Author Topic: Application for BCA Secretary  (Read 16946 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
CNCC Secretary
BCA 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!

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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
CNCC Secretary
BCA 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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Offline Cavematt

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2019, 09:13:59 pm »
Hi again everyone (you may want to get a cup of tea...)

Firstly, I just wanted to say thank you for the phenomenal show of support both in the posts above and in private messages. I am overwhelmed. I have also received very encouraging messages from the current Acting Secretary and Treasurer too.

I am certainly not seeking to take on this role for any kind of power-grab. Plus, I have quite enough work to keep me busy in the CNCC, as a club chair and as an active caver and digger. In fact, I was rather hoping to scale back my involvement in caving ‘politics’ this summer! This has not gone well so far! I am seeking to take on this role because I am disappointed by the current public opinion of the BCA and the lack of enthusiasm within the organisation to embrace change and move with the times, and I hope I can help be part of changing this culture.

I cannot do this alone though; it needs the support of others within the BCA to move outside of comfort zones and to look forwards, not backwards.

One thing that surprised me at the January Council meeting was the number of barriers to change. Any kind of change seems to get ‘outsourced’ to a Standing Committee or Working Group to discuss. I’m hugely in favour of these sub-committees and groups working behind the scenes to discuss BCA matters off-line and do the legwork of the Council in its key facets outside of the core meetings. Matters that require input from various sources and careful consultation are best handled by them before they come to Council.

However, excessive outsourcing of relatively simple proposals has the effect of devaluing the Council meeting itself (for which numerous people have travelled hundreds of miles at considerable travel expense to the BCA). Council meetings have much greater democratic representation than any Standing Committee ever could, and we should be taking greater advantage of this. Furthermore, seeing simple decisions outsourced may discourage people from presenting new ideas in the first place. Not everyone has the willpower to navigate such a lengthy procedure.

Jane Allen came to the January Council meeting in her P&I role. She presented a proof of a new BCA website homepage and a more-or-less finished and ready-to-go BCA-branded New-to-Caving leaflet to be distributed nationally to promote caving. Jane was essentially instructed to come back when she had convened the P&I Standing Committee (requiring all regional councils and constituent bodies to be given the opportunity to get involved; a lengthy process).

The leaflets could have been adopted there and then by the Council… this did not need to go away for consultation in a currently unconvened Standing Committee!

This is an occasion where a little more positivity and spontaneity could have delivered an excellent result for the BCA immediately. Instead these leaflets now need to be discussed by a Standing Committee that hasn’t convened yet! An excellent initiative has been delayed for several months, sufficiently long to discourage all but the most determined of people from putting such good initiatives forward in the first place.

The new website homepage proof received a very mute reception; this surprised me. At the rate things are going, it may be years before a new website is up and running, despite this being one of the recurring themes in various questionnaires.

Website homepage proof: http://british-caving.org.uk.77-68-41-30.cfxhosting.co.uk/

Therefore, something I would like to consider is Standing Committees and how they are constituted and used. The BCA has five Standing Committees:

> Conservation and Access
> Equipment and Techniques
> Youth Development
> Training
> Publications and Information

A problem with Standing Committees is that it’s very hard for them to all work as they should. Ideally, they should be well represented, with (according to the BCA constitution) contributors from each Regional Council and constituent body of the BCA (a total of 13 groups).

The CNCC, like many Regional Councils, struggles to get people to fill our key roles (we are going into our AGM in a few weeks with one Officer position still vacant), let alone enough volunteers to be representatives on all the BCA’s five Standing Committees (the CNCC has representation to only two). I suspect this problem is echoed in several organisations. This means some Standing Committees fall short of the level of representation the BCA constitution allows, which undermines their effectiveness.

In short; the way the BCA is constituted is perhaps too ambitious for the number of people willing to get involved in running British Caving. I do feel that some reconsideration of the structure of the BCA in terms of its makeup is needed; In particular, which facets actually need a Standing Committee, and which would be better off delivered by a single Officer consulting nationally as required to bring final proposals to Council.

I will say now that my current thinking is that the P&I may be better served by a single Officer or additional member of the Executive (free to co-opt assistants as they see fit of course) rather than as a Standing Committee.

Most importantly for now is that Standing Committees and Working Groups should not stand in the way of well-presented initiatives and ideas from enthusiastic individuals being voted upon by Council. In other words, Standing Committees and Working Groups should not be used as somewhere to ‘park’ good ideas that are ready to implement.

