Author Topic: Application for BCA Secretary  (Read 1141 times)

Offline Cavematt

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Application for BCA Secretary
« on: February 07, 2019, 09:58:28 pm »
Hello all

Tonight I have submitted my application for the position of BCA Secretary, to be voted upon at the BCA AGM on Sunday 9th June. Details about the AGM itself can be found below:

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In line with the BCA Constitution, each year one third of the posts are up for election. For 2019 these will be:

  • Secretary (to serve for 3 years)
  • Conservation & Access (to serve for 3 years)
  • Treasurer (to serve the remaining 2 years of a 3 year term)
  • Publications & Information (to serve the remaining 2 years of a 3 year term)
In addition the following Representatives' posts will be up for election:
  • 2 Club Representatives (to serve for 2 years)
  • 2 Individual Member Representatives (to serve for 2 years)
Nominations for posts should include:
  • the post the candidate wishes to stand for.
  • the candidate’s name, address, phone number, signature and membership number.
  • the proposer and seconder’s names, membership numbers and signatures.
  • a brief election statement of a maximum of 300 words in length (to be used in the event of multiple nominations).
Nominations, plus Items for the Agenda, must reach the Acting BCA Secretary no later than midnight on Saturday, 13 April 2019. The Agenda and Election Statements will then be published on the BCA website by 28 April 2019.

BCA Group Members (e.g. clubs) should note that for the purposes of voting at the AGM each Group may send one voting delegate who must bring with them a letter signed by an officer giving them the authority to represent that group.

Individual Members (i.e. all CIMs and DIMs) should bring their membership card.

Keep an eye out for more details at: http://british-caving.org.uk

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Below is the exact statement from my application letter (which has to be limited to only about 300 words, hence fairly brief). In due course I plan to put together here a more thorough summary of what I hope can be achieved in the BCA. For now I urge cavers to put the date in your diary and come to the BCA AGM this summer (either as an individual or to represent your club), to show your support for the BCA, regardless of whether you support me. I am seeking to get involved in the BCA to drive change, something I cannot do alone, and there can be no better mandate for this (or not) than a strong turnout of cavers to vote. Furthermore, there are likely to be some interesting proposals forthcoming which would benefit from input by as much of the caving community as possible.

If anyone else is/was considering standing as Secretary, please do get in touch directly with me (PM me). Sometimes two heads are better than one.

Matt Ewles


Application for BCA Secretary (Matt Ewles)

I have served as Chair of York Caving Club since 2009, Secretary of the CNCC since March 2014 and member of the Northern Pennine Club since 2015. My main caving area is northern England, but I spend lots of time in South Wales too.

I greatly value the BCA and our Regional Councils. They play an essential role in facilitating our sport and have allowed me to enjoy 15 years of recreational and exploratory caving with minimum fuss.

Sometimes however an organisation can get stuck in a rut; bogged down by process and procedure, lacking the churn of personnel to bring in new ideas, and slowly running out of energy. The BCA is close to slipping into such a rut, which could jeopardise its contribution to British caving.

This was exemplified by the January Council meeting, where the lack of positivity for change was palpable, despite opportunities being offered. There is so much more the BCA could be doing, but the spark of energy and spontaneity for embracing new ideas needs recharging.

As Secretary I would want to make the BCA an easier organisation to get involved with, and one which is more receptive to new ideas. I would seek improvements to the way documents and emails are administered and how BCA communicates with its members, plus a full overhaul of the website (including BCA Online to enable online participation).

Such changes echo those made within the CNCC over the past five years and will only be possible with the support of a like-minded webmaster.

I would like the BCA to become an organisation that showcases the joy of caving in Britain. The BCA should be admired by cavers nationally for its excellent work, much of which is already being done by passionate and dedicated volunteers, but in rather an unsung way.

York Caving Club and Northern Pennine Club
CNCC Secretary

Offline David Rose

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 10:08:01 pm »
Well done for stepping up, Matt.

Offline damian

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 10:23:12 pm »
As a former post-holder with a fair idea of what the role entails, I cannot begin to think of a better candidate. Matt has done amazing things with CNCC and it says an awful lot for his character that he is willing to step up to do a similar thing again with BCA. This is a fantastic day for British Caving. Well done, Matt, and thank you.

Offline nickwilliams

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2019, 10:43:07 pm »
I agree with Damian in every respect!

