Author Topic: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings  (Read 2005 times)

Offline Pete K

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Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« on: July 25, 2020, 10:30:05 am »
It seems to me that one of the issues with the BCA meetings is the manner in which any number of proposals under any name and in any state can be submitted.
A poorly thought out proposal will likely eat up lots of meeting time as those present try to understand it, weigh up its merits and drawbacks and likely argue a bit if it is something contentious. One of the best ways I can think of to help meetings run more smoothly is to not place barriers to members making proposals, but to ensure that any proposals that are put forward have already been discussed by a number of members and received their support. If a proposal already has some backing by cavers before being submitted to BCA, it is likely already in a state where it will move forward and should hopefully not require vast amounts of time at the meeting to decipher the intent.

I have not attended BCA meetings and may well have got my understanding of the format wrong or not read the constitutional document correctly, so apologies for any procedural errors. I have written what I feel might be a reasonable proposal for making sure all proposals submitted to BCA have been discussed and received support from cavers before they can be submitted. In the spirit of this proposal, I'm posting the draft text here for anyone to read and make comment on. One of the main things for me is that I'm keen to hear of any possible unintended consequences of this proposal. I have no interest in stymieing the meeting's ability to be proactive and flexible on the day or to restrict any members' ability to have input into their representative body.
Once feedback is received I'll make any modifications and look towards submitting it directly or via my club/RCC. I had intended to do that ahead of the AGM, but I'm not sure if/when we're getting one in 2020, so just thought I'd get this out there now.


Proposal
That there should be new minimum requirements set out for the submittal of proposals in advance of BCA General Meetings. These requirements are to be set out for each type of BCA member who is permitted to make proposals to BCA meetings.
Reason
Currently it is quite easy to submit proposals to BCA meetings. This situation allows for proposals that may not have been through a proper democratic process or that have not had an appropriate level of consideration and detail worked out before submission. This may lead to lots of wasted time as poorly prepared proposals are discussed and rejected or bounced back for more details. This proposal I am presenting here is intended to change the way proposals are put to BCA meetings so that when presented, the proposal has been discussed and approved by a body or is already supported by several individuals. It is hoped that this will reduce the volume of proposals that need to be discussed at BCA meetings and make sure those that are presented are of merit and can move through to votes more efficiently.
Current membership categories and proposal rights
From the BCA Manual of Operations: “The constitution is unclear on who can submit an agenda item or proposal for an AGM and who can second motions. Thus a liberal interpretation should be taken that any member (Group or Individual) or constituent body, or BCA Council can do this.”
Individual Members – Can submit a proposal with one other person acting as a seconder.
Caving Clubs – Can submit a proposal.
Constituent Bodes – Can submit a proposal.
Regional Caving Councils – Can submit a proposal.
Details of proposed minimum requirements for accepting a proposal to be added to the agenda of a BCA General Meeting
Individual Members
That any submission from an Individual Member should be accompanied by 10 letters or emails of support from other individual members. This number is to include the proposer themselves, so a further 9 individuals will be required to have read and agreed to support the proposal.
Caving Clubs
That any proposal put forward in the name of a BCA Member Club must have been demonstrably shown to have been arrived at or discussed as part of a process where the members of that club have been involved. The minutes of the meeting where this proposal was agreed on should either be publicly available or in draft format awaiting approval at a subsequent meeting of the Club, but in all cases, it is expected that the proposal will be accompanied by those minutes. For ‘micro-clubs’ consisting of less than 20 members, who do not necessarily hold traditional format meetings, they should submit proposals in the same way as Individual members must, i.e. by accompanying the proposal with 10 supporting letters or emails. If a club has less than 10 members, then that should not bar it from submitting a proposal. These tiny clubs can meet the 10 supporting letters or email requirements by gaining the support of other BCA members not in their club, so long as these are noted on the submission.
Constituent Bodies
That any proposal put forward in the name of a BCA Member Constituent Body must have been demonstrably shown to have been arrived at or discussed as part of a process where the members of that body or its Executive  have been involved. The minutes of the meeting where this proposal was agreed on should either be publicly available or in draft format awaiting approval at a subsequent meeting of the Constituent Body, but in all cases, it is expected that the proposal will be accompanied by those minutes.
Regional Caving Councils
That any proposal put forward in the name of a Regional Caving Council must have been demonstrably shown to have been arrived at or discussed as part of a process where the members of that body or its Executive have been involved. The minutes of the meeting where this proposal was agreed on should either be publicly available or in draft format awaiting approval at a subsequent meeting of the Regional Body, but in all cases, it is expected that the proposal will be accompanied by those minutes.
BCA Council
That any proposal put forward in the name of the BCA Council must have been demonstrably shown to have been arrived at or discussed as part of a process where the members of that Council have been involved. The minutes of the meeting where this proposal was agreed on should either be publicly available or in draft format awaiting approval at a subsequent meeting or, should be made available at the earliest opportunity if the Council has only met recently and not had a chance to publish its minutes yet. Where a proposal has arisen from an email discussion outside of a Council meeting, the BCA Council would be expected to produce evidence of this discussion upon request from any member present at the General Meeting should it be asked for.
Variances and terms
It is likely that a number of proposals, even when submitted having met all the criteria set out above, will be modified slightly in the process of discussion at BCA meetings. It is therefore included in the spirit of this guidance that so long as the basic intent of the proposal has not changed, only some of the details, then the proposal does not need to be taken away, re-approved and then re-presented to BCA at the next meeting and can proceed to a vote.
Meetings of Clubs, Constituent Bodies or Regions Councils can take place in a traditional face-to-face format or be held online. So long as they are quorate by that group’s own standard and they have minutes produced.
Individual members supporting a proposal must be named and have their BCA membership number included with the proposal. The proposer must also have permission to show the additional letters or emails confirming support of that proposal to the appropriate person collating agenda items for BCA meetings.
Proposals that arise organically from discussions at BCA General Meetings are to be dealt with in the normal way as set out in the BCA Manual of Operations and this proposal does not aim to restrict the ability of a meeting to do its business on the day.

