides in the subscribers Stuart and myself, until our death, when the company will continue indefinitely as long as it has aboard and annual returns are submitted.

The company as it is is whats called a 'shell company', that is, it has no assets and does not hold a bank account.

I cant think of anything else useful to say.
Glad NAMHO 2019 over.

Offline royfellows

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #43 on: May 16, 2016, 04:25:56 pm »
Here is another one, try this.

I would venture to suggest that a huge majority of cavers are in favour of free and open access, this was reflected in the CROW ballot and in a lot of opinion expressed on this website.

Both Stuart and myself are both committed to this principle, so I would say that we are very democratic.
 :lol:
Glad NAMHO 2019 over.

Offline Wayland Smith

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #44 on: May 16, 2016, 04:44:45 pm »
Here is another one, try this.

I would venture to suggest that a huge majority of cavers are in favour of free and open access, this was reflected in the CROW ballot and in a lot of opinion expressed on this website.
Both Stuart and myself are both committed to this principle, so I would say that we are very democratic. :lol:


Meanwhile the MYNYDD LLANGATWG CAVE MANAGEMENT /ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Established
Through open public debate and discussion the new constitution was drafted and amended as appropriate by Frank Baguley, as Secretary of the Cambrian Caving Council, and the MLCMAC inaugurated with an open public election on Saturday 16th April 1988. There were 23 applicants for 12 places, standing for a term of 2 years, after which a new election would be held for the subsequent two years, etc., etc.

Has many locked and gated caves requiring keys and access permits under it's control. :-\ :-\

Makes you wonder? :'(

Offline Badlad

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #45 on: May 16, 2016, 04:59:43 pm »
I was just pondering what kind of a job Cave Access Ltd would do with Ogof Draenen whose access is run by a democratic group.  Couldn't be worse - could it? Is this what this thread is really about??

Offline royfellows

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #46 on: May 16, 2016, 05:03:29 pm »
 :lol: :lol: :lol:
Glad NAMHO 2019 over.

Offline Clive G

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #47 on: May 16, 2016, 05:50:40 pm »
Here is another one, try this.

I would venture to suggest that a huge majority of cavers are in favour of free and open access, this was reflected in the CROW ballot and in a lot of opinion expressed on this website.
Both Stuart and myself are both committed to this principle, so I would say that we are very democratic. :lol:


Meanwhile the MYNYDD LLANGATWG CAVE MANAGEMENT /ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Established
Through open public debate and discussion the new constitution was drafted and amended as appropriate by Frank Baguley, as Secretary of the Cambrian Caving Council, and the MLCMAC inaugurated with an open public election on Saturday 16th April 1988. There were 23 applicants for 12 places, standing for a term of 2 years, after which a new election would be held for the subsequent two years, etc., etc.

Has many locked and gated caves requiring keys and access permits under it's control. :-\ :-\

Makes you wonder? :'(

Agen Allwedd/Ogof Gam
Ogof Gwaliau Gwynion/Channer's Dig
Ogof Cnwc/Price's Dig
Ogof Craig a Ffynnon
Ogof Capel

are the Llangattock and Clydach Gorge caves with gated entrances and there'd be a whole lot more stalactites, stalagmites and selenite crystals broken and missing if they didn't have proper protection, as opposed to open random access.

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #48 on: May 16, 2016, 06:12:12 pm »
With regards to the statement I made earlier (I realise we have moved on but I would like to come back to a point);

My reference to the commercial group (and person(s) associated)  that were creating difficulty was deliberately vague so as to not create a "finger pointing" problem.

However, it was so vague that I appear to have perhaps cast doubt or shadow over innocent parties for which I apologise.

I would specifically add that I was not referring to the business "Go Below", it's owner or his other interests. Miles has been a personal friend for a long time and his openness with regards to allowing access for cavers to the various mines he controls is second to none.

Having re-read my post I can see that my wording could be construed as pointing in his direction as he is very active in North Wales - that was never my intent.

I have been in communication with Miles and assured him that it was never my intention for him to be implicated.

We still hold the same friendship.

.....Sorry for the interjection, now back to the affray at hand ......   :blink:

Ian
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Offline royfellows

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Re: Access in private or democratic groups.
« Reply #49 on: May 16, 2016, 06:23:13 pm »
We are now moving into the area of conservation and freedom of access. Not thread subject but I will still offer my pennyworth.

Those who seed to impose access restrictions for conservation reasons do so out of best of intent, however I feel that there may be the fundamental error of generalisation.
Typical is "Look at what's happening at Browns Folly"
Answer, look at what isn't happening at Cwmystwyth. No two sites are identical, each has its own possible issues. I have just spend 8 working days doing 8 hour work stints to address a problem far worse than anyone could create with a spray can. Non of the mines on the CAL schedule could be described in any way as fragile.

So moving back to thread subject, if CAL policy reflects the majority view of cavers with regard to access, where is there a problem?
Glad NAMHO 2019 over.