Category Archives: CRAG Central Council Review Action Group

This is your chance to influence the future direction of our central ringing organisation

RINGING REFORM – COME ON EVERYBODY!

This is your chance to influence the future direction of our central ringing organisation, to re-energise and re-invigorate ringing at local, national and international levels.

To do this, we need skilled, charismatic, hands-on change agents, ready to give back to something we all love and cherish.

Even if you can’t make a commitment yourself, please put this under the noses of fellow ringers who you believe have plenty to offer.

The executive will start processing nominations after the published closing date, 29th September, particularly with a view to appointing workgroup leaders.  The on-line form will however remain open for a further week, until 6th October, and late nominations will be considered for any positions that remain unfilled.  Here’s a reminder of the link:

https://cccbr.org.uk/about/reform/nomination-form

Christopher O’Mahony

CCCBR President

[image is quote from Graham Nabb, ART chair. To read his full letter click here]

Building a bright and secure future for ringing

This open letter was sent by Graham Nabb to all ART teachers and other interested ringers:

As ringers and teachers you are already making a big difference, but have you considered doing something more?

Now could be just the right time. The ringer’s representative body, the Central Council, has voted for radical change and is now looking for volunteers who can make that change happen. It is setting up a small number of workgroups that require skilled, charismatic and hands-on leaders and helpers who want to make a difference. This isn’t a realignment of committees but is a much bolder project, aimed at doing what is required to build and secure a bright future for ringing. Something we in ART are all committed to.

These workgroups are:

  • Volunteer and Leadership Development (the people)
  • Tower Stewardship and Management (the hardware)
  • Communications and Marketing (sharing)
  • Historical and Archive (our past)
  • Direct membership channel (our relationships)

Anyone can volunteer to join or lead these workgroups. You don’t have to be a Central Council rep or a ringing society officer. What you do need, is a love of ringing, a desire to create a ringing environment fit for the 21st century and the skills to help deliver that. It would be great if a lot of ordinary ringers and teachers like you joined and made this happen.

If you’re interested in volunteering then visit the “reform” page on the CCCBR website and complete the online form at www.cccbr.org.uk/about/reform/nomination-form. This form will be open until Friday 6th October.

Do please think carefully about what you can do for ringing, and volunteer for one (or more) of these roles. This is a fantastic opportunity to make a difference; to give something back to ringing; and to build and secure a bright future for ringing.
For more information click through to the Central Council website.

Graham Nabb
Chairman to the Association of Ringing Teachers
grahamnabb@ringingteachers.org
www.ringingteachers.org

Taking forward CCCBR reform – August 2017 Update from Christopher O’Mahony

Dear All

 

I last wrote in late June, reporting on the intended direction of travel since the Central Council meeting in Edinburgh, and I want to take this opportunity to share an update on recent progress.

 

By way of a brief reminder, the Council Review and Action Group (CRAG) was set up following a vote at the Central Council’s meeting in 2016.  Its recommendations were brought to the Council’s annual meeting in May 2017.  The full CRAG report, including its scope, methodology and proposals, can be found here:

http://cc-crag.weebly.com/

 

Using the CRAG final report and its various appendices as our starting point, these are the items for action in the first few months following the votes in May:

  1. Agree the Vision / Mission / Strategy (Recommendation A)
  2. Appoint the “Executive” (Recommendation B)
  3. Re-align Committees into Workgroups (Recommendation C)
  4. Set up a team to develop and deliver the direct communications channel (Recommendation E)
  5. Set up a rule-change group (the constitution piece) – with a high-calibre leader and multi-skilled team (Recommendation F)
  6. Appoint a neutral and respected ringer to develop a “simple and permissive descriptive framework for ringing” (Recommendation H)

 

With reference to Recommendation B, I am now pleased to advise the following as members of the inaugural Executive Team.