I normally try to steer clear of politics, but perhaps the fact that so many of us do that is why we're in the situation we're currently in. If nothing else this post might start some discussion or get people to engage more with BCA. If it's a pile of poo then I'll run back to DCA committee and remain hidden there in future.

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2020, 01:09:38 pm »
I would suggest 20 individuals (large organisations often require 50), particularly for constitutional changes. That pushes it beyond a single committee or clique, and requires larger support.

Personally I would also limit changes to proposals to only typographical or procedural changes (i.e. fix typos, and replace 'the AGM creates a working group' with 'the AGM instructs Council to create a working group' type procedural changes).

Otherwise you get the usual carnage of proposals turning up the night before and ill-considered amendments being tacked on that just cause confusion or later issues, where often the amendments aren't even voted on (but just 'accepted' by the proposer). If I have put my signature to a proposal to support it, I have not put my signature to an amended proposal...

Some of this is already handled post-AGM by Matt Ewle's proposals (as yet unused, due to the delay), however. While operating like 'normal' bodies where stuff is properly worked out before the AGM and little actual happens at the AGM is clearly a good end goal, we aren't there yet, and Matt's proposals were a pragmatic attempt to make sure we didn't do stuff by accident based on what a tiny number of people who all want to go home early decided in the back of a pub somewhere.

Offline Badlad

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2020, 02:21:50 pm »
I like the way you are thinking and broadly agree.  Are you making a distinction between General Meetings (of which there is usually one annually), and Council Meetings which usually occur three/four times a year?   

I also agree with Andrew that proposals to the AGM should not be altered other than in the very minor way he suggests.  In my experience major changes have been made to some proposals in the past (one particular one related to the CRoW issue) which then boar little resemblance to the original but had a significant effect over the next year.  None of the delegates/representatives were able to consult on the changes but it did get voted through by the attendees.