Overall, I favour streamlining some decision making to get more things done using the limited resource the BCA has available.

To get the ball rolling, there will be several proposals forthcoming to the AGM in June. Exactly who is proposing and seconding these is to be confirmed (I am still in discussion with several individuals about these), however, they all have my full support. The actual wording and specifics of the proposals also need to be finalised, but here is the gist of what they will involve and why they are important.

Proposal 1

The first proposal will be for the immediate adoption (subject to any minor tweaks or corrections agreed at the AGM) of Jane Allen’s New to Caving leaflets, under the BCA name (and new logo, subject to the third proposal being accepted). A £1000 budget has already been agreed. Unfortunately, the PDF of these leaflets exceeds the size allowable for attachment to this post, but it will no doubt be part of the BCA AGM agenda documentation. These leaflets are exactly what the BCA should be encouraging to promote caving.

I am also hoping Jane will restand for the P&I position following her resignation in January; there is nobody better for the role (but that’s a separate matter).

Proposal 2

The second proposal will be for the appointment of Gary Douthwaite as BCA webmaster and for Gary to redevelop the website, BCA communications systems, and BCA online, and be provided with all necessary access, rights and information needed to achieve this.

In the interests of transparency, Gary is the CNCC webmaster (plus the web designer for Hidden Earth, EuroSpeleo 2016, Northern Caves, Northern Pennine Club and York Caving Club, if anyone wants examples of his work). He is also my husband.

Gary has been one of the greatest assets in overhauling the CNCC over the past five years. Having the Secretary (me) and Webmaster (Gary) working on adjacent computers has massively helped in the CNCC to streamline efforts.

At the January Council meeting, Jane Allen presented a proof of a new BCA website homepage which Gary had designed (see link above). Jane’s idea was for Gary to develop the BCA website commercially (he is a professional web developer) as his free time is very limited. By doing this commercially it would enable him to justify working on it during office hours and thus able to designate more time to the project to achieve a better result.

However, since that meeting, Gary has decided that he would not wish to do this commercially as it creates conflicts of interests and means he would essentially be working for the BCA rather than with the BCA. This would limit what personal input he could have as it would essentially generate a client-customer relationship. Gary is therefore willing to provide his time for free (in his spare time) as BCA webmaster.

Although Gary would be providing his time for free, it will be necessary to pay for specific web services that the BCA do not provide, that will be essential to the good running of the site (e.g. use of Microsoft Office365, relevant security software etc). A reasonable budget should be made available for such things.

The new website will be modern, fresh, appealing, while still containing all the useful information that the current one does, albeit restructured somewhat. Communications systems would be overhauled. Finally, if proposal #4 is accepted, Gary would also redevelop BCA-online to include online voting for all individual members in time for the 2020 AGM.

I would like to end this by expressing my respect for the current webmaster, who has maintained a perfectly functional website for many years, keeping the content as up to date as possible (hampered by a lack of new content being provided to him). The work involved should not be underestimated, and frankly, anyone who has given up so much of their time to benefit caving deserves the upmost respect. However, for the BCA to modernise, I feel the input of a new webmaster is needed, to bring new ideas and vision. This will allow the current webmaster to focus more on his other BCA roles, and thus improve the robustness of the BCA (i.e. not having so many roles so dependent on one person).

Proposal 3

The third proposal will be for the adoption of a new logo for the BCA.

While the current logo is recognisable and has served BCA well for many years, it appears a bit dated and amateurish. General feedback on UK Caving is that cavers are not keen on it.

The logo presented by Jane Allen at the January Council meeting seems to have been popular and I would support this being adopted, subject to a few refinements to address any reasonable comments. Jane will be presenting a portfolio for this logo to accompany the proposal (e.g. black on white, white on black, landscape, portrait etc). The discussion on BCA logo was on this UK Caving thread: https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=24341.0

The logo is of course a caver looking out of Dollytubs over Alum Pot, an iconic viewpoint in British Caving.

Given the initiatives to push ahead with the national leaflets and new website (assuming these proposals are accepted), the decision on whether to adopt a new logo needs to be made now so that the new material can be launched with the logo that our membership wishes to move forward with, be that the current or new one.

