Author Topic: Application for BCA Secretary  (Read 16804 times)

Offline MarkS

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #150 on: April 09, 2019, 11:44:21 am »
This idea of effectively saying you must have an email address in order to vote or have insurance cover i.e. be a BCA member is an unfortunate suggestion. There will be clubs, I imagine the older and larger ones, that will have a handful of veterans, and possibly others, that do not use the internet and never will. I refer you to the thread on exclusivity. Surely the BCA should be completely inclusive of all cavers that wish to be members. If it is beyond the wit of BCA to make allowances to include these people, then it cannot claim to represent all cavers, even if it is only a small minority, and an ever diminishing one, that feels excluded.

The current situation is that for members to be able to vote at an AGM, they have to be able to travel to wherever it is, whenever it is. I imagine the time and cost implications of this are currently prohibitive to many, and I cannot believe that moving to online voting would result in a lower engagement of the membership. Would moving to a more inclusive system be a bad idea because it is not fully inclusive?


(I think making an email address a requirement of insurance cover is a different issue, and one that I think is perhaps less justified)

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #150 on: April 09, 2019, 11:44:21 am »

Offline 2xw

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #151 on: April 09, 2019, 12:25:27 pm »
This is also something I researched for the report. In 2016, 38.7% of the over 70s were using the internet and 74.1% of the 65-74 age band. The meme of fuddy duddy old people not using the internet is just plain untrue.

Offline BradW

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #152 on: April 09, 2019, 12:41:15 pm »
And that still leaves a significant percentage of our veteran cavers that are not using the internet. This sort of generalisation isn't helpful if we are trying to demonstrate better inclusivity of the BCA.

Offline Badlad

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #153 on: April 09, 2019, 12:50:12 pm »
I don't think this exercise is particularly about about inclusivity it is much more focused on improving participation.

Offline Madness

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #154 on: April 09, 2019, 01:01:27 pm »
This idea of effectively saying you must have an email address in order to vote or have insurance cover i.e. be a BCA member is an unfortunate suggestion. There will be clubs, I imagine the older and larger ones, that will have a handful of veterans, and possibly others, that do not use the internet and never will. I refer you to the thread on exclusivity. Surely the BCA should be completely inclusive of all cavers that wish to be members. If it is beyond the wit of BCA to make allowances to include these people, then it cannot claim to represent all cavers, even if it is only a small minority, and an ever diminishing one, that feels excluded.

I can't see what the issue is withing having to have an email address. Even if you don't have the internet at home, you only have to ask a friend who has it to set you one up, or you can go to a library, or a cyber cafe.

Even my mum has an email address. She's 90, suffers from alzheimers and dementia, lives in a nursing home, and has never touched a computer in her life. She needed an email address a few years back for something, so I set her one up. Likewise, my wife has just set one up for our elderly neighbours. Email is part of modern society, why anyone would want to exclude themselves from it?

But perhaps we've got to the root of the problem - Far to many BCA members are stuck in the past!

Offline BradW

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #155 on: April 09, 2019, 01:20:43 pm »
Perhaps the problem is an inability to take on board whatever it takes to accommodate everyone. Old age has nothing to do with it. There are as many inflexible attitudes in the younger community as there are in the older. There is a wide spectrum of views on all sorts of issues. If the BCA is to represent all cavers then it must accommodate everyone who wants to be a member. Name and address should be the minimum data requirement of any member for most clubs and organisations. Everyone has a name. Everyone can provide an address - it would be difficult to join anything without one. An email address is an option. There are even people around without a phone - in this day and age. Whatever next?!

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #156 on: April 09, 2019, 01:21:29 pm »
What percentage of the BCA membership can't (be arsed to) use the Internet VS what proportion of the BCA can't (be arsed to) travel for hours across the country to sit through a long meeting?

An improvement in inclusivity is surely a good thing, even if it isn't the same people included.
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Offline Cavematt

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #157 on: April 09, 2019, 02:16:05 pm »
Great discussions above and thank you to all contributors.

Personally, I simply don’t support an organisation (particularly a volunteer operated one) having to bend over backwards to make things easier for a very small number of people who do not use the internet (in many cases by their own choice).

The job of the BCA with online voting would be to provide the simplest possible system for its members to engage with, so that even those who aren’t too internet-savvy can work it out if they want to. It should be a very simple and intuitive system that doesn’t require multiple complex pages to be navigated and doesn’t require lots of downloads to be installed. It should also be simple for the BCA volunteers who are administering the vote.