Another issue to be considered is that there are some clubs, micro clubs shall we say, that barely have four members.  Regional cave politics has suffered from the disproportionate effect these have had in the past and can be used as a vehicle to propose motions from just the samll cabal that your proposals are trying to avoid.

Good to see this being discussed anyway.

Offline Pete K

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2020, 03:08:57 pm »
Good points both.
I went for 10 over 20 as I was concerned that the need to find 19 other cavers to commit to something would dissuade some members from attempting to have input in their representative body. 10 is better than the current 2, and of course is just a starting point that could be changed in future if needed.
The points you raise about changes to proposals was what I was aiming for, but clearly have not made that clear enough in the draft. I agree entirely and will make some wording changes there.
I had written this as a response to the situation regarding the upcoming AGM and the many proposals on the agenda. I see no reason why it should not apply to all meetings and admit that when I say general meetings I did mean both AGM and Council meetings, I just forgot they were called Council meetings! So yes, I'll change that to be clearer and that it would be for all General and Council meetings.
Requiring the same minimum threshold for inclusion of micro club proposals as individual members' proposals was my way of trying to ensure that particular niche did not wield too much weight for its size directly into BCA meetings. I myself run a micro club, although the reason for it was the silly old club-only permits and not BCA meeting interference, so we're not all here to be a thorn! If Regional Caving Councils were to look at their thresholds for accepting business to take to BCA meetings, that would be the best way to ensure local issues don't overcome national needs. I guess it is for RCC members to take their own proposals to them on that topic. At least with my proposal there must be evidence in the form of meeting minutes from the RCC showing the proposal they are bringing was discussed by them and is truly made in the name of its members.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2020, 03:25:08 pm by Pete K »

Offline Badlad

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2020, 04:07:57 pm »
I do see some practical difficulties treating proposals to a council meeting and AGM the same.  Normally proposals to a council meeting will be put forward by an officer, a committee, a working group, constituent body or regional council.  Sometimes one of the individual or club reps but only occasionally by individuals from the membership who are outside council.  Time frames are important here as proposals might come from an officer as a part of his/her report and these just a few days before the meeting.  Council addresses ongoing business and matters arising between meetings.  Your proposals could seriously handicap council and stretch out issues of importance into the long grass.

At an AGM things are different as proposals tend to be instructions from the membership to council to do something or to change the constitution.  I think the substance and time frames of each process is different and needs to be treated accordingly.

Offline Pete K

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2020, 04:13:41 pm »
I do see some practical difficulties treating proposals to a council meeting and AGM the same.  Normally proposals to a council meeting will be put forward by an officer, a committee, a working group, constituent body or regional council.  Sometimes one of the individual or club reps but only occasionally by individuals from the membership who are outside council.  Time frames are important here as proposals might come from an officer as a part of his/her report and these just a few days before the meeting.  Council addresses ongoing business and matters arising between meetings.  Your proposals could seriously handicap council and stretch out issues of importance into the long grass.

At an AGM things are different as proposals tend to be instructions from the membership to council to do something or to change the constitution.  I think the substance and time frames of each process is different and needs to be treated accordingly.
A perfectly valid point and exactly why I was looking for feedback here. I'm open to suggestions on alternative wording to separate Council and General meetings or can just limit my proposal to AGMs if you feel Council meetings are another beast and need leaving alone/alternative requirements.

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2020, 06:56:07 pm »
if you feel Council meetings are another beast

They are definitely a beast :P

But they operate very differently to an AGM; only Council members bring proposals to Council as it is an internal governance thing really.

Offline nearlywhite

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2020, 07:01:46 am »
So the problem identified is that it is easy to fill an agenda, and therefore either waste time or establish a narrative.

This isn't a problem confined to general meetings - I complained for years that Youth and Development was always at the bottom of the lists, if only we were development and youth etc.

I would suggest that rather than adding a bureaucratic hurdle that the secretary's power be expanded on this issue. This doesn't need any change in constitution or procedures just an acknowledgement that how things were always done isn't a good reason to go on like that. So I'd like to see agendas with prioritisation.

