Author Topic: Open Letter to Southern Cavers  (Read 2801 times)

Offline Ed W

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Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« on: July 25, 2020, 07:33:26 am »
Below is an open letter to Southern cavers describing how proposals for the BCA AGM were submitted apparently under the name of the CSCC without authority of the member clubs, and the actions taken by the Chairman since.  It was hoped that this message would have been circulated on the CSCC Mailing list, and it was submitted to CSCC Officers yesterday but has yet to appear there.  Given that there is a General Meeting next Wednesday (29th July) it was felt that the information in this letter needed to be be made available in sufficient time that CSCC Clubs could form their opinions prior to this meeting.  The authors of this letter, of which I am one, believe that the Chairman's actions have not met the standards we would expect of someone in this position, and therefore call for him to resign.  More important though is to encourage more member clubs to be represented at the meeting on Wednesday and make their opinions known.

Dear Southern Cavers,

Introduction
On 3rd April this year a series of proposals were submitted for the BCA AGM by the CSCC Chairman.  These proposals led directly to the resignation of three BCA Officers.  The process by which these proposals were submitted has raised questions about the conduct of the CSCC Chairman which culminated in a vote of no confidence, which he survived, at the CSCC General Meeting on 15th July.  Subsequent to this meeting further evidence has been seen which suggests that statements made during the meeting potentially misled the meeting attendees which may have influenced the no confidence vote.  It should be noted that this letter is not concerned with the content of the proposals but the process by which they were submitted.

Background prior to 15th July
Potential proposals for the BCA AGM were discussed at the CSCC General Meeting on 15th February, and subsequent to this meeting the Chairman drafted and submitted a set of proposals.  These were received by the BCA Secretary on 3rd April, CSCC member clubs were not given sight of these proposals prior to submission.  These proposals were attributed to the CSCC in the interim BCA AGM Agenda.  The legitimacy of these proposals being made in the name of the CSCC was challenged online (UK Caving) and in correspondence with the CSCC Secretary in late April.
On June 14th the CSCC Chairman requested that the BCA Secretary amend the Interim AGM Agenda to state that the set of proposals he had submitted be altered to attribute them to himself personally and not the CSCC.  No attempt was made by the CSCC or its chairman to inform the wider caving community of this change until it was mentioned in passing in an email on the CSCC mailing list on 10th July.

CSCC General Meeting 15th July
At the CSCC General Meeting on 15th July the Chairman was questioned as to why the proposals had been attributed to the CSCC without backing from member clubs.  The Chairman stated that the wording of the proposals made it clear that they had been made in a personal capacity, and that the attribution of these proposals to the CSCC had been a mistake by the BCA Secretary.  The text of the proposals as submitted and the covering email to BCA Secretary were not made available to the meeting. The meeting had to take the Chairman’s word for this, supported by a statement from a BEC member who had seen them as evidence.

The Chairman was then challenged as to why it had taken him 10 weeks to ask for this amendment.  He replied that the request was made as soon as he was aware of the mis-attribution.  When questioned as to why no attempt had been made to inform the CSCC Membership of this issue before 10th July, it was stated that as the mistake had been made by BCA that it was not CSCC’s place to correct the situation.  Feeling at the meeting was such that a motion of no confidence was raised against the chairman which resulted in 4 clubs voting for the motion, 3 abstaining and 7 voting against.

New Evidence received Post Meeting
Clearly the question of whether BCA Secretary made an error in the attribution centers upon the wording of the proposals and covering email as submitted by the CSCC Chairman.  These were not available for the meeting on 15th July but subsequent to the meeting both of these documents have been seen by the authors of this letter.  The first line of the proposal document states;

“Items Proposed by Alan Butcher (CSCC Chairman) for the 2020 BCA AGM.”

And a sentence from the covering email states;

“attached are proposals for the BCA AGM from myself as CSCC Chairman.”

Given that the Chairman made use of his title in the submission it appears that the BCA Secretary made a reasonable assumption that these proposals were made under the auspices of CSCC.  There is no clear statement to support the assertion that these were made in a personal capacity as stated during the CSCC General Meeting on 15th July.