I would not favour the BCA offering postal services for voting. Anyway, most of the older (>70 years old) cavers I know are more computer literate than me! Those who know me will back this up!

BradW: If the BCA is to represent all cavers it needs to provide a voting system that is available for everyone to use via a widely used form of media, which again is available to everyone (if not at their home then at least at a library). This is exactly what we are looking to achieve here. The BCA simply doesn’t have the resource to accommodate everyone’s individual personal communication preferences. We have to accept this!

Some people seem to think the BCA is a business with infinite resource, or they compare the BCA to the BMC, who have numerous paid employees.  We have to remember that the BCA is volunteer run, and if it is to continue to remain so, the administrative burden must be minimised. We have been lucky in the past to have people who have been willing to put in huge amounts of personal time into the roles but we cannot assume this will be the case in the future. As someone working a 37hr week (nearly 50hr if you include travel time), I am planning to fit in being BCA Secretary in what little free time I have… ideally while still going caving at weekends. Anything to minimise the workload or the complexity of the workload would be greatly welcomed.

The CNCC and I think the DCA (for example) are already struggling to get volunteers in to fulfil officer roles that are far less time consuming than equivalent positions in the BCA, so making the BCA roles less daunting, less time consuming and more appealing is critical for the future.

Remember, it can take minutes for someone to present an idea which might seem more comprehensive than what is already on the table, and which ‘shouldn’t be hard to implement’ in theory, and which gets lots of support. However that few minutes can then turn into several weeks of unexpected work for the volunteer(s) tasked with implementing it. The proposal I am putting forward for online voting coupled to the removing of the two house system is designed not only to overcome the democratic inadequacies of group voting (a separate matter altogether), but quite importantly, to make the online system as simple and easily implementable as possible. To come back to my reply to Kat earlier, this is one of the reasons I have chosen to address both matters (online voting and the two house system) together as one proposal, and not to split them out into separate proposals even though, as she rightly said, they are two distinct matters.

I also strongly believe that provision of email addresses should be a requirement of BCA membership. An organisation that is not able to communicate directly with its members (relying on Club Secretaries to filter news downwards which may or may not happen) is already badly hampered in what it can achieve. Getting more cavers to provide their email addresses and subscribe to receive email news updates from the BCA is one challenge for the coming year. Changes to the membership system to address this is something that should be explored in future years (and which may be something the Vision group are going to consider)... but that's a discussion for another day!


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Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #158 on: April 09, 2019, 03:35:57 pm »
I'm not sure I can fully agree with all sentiments above Matt. The more BCA treats all members as valuable, the stronger the organisation will be. Some who, for whatever reason, have difficulty communicating your proposed way have great experience and lots still to offer. It doesn't bother me (BCA has my email address anyway) but I think the extra mile should be gone to reach out to all members, even if this sometimes risks making a bit of extra work for our precious volunteers (to whom I'm certainly grateful).  :thumbsup:

Offline Martin Laverty

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #159 on: April 09, 2019, 03:37:28 pm »
I think that is a very reasonable reply, Matt.

Much of the discussion on this thread seems to have been far too unrealistic: BradW's 'total inclusion', 'covering all views', is just not possible - I doubt there would ever be a time when no cavers cleave to (Groucho) Marx's view that they would never join something willing to accept them! A minimum level of identifiability must be given by those who want to be members - a name (there could be arguments about whether needed to be on a birth certificate/passport/utility bill - all that quotidien rigmarole); an address (could be a building (home/poste restante/office(or tax haven)/c/o club/friend and/or an email (there might be some cavers without family travelling about who don't have other than very temporary physical addresses). An agreement to use email rather than post would entail less communication costs so the associated membership fee should be less (as with BCRA members who elect not to receive printed publications).

And what are all these votes to be so carefully overseen? Election of officers (quite rare, actually, such is the lack of power-crazed bureaucrats jostling to be elected; Cambrian Caving Council are open to offers as well as CNCC and DCA...); the rare referendum; odd constitutional revisions which hardly anyone understands... Plump for direct one-member-one vote (cf referendum) or for voting by representatives of those members (cf clubs/MPs), or both together (clubs/MPs and members/elected Lords), or both (two houses). I suspect most would go for direct election of officers and major constitutional changes (subject to member veto) and otherwise leave policy to officers.