You could of course add a stipulation that a proposal has to discussed at an AGM if it has the backing of a regional council, elected council member or x number of BCA members.

This way the secretary has the liberty of taking several similar proposals, taking them back to their initial proposers, refining them and making sure amendments represent clear choices.

The current idea of thinning out the agenda will reduce compromise as unfortunately we don't really have the space for discussion on issues outside and even inside council.

Offline Pete K

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2020, 09:54:06 am »
I would suggest that rather than adding a bureaucratic hurdle that the secretary's power be expanded on this issue. This doesn't need any change in constitution or procedures just an acknowledgement that how things were always done isn't a good reason to go on like that. So I'd like to see agendas with prioritisation....
....This way the secretary has the liberty of taking several similar proposals, taking them back to their initial proposers, refining them and making sure amendments represent clear choices.

My concern with that approach is that it places both an extra burden and more power into the hands of a single person. A great Secretary can do all of this filtering already I believe, but making proposal moderation and refining an essential part of the role does add a weight of extra work to that already very busy voluntary post. That's all fine if it can be done by the incumbent Secretary, but something we should be aware of is that as we add remit to the roles of existing officers, we make the posts more time consuming and potentially much less attractive and harder to fill in future.
The second concern is that when 1 person is allowed to wield judgement on matters then there must be robust guidance on how to do this and where their powers end. This guidance would need to be written and accepted, but will always have to rely on the judgement of a single person in the end. A Secretary with the power to push back proposals to the submitter and request tweaks or wording changes can suddenly shape a great deal of business BCA votes on, even if only subtly or unintentionally. That's not to say the current one would do that at all, but there is potential for future misuse of power here I fear.
By placing the entry restrictions on proposals to AGMs, it insures that those that do get through are more likely to have already been carefully thought through and less likely to contain grey areas to exploit. With the support of an RCC or 10+ members, they are also less likely to be knee jerk or retaliatory proposals. These proposals can then of course receive suggestions for amendments from the Secretary if needed or if many are proposed in response to a certain issue.

I see that what I have initially drafted does have some issues with Council Meetings and I also now think that the Council Members section needs dropping or changing. Officers are chosen and voted into a post and so should be able to submit proposals relevant to their role without additional signatories. The example of a proposal being raised in an officer's report is quite usual for meetings and to not allow that would damage BCA's ability to do it's work. I'll be modifying this section for the next draft.

With matters like IT seemingly flooding the BCA agendas to the detriment of other stuff in recent years, it is important that proposals and business at AGMs is not dominated by issues that could have been 90% dealt with in a Zoom meeting or by the Working Party. I agree that the agenda needs to prioritise real work for the benefit of cavers and not just remain bogged in back room tech disagreements. The Secretary and Chairman should be ensuring that in a meeting, the important business of Access, Conservation, Y&D, Training and Equipment (etc..) be prioritized over the back room management of IT, newsletters, hosting, insurance etc... That's not to say that work is not important, but a caving organisation needs to focus on caving, not IT services.

Offline kay

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2020, 10:52:10 am »

 I agree that the agenda needs to prioritise real work for the benefit of cavers and not just remain bogged in back room tech disagreements. The Secretary and Chairman should be ensuring that in a meeting, the important business of Access, Conservation, Y&D, Training and Equipment (etc..) be prioritized over the back room management of IT, newsletters, hosting, insurance etc... That's not to say that work is not important, but a caving organisation needs to focus on caving, not IT services.

In any organisation there are a number of "back room areas" which, if controlled by someone with their own agenda, eg Treasurer, Publicity Officer, Secretary, can bring to a halt the work of the organisation. It is important for these things to be brought into the open, including if necessary at an AGM, otherwise how is the membership to have the knowledge to vote for officers in a way that preserves the democratic will for action? IT services are back room until they begin affecting individual cavers or impede the carrying out of democratically decided courses of action.