Conclusion
It is believed that the above evidence shows that the actions of the Chairman in this matter have fallen well short of the standards expected from someone holding this position.  As such we call upon him to resign or to provide evidence to support his actions and for member clubs to ensure that these matters are raised at the General Meeting on 29th July.

Ed Waters, Barry Wilkinson, Tom Chapman, Malc Foyle, Chris Binding, Pete Hall & Carmen Smith.
24th July 2020
« Last Edit: July 25, 2020, 08:54:32 am by MarkS, Reason: bold formatting fixed »

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2020, 10:22:50 am »
I don't think Butch uses the forum. I presume you have emailed him directly with it!

Offline Pete K

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2020, 10:32:55 am »
This has reminded me to finally chuck my 2 pence in with regards to how items are submitted to BCA meetings. I wrote a draft ages ago but have just posted it for discussion here:
https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=26798

Offline darren

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2020, 11:07:23 am »
Ed Also worth posting om CSCC Facebook page.
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Offline Cavematt

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2020, 01:46:19 pm »
As the (ex)BCA Secretary in question, I have been debating whether to contribute to this post, or whether to stay out of it. However, I have decided to contribute because my name and reputation is on the line here.

These proposals are/were so contentious to me because they intended to make redundant the position or role of two hard working people who were elected at the previous AGM, who were key players in the BCA’s modernisation. They were a direct attack on the direction the BCA was moving, which I feel most people, including in the south, and most of BCA Council, broadly supported, and which I openly and transparently stood as Secretary upon at the AGM last year.

As you can see from Ed’s post above, there is absolutely no doubt that the proposals were submitted under the name of ‘CSCC Chairman’. There is no doubt to me that there was every intention for these proposals to go forward under the CSCC name.

With the CSCC name behind them, the proposals carried potency... an entire caving region supporting a direct attack against the direction the BCA was moving.

Since my resignation as BCA Secretary (these proposals were the last straw), it seems that many southern cavers have become aware of what was being put forward under their name with no prior consultation, and have decided to take action. Clearly, Alan Butcher’s undemocratic actions and abuse of his position has been rumbled. I wonder how long that has been going on?

However, rather than admit his error in using his CSCC Chairman title in the proposals submission, and apologising to the CSCC member clubs for overstepping his remit, he has instead (as minuted in the last CSCC meeting) decided to blame me as BCA Secretary at the time for making a mistake and attributing the proposals to the CSCC rather than him as an individual.

I took my responsibility as BCA Secretary extremely seriously, and I paid extreme attention to detail. I would like to think most people would have interpreted the submission as having come from the CSCC, based on use of ‘CSCC Chairman’ in both the covering letter and the actual document.

Therefore, to have the CSCC Chairman now trying to muddy my name by claiming it was my mistake (to cover up his blatant abuse of his position) is upsetting. I am therefore extremely thankful to Ed, Barry et al. for pursuing this, and trying to expose what has really happened.

This whole situation is a clear reminder to cavers and clubs to take an interest in your regional council, work with them to ensure they are properly representing your region, and avoid rogue individuals using a regional council name to pursue their own personal agenda.

On a separate note, I am extremely encouraged by some of the recent changes within BCA, with several new people into roles, and a continued passion and enthusiasm for seeing the Association better serve British caving. Good luck to everyone, in particular Russell and Madphil in the Secretary and Chair roles respectively (Russell is a much better fit to the role than I ever was), and Will, Rostam, Ari, Josh with their new responsibilities, and David and Stuart in their continued pursuit of the Welsh Government matter. The latter couldn’t happen without the backing of a national body. Fingers crossed for a brighter future.
York Caving Club

Offline Ed W

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2020, 08:07:58 pm »
mrodoc said;

Quote
I don't think Butch uses the forum. I presume you have emailed him directly with it!

As stated in the original email the intent was to circulate this to CSCC members prior to posting on UK Caving.  The letter was posted to the "CSCC Announcements" list yesterday, but I was informed by the moderator that this was not a suitable post and that I would need to get this circulated either by my club rep or CSCC secretary.  The letter was sent to the secretary yesterday but to my knowledge has yet to be circulated to CSCC members by that method.

Given that the next BCA meeting is on Wednesday it was considered that we could not wait any longer to bring these issues to the attention of the wider caving community, and UK Caving was the only method left to us.

