Three different views on the CRAG proposals – Viv, Chris Mew and Richard Johnson reflect:

  • Further Thoughts from Viv Nobbs, reflecting on CRAG

    I do hope that  many members will have had time to consider and reflect upon the CRAG proposals and pass on your thoughts to our five representatives ready for the Central Council Annual Conference on 29th May. If not yet, there is still time and I hope the following will help with your deliberations.

    I’d like to draw your attention to one of CRAG’s  Frequently Asked Questions –

    “Is it realistic to pick and choose which proposals to adopt?”

    CRAG Response –

    “The various proposals, covering the areas of governance, accountability, communication and professional support have been carefully designed to work together as a cohesive whole. Proposal B without Proposal C for example, would result in an Executive built to modernise the Council, but without sufficient empowerment. Implementation of these proposals without Proposal E would create a Central Ringing Organisation more capable of serving the needs of individual ringers, but denied effective methods of communicating with them.

    This is why Proposals A – F are grouped together as a single Motion. We do not consider that it is possible to properly implement any one without the rest. They are inter-dependent.”

     

    …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    During The Central Council Annual Conference weekend last year in Southsea, there was an Open meeting. The three questions I submitted personally, together with the responses from President Chris Mew, are shown below.

    Regarding my reference to “Wellesbourne” please see
    https://wpbells.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/changeringing-for-the-future-notes-2011-wellesbourne.pdf

    You will see that the Wellesbourne event was 5 – 6 years ago in November 2011.

     1. What positive developments have we seen since Wellesbourne?    

    Response:

    Some societies have reviewed how they are working and have revised their constitutions, have instituted better training and education and earmarked part of subscriptions for education. Societies ARE talking to each other more and there is a general awareness of need for action at local level.

    1. Do you see benefits from (postponed) survey and what questions would you like to see in it?

     Response:

     The survey is still seen as an essential to define where we are and, most importantly hear about the things which ringers want both from their local associations and from the Council. I would add questions about whether a national association was seen as a benefit and also how much people were willing to pay for their ringing to whatever body.

    1. Do you feel that organisations and ringers in towers are sufficiently prepared for a national recruitment drive?

    Response:

    Simple answer no! If there was a major (and successful) drive tomorrow we could neither cope nor retain those offering their services.

    The key deficiencies are:

    • not enough capable teachers (ART addresses some of this)
    • not enough local supporters to teach
    • not enough capable leadership to enthuse and engage new ringers with wider ringing
      community
    • not sufficient technical skills to ensure that new ringers own abilities were
      developed to a level which will fulfil their aspirations and maintain their interest.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    I would urge members once again to support the C.R.A.G. proposals and ask our
    C.C. Representatives to vote in support of the motions as presented.

    Viv Nobbs
    Immediate Past Master and Public Relations Officer.

    19th May 2017

  • Reflections on CRAG by Richard Johnson

    A CC rep for one of the ringing societies I am a member of asked for members views on the CRAG proposals.  I replied as follows:

    My view is that the CRAG proposals should be fully supported and approved at the CC meeting, irrespective of any reservations one might have.  Otherwise the CC will stumble on until some new organistion is set up from scratch to do what these proposals suggest.

    Given the necessarily wide extent of the proposed changes, almost everyone is going to have some reservations about some aspect of the proposals, but that should not be allowed to result in them being kicked into the long grass. Perfect agreement is never going to happen.

    Whatever imperfections or unanswered questions about the future there may be, changes of the general form proposed are essential if CC is to become up to date and relevant to the challenges of the 21st century, and the proposed forms of governance are what organisations with similar objectives now use.  They use them because they work, and because they are the way Charities are now required to operate.

    I know from personal experience of making major constitutional changes to the governance of a (then 25 year old) charity that it is very easy for people who have a bee in a bonnet to pick at a particular part and want it modified, but they do not realise that by so doing they cause a conflict with some other carefully thought out part of the new constitution, and create chaos as a result.  In my case this happened the first time round, the meeting went on so long it had to be adjourned. A review showed that the meeting’s changes had made a  dog’s breakfast.  I had to bring it forward again ab initio a second time, with a paper showing why picking and choosing was not an option, and that some elements objected to (such as increased power of the trustees relative to the members at AGM) were demanded by the governance requirements of Charity Commissioners who needed to be sure exactly who was accountable in law.  Even then we had some further changes imposed by the Charity Commissioners, but everyone was reasonably happy by the end.

    I could easily see that sort of picking away happening with this at the CC meeting.  If any changes are to be made at all that require Charity Commissioner agreement, and changes to the object clauses certainly ARE needed, then the changes proposed by CRAG on governance will be demanded by Charity Commissioners as the current Central Council governance is a 100+ year old model that is not compliant with current law and practice.

    Richard Johnston

  • Chris Mew writes about the forthcoming CRAG vote
    Dear members,
    You will have received much detail and read and heard comments regarding the proposals for changing the Council’s work. For both new members and existing members this will be challenging and the article below seeks to clarify some of the principles which need to be taken into consideration as part of the 29th May meeting.
    yours sincerely
    Chris Mew, President, CCCBR

    Changing the Council – Principles to be established

    The CRAG report and its recommendations set out a vision for the Central Council both in terms of how it is structured and how it will serve ringers in the future. The presentation of these recommendations fulfils the remit from the representatives vote in May 2016.

    The following notes seek to highlight the limitations of what can be achieved at the forthcoming Council meeting. It is hoped that the meeting in Edinburgh will approach the proposed reforms in the spirit in which they are put forward, avoid excessively long debate, extreme stances and look to the future of ringing. There is nothing in the principles of the proposals which is incompatible with the aims of the Council and, subject to suitable safeguards through adequate ongoing consultation, support is hopefully possible.

    Proposed representation.

    The changes to both the structure of the Council in terms of Officers and Committees do not, in the first instance, envisage that they should be elected other than by existing representatives of affiliated societies. Should there at a later stage be a decision to have a smaller number of representatives or individuals presented as direct members of the proposed “Council of Representatives”, then the dynamics of the representation of ringers would change. The current level of representation at around 200 gives a commendable ratio of 1: 200 compared with that of Government MPs at 1: 100,000.

    Procedural considerations.

    There has been recognition both in the report and elsewhere that within the limited time available it has not been possible to develop full detail or justification for all the proposals. In this context, the formal proposals to elect a new “Executive”, “Work Group Leaders”, to transfer powers, restrict the Administrative Committee and begin implementing direct membership of the Central body before 2018 must all be regarded as premature.  None of these actions could properly be undertaken since the changes of rules required and the powers flowing from those changes cannot be approved without formal notice and, since involving amendment of both aims and rules, would require a two-thirds majority vote.

    Ongoing services and work.

    Throughout any change period the Council must continue to give its services and the importance of some of these has been recognised in the report. Notwithstanding additional workload it may be possible to advance some of the recommendations on a “shadow basis” which would ensure progress continued.  It should be noted that, contrary to inference otherwise, the existing Trustees have powers to make decisions and allocate resources independently if required. In the interim, there would also be time for further consultation with affiliated societies and their members who are all going to be affected in differing ways.

    Chris Mew, President 16th May

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