Offline nearlywhite

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2020, 05:25:35 pm »
I don't think it will help Pete. Adding a rule will thin out the number of proposals, not quality control them. If anything it will increase the bureaucratic inertia, because little good ideas need this and that etc.

I agree that an unremoveable secretary for 3 years that is allowed to compile agendas is a lot of power open to abuse. The fix is either for a shorter annual term or a mechanism for a vote of no confidence.

You might note that I'm the 'political' one responsible for getting IT off the agenda so there is something to be said for the gray areas of council.

I can't see this having the intended effect- you need to change the culture, hold people to account democratically and then most systems will work. To put it in a soundbite it's people not paperwork.

Offline Pete K

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2020, 07:45:09 pm »
Note that I do not say that IT and the like are not important, I know full well how much back room work is needed to make the real goals happen.
I came into this discussion completely prepared to drop the idea if it was shown to be something which would not work or create other issues. You can't blame me for having a try at suggesting improvements as BCA has just been embarrassing at times. I'm not convinced things can stay as they are and all will be rosy in the future. Even if the new wave of officers just stepping in are of the right stuff, the next lot may not be, or the one after them. It is people not paperwork, but sometimes an organisation needs the paperwork to protect it from the people.
I really really hope this is a new start for BCA. I also really hoped it was a couple of years ago when the last big change of management occurred and a modern course was set for BCA. You have all got my full support as you take this on and I'm considering standing as a rep to do my bit if I can justify the time with my other voluntary roles.
What I think cavers are really looking for now is not just some new faces in the roles, but those people to show them how the infighting, stalling and derailing of recent years will be made a thing of the past. If the new team can tell us what will change, and then deliver it, then confidence in BCA might start to recover.
I'm not sure if I'm dropping this idea yet without other options being put on the table. I'll give it a bit more thinking time and I'll see what other feedback comes in.

Offline nearlywhite

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2020, 12:07:09 am »
I'm not having a go, just explaining why, with my experience of all this thus far, I don't think it'll achieve the desired effect. I think there are ways to add safeguards to an overzealous secretary: have the agenda agreed by the exec for example.

I'd point out that I've seen secretaries push the limits of their power and use procedure to obfuscate things - this sort of rule, only needs to be combined with unreasonable evidence and proof in order to keep things off the agenda and frustrate future reform.

I think most of the unpleasantness is because we have no competition for posts, no forum where the 'opposition' come to actually debate things and no votes by normal cavers.

The BCA could use a 3rd or possibly 4th member from the DCA on council but please don't deplete the ranks too far for our sake. Without the hard graft at the regional level caving would be far harder.

I will post again explaining how I think we can develop the secretary's role though as I ghee to win you over

Offline Pete K

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2020, 06:24:59 am »
Sorry, didn't think you were having go. If that's how my reply reads it's my bad.
I'll look forward to seeing what ideas you all have for the future. It doesn't look like we'll be getting a traditional AGM any time soon, so there is time to get a new plan in place and backing for it.

Offline Madphil

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2020, 07:32:43 am »
Pete,

It is great you are taking an interest in the BCA, I too am not really politician but feel things have to change, there are a lot of things wrong with the BCA that I intend to fix but do remember there is also a lot of good things too.

Re: the post. Yes I too think it is a little to easy to put a proposal together and at an Exec Meeting last night we decided that I would look into this and come up a possible new requirement - you thread has given me a great head start, thanks.

Phil
Co-opted BCA Chair

Offline Badlad

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2020, 10:56:12 am »
From my own experience I've put forward proposals to several BCA AGMs.

A big one was the removal of a sentence from the constitution which was being used as an impediment to the CRoW campaign.  The executive at the time was very much against this motion and the chairman lobbied me to withdraw it quite forcibly.  I stuck to my guns refusing to withdraw it.  It won the vote and went on to achieve 85% (group) and 88% (individual) support from the membership.