 

Christopher O’Mahony Executive President
David Kirkcaldy Executive Vice President, core focus on Tower Stewardship and Management
Andy Smith Executive Honorary Treasurer
Mary Bone Executive Honorary Secretary
Carol Franklin Ex officio Honorary Assistant Secretary
Phillip Barnes Executive Core focus on developing a direct communications channel (Recommendation E)
Ernie De Legh-Runciman Executive Assisting with Tower Stewardship and Management
David Smith Executive Core focus on Volunteer and Leadership Development
Alison Everett Executive Assisting with Volunteer and Leadership Development
Caroline Stockmann Ex officio Public Relations Officer

 

As a number of these names may not be familiar to the wider ringing community, we will shortly be putting together some brief profiles to circulate through the usual channels.  The Executive team brings together an impressive range of skills, qualifications and experience, and is drawn from a broad geographical area.

 

Two of the early tasks of the Executive Team will be to work on Recommendation A (devise and agree a five-year strategic plan) and Recommendation C (re-alignment of Committees to Workgroups).

 

Although responses to my call for expressions of interest in late June were fewer than I had hoped, we have been able to move forward with other key items.

 

Recommendation F aims to the simplify the rules of the Council, replacing them with a short statutory set of rules supported by a set of operating principles and procedures.  I have invited Clyde Whittaker to coordinate this work, with a team comprising David Bleby, Dan Meyer, Pat Wheeler and Andrew Wilby.

 

Recommendation H relates to the development of a “simple and permissive descriptive framework” to ultimately replace the current “Decisions” on methods – a topic that has consumed more than its fair share of airtime in recent years.  I have invited Tim Barnes to lead on this framework, and he is now forming a team to assist him with the task.

 

Over the next couple of months more information will be forthcoming with regard to these and other elements of our reform and renewal efforts.

 

The underlying motivation of the reform agenda, and the reason we’re implementing these changes, is to secure a bright future for ringing.  Key areas of focus for me over these three years include:

  • The need to recruit and develop new learners and new leaders
  • The need to engage maturely with church and community leaders
  • The need to raise positive public awareness of our art

 

I look forward to working with these teams to take forward the work of our central ringing organisation.

 

Yours in ringing,

 

Christopher O’Mahony

President

Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

New CCCBR President Christopher O’Mahony Rings Out Old and Rings in New

It may be that some future commentator will reflect on the CCCBR proceedings in Edinburgh over the May bank holiday weekend, and refer to them as “a seminal moment” in ringing history. In the meantime there will no doubt be lots of commentary and analysis in The Ringing World and other fora, discussing the events and their ramifications for ringing.

At its meeting in Portsmouth in 2016, the Central Council voted to establish an arms-length review of its structure and activities, and to report back to the 2017 meeting with recommendations. Members of the Council Review and Action Group (CRAG) have been diligent and conscientious in their task, bringing to the meeting a straight-talking analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, along with a proposed timetable for reform.

Some have expressed concern that CRAG’s consultation was not sufficiently broad, and stakeholders have not had sufficient time to respond or deliberate. The counter argument is that CRAG has used all possible communication channels throughout the consultation, and has stuck to the timelines agreed in Portsmouth.

Around 170 members of Council were present at the AGM in Edinburgh, and the motions to adopt CRAG’s proposals were passed by a large majority, followed by spontaneous applause (a somewhat rare event at Council meetings!) The assembled change ringers became change agents, and the appetite for reform and renewal has never been stronger.

Into this milieu I have been elected as President and, although it’s not surprising to feel somewhat apprehensive about the task ahead, I feel privileged to be in a position to help carry forward this agenda. All stakeholders, through their representatives on Council, have given us a clear and bold mandate. The work cannot be done entirely by the Officers, and the CRAG recommendations encourage much wider participation in Council’s activities than in the past. I trust that those with the relevant skills, experience and enthusiasm will step up to the challenge!

