Author Topic: bca meeting 25/3 /2017  (Read 31003 times)

Offline MarkS

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #75 on: April 03, 2017, 11:43:04 am »
This sounds pretty ludicrous to me. Most caving club websites have some sort of online database containing over 500 entries in the form of a trip log.

I suspect that a simple post on this forum explaining the basic requirements would yield knowledge, advice, and potential solutions that wouldn't cost thousands and thousands of pounds.

If those numbers are right, just the annual maintenance cost of this database alone after year looks to equate to almost 5% of the annual BCA income from individual members. That seems an awful lot to me for one small database.

(Membership numbers from here and 2017 fees from the BCA website.)

Offline alastairgott

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #76 on: April 03, 2017, 12:00:47 pm »
hosted on Googledocs

I guess some comp wizz might be able to use Google Scripts to create their own Android/apple application which uses a google form to update a spreadsheet or database?

https://developers.google.com/apps-script/

Might even be a way to use an app to update a caving log and get it signed off by their Instructor?

https://sites.google.com/a/praguesummit.org/praguesummit/conference-sessions/using-google-apps-in-higher-education-distance-learning-programs

Just a thought?

or maybe you limit the software (or solution) to the number of people who are CIC's rather than the full 500 instructors, they will be able to add trips in bulk from Excel for their Trainees. By adding these trips to the database they are signing them off?

Has their been consultation with a small focus group to ascertain the needs of instructors?
I don't anticipate their being much need in providing a solution that is not fit for the instructors as the front line.
 There will be much more cleaning up if the solution does not work or falls out of favour with instructors.

Offline jharlow

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #77 on: April 03, 2017, 12:27:12 pm »
Perhaps to offer a slight counterpoint to the prevailing anti tahdah sentiment, this is by the sound of things the same system which the Mountain Training Association uses for all of it's climbing and mountain leading awards. In my experience, the system is easy to use, practical, and well suited to the purpose both for candidates and instructors. If we get the similar DLOG, course and assessment booking page, and award registration system out of those £5000, I may well finally consider undertaking the LCMLA.

Frankly, other database systems might be just as apt at data storage, but if we get the same kind of user experience that MTA candidates receive out of tahdah I will consider the money well spent.

Offline notdavidgilmour

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #78 on: April 03, 2017, 01:01:59 pm »
The finances of the Tahdah "family" of companies seem like an absolute car crash.  Should the BCA really be gambling it's member's money?

Something that was also discussed at the BCA meeting, was the fact that individual members would have to subscribe (pay) for premium membership to enjoy full functionality of the software.  It would be interesting to know just how "functional" the software is without paying the premium, and also, how much premium membership would cost.

This also poses another question;  If something was to happen to the software provider, who would be responsible for refunding the members who had paid for premium membership?  Would those members just be left out of pocket or would the BCA be obliged to refund them?  If the latter was the case, this is pushing the amount of financial risk to the BCA higher and higher.

Comments at the meeting suggesting that the BCA could afford the financial loss did get my goat a little I must say.  It is very easy to gamble with money that doesn't belong to you.
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Offline droid

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #79 on: April 03, 2017, 01:32:03 pm »
So: £5000 on a system that appears to have been foisted on the BCA without adequate pre-planning.

And £ *how much* on a ballot regarding CRoW where ducks hadn't been lined up beforehand.......


I'm with NewStuff now.  BCA needs to sort itself out badly because I am not inclined to put my money into this f***ing shambles.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2017, 06:39:29 pm by Badlad, Reason: altered swear word, sorry. »
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Offline Pegasus

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #80 on: April 03, 2017, 04:37:20 pm »

Offline Jenny P

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #81 on: April 03, 2017, 06:38:50 pm »
Perhaps to offer a slight counterpoint to the prevailing anti tahdah sentiment, this is by the sound of things the same system which the Mountain Training Association uses for all of it's climbing and mountain leading awards. In my experience, the system is easy to use, practical, and well suited to the purpose both for candidates and instructors. If we get the similar DLOG, course and assessment booking page, and award registration system out of those £5000, I may well finally consider undertaking the LCMLA.

Frankly, other database systems might be just as apt at data storage, but if we get the same kind of user experience that MTA candidates receive out of tahdah I will consider the money well spent.