Nick.
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Offline gardouth

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2019, 11:07:10 pm »
I may be a tad bias but I can think of no one better for the role. Matt's dedication to caving, most notably withing the CNCC, is never-ending and I know he will do all cavers proud just as he makes me proud every day.  ;D
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Offline Pegasus

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2019, 11:58:40 pm »
You have my vote, Matt.

Do we have to wait, can't Matt take over asap so change can begin?

Offline Badlad

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2019, 12:11:13 am »
The CNCC has changed unquestionably for the better during Matt's reign as secretary.  In many ways the situation at CNCC five years ago mirrors that of BCA now.  I hope Matt can steer us through any difficult times to come so that we can all look forward to a brighter, happier more cavey future.  Matt will have my vote although I doubt there will be any challenge but I do hope he is going to continue with the CNCC job as well  ;)

Offline kay

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2019, 07:03:37 am »
Matt has steered CNCC through difficult times. Under his leadership, people who were completely opposed to each other have come together to work as a team towards the current achievements of CNCC. I cannot think of anyone better to become secretary of BCA. I've enjoyed working with him in CNCC and we will all miss him (that's assuming he is relinquishing his CNCC role).

Offline MarkS

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2019, 07:40:30 am »
I'd hoped Matt would put himself forward as BCA secretary for a while. I'm delighted he has.

I marvel at your patience and diligence when it comes to caving politics and admin, Matt. I'm in no doubt you'd do a super job within the BCA.

It does seem like you missed something from your statement though: your huge support of York University CPC for almost 15 years (yes, I did just look that up!).
« Last Edit: February 08, 2019, 07:50:26 am by MarkS »

Offline JJ

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2019, 11:40:18 am »
Excellent Matt

Well done for coming forward, your forward thinking is greatly needed and commitment much appreciated.

You deserve lots of support from all regions of the UK.

Offline MJenkinson

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2019, 05:07:00 pm »
Having seen the way Matt works as Secretary of the CNCC, and the positive changes that he has overseen there, I can't think of anyone better for the role. Well done on stepping up and good luck with the nominations. I hope you stay at with the CNCC as well mind (who needs a life outside of caving......!)

Offline ahinde

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2019, 05:11:13 pm »
Well done Matt. It is only fitting that all regions of British caving have the opportunity to benefit from your enthusiasm, organisational talent and hard work.

Offline Ian Ball

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2019, 05:20:53 pm »
Is there a postal vote for BCA officer elections?

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2019, 05:25:22 pm »
Is there a postal vote for BCA officer elections?

No - in the event of an actual election (which is extremely rare, apparently) you will have to make yourself physically present at the AGM (this year in the Dales). However, in doing so you will end up representing something like 100 BCA members, since only 30-60 people normally turn up. Some might suggest this is not the best possible democratic process, but my attempt to get proxy/postal voting a few years ago was voted down by the groups.

Offline gardouth

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2019, 05:36:56 pm »
you will have to make yourself physically present at the AGM

It's a pain to have to turn up but hopefully, as it's in a caving region, there might be a better turn out than usual. At least you can go caving after or on the Saturday. I would urge everyone who can to turn up and vote - it's the best way to make a difference if you're not happy with things as they are.
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Offline Cavematt

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2019, 06:41:26 pm »
One of the key things the BCA needs to address over coming years is participation.

It is important to make it as easy as possible for anyone who wants to be involved in the BCA, democratically by voting, or just putting forward ideas, to be able to do this, and to feel welcome and encouraged to do so. The BCA must never appear a closed-shop. At the same time, it is important not to undermine the value of the face-to-face meetings, where lots can be achieved that would struggle to happen otherwise.

Clearly it cannot be expected that the entire BCA membership, or even close to that, will turn up at the AGM, and as Andrew has said, typically ~50 people attend AGMs (out of something like 6000 members). More would be good. However, if we got any more than about 100-150 people turning out all the time, we'd start encountering venue issues, meetings become far too complicated, and you end up in a situation where the logistics exceed what can be accomplished by the resources of a voluntary organisation.

The last part of that sentence is important; the BCA is a predominantly voluntary organisation run by very dedicated people, who all share the same passion for caving. It's important not to lose sight of this and start trying to run BCA like a big business. There is a middle ground which is fit for purpose without being unnecessarily bureaucratic.