I would like to give tribute to those who stepped down from office at the Council meeting. Chris Mew has worked tirelessly as President on behalf of all ringers, and we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for all he has done (and continues to do) to support ringing. Kate Flavell, as former President and more recently as Public Relations Officer, has similarly been an unstinting advocate for ringing and ringers, leading the PR team (which she will continue to do) to raise our positive public profile. Andrew Taylor steps down as Treasurer, having kept a steady hand on Council’s finances over these past three years.

Ringing faces many challenges – recruitment and retention, leadership, clergy relations, potential church closures, communications, compliance, financial viability and more. We come away from Edinburgh energised and ready to take on these challenges, embarking on a journey with our fellow ringers everywhere, to revitalise our wonderful art, and leave a positive legacy for those who follow.

Christopher O’Mahony

President

Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

CRAG proposals pass at Central Council Meeting

EDINBURGH, May 29th  2017

One year ago, in Portsmouth, the Central Council considered a motion calling for the establishment of a group that would review all activities of the Council, and make recommendations for modernization. That motion was passed with overwhelming support, indicating a Council eager for change.

Today, in Edinburgh, that group – the CRAG – presented its three motions for reform. Taken as a grou0p, they prepare the Council for future change (in 2018). There were three motions. The first proposed that the Council receive the report. This is a relatively mild proposal, indicating that the council will receive the report, but does not, in itself, make any commitment to any future actions. The meat of the proposals was in the two following motions (B and C).

Motion B was the more substantial, and effectively set up a shadow operation for one year, where the existing Officers (President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant Secretary) – who are also the trustees of the legal Charity, would be joined by a group of 4 other people, to work towards developing the rule changes that would be put to the Council in 2018, and which would effectively transform the council into a more responsive body, with (hopefully) enhanced relevance to the average ringer.

This new Executive (comprising 5 trustees and 4 non-trustee executives) would be able to use the officers/trustees to implement the actions that they decide on, thus ensuring continuity between the present and possible future organizations.

Phil Barnes likened the process to taking a journey without having to commit to a destination. If we like the way things are going in May,2018, then we can continue the journey – perhaps with some modifications – and if we don’t like the way things are going, we can still turn back.

Key points are that:

  • Any ringer will be able to enter their name to be an officer of the organization (this is already the case: Rule 12.ii states:

The President, Vice-President, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Assistant Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, and Public Relations Officer shall be ex-officio members of the Council if not already Life or Representative Members.)

  • Any ringer may put their name forward for appointment to a Work Group.
  • The Council will begin to use a planning and objectives process to make certain that all efforts are coordinated, and contribute to the plan.

Rather surprisingly, most of these changes (indeed, all of the changes that are being proposed for 2017/2018) do not require any rule changes. This is what will allow the Council to operate on two pretty-well parallel tracks for this year.

There were some dissenters with details of the motions, but even they declared themselves supportive of r the aims of the reforms.

Much more, of course, remains to be worked out in the weeks and months ahead. In particular, the importance of ongoing consultation and feedback from those ringers who are not members of the Council, was stressed.

So, for now, the work of the CRAG is finished, and it is now up to the leaders of the Council, together with the extra members of the executive, to do the work (or to form groups to get it done), ready for 2018.

Lancashire sounds like it is going to be an exciting time – and it will be open to anyone who wants to attend. Book your trains, and boats and planes, and hotels early!

CCCBR Meeting Weekend – Live Streams Sunday 28th & Monday 29th May

It is hoped that we will be able to live stream the following meetings over the Central Council weekend. There are some technical issues and so you are advised to check the AGM page here on the CC website for the latest links and status.

Sunday 28th May:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ZrXmPJKTpUN

11.30am to 12.15pm – CRAG Update/Open Meeting
1.00pm to 2.00pm – Church Buildings Council, Sir Tony Baldry

Monday 29th May:

9.30am to 5pm – Annual Meeting of the Council & The Ringing World AGM

The Monday stream should be available on the Central Council website or via YouTube:

https://cccbr.org.uk/about/meetings/2017-meeting/

http://bit.ly/cccbr-live-broadcast

The streaming on Sunday is subject to suitable connectivity at the venue.
If this isn’t available, the sessions will be recorded and uploaded
afterwards.