I also put forward a motion to establish a Vision and Reform group with the idea that the future direction of BCA be first established and agreed and then the constitution reformed to reflect that vision.  This modernisation process has floundered in recent times partly due to the internal atmosphere but never the less it was well supported by the membership at the AGM.

Likewise a motion to introduce video conferencing formats to council meetings was also well supported although the exec and certain others were not so keen.  Now in the age of covid video conferencing has become essential for organisations to function.

The point is I would probably not have bothered to lobby 20 or even 10 friends to put their names to a proposal to BCA.  Most just don't want to be involved in this aspect of caving.  Yet in my experience there is clearly wider support for proposals put by an individual.  It just depends what those proposals are and the intentions behind them.  Pete's ideas have a lot of merit but it is very difficult to square the circle without restricting ordinary members unnecessarily.

Offline cavingbiker

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2020, 05:07:43 pm »
Pete, I applaud you in bring up this subject.
Regarding the section on Caving Clubs:  I have objections to this and I am sure other clubs would have as well.  The minutes of club meetings (committee or general) are the private business of the club and should only be available for club members to access. This restriction may or may not be laid down within club rules/constitutions, therefore to make these public because of a BCA rule is unacceptable.  It should be sufficient for a declaration from the club stating that a discussion took place and a decision made, whether that is done in a traditional meeting or an online meeting or put views forward by email.

Offline Pete K

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2020, 05:59:47 pm »
Madphil
You're completely right that BCA has many positives and we should not forget that. Without BCA I'd not have got my qualifications to earn a living. Without BCA bankrolling most regional C&A work I'd not have the enjoyment of lidding shafts and opening up new mines in my spare time for DCA. BCA just bought us a £2k shaft safety system, so I'm not complaining about BCA itself! On the whole I think BCA is a very positive thing, which can sometimes get lost when discussion centres on the negative aspects. Best of luck in the new role and thank you for stepping into the breach.

Badlad
I completely see where you are coming from on this. A representative body has failed if there are too many hurdles for individual members to have their say or input. I'm not sure my idea would be the total barrier that has been suggested, I preferred to think of it as a filter. The fact that some of you have thrown up reasons it would be detrimental means it probably is not the solution we need. BCA does need to show it is doing something in this area I think, or those who are disillusioned with it will probably remain so. My idea does not appear to be the way to do it in its current form, but I'm glad I posted it and that it has led to this discussion. Wishing more people would take an interest in the BCA was one of the things that has been often cited in recent years as a solution to some of the problems, so I thought I'd offer something.

cavingbiker
A bit of a moot point bearing in mind the above comments, but again I see your point on this. I'm aware some clubs are more closed doors at meetings than others, even from their own members, but have not experienced this myself so it didn't really cross my mind about minutes entering into the public domain. I'd not advocate them being published by the way, just checked by someone like the BCA Secretary. Your idea of a letter or statement confirming the motion came from the club following discussion would be more that satisfactory too I guess. Anyway, seems this idea is dead in the water anyway, but I concede your point.

Offline nearlywhite

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #18 on: July 27, 2020, 08:03:36 pm »
My idea does not appear to be the way to do it in its current form, but I'm glad I posted it and that it has led to this discussion.

Don't give up just yet Pete.

So in order for exact proposals to be voted on exactly as submitted and a more informed vote held, you need discussion and drafting. Ideally the discussion should be public - like this example, but could be organised by the secretary with the 5 people that submitted similar proposals. That requires a secretary to be very proactive.

What we should do is reallocate some of the secretary's duties (which you can find here):
https://manual.british-caving.org.uk/wiki/doku.php?id=officer_information:secretary

1&2 should be reworded to 'finding someone to take minutes'
3 (updating documentation) should be shifted to P&I but with the secretary overseeing it.
7 (Collating reports) could be made a lot easier if we had a standard report format, something I have in mind for P&I - it should be noted we need fewer quarterly reports filled with fluff, they contribute little and are poorly read. I have been to council meeting where the reading list is upwards of 20 pages, some of which are incredibly technical and without summary.
8 (the Action log) is something that serves to duplicate what people put in their reports - this could be moved into reports but should be at the personal discretion of that secretary

Now I'm aware that the secretary is planning a whole series of changes to the manual of operations (not all on his workload mind - I've raised issues about our voting situation and methods as we haven't ever had a contested election for a post in the history of the BCA: see my report https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=about:documents:council_meetings:20200718_bca_council_meeting_agenda_v3.pdf ).