Proposal 4

The fourth proposal will be the biggie.

There will be a series of proposed constitutional amendments to remove the two-house voting system at General Meetings and to make voting for individuals only (i.e. CIMs/DIMs) and not groups (i.e. clubs, constituent bodies, regional councils). This will be accompanied by some other proposed amendments to make online voting a mandatory option for most or all proposals and motions presented to an Annual General Meeting.

If successful, and assuming Gary is appointed BCA webmaster, BCA online would be redeveloped before the 2020 AGM to allow this online voting to happen using our own bespoke system, without having to employ the services of an external company.

These changes would reduce bureaucracy and simplify the voting system by removing the two houses. The current system essentially gives the same weight to a vote from a club with five members as it does to a club with 200 members, all of who already have a vote anyway as an individual BCA member (thus it creates duplication of representation). The BCA Chairman raised this very issue at the January Council meeting.

Clubs of course would still have an important role in promoting voting to their members. If there are any motions a club (or regional council or constituent body) feels strongly about, they can encourage their own members to vote accordingly, and thus the number of votes originating through that club/body will be proportional to the number of members it has. These measures will encourage clubs/groups to engage with their members about BCA democratic decisions, something that may be rather lacking at the moment.

This creates a much better, fairer, simpler and more modern-minded democratic system.

These changes are in no way intended to devalue the importance of clubs in British Caving. I am a club caver (through three different clubs, one of which I was involved in founding) and I probably always will be a club-orientated caver. However, to make participation available to more people via online voting, without increasing the bureaucratic burden of the two-house system, these changes are needed.

As this proposal relates to the constitution, it needs to be accepted in both houses (i.e. groups and individuals) with 70% majority and then accepted in a ballot of all members. This will require 70% of groups at the AGM (e.g. Regional Councils, Clubs, Constituent bodies) to essentially vote to abolish their own vote. I hope that groups (and individuals) can support this and see that it is part of the bigger picture for positive change in the way the BCA operates; and that it would go hand in hand with introduction of online voting, which will allow all CIM and DIM members to democratically participate in BCA business. A huge improvement in democracy overall, rather than a reduction.

Conclusions

I hope that these proposals set the BCA in the right direction for the future.

None of these proposals are set in stone yet and they do not need to be submitted until the 13th April deadline. I will be liaising with various people over the coming month or so to get these finalised. However, I wanted to get these ideas out into the public domain now for everyone to start mulling over, and to provide the opportunity for comments/feedback which could help to refine the proposals prior to submission.

I know that this all sounds very fast; these kinds of changes would usually happen much more gradually and after much more consultation within the BCA arena. I apologise if I appear arrogant for presenting such proposals without wider consultation.

I am aware that there are many who will see these proposals as unnecessary. I know some in Council believe that the BCA needs a period of stability rather than change. I do not think I am the right person to provide this. I have heard some suggest that we shouldn’t waste time fussing over the website. I disagree, and the results of the Vision Group questionnaire would support me on this.

Some people may be of the belief that unilateral proposals by individuals direct to Council or AGM has little place in a National Body. Unfortunately, participants for such Committees aren’t queuing up and we must be realistic about the fact that the BCA is a volunteer-led organisation… and people are very busy these days! Embracing the enthusiasm of proactive individuals with a well-considered idea/proposal is essential.

There will also be many BCA members who believe the current two-house voting system is a critical part of the BCA and fear that removing this would undermine the role of clubs in British Caving. I believe that the changes I propose and the importance of clubs in British Caving do not need to be mutually exclusive.

At present, I think I am the only applicant for the Secretary role, meaning I will be appointed by default without a vote. This could end up with me being appointed, but my objectives for change being rejected, which would be a problematic situation that would benefit nobody. I would therefore welcome other applicants from individuals providing an alternative vision or agenda. It would be democracy at its finest to have a proper election! If someone else was elected Secretary, I would do my best to support and assist them (if they wanted me to of course). My standing for the role is borne out of perceived necessity rather than a burning desire to take the position on.

Whatever your opinion, please come to the AGM and have your say. Even if my application and proposals are rejected, but serve to get loads of people along to the AGM and to engage with the BCA then this will be a pleasing achievement. The BCA does amazing things thanks to many dedicated volunteers (many of who are largely unsung) and it deserves more attention and thanks from British cavers than it currently receives.