But shouldn't we really be deciding first what the BCA is for? My view is that a single national body is required not so much by cavers as by the society we live in. Government bodies want an organisation to refer to (not that they give much back, now that grants are in short supply; but they can make problems through unintended consequences of their actions, or omissions, being unchallenged). So do the media (as was shown during and after the Thai rescue). For cavers, or their local organisations, it should be a central resource for quality advice and services - insurance, legal advice (I know, they just stopped that..), training, library, web services (but can they do it well enough, some ask),... Perhaps most of all it should provide a forum for views (it does provide an electronic one [ http://british-caving.org.uk/phpBB3/ ] but hardly anyone uses it: should it sponsor this one instead?). This is currently (I guess) only really done at the AGM. Hidden Earth was a BCRA event (when BCRA was the de-facto national body, pace NCA), and is the only regular mass participation caving event we have: could BCA make more use of it?

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #160 on: April 09, 2019, 05:20:33 pm »
The underlying problem of BCA is that often Council is unwilling to make a decision because there are disagreements and people are unwilling to make big enough compromises or accept 'defeat'.  So things either get dropped, booted into a corner, wear down one side until they give up (usually with a resignation or two) or escalated to an AGM and forced to a ballot after um-ing and ahr-ing over whether the ballot could be won.  The saga of CRoW is a classic example of this. 

"I think the extra mile should be gone to reach out to all [my emphasis] members, even if this sometimes risks making a bit of extra work for our precious volunteers" is a devious argument when a reasonable majority exists for one direction.  All it does is stop progress until an overwhelming majority shout for it to take place; by which time those pushing it have often given up.  Again, CRoW is a classic example of this. 

I will reiterate, having a mixed voting / paper ballot system in place will also give BCA a simple polling process to obtain the view of members who care one way or the other.  That way when Council can't get a substantial vote to force an item through, it can go for a simple poll of members to hopefully enable it to make decisions more quickly and with confidence in the face of a minority of Council who try to continue to block progress.  Again, CRoW is a classic example of this. 

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #161 on: April 09, 2019, 06:29:29 pm »
Bob, when you're partially quoting me, altering the emphasis and then publicly describing these incomplete words as "devious" - who is really being devious?. I can assure you all my words were genuine; the BCA should aim to be as inclusive as possible and I believe true democracy is best. I also tried to make clear that the work of the volunteers who keep the ship afloat is very much appreciated.

What would count as a "reasonable majority"? Where do you draw the line? Who should be the arbiter of this? I don't want answers because I genuinely hope such questions are only ever hypothetical.

In fact - I'm struggling to understand exactly what you mean by a "mixed voting / paper ballot system". (Doesn't a paper ballot count as "voting"?) My view is every BCA member should have the opportunity to vote, including those who, for whatever reason, will not do it electronically. Anything different is not proper democracy and would only undermine the credibility of decisions. Regrettably, this might involve more work for our volunteer officers but surely it's a price worth paying to keep things absolutely fair?

Offline MarkS

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #162 on: April 09, 2019, 06:53:30 pm »
 I'm struggling with some of the posts here.

Are some people really suggesting that electronic voting should not be supported because it is not "fully" democratic, when the status quo is that every member has to travel to a specific place on a specific day of the year in order to vote?

Rejecting improvements on the basis that they are not perfect will not get anyone anywhere.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #163 on: April 09, 2019, 07:51:54 pm »
I can't speak for "some people"  - and I take your point Mark that there may be much better ways than asking everyone to travel to a specific place on a specific day. (As someone who sometimes has to work at weekends, believe me I hear what you say.)

My two main points, in summary, are:

1. If we move to an electronic voting system we should encourage as many as possible to use it (saving money and time) but still have a paper system for those who are unable to.

2. I'm not impressed by being accused of being devious when I'm genuinely trying to be as open as possible and encourage inclusiveness.

That's all really.

Offline Jenny P

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #164 on: April 09, 2019, 08:03:13 pm »
Electronic voting should be an improvement on what we currently have and we should go for it.  BCA has actually been trying to find a way to work this for some time and, at present, we can't find a way of making it perfect.  So, let's go with what we have and work on the glitches as we go along.

If people who want to vote by this means find that they can't, then we'll have a chance to work out why it failed and improve things for the next time.  At least for the time being we could have a backup of posting to those whose email addresses we don't have.

BTW, out of my club of approx. 100 members, 6 CIM members currently have no email access at all that we know of, even via someone else.  (And I know that all my club members' email addresses are supplied to the BCA Membership Secretary when we renew each year, and around 8 of the club are DIMs anyway.)  Not sure if that is typical but, assuming it is, if we're talking 6000 BCA members in all, then it's 6% of that number we may have to post to - so around 360 members.  That's do-able isn't it? 