Furthermore, I know that most cavers don't want to sit in meetings... they want to be caving!  ;D

The way forward is clearly online participation, and Will has made an excellent start into looking how this might be achieved. I think he and I are thinking along similar lines. There are obviously lots of online companies who can administer online balloting on the BCA's behalf. However, what I would really like to see is this eventually brought in-house, through BCA online. The BCA post any motions that membership need to vote on, then members simply log in using BCA number and password, and vote on all current active motions.

To simpify voting and to make this work, the BCA would need to consider restructuring voting to remove the two-house system, limiting voting to individual members (CIMs and DIMs). Of course, clubs could still be free to put forward motions and lobby their members to vote a particular way. I suspect there are others who can provide more accurate historic information for the reason begind the two house system (Jenny/Bob are you there?), however, one of the benefits I can see that it currently brings is to prevent spurious motions getting through due to just 20-30 individuals turning out at AGMs and bloc-voting. Without group voting it would be very easy for a single club to turn out on-mass and get pretty much anything voted through.

But of course, once voting has been opened up online and all members can vote on important motions quickly and easily and over a several week process (rather than an on-the-day decision), this will hopefully increase participation (ideally hundreds of people having their say) and thus spurious motions will cease to be something the BCA need worry about. This is not likely to be a straightforward change (it will involve the dreaded constitution), nor one that will be universally popular; however, I think it really needs to be explored.

If online voting goes ahead, matters such as what motions are put out to all members are of course up for discussion (e.g. if something is a non-controversial no-brainer at a meeting and has the support of most people physically there, does it need to go out to all members... or should all members have a say on all matters arising at or from an AGM no matter how trivial)? There's lots to consider here about the practicalities, so for now this remains a concept. However, this seems to me to be the ideal solution to getting more people involved in BCA decision making, thus helping BCA become more democratic, and also driving more people to BCA online too where other facilities can be made available... and more importantly, we can use BCA online to compliment the newsletter to show BCA members what excellent things their membership fee is doing, why it represents superb value for money, and why it is critical to making caving in Britain better.

Interaction between cavers and the BCA, and the BCA and cavers is something that must improve, and online voting, BCA online and the continued and extended use of social media are clearly going to be important tools in achieving this. 

OK... essay over... it's Friday night and think I could benefit from a beer...  :beer2:
 
York Caving Club and Northern Pennine Club
CNCC Secretary

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2019, 11:47:04 pm »
hopefully, as it's in a caving region, there might be a better turn out than usual. At least you can go caving after or on the Saturday.
Unless I am mistaken Gary, the AGM is usually held in a caving area and recently has been organised to coincide with other weekend events to improve turnout.

It is the quarterly council meetings that occur outside a caving region at a mutually inconvenient location, in the middle of the country.
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Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2019, 08:46:08 am »
"mutually inconvenient"   :lol:

Offline Stuart France

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2019, 09:49:26 pm »
I recommend attending a BCA council meeting to anyone in any doubt of how dysfunctional it is.  The Midlands venue is not the problem:  it does a good pub lunch, which you have to pay for yourself by the way, downing a beer or even two to sustain you through the afternoon session which sometimes runs on until 4-5pm.  Anyone can attend, so come along and you will leave in a state of shock, if you last the course.

I have been to many of these meetings since 2014 when I joined Cambrian:  the others being attended by our secretary of that time, and "once only each" when our editor and treasurer went along.  I think that's right.

Generally, very little of any substance is said or decided but of those who do speak - which is a minority of those present and claiming travel expenses - there is a lot of hot air in pursuit of entrenched positions or venting frustrations.  Some seem to play musical chairs, first appearing as a Club Rep, then as a DIM rep, or some such, ad infinitum, saying and contributing next to nothing all the while.  Matt Ewles is right to call time on this.

Individual officers and subcommittees do work hard behind the scenes, but the national council itself is not working as it should in full support of real caving activities. It needs new people, younger and more active than most who attend now - thus excluding me - to join and contribute for a few years to transform the council.  Cavers at large must attend some AGM in quantity to appoint new people with a strong mandate.

There also needs to be limit on the total number of years that any one person can sit on council in their lifetime (regardless of differing roles or gap years) so as to guarantee fresh input. Any such new constraint needs applying retrospectively so as to reboot the system.



Offline CavefestUK

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2019, 09:22:46 am »
I believe that caving need a future with someone at the helm who looks to the future. Change is inevitable, progress is made, and i honestly believe Matt is your man.
I dont actually know Matt, but his reputation precedes him, and from what i have read here,  i believe the community wants him too.
Neil
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