After all the recent debate about the CSCC I have decided it is unfair to criticise those who have put in so much effort if I am not willing to put myself in their shoes. To that end I have decided to stand for the role of CSCC Chairman at the EGM to be held on 26th September, and I have put together an election statement (copied below) hopefuly with enough notice that member clubs can consider whether or not they would like to support me or not.
The statement is;
Dear Southern Cavers,
This letter is to inform you of my intent to stand for the post of Chairman of the Council of Southern Caving Clubs (CSCC) at the EGM to be held on 26th September 2020. As some of you are probably aware, I have been critical of some aspects of how the CSCC goes about its business, and I feel that it is unfair to criticize unless you are prepared to stand up and do something about it. By writing down my thoughts on how the CSCC can be improved well in advance of the EGM I hope that I am giving member clubs a chance to debate my views and decide whether they wish to back me.
I have been a caver for over 30 years and a member, at various times, of 4 CSCC member clubs and currently a member of the Mendip Caving Group. I have been a sporadic attender of CSCC meetings over the last 8 years or so, and have acted as a club representative on occasion.
The key issue facing the CSCC in my view is that of limited representation. Examination of the meeting minutes dating back to 2002 shows that the average voting attendance at meetings is just 8, or around 20% of the member clubs. This also means that in theory just five like minded people could exert control over the activities of CSCC. It has also resulted in the inability to make desperately needed changes to the constitution due to the meetings at which these have been debated not being quorate. This is not intended as a criticism of the small number of people that regularly attend meetings, but a recognition that without wider participation the CSCC will only ever represent a small proportion of its members.
To this end I would like to see changes to the CSCC that will encourage more people, and organisations, to participate. This will require making meetings more accessible, including at least some online meetings, but also encouraging a wider participation in the good work that CSCC does in the field. This will require far better communication not only with member clubs but with the wider southern caving community.
Although Mendip is undoubtedly the hub of southern caving, there are also a rich variety of underground sites across the rest of the south. As such I believe that the CSCC needs to make greater efforts to embrace the wider region by ensuring that people and organisations involved in activities outside of Mendip are more aware of the support that CSCC can provide to them.
Another issue facing the CSCC has been the sometimes toxic relationship with BCA and some other regional councils. This has not been restricted to any single issue, but the CROW debate has been a significant factor. To be fair I believe that this has been part of a wider issue in British caving politics due to a general lack of respect for those who may hold opposing views. This has been evidenced by the recent spate of resignations in BCA and the subsequent appeal from the new BCA Chairman in his opening statement.
If elected I intend to ensure that the culture within the CSCC will support this much needed change by pledging that debate will always be respectful. This does not mean that CSCC will become an echo chamber or a puppet to the BCA Council. There will be differences of opinion, indeed it is vital that there are, and those differences may be made passionately and robustly. However, calling into question someone’s motives or insulting them simply because they disagree with your point of view must become completely unacceptable. It should be perfectly possible to remain friendly with those we disagree with and this must be achieved if progress is to be made.
In the past the election of CSCC officers has been a less than transparent process, often apparently sorted out in smoke filled rooms or at the last minute before the AGM with the voting representatives given little if any prior notice to form views on who to back. By posting this letter I hope I am bucking this trend and allowing members clubs to decide whether or not they like the sound of what I would like the CSCC to become. It would be great if other candidates would come forward as a real choice of Chairman, and other officers, can only be a positive outcome for the organization. I would however call for others interested in the role to break cover now, tell us what your plans are and give the members a chance to make a real decision on the future of the CSCC.
I am intent on making CSCC change for the better and I hope you will give me your support,
Ed Waters, 28th August 2020.