In other words, we could assume that of the 6000 members, we'd expect around 5640 to have email addresses we can use and, if we posted to the others, we're talking less than 400.  Now all we have to do is persuade the rest of the BCA CIM members to ensure that their club supplies their email addresses when they renew their BCA memberships each year.  I'm assuming that all DIM members already supply their email addresses.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #165 on: April 09, 2019, 08:15:13 pm »
Bless you Jenny - you talk so much common sense!

Offline Badlad

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #166 on: April 09, 2019, 08:29:36 pm »
As someone who has attended most of the recent AGMs I have been able to cast my vote at each one.  I was among a select group of around 40-45 other members who did the same.  But this was 40 people out of around out 6000 total members.  Just getting a few hundred more would be a considerable achievement. 

To go to some of the AGMs I have driven there and back in a day.  For others I've had to plan to be away for longer to make the travelling worth while.  To be honest I've only really done this because I have been an officer or representative to BCA.  I don't intend to do this forever but I still would like to cast my vote without having to drive for seven hours and sit in a room for three more.  I want to be able to cast my vote from home just like I can post this reply.

In the main electronic voting isn't replacing postal voting (it can do that already for ballots) it is replacing having to turn up at an AGM on a specific date in person.

In the 30 day period that is traditionally open for voting I will be able to engage with BCA and cast my vote and I'll still be able to do that if I am on holiday or have to work on a specific day.  Electronic voting is the best way to improve all of this.

Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #167 on: April 09, 2019, 09:53:00 pm »
Bob, when you're partially quoting me, altering the emphasis and then publicly describing these incomplete words as "devious" - who is really being devious?. I can assure you all my words were genuine; the BCA should aim to be as inclusive as possible and I believe true democracy is best. I also tried to make clear that the work of the volunteers who keep the ship afloat is very much appreciated.

What would count as a "reasonable majority"? Where do you draw the line? Who should be the arbiter of this? I don't want answers because I genuinely hope such questions are only ever hypothetical.

In fact - I'm struggling to understand exactly what you mean by a "mixed voting / paper ballot system". (Doesn't a paper ballot count as "voting"?) My view is every BCA member should have the opportunity to vote, including those who, for whatever reason, will not do it electronically. Anything different is not proper democracy and would only undermine the credibility of decisions. Regrettably, this might involve more work for our volunteer officers but surely it's a price worth paying to keep things absolutely fair?
It was not you that I was describing as devious but those who used the approach you describe before allowing progress on a point. 

RANT ON

You may not recall that CRoW was first formally discussed at an AGM in 2013.  In late 2014 BCA had a poll where 62% voted in favour.  But that was not enough for some.  It then took another three years to get to the ballot where 88% of individuals and 85% of clubs voted in favour.   

That line in your post has all the attributes of letting some one say 100% minus one is appropriate, which is what it felt like for the over four f##king years to get to silencing those who opposed the idea.  (Though I rather doubt the antis have gone away; rather they wait in the side lines to frustrate further work - work which is suspended whilst BREXIT carries on.)

It took me over two bloody months of working near full time 10 hour a day, most days a week and handling over 1000 emails to get the ballot run in 2017.  (And Cookie handled the email send side of it and others did the count, for which I was most grateful.)  Pity the idiot Jenny wants to make it doable next time.  Hardly an extra f##king mile? 

RANT OFF

Whilst I don't accept a vote of 50% plus one is a reasonable basis for a decision, perhaps 60% is appropriate.

By "mixed voting / paper ballot system" I should have written "mixed electronic / paper system".  But to make it doable, BCA will need to be much more curt in dealing with idiots who don't know their email or snail mail address.  And BCA will need to sort out its spread sheets / data bases - I had two passed to me and upset one person when I rejected theirs as it would have required even more work than the one I did use.  (And the data base I did use is updated by clubs each year; so no doubt the corrections I obtained in 2017 will have been lost since then.)

Sorry you touch on what is still a very very sore spot.



Offline andrewmc

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #168 on: April 09, 2019, 10:46:30 pm »
Personally I think the BCA should suck up the cost and post each member their green card and online login details. This has the following advantages:

a) the BCA gets a direct opportunity to communicate with members (via mail-merged printed letter/welcome pack etc)
b) if the club databases are crap, this shows up quicker when members don't get their green cards,
c) electronic voting logins can be delivered to members.

