There follows a report by Julie Denning on these meetings
A note on the BCF
These meetings all duly took place as scheduled on 6th (SCCU) and 14th (ECF, BCF) of October.
SCCU (Southern Counties Chess Union) Executive Committee.
Quite a lot of housekeeping (Minutes of previous meetings, Actions and Officers' Reports) from which I think the only point I wish to highlight is that the U14 / U130 League is, as anticipated, better supported this season. There are 10 entries and they are being split into 3 zones, West, South and East. Sussex is in South. Contrary to the intention at the Union's AGM, the invitation to enter was inadvertently not sent to Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC). This was been corrected retrospectively, but they've concluded they won't enter this season.
Turning to consideration of the forthcoming ECF AGM, I reported to the Executive Committee on my action within Sussex to encourage clubs to assign the otherwise unrealised voting rights associated with graded internal games to the County. I suggested other counties might wish to investigate a similar action. Thanks to those clubs who took up my suggestion, Sussex CCA would have 2 votes this time, rather than just 1. I understand we were close to 3, so perhaps if 1 or 2 more clubs took this action we might max out our full potential (Brighton & Hove maybe?)
It was decided that the Union's 3 votes should be cast for all incumbents in the ECF elections, including for myself in the contested NED election.
On the topics of Voting Reform and Voting Transparency, views were mixed. I was mandated to cast 1 vote for and 2 against the Voting Reform proposal. On Voting transparency, this was to be reversed; i.e. 2 for and 1 against.
On the discussion paper regarding Platinum Members Fees, there was essentially no support and I was mandated to cast all Union votes against proceeding with this idea.
(Note, of course, that I would only be able isolate and allocate SCCU votes in this way if the various proposals went to card votes.)
Continuing what has seemed to me to be an increasing trend over the last couple of years, this meeting was not well attended. At one point early on I counted 21 attendees apart from the "top table", although 1 or 2 more wandered in a bit late. All Directors were present save for Malcolm Pein who was on ECF duty overseas in his capacity of FIDE Delegate. Tim Herring, Chairman of the Finance Committee was unexpectedly absent, but emailed in during the course of the meeting to say there had been a death in the family that necessitated his attention. Some felt that the low attendance reflected there being little on the agenda to get the adrenalin flowing, unlike some Council meetings 2 or 3 years ago.
Various reports were accepted without significant debate.
The meeting rapidly got around to elections. Whilst those facing uncontested votes went through the motions of presenting themselves and taking questions, the only real interest I feel was in that for Non-Executive Director where I, as the incumbent, was facing a challenger, Peter Hornsby. To the surprise of, I think, everyone else at the meeting (and certainly of myself) when Peter took the floor to present himself he announced that he was withdrawing his candidature. Whilst I hadn't been taking my success as a foregone conclusion, the feeling I had been getting from various conversations and comments on the EC Forum was that I probably hadn't blotted my copybook sufficiently to be unseated, whilst Peter was someone with immense enthusiasm and potential but might be better suited to another post. There is certainly renewed emphasis on the Board that we should try to get him involved in a significant officer role, perhaps in the Junior Directorate. I wouldn't be at all surprised, or disappointed at this stage, to see him ending up in an Executive role at some point in the future.
Card votes were taken for the elections, with Council members free to abstain or vote for "not this candidate" even though there were now no challengers to any of the incumbents. When the results came back the Chairman of Council saved time by simply saying all incumbents had been returned with healthy votes in the range of roughly 170 to 210. Full details should appear in the official Minutes.
Next up were the various voting and constitutional matters. All were dealt with by hand votes. The first one was a Special Resolution (i.e. requiring a 75% majority in order to pass) to amend the Articles to increase the voting rights of Direct Members Representatives. Given the mixed views I had received, I abstained, but the motion was declared passed by a clear majority of hands going up in favour. Next was an ordinary resolution to amend the Direct Members Bye Laws to implement the previous vote. I voted in favour as I saw no point in doing otherwise following the previous vote, and this motion was passed nem con.
On transparent voting, I voted in favour. There were 4 votes against, but the Chairman declared that the 75% majority required for this Special Resolution had clearly been achieved.
On the remaining 3 items concerning the role of Company Secretary (which has now been out-sourced) and tidying up the Direct Members Bye Laws to reflect previous changes, there were no votes against, with just one hand vote abstention in each case. This abstention was always Ben Edgell, who I believe noted that including proxies he could cast up to 23 votes in any card vote. His reason for abstaining so consistently was the almost complete lack of guidance he had received from those he represented despite his canvassing them for their views. He has my sympathy.
Mike Truran presented the latest iteration of a Strategy Statement. He thanked David Gilbert as the one Council Member who had submitted constructive comments, most of which had been incorporated. The only vocal critic remained Angus French. The Statement was approved overwhelmingly in a hand vote (me in favour), with just Angus French voting against and 3 abstentions.
David Eustace (Director of Finance) then got to present the accounts for 2015 / 16 that had not been finalised in time for last April's Finance Council. These can be viewed on the ECF website ( ECF accounts 2015/16 ), but the bottom line is that the ECF made a surplus before tax of just shy of £30k for the year. At the time the budget was set for 2015 / 16, the surplus anticipated was about £11.4k, but 7 months in to that financial year (i.e. at the time of the April 2016 Finance Council) the forecast had been reduced by about £4k. The Finance Director reported that a significant factor in this positive variance was the additional effort now being put into collecting Game Fee and related dues. (Paul Buswell, a former ECF Office Manager, has been re-engaged on a part time basis specifically to undertake this task.)
It was clear from pre-meeting correspondence and forum comments that the discussion paper on possible changes to the collection of Platinum Membership Fee to become more tax efficient was not going to get an easy ride, and this proved to be the case. At this stage Council was just being asked to give a view on whether or not the idea should be developed into a formal proposal. Following discussion in the meeting, Council supported a more generic proposal to continue to develop ideas for tax efficient funding, but without specific reference to the Platinum Membership Fee.
A couple of items of AOB were raised. The first was the Yearbook. It is intended that the 2018 edition will be the last in the current hardcopy format. In future years it will become an online resource. This will reduce or eliminate production and distribution costs, and enable corrections or changes to entries to be implemented promptly. The second item was a report from Alex Holowczak (Director of Home Chess) who had just returned from attending the first 5 days of the annual FIDE Congress, prior to Malcolm Pein arriving. Alex had already circulated a 13-page report to the Board, assuring us that if we persevered we would find some juicy bits. I admire his fortitude and take his word for it.
Council meetings next year will be Finance on 28th April in London and AGM on 13th October in Birmingham.
As usual, this meeting was squeezed into a mid-session break in the ECF AGM.
Nobody had spotted in advance an error in the published agenda which called for approval or correction of the Minutes of the BCF Council meeting of last October. This was actually done, correctly, at this year's BCF Council meeting in April. It was the Minutes of that April meeting, which have appeared in draft form on the website, that should have been considered this time. Thus, the April Minutes remain outstanding and will need to be put to next April's meeting.
The meeting went on to approve BCF and Chess Centre accounts.
The meeting agreed to the appointment of Ian Reynolds as a Trustee of the John Robinson Youth Trust.
It was also reported that there was an urgent need to appoint at least one new Trustee for the Permanent Invested Fund. Of the 3 who had been in post until recently, one (Julian Farrand) had resigned and another (Keith Richardson) had died. However, as this had not been promulgated on the published agenda, it could not be the subject of a formal Council vote, but a reading of the relevant Trust Deed had indicated that the remaining Trustee had the power to appoint others, even if Council had not expressed a view. There is a suitable candidate.