Thanks everyone (especially if you've had the patience to read this to the end).

Matt Ewles

York Caving Club
CNCC Secretary
BCA Secretary

Offline MarkS

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2019, 10:01:48 pm »
As a current member of the BCA council, I couldn't agree more with these comments and would fully support the proposals.

Something I'd been meaning to do was to attempt to quantify the level of bureaucracy in the BCA. A quick scan of the current constitution shows the BCA council itself is made up of between 21 and 29(!) volunteers, and the standing committees nominally involve a further 25 volunteers (excluding co-opted volunteers) That's a total of 46 - 54+ volunteers for BCA to run according to its constitution, excluding people involved in working groups. To a first approximation, that is about 1% of the total membership. Put that way, it suddenly seems obvious why volunteers are hard to come by.

I've know Matt for >10 years. British cavers would be foolish not to make the most of his motivation!

Offline nearlywhite

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2019, 11:53:35 pm »
There's a lot I agree with you on there Matt.

With regards to the constitution, it is my hope that the Vision group write an entirely new one with all of the policy positions taken out and items regarding procedure moved to the manual of operations. So an interim constitutional change that allows electronic voting is a critical step in actually getting real change down the line. This argument needs advancing on more than just UKC (sorry Jane  :-[) because I think there will be widespread support if you reach people.

I think working groups work well if you find the right person to get volunteers involved and P&I does need a team of people. That said I think you are best off removing all the extra IT and P&I positions on council (Cave Registry, IT, Newsletter Editor, Webmaster, Web Services Officer).

There are plenty others that can be managed under existing groups too:
Crow, Rope-Test Officer,  Insurance Manager, Library Rep, Media-Liaison, Safeguarding, Membership Administrator, Training Administrator.

Many of these are the same people which is why I think things can get a bit confusing.

Offline Cavematt

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #23 on: March 24, 2019, 11:55:42 am »
Hello all

Thanks again for all the support from so many UKC users for my proposals.

Unfortunately, this support has not been widely echoed outside of this forum, particularly within groups who will be voting at the AGM. In several discussions and messages, it has been made clear that proceeding with these proposals will damage the BCA and British caving, and the proposals will be rejected in favour of alternative proposals likely to also be on the table.

It seems that for me to push ahead with the vision and proposals I have outlined above would require me to lead a coup, which is not something I am willing to do, as it would split British caving in half; This really would damage our sport which is the last thing I want to achieve.

It seems that the wish to avoid ‘rocking the boat’ too much is vastly stronger than I anticipated. I am therefore withdrawing my application and will not be progressing any proposals.

I am aware of one other individual who was considering standing for Secretary (and may have done so had I not). I have decided to withdraw before the application deadline (13th April) to provide opportunity for him (or anyone else interested) to come forward with an alternative vision/ agenda, one which is perhaps a little less controversial and more likely to be supported; but hopefully still one which will steer the BCA in the direction of the modernisation it needs.

Sorry to disappoint UKC users here who have been extremely supportive (and have taken the time to read my very long posts). Unfortunately, there is just too much opposition outside of this forum for me to push forward and I have no desire to suffer humiliation at the AGM which now appears inevitable.

Hopefully modernisation can still happen under alternative leadership, albeit more sympathetically, which can gain greater support from all regions.

On a positive note (for me at least) I can now start planning holidays for the next three years of my life that I had essentially ‘written off’ and focus on continuing to work on behalf of northern cavers within the CNCC, who have been extremely supportive.

Hopefully my discussions above will make people more aware of or interested in what is going on within the BCA and will encourage more individuals and clubs to sit up and pay attention to our national body, which can only be a good thing in the long run, regardless of what happens this summer.

Matt Ewles
York Caving Club
CNCC Secretary
BCA Secretary

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Application for BCA Secretary
« Reply #24 on: March 24, 2019, 12:48:45 pm »
I'm really sad to learn of your decision Matt. You're exactly the sort of sensible statesperson we need.

I can follow your reasoning - and respect your decision. But I would add that there's no "humiliation" in putting well considered suggestions forward, even if others do decide to vote against them.

Now you've recovered some free time, perhaps you'd consider going into proper politics, to sort this Brexit fiasco out. Someone like you would probably do a far better job! 

Or perhaps progress at a certain underground project we were both involved with a while ago will now accelerate? Every cloud . . . .    ;)