“The most insightful Central Council analysis I’ve ever read”

 Philip Earis Writes:

In October 1968 a young chap wrote a letter to the Ringing World.

The letter very effectively highlighted the intrinsic weaknesses of the Central Council.

It states from the outset that what is needed “is total reconstitution”, and with admirable clarity shows how the Council is failing:

“The Council by very nature of its present machinery is impotent to deal with the fast-moving changes that are overtaking the Exercise as a whole, and a body that cannot reach decisions will soon lose respect and authority and be bypassed by its subordinates. We can no longer afford to preserve the atmosphere of a Victorian club for gentlemen, which is a hangover from the Council’s inception; but rather to transform it into an EFFICIENT body concerned with and totally involved with the decision-making and planning necessary for the future of ringing in the space age”

The letter – which is fascinating to read – goes on to highlight some key intrinsic weaknesses of the Council, including:

  • “there are too many members to enable efficient debate to take place; a total of around 150 is quite unmanageable”
  • The Council is incredibly slow and massively resistant to change: if a member puts forward a motion trying to change things it will get stuck “between the professional resolution-killers and the lack of time caused by the lengthy ringing jamboree”.

The writer goes on to sarcastically add, “if it should succumb to either, why worry? You only have another year to wait, plus another sweep out, plus the year it is discussed and deferred, etc…keep going lad!”

The letter finishes with an admirable call-to-action to improve the Central Council:

“The answer lies with ringers at large; if you want the Central Council to work for your benefit (as, indeed, it should), it is up to you to press every one of your Associations, Societies and Guilds to change the constitution of the Central Council…”

I strongly agree.

The author of the letter (which can be read in full at
www.cantabgold.net/users/pje24/RW1968.jpg) was Christopher F Mew.

The following year, in 1969, Christopher F Mew became a member of the Central Council.

Today, 48 years later, Christopher F Mew is still a member of the Central Council.

In fact, Christopher F Mew is now the President of the Central Council.

The Council is still impotent to deal with the fast-moving changes that are overtaking the Exercise as a whole. It is still a body that cannot reach decisions. It has most definitely lost respect and authority.

Membership of the Council has grown from a “quite unmanageable” 150 up to 209 today.

It is very sad that the Central Council has shown itself so unable to reform itself in the past 50 years.

At long last, an independent group called CRAG was set up last year to look into making the Central Council fit for purpose. CRAG has consulted widely, and has now put forward detailed and meaningful and vital proposals for reform.

The CRAG report and proposals can be read at http://cc-crag.weebly.com.

As President, Christopher F Mew now describes the CRAG proposals as “challenging”, saying (seemingly with a straight face) that if the CRAG proposals are adopted “then the momentum for genuine reform may be compromised”.

Hmmm.

I urge all ringers to push for the CRAG proposals to be adopted. This cannot be delayed. It is the last chance for ringing’s central body to
reform itself.

These words are worth repeating:

“If you want the Central Council to work for your benefit (as, indeed, it should), it is up to you to press every one of your Associations,
Societies and Guilds to change the constitution of the Central Council”.

Philip Earis

This article originally appeared on the change-ringers email list and is reproduced here with his permission. Read Viv Nobbs’ response here

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