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2020, 08:17:10 pm »
I expect that Butch will have seen a copy from the CSCC secretary, however as a signatory, I have emailed him directly with a copy.
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Offline royfellows

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2020, 10:34:27 pm »

“Items Proposed by Alan Butcher (CSCC Chairman) for the 2020 BCA AGM.”

And a sentence from the covering email states;

“attached are proposals for the BCA AGM from myself as CSCC Chairman.”

Given that the Chairman made use of his title in the submission it appears that the BCA Secretary made a reasonable assumption that these proposals were made under the auspices of CSCC.  There is no clear statement to support the assertion that these were made in a personal capacity as stated during the CSCC General Meeting on 15th July.


I try to stay out of the politics, however if I wear my most impartial hat that I have, I have to concur the statements in the last paragraph, but would go as far as say that the implication is clear that the proposals come from CSCC,  in the same sense as if the words "on behalf of" had been included.
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Offline maxb727

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2020, 04:41:07 pm »
I’ve emailed one of my clubs (Wessex) and plan to contact another (BEC) to ask them to be part of the change needed in CSCC rather than allow the recent actions to continue.

Offline Ed W

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2020, 08:35:36 pm »
I have no method of accessing the CSCC mailing lists direct, and although I have attempted to post on the moderated "announcements" list the moderator stated that this would need to be circulated on the Representatives list via CSCC Officers.  A request to circulate via the reps list was made on Friday but as yet has not been circulated to member clubs, I have received a reply stating that "received the letter, I'll put it in the minutes". I have attempted to find contact details for all 40 or so member clubs to message them direct, but it is apparent that this is nowhere near as straightforward as I had hoped.

Whether you agree with the letter or not, I hope that all Southern Cavers would agree that this situation needs to be discussed, and this requires member clubs to be represented at the meeting on Wednesday (to be held on Zoom) and aware of the issues.  To that end I would be deeply grateful if any members of CSCC Clubs (the list can be found here https://cscc.org.uk/wiki/doku.php?id=about:member_clubs noting that Devon Speleological Society, Imperial College Caving Club and ULSA all joined at the last meeting too) could pass this letter on to their club committees and/or CSCC reps.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2020, 10:50:00 pm »
Is it not one of the fundamental functions of a regional council to notify its membership of events, or did I miss something?

Offline Keris82

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2020, 05:00:44 pm »
Can someone point me in the direction of what the proposals were please?

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2020, 05:16:45 pm »
The original proposals are here:
https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=about:documents:general_meetings:bca_agm_11-oct-2020_interim_agenda.pdf

The amended proposals that the CSCC is now looking to formally adopt (subject to backing of member clubs) are here:
https://cscc.org.uk/wiki/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=documents:cscc_2020.07.29_gm_agenda_23.07.2020.pdf

For a lot of southern cavers, the issue isn't necessarily the content of the proposals, but the fact that they were submitted unilaterally in the name of the CSCC, but without backing of member clubs. The CSCC is now claiming that they were never made int he name of the CSCC and this was a mistake of the former BCA secretary, however it is perfectly clear from the available evidence that the proposals were submitted in the name of the CSCC Chairman, ie on behalf of the CSCC.

The first issue is the unilateral move by the chairman in submitting the proposals in the first place.
The second issue is the subsequent deliberate distortion of facts by the CSCC Chairman to cover his previous misconduct.

To me, the thought that the CSCC would even consider adopting these proposals after the shitstorm that has unfolded is ludicrous, but that will be for Wednesday's CSCC meeting to decide.
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Offline 2xw

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2020, 05:45:14 pm »
Interested to see the CSCCs social media policy proposals (something that, actually, not many organisations do apart from for employees). In the spirit of openness and transparency I'm sure the first thing they will propose is to ensure that no volunteers can be muzzled or otherwise prevented from public discussion in any way.

Offline Wardy

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2020, 08:50:27 pm »
Having watched the BCA debates and the appalling way in which some people believed it was acceptable to act I almost started to believe there actually was a major North South divide in caving.

These discussions however show that it is simply a small minority attempting to create that impression to justify their personal views.
The reality is as I always knew - That region does not necessarily determine your views or values, so please hold your local councils to account in all areas and make sure they represent the views of the majority of their members whatever they may be.