Offline Jenny P

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #169 on: April 09, 2019, 11:27:40 pm »
b) if the club databases are crap, this shows up quicker when members don't get their green cards,

In fact most of the club databases aren't crap - I can vouch for the time and effort that goes into compiling ours every year - and I hasten to add that it's not me that does it.  Most club secretaries and treasurers are incredibly conscientious in trying to get it right and follow up on people who haven't supplied their correct details in time.  A great many cavers aren't the sort of people who spend time on the fine details and are incredibly casual about filling in forms, etc.  or even bothering to vote!  So the clubs do the best they can but find it impossible to be 100% accurate every time because their members sometimes can't even get their own postal and email addresses right!

So yes, some do end up not getting their green cards in time to be able to produce them when needed for a trip requiring evidence of insurance near the start of then year.  But hopefully they'll learn for next year so things gradually improve.

Still, even given this, an electronic voting system has got to be better than what we have at present.  It won't be 100% correct 'cos we're dealing with real people, and cavers at that!  But there's a good fighting chance that it may be getting on for 90% correct and that's a start.

Offline kay

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #170 on: April 10, 2019, 07:54:52 am »
Not entirely true. It's true that about 90% of the population has a smartphone. However, the people who don't have email on a computer at home are the same people who either don't have a smart phone or don't use it for anything other than calls, texts and photos.

Again, not entirely true. I have had an email address since the early 1990s (Compuserve in those days!), but I have never had a smartphone, nor have I felt the slightest need for one.


Langcliffe, that's the other way round from what I said!  ;) I said, roughly, that not having a home computer implied you wouldn't have a smartphone. You can't disprove that by saying "but I've got a computer  and I haven't got a smartphone".

Roughly, there are 3 groups of people: 1) those who engaged with IT some time ago, and have a home computer and email (and may or may not have a smart phone) 2) those who engaged more recently and do everything on a smartphone 3) those who've never engaged and have neither. You're firmly in group 1! I was pointing out that people with no computer and no email tend to be group 3 people and don't have a smartphone either.



Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #171 on: April 10, 2019, 08:09:42 am »
Bob - thanks for the explanation. I'm really pleased your "devious" comment wasn't aimed at me personally, as you're not someone I'd want to have a disagreement with. This is particularly because I know you are one of those volunteers I was trying to show appreciation for.

Offline BradW

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #172 on: April 10, 2019, 11:24:22 am »
Jenny and Pitlamp sum up my views very well. My objection is that nobody should be denied the opportunity to get involved. Going to meetings or postal voting allows everyone to get involved, although it is certainly not convenient in many cases. So ADDING electronic engagement to the mix makes it more convenient for a large number of people. Keeping a mix of means to engage is the best option. Just because electronic engagement allows more people to get involved does not make it the answer if this is seen as a replacement for current systems, rather than complementary to them. Currently, everyone can potentially vote, but they don't as it is not convenient enough. If electronic voting is the only option, you may get more engagement, but you reduce the overall pool of people with the means to engage, and this is not acceptable. Disenfranchisement, even of a small minority, is a retrograde step and must not be contemplated.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #173 on: April 10, 2019, 07:15:44 pm »
Is it not the case that the Regional Caving Councils have autonomy and BCA cannot interfere in their business? In which case what immediate benefits would electronic voting with BCA confer to individual cavers in the shires, if any?
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 08:22:52 pm by Cap'n Chris »

Offline alastairgott

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #174 on: April 10, 2019, 08:39:47 pm »
Why do people love snail mail... biased opinion: stamps are expensive and welcome packs need keeping constantly upto date.

It sounds like lots of work to me, and yes I have operated a cantankerous old mail shot machine, which triple folded a piece of paper and stuffed and sealed an envelope. I have to say even putting 20 letters through wasn't a painless process. 6000, no thanks!

On welcome packs, what do you think someone created "new to caving" for? For the hell of it?

If we're talking of beefing up the "people process" when people join the BCA then surely we should be moving towards an "App based" system for smart phones where there are tabs for the different caving regions (where the peak district gets top spot by renaming itself "Derbyshire" and ordering Alphabetically).

The dissemination of information to a more tech savvy generation needs to be on-point.

Or we need to consider why we feel the need to send welcome packs to members. What is the critical information that we think new cavers or experienced cavers need to see?

I personally think of every club or organisation I've ever joined. It's been less about the paperwork and information I "need to read" and more about what members I have talked to. Even joining new businesses, the handbooks, charters and documents mean nothing really, what your fellow employees do and say will probably have more of an influence on you.

That's why when we're talking about retaining people in caving we need to surround them with people to encourage, teach, think and read about caving.
 I'd much rather someone tell me about the colonnades as an example in cave conservation or that of the work undertaken in P8 to take out the tubs. Both as aspects of cave conservation and why: we don't touch stal and we don't fill caves with stuff.