It is a political role akin to speaker of the house and secretaries should be elected based on what priorities they have. The fact that they have to do almost everything is the reason no one wants the job as you either have to be superhuman or Damian Weare to pull it off seamlessly. Which is why I think it's people not paperwork - we have to adapt to the people we get. For instance I hope Russell won't mind me saying that he isn't the best on procedure but he is proactive in communicating with a wide range of council members and pushing things so they get sorted, while someone like Matt was very good on procedure but wasn't as proactive at managing the agenda. I should point out my criticism comes from a very comfortable sideline  :-[

In short: a change to the MoO that changes '13. Collating Proposals for AGM Posts.' to '13. Collating proposals and preparing a prioritised AGM agenda' is probably all you need.

I haven't solved how you get everyone to actually debate things but I can see you're already doing that Pete  ;D


Offline Jenny P

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2020, 05:47:37 pm »
If you limited this discussion specifically to proposals put to an AGM then I think Pete's 1st. idea of requiring 10 seconders for any Individual Member putting a proposal is good.  The idea, as I see it, is that those seconding the proposal ought to read it and be prepared to point out any potential problems they see so that it can be modified to be more sensible and more likely to succeed without having to be amended at the AGM.

Trying to amend proposals at an AGM "on the fly" is fraught with potential problems unless the amendments are very minor - such as correcting grammar.  What might be more useful would be to "publish" any proposals in draft form, well in advance of the deadline date for submissions to the AGM, in order to see what more people thought of the idea and whether others not involved could see potential problems.  This would give another chance for the proposer to modify the proposal in the light of comments.  Ideally you would want to be putting a proposal which had a high chance of being accepted and voted through, so having at least some of the discussion informally beforehand might be helpful.

Then there are proposals put forward by Club Members.  But, hang on, Club Members do not have a vote now at AGM's do they?  (Or is it only in the online ballot that they have no vote?)  So should they be allowed to put forward proposals?  The Regional Councils collectively represent virtually all clubs (though two R.C.s do have indiviudual members as well) and CHECC represents university and college clubs so why can't all proposals re. Club interests come through the Regional Councils or CHECC?  I am not sure about this as I'm not 100% certain whether Clubs can be represented at an AGM to the extent of having a vote.

So, should Regional Councils, CHECC and other "national bodies" forming the federation which is BCA have the right to put proposals to an AGM and have a vote?  Again, I'm not sure.  However, it might be sensible to say that, if they are allowed to put proposals, these proposals must be agreed by an open meeting of the organisation and must be minuted with the minutes open to public inspection.  (That would avoid the sticky situation which CSCC and its Chairman are currently trying to sort out.)

I think Pete's suggestions are excellent and welcome in attempting to define a more efficient way of working for BCA.  I am simply speculating a little on some of the aspects of the whole AGM voting system in general because I tend to think it isn't clear at present, which in turn may give rise to misunderstandings and antagonism when the problem is lack of clarity.  This is where a good Manual of Operations can be really helpful and the current one is still in the process of being sorted out.

Believe it or not, I am trying to be helpful here in highlighting some issues which IMHO do need clarification if BCA is to progress sensibly.

The other issue raised by Nearlywhite relates to the powers and duties of the Secretary.  It is worth pointing out that, until very recently, it was standard practice to appoint an Independent Recorder to take the Minutes at BCA AGMs, so absolving the Secretary of at least some of the workload.  But this depends on finding someone competent to do this who also has a clear understanding of the issues so they can make sense of the discussion.  Does this mean that the Secretary needs a paid "Administrative Assistant" to take care of all the non-political paperwork and organisation so the Secretary is able to spend more time liaising with members and dealing with caving-related issues?  It has been tried in the past by at least two BCA Secretaries but in both cases proved not to be ideal because the person chosen either really wasn't up to the job or because they had to resign at short notice.  (Those who recall CRG and BCRA history will remember Bryan Ellis as an extremely efficient Assistant Secretary fullfilling this role for many years.)