From the early foreign expeditions I went on in the eighties I always accepted they were made up of cavers from all regions. As a Peak caver I travelled with great cavers from all regions, respecting the different skills and experiences they brought with them (possibly with the exception of Sofa Rugby!). I gained long lasting friendships and the common bond was our ambition to travel and explore caves.

So thanks Malc et all for reminding me of this and good luck modernising CSCC for cavers

Offline Badlad

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2020, 01:31:59 pm »
I completely agree with Wardy.  There is no great regional difference between cavers from the regions.  I've caved in all regions, lived near all regions and have friends from all regions.  Had one of the best times of my life mucking about with Gonzo, Tim, Mongo and Steve in Austria and Mexico and afterwards back home.  Them were the days...

The north south divide is politicised to meet a certain agenda but I don't think it really exists in the hearts of most cavers.  I went to a CSCC meeting a few years ago to offer the hand of friendship and try to find an accord over CRoW.  It was unnecessarily unpleasant IMO so I hope CSCC changes.  It did not stop me getting a cake baked as a gesture of good will though..  even if I was accused of poisoning it first.  If only I'd thought of it  ;)




Offline Ed

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2020, 04:14:26 pm »
Badlad ---

May be you should of taken a KEY lime pie

Offline Badlad

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2020, 11:24:50 am »
Any news from the meeting last night?

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2020, 11:59:19 am »
Below is a summary of my notes from last night's meeting:

The meeting began with a statement from Butch (not in attendance), stating that he was resigning due to very unfortunate family circumstances. A vote of thanks was passed and best wishes sent to Butch and his family.

Ed Waters was elected to Chair the meeting and expressed an intention to stand for the role of chair at the CSCC AGM (or EGM for the pedants)

35 in attendance at start, but it was commented that there were 48 at one point! [edit: the comment was heard, but the meeting host has confirmed that only two other people joined the meeting and others left, so there was never more than 35 in the meeting]

Most of the meeting was dedicated to the BCA proposals.

It was proposed to deal with them all together, but this proposal failed.

Proposal 6.1 limit of £750 to C&A without review
Agreed to bring back to next meeting with chance to re-word, potentially seeking higher limit instead of blanket removal.

Proposal 6.2 BCA Software licencing
CSCC will adopt this proposal

Proposal 6.3 BCA social media policy
CSCC will adopt this proposal

Proposal 6.4 BCA ballots to be independent of council
CSCC will adopt this proposal

Proposal 6.5 BCA membership rates for DIM & CIM
CSCC voted to park this until next meeting

Proposal 6.6 Insurance
Cookie withdrew proposal as Mad Phil assured him it was getting addressed anyway

Proposal 6.7 Live streaming of BCA meetings
CSCC voted to park until after BCA AGM as technology and circumstances are changing, so the proposal may be irrelevant by then.

Proposal 6.8 IT working group to become standing committee
CSCC voted to give it 12 months as there has just been a change to the structure so best to give it time to bed in and review then.

Proposal 6.9 changes to way proposals are submitted to BCA
Withdrawn by Cookie as BCA council already looking into this.

AOB:
 - Following proposal from Chris Binding, Ed Waters will prepare a white paper for options for future online meetings/ physical meetings.
 - A provisional busget of £2,000 was agreed for the capping and making safe of Manor Farm
 - Linda Wilson will stand in as CSCC BCA rep for upcoming meeting following Butch's resignation. Ed Waters will attend as observer ahead of standing as CSCC Chairman.

Next meeting EGM 26th September
« Last Edit: July 30, 2020, 03:27:12 pm by PeteHall »
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Offline Judi Durber

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Re: Open Letter to Southern Cavers
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2020, 01:31:48 pm »

See  https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=26814.0;topicseen#msg328132

Deadline for updating the current proposals submitted and inserting the new proposals is Midnight Saturday 1st August   :o (no pressure Frank,  :coffee:  you are doing a grand job   ;D ;D  )

Quote
The Executive have made a decision to stick to the 1st August deadline as posted in the notification on the Website which means that all nominations for positions and proposals will need to be forwarded to the Secretary by that date.
Kind Regards
BCA Secretary

https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=about:documents:general_meetings:bca_agm_11-oct-2020_interim_agenda.pdf
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