The system BCA Training needs is very close to the Mountain Leader Training Board requirements and MLTB has been using Tahdah for 18 months now.  It is not just database but is able to deal with electronic log books, certificates, etc. as well as keeping track of the people involved in the various schemes, their update requirements at 2- or 3- year intervals, etc.

The problems with the existing system were first flagged up in 2009 and a search was started for a replacement and also something which would enable more of the processing to be done automatically. 

On 15 Oct. 2011, there is an Action 80b on Council:
NB [Nigel Ball, the Training Officer] to put together a written specification of the requirements for a new database and submit it to Executive for their approval.

However, Action 80b does not figure in any future meeting and seems to have inadvertently been dropped, although Nigel Ball and Mary Wilde were working on it throughout.

In June 2014 the BCA IT Working Group Report says:
With thanks to Nigel Ball and Mary Wilde I now have the Training Database requirements documents and examples of the current training databases. Once I have completed my review of those, I will propose a way or ways forward for the Training Committee’s consideration.

However, nothing more was heard from the IT Working Group after this, no proposals were ever sent to the Training Committee by the ITWG and nothing appears to have been done by them.  Leaving the Training Committee to try to sort out the problem for itself.

The present system is only operating with some difficulty and a considerable amount of trouble-shooting by the Training Administrator; to process anything takes far longer than it should do.  Plus, because everything is on paper, there is the cost of postage of certificates, log books, etc. - all of which would be saved by a new system.  The system needed has to cope with the training requirements for LTMLA and CIC, the Trainer Assessors, the whole updating system (think DVLA and car insurance/registration) and produce electronic certificates.  Because the Tahdah system already does this kind of thing and was working so well for MLTB, it was investigated by the Training Officer and Training Administrator as a possible answer for BCA Training requirements, beginning in the summer of 2016 when it was realised that much more than a "database system" was possible.  Still no input received from the BCA ITWG, despite their June 2014 report saying they would "review ... put forward a proposal ... etc."!

A report on this was sent to the BCA Secretary to go to BCA Council in October 2016 but the report was somehow "lost" and never presented to Council - hence the total surprise at the Council meeting in January 2017 when the Tahdah system was brought forward as the solution BCA Training needed.  The "loss" of an important report to Council the previous October seems to have been a problem related to the new BCA Secretarial setup not working properly - probably nobody's "fault" - but not good for BCA's image and certainly creating real problems down the line for the Training Committee who are now getting the flack for the failure of others.  It did not help the situation either to have the ITWG members disagreeing with each other on points of fact during this most recent Council Meeting.

BCA has not covered itself with glory over this!  We are an amateur organisation attempting to run a professional qualification with a hopelessly out-of-date system which badly needs replacing.  The specification was written in 2014 but has since been updated as it became possible to find software which would do much more of the task automatically.  The final update of the specification is due by the end of April and is already being worked on.

It is totally unrealistic to expect something like this to be written "in house" by an IT Working Group doing it in their spare time.  The AGM in June will have the final say on this, that's why the deadlines were set, because it's long past time that this was sorted out and the Training Committee has been trying to do so via the BCA and/or the IT Working Group since 2009.

The alternative is that the whole training certification system collapses and a large number of people are left with no way of obtaining the qualifications necessary for them to carry on working.




Offline droid

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #82 on: April 03, 2017, 07:23:01 pm »
Maybe then it's time for those in the Commercial world to fund their own certification organisation.

The BCA might be better to think about it's core purpose.
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Offline Jenny P

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #83 on: April 03, 2017, 07:34:14 pm »
The whole point is that, once the new system is up and running, it will be funded by those benefitting from it and should no longer need a subsidy from BCA.  This does include "commercial providers" and also those who work at Local Authority Outdoor Centres, Scout Caving Leaders in the future, Charitable trusts which work with young people in the outdoors, etc.

There is also the point that, in the aftermath of the "Lyme Bay Tragedy" (an ill thought out sea canoeing expedition where several teenagers drowned) there was a move by government to institute qualifications for those working in outdoor pursuits.  This raised a very definite threat that, if the then NCA didn't do it, the government would impose something on us.  With all its faults, this is BCA's own scheme, devised by cavers for cavers - would you really rather the government imposed a caver training scheme on us? 