Other parts of the BCA setup do use paid assistants: for example the Training/QMC Administrative Assistant and the British Caving Library with a Librarian and Assistant Librarian.  So why not have a "General Administrative Assistant", who needn't be full time, to take some of the workload off the Secretary.  This might have the effect of encouraging more people to consider taking on the post of BCA Secretary if they are sure they won't be expected to be superhuman.

Again, I'm trying to be helpful in looking at issues which concern the workings of BCA because I think this is a useful discussion to have, whether or not you agree with me or think I'm talking rubbish.


Offline DanWyatt

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2020, 03:01:15 am »
Although this is too late to be discussed and proposed for this year, perhaps one option in the future is consider an online discussion/voting system, similar to one's used by lots of universities.

You could allow any member to post an idea, and then anyone else can make comments/vote for or against the idea. Each idea is given points based on number of voters and how the votes are spread (and how strong those opinions are) and then if they get enough points they are taken to the national council/appropriate working group for discussion (general ideas) or a more in depth proposal can be written based on the feedback for the AGM. 

This would give a better idea of levels of support for each proposal before meetings, helping prioritise agendas and discussions, and it would allow a much more in depth discussion on a idea/proposal on a bca managed forum before the meetings (including pros and cons)

Ideas can be shared nationally making it easier to find support than getting 10 signatures (which effectively just becomes a petition), increasing member involvement across regions. You could still allow proposals with a minimum number of signatures for those who don't have internet access as an alternative, although this number could be higher to encourage use of the online system to promote discussion. 

A similar system is used by my local university students union (although there are constitutional differences so its not used exactly the same) and an example of a approved idea is at https://www.thestudentsunion.co.uk/representation/student-ideas/125/

Offline nearlywhite

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #21 on: August 03, 2020, 08:03:19 am »
We were discussing something similar at the weekend, so it is very much on the agenda*.

edit: for next year

Offline Badlad

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2020, 01:47:37 pm »
I have to admit that I have put in 10 proposals/motions to the next BCA AGM.  I don't consider any silly or ill thought out.  Let me explain...

Nos. 1-8 were drafted by Matt Ewles when he was BCA secretary as part of his modernisation agenda.  He was elected on a modernisation agenda and therefore I think the membership would expect to see these sort of proposals.  Unfortunately well reported issues led to Matt resigning and he never submitted his proposals.  With his permission I have submitted them exactly as he drafted them but in my name.

No.9 is a limiting motion on a proposal to enact a social media policy.  This seemed to be directed at limiting council members from speaking out on social media.  I hope it will be aimed at making the BCA more transparent and to communicate better with cavers.  It must take into account that many members of council represent other organisations and how they report back on issues to their members is really up to them.

No.10 seeks to change a line in the constitution which some feel very strongly about.  Unfortunately it can also be used to prevent the BCA functioning as a national body in researching national issues, responding to complaints and ensuring that its funds are spent properly.  However, this motion only instructs council to come up with a new form of words which they will agree on and that can then be put to the 2021 AGM.

I don't have ten signatories but I'd be willing to bet cavers will support these motions - more than ten anyway.

Offline Russell Myers

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Re: Proposal for proposals at BCA meetings
« Reply #23 on: Yesterday at 07:24:49 pm »
So why not have a "General Administrative Assistant", who needn't be full time, to take some of the workload off the Secretary.  This might have the effect of encouraging more people to consider taking on the post of BCA Secretary if they are sure they won't be expected to be superhuman.

Sorry, too busy being superman to comment! Damn, these underpants don't go with those tights!
JFK: Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

 

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