Offline Madness

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #84 on: April 03, 2017, 07:48:50 pm »
I assume that the BCA has investigated whether any funding from the Sports Council would be available?

Offline 2xw

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #85 on: April 03, 2017, 09:11:59 pm »
The whole point is that, once the new system is up and running, it will be funded by those benefitting from it and should no longer need a subsidy from BCA.  This does include "commercial providers" and also those who work at Local Authority Outdoor Centres, Scout Caving Leaders in the future, Charitable trusts which work with young people in the outdoors, etc.

Is this guaranteed? I'm not sure how I feel about bankrolling someone else's business expenses

There is also the point that, in the aftermath of the "Lyme Bay Tragedy" (an ill thought out sea canoeing expedition where several teenagers drowned) there was a move by government to institute qualifications for those working in outdoor pursuits.  This raised a very definite threat that, if the then NCA didn't do it, the government would impose something on us.  With all its faults, this is BCA's own scheme, devised by cavers for cavers - would you really rather the government imposed a caver training scheme on us?

Dunno, what would be the difference?

What are examples of sports where the government  imposed a scheme? Is this even likely to happen? The other schemes e.g mountain training association, British canoeing etc. seem to get a lot of input input from experts for some well built schemes.

In those sports that did have government schemes foist upon them, what were the negative consequences of this?

Offline NewStuff

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #86 on: April 03, 2017, 09:31:17 pm »
would you really rather the government imposed a caver training scheme on us?

At what point do you think the "Government" will be outside of all caves, checking if you have been "qualified" by an approved assessor? At what point do you think any of us would actually listen to them?

Stop scaremongering.
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Offline alastairgott

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #87 on: April 03, 2017, 09:32:19 pm »
I assume that the BCA has investigated whether any funding from the Sports Council would be available?

Can of worms opening...

There seems to be some very good sources of funding on here (not all are to do with heritage) http://www.theheritagealliance.org.uk/fundingdirectory/main/search.php

Offline Kenilworth

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #88 on: April 03, 2017, 10:44:16 pm »
Maybe then it's time for those in the Commercial world to fund their own certification organisation.

The BCA might be better to think about it's core purpose.

Exactly.

NSS is in a similar mess because they are trying to do too many things (and are doing them all poorly) and have lost any "core purpose" they may ever have had.

would you really rather the government imposed a caver training scheme on us?

At what point do you think the "Government" will be outside of all caves, checking if you have been "qualified" by an approved assessor? At what point do you think any of us would actually listen to them?

Stop scaremongering.

I think it's bad rhetoric more than scaremongering. Jenny does not make it clear who the "us" is, leading the reader to an inaccurate conclusion. Unless she is advocating an "all for one" philosophy by which a large group of amateur hobbyists support a small group of professionals for no reason other than an occasional common (under)ground.

Offline Bob Smith

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #89 on: April 03, 2017, 10:47:23 pm »
would you really rather the government imposed a caver training scheme on us?

At what point do you think the "Government" will be outside of all caves, checking if you have been "qualified" by an approved assessor? At what point do you think any of us would actually listen to them?

Stop scaremongering.

I think Jenny is referring to instructor lead trips, not general tourist trips.

This could conceivably happen as a result of a fatality during an instructor lead trip

Offline Stuart France

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #90 on: April 03, 2017, 11:28:11 pm »
The government isn’t going to meddle in training sports instructors or providers, except in a general way.  They won’t target specific sports either as their approach would have to be generic to be fair.

Govt set up the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) under the control of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in April 1996 following several incidents of serious harm coming to young people.

But now there is a proposal to abolish AALA.  Read more at:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/aala/

It's not a case of fearing more govt invovement.  It's a case of expecting there to be less of it.

BCA needs to separate itself from professional caving instructor training just like the BMC succeeded in separating itself from professional mountain instructor training many years ago.  Time to play catch up.

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #91 on: April 04, 2017, 12:24:20 am »
I could not agree more with Stuart.

Coming from a legal background, I have a limited insight into the “law” which might surround such issues.

Specifically, a “club” of amateurs (members) might be held (pro-rata) accountable on their individual experience should a matter of law arise. BCA insurance would, prima facie, cover this.

However, were one of those members to hold a piece of paper crediting them with expertise then they might well find themselves wholly accountable.

In a real example (I know of two), there has been a trip where an experienced caver of more than 50 years was present when an “incident” occurred. On both of those occasions a “qualified” person was also present who had just passed his accreditation (and had less than 2 years experience).  In one case the accredited person was a club member and in another he was not.

Certainly in the case where he was “not” he could not have anticipated his legal ramifications.

There is an argument that the BCA qualification scheme undermines the legal liability of an amateur status of a “club” and the mitigation in law of their liability. Equally, it puts the neck of an individual within a guillotine where it perhaps, should not.

Of course, this is not synonymous with commercial ventures.

I totally agree that “professional” qualification has no place within the BCA as a body that represents the “sport” of caving in terms of a commercial enterprise.

If people want to make a living from the sport – totally fair enough. (I know some folk who do and are genuinely good people). However, it should not be at the expense (literal or otherwise) of the hobbyist caver.

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Offline Stuart France

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #92 on: April 04, 2017, 09:49:42 am »
In the climbing world, the British Mountaineering Council and the Mountain Leadership Training Board are completely separate organisations.  If you visit MLTB’s Tahdah site, you’ll find there are 288 courses or providers listed, 206 workshops, 9 books and 4 CDs and 2 DVDs for sale.  Oh, and MLTB has 17 staff.  With that sort of scale, they do need good logistical backup.

BCA does not have any sense of scale in terms of cave instructor training needs.  BCA thinks it is running a Tesco when really it is running a corner shop.  So it doesn’t need Tesco scale logistics.

In fact BCA shouldn’t be running either a corner shop or a Tesco.  It exists to support amateur cavers.  Full stop.

As to the financial robustness of BCA’s training software provider, Tahdah Verified Ltd, their cash at bank is shown at zero, and their net worth is shown at minus £235,841 on this company info website:
https://companycheck.co.uk/company/09296151/TAHDAH-VERIFIED-LIMITED/companies-house-data

As associated company, Blah D Blah Ltd, has debtors (what others owe to BDB) rising from £165,781 in their 2015 accounts to £430,105 in 2016, while creditors (what BDB owes to others) rose from £128,216 to £310,008 according to documents filed at Companies House.  Cash at the bank is shown as £104 in their latest public accounts.

Both these companies have unsatisfied (not paid off) Charges with banks, presumably against loans, shown at Companies House.

As a general comment on the way the world works, businesses that let their debtors rise year on year, which might suggest failing to extract money from customers efficiently, are effectively financing their customer’s businesses rather than their own.  Accountants, amusingly, call this process “growing broke”.  So it is reassuring that BCA’s Treasurer is a qualified accountant, and at times amusing too.  BCA should pay more attention to him.


Offline alastairgott

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #93 on: April 04, 2017, 10:14:58 am »
I think you could read a lot into Tahdah's performance, without analysing it properly you cannot be sure, I don't have enough time right now. but if due diligence has been done and come to some conclusion (it was suggested this had been done higher up the page) then you will have a good idea as to the viability of the outsourcing to Tahdah.

What I will say briefly is a minus value on net worth could be down to having very little assets (ie no building premises) plus receivables (what debtors owe) minus payables (what T owes others).
 I think this is a crude approximation of the net worth Calc, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equity_(finance) from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_worth#Companies

Offline Aubrey

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #94 on: April 04, 2017, 10:49:05 am »
Full agenda here: http://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php

Is it also possible to see the officers' reports?

Are the officier's reports available for members to view?

I cannot find an answer to this post.

make more cave - we have the technology!

Offline Badlad

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #95 on: April 04, 2017, 12:31:38 pm »
There should be no reason the officer reports cannot be made available.  They were already bundled ahead of the meeting and the BCA secretary has an assistant to help with such things.  However, if you are looking for any comfort in reading the reports you are not going to find much.

The minutes, I imagine, will not appear for many weeks or months.  Although they are taken by a paid professional I expect they will be the subject of much to'ing and fro'ing between the exec before they are agreed. 

Offline Jenny P

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #96 on: April 04, 2017, 12:56:14 pm »
Simon queried:

Is it also possible to see the officers' reports?

Are the officier's reports available for members to view?

I cannot find an answer to this post.


The Officers' written reports are always included, in full, as part of the Minutes.  Where an officer gives a verbal report the minutes will contain the Recorder's summary of this.

The March BCA Council meeting had all the important business (CRoW, QMC, Training, etc.) and other reports in the form of written reports.  All these will be part of the minutes.

Offline Jenny P

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #97 on: April 04, 2017, 01:25:28 pm »
Stuart says:
BCA needs to separate itself from professional caving instructor training just like the BMC succeeded in separating itself from professional mountain instructor training many years ago.  Time to play catch up.

I think on the whole I agree with Stuart.  BUT we would be unwise to sever ALL links between BCA and Professional Training qualifications, if only because ordinary cavers would like to be assured that there is no risk, ever, of needing a "certificate of competence to go caving".  The original Training Committee was set up to look at ways of helping club cavers to cave more safely and the business of dealing with professional qualifications has come to be the tail wagging the dog. 

To be fair, the Training Committee recognised this some time ago but need to be able to work with BCA to separate the issues and at present this means that a really professional data management system is needed to help them deal efficiently with the qualifications side of things.  Once they have that in place and, hopefully, become self-funding, then I believe they should look to having a similar relationship with BCA as MLTB has with BMC.

My personal view is that there will still be a need for a Training Committee, as part of BCA, with its original remit of helping cavers to cave more safely.  But I do believe that the instructor qualifications side of things would be better separated and, as I understand it, that's what the present Training Committee is working towards eventually.  However, I would expect that the new body would still have some kind of a link (possibly via representation from BCA).


Offline Stuart France

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #98 on: April 04, 2017, 03:19:14 pm »

Simon queried: is it also possible to see the officers' reports? Are the officers' reports available for members to view?

The short answer is no.  You can download the next meeting's Agenda off the BCA website but not the detail of what they will be discussing.   I didn't have the officers reports to study beforehand or keep in front of me during any of their last 3 BCA council meetings that I've attended as an observer.  There is either a lack of openness or it is just a shambles not to issue these reports on the website along with the next agenda.

As it happens, it is the BMC's AGM in a couple of weeks, and they're in a real spot of bother this year, facing a No Confidence motion in their entire executive proposed by luminaries like John Clear and Dennis Gray, and this is over alleged 'wilful and deliberate withholding of future policy decisions from the members'.

However, the BMC's annual report and accounts make interesting reading, and I commend both to cavers to study as they are models of openness and clarity.

I'd like to see BCA produce pie charts similar in style to those in BMC's Annual Report showing where money comes from and goes to, and a "BCA in Numbers" page for BCA's 2017 AGM.  Download their report from here:
https://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmc-agm-agenda--motion

One interesting fact disclosed is that BMC spent £310,426 on civil liability and personal accident insurance for their 82,473 members and 253 clubs last year.  That's an average insurance cost of £3.76 per person.  Don't BMC use the same broker as the BCA?  I think I paid my club £17 last time around for my BCA insurance.  Seems the BMC has achieved a truly incredible economy of scale.

The last time I saw a full copy of BCA's insurance terms, which was in connection with setting up the cover for the Cave Access Ltd mines agreement, the BCA total premium paid had been redacted (blacked out) in my copy so I don't know what it is.


Offline NigR

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Re: bca meeting 25/3 /2017
« Reply #99 on: April 05, 2017, 01:29:29 am »
The last time I saw a full copy of BCA's insurance terms, which was in connection with setting up the cover for the Cave Access Ltd mines agreement, the BCA total premium paid had been redacted (blacked out) in my copy so I don't know what it is.

Why was this blacked out? Surely, as a BCA member, you are entitled to see this figure? In fact, I would have thought we all were.

So, two questions for either the BCA Insurance Manager or BCA Legal and Insurance Officer (both of whom have recently posted to this very thread) to answer:

Why did you not want Stuart to see the total cost of the BCA insurance premium?

As a BCA member myself, I would like to know the amount paid too. So will you tell me, please?