Kind regards,
Doug.
(On behalf of the CC ICT Committee)

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

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

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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The May 12th issue of The Ringing World contains extensive material on matters of current importance to ringers: the proposed reforms of the Central Council, the long-running York Minster saga and a recruitment initiative in schools, all covered in a depth which other media find hard to manage. There is much more besides.

We’ve been working to improve the content of The Ringing World, so if you haven’t read a copy recently, take a look at this issue which we are making available free online. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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Andrew Johnson (WP Guild representative on CCCBR) Responds to CRAG proposals

I am still reading through all the papers, including the full 87 page document on the CRAG website.

I don’t yet have a considered opinion, but one important point for the Guild is the Council of Representatives would be 25-40% of its present size with each society retaining representation.

Currently there are 189 representatives from 66 affiliated societies.+ 7 life members + 5 additional members + 6 ex-officio members.
So 25-40% of 189 -> 207 is 48 to 77 representatives.
Presuming as each society retains representation that gives -19 to +17 extra representatives, so the W & P currently with 5 reps might get 1 extra, so the W & P would have 2 reps.

These people wouldn’t make technical decisions and just elect the Executive, approve rule changes and the accounts. They are not Executive members or work group leaders and are not necessarily on work groups. Work group leaders are appointed by the Executive, and work group members are appointed by their work group leader. Representation of working groups would not be as geographically or societally diverse. Instead one would hope it was merit based. Currently the Guild could elect a CC representative with a particular interest in standing for membership of a particular committee and currently there is a good chance of that representative being elected to the committee. With the CRO this route does not exist.

Members of the W & P would need to be more direct in approaching the CRO’s work group members rather than relying on local contact via Guild representatives.

Papers for the CCCBR AGM on 29th May – a message from Council

To Association Central Council representatives, Association Secretaries, and all interested parties:

The papers for the forthcoming Central Council meeting on 29th May 2017 are available athttps://cccbr.org.uk/about/meetings/2017-meeting/ .

Over the late May bank holiday weekend, up to 200 ringers will assemble in Edinburgh for the Central Council annual meeting.  We will come together with a common bond – a love of ringing and an enthusiasm for its wellbeing.  Through our various affiliations, we strive to represent the needs, views and aspirations of bellringers everywhere.

This year, like any other, we have much to deliberate, discuss and decide. To those who have elected us, we have an obligation to study the Council papers closely, to consult within our Associations, and vote keeping in mind the best interests of those we represent.

As well as receiving reports from officers and committees, acknowledging the Council’s work over the past year, we will be asked to vote on seven Motions.  Each of these Motions is supported by background documents available to Council representatives.  We, the Officers, urge all representatives to study these documents carefully well in advance of the meeting, discuss responses with your respective Associations, and come to Edinburgh prepared.

The first three Motions relate to the work of the Council Review Action Group (CRAG).  At last year’s meeting in Portsmouth, notwithstanding existing reform initiatives, we voted to appoint a Working Group to undertake a detailed review of Council’s rules and activities – to make recommendations for modernisation, and report back, with appropriate recommended changes, to the 2017 Council meeting.

A number of ringers, including Council’s Officers, have made submissions to the work of CRAG, and have received interim updates on the group’s deliberations.  The Officers wish to acknowledge the time, effort and expertise that CRAG members have invested in this important work, and wish to convey our gratitude to all concerned. It is fair to say that the proposals now presented in motions B and C are challenging.  Whilst acknowledging the sincere efforts of CRAG’s members, the Officers have a duty to offer commentary on the proposals, keeping in mind the interests of ringers everywhere.  If anything we would be sad that, if these proposals are found to be unworkable in their current form, then the momentum for genuine reform may be compromised.

CCCBR is a registered charity and the Officers – as Trustees of the charity – need to ensure that CCCBR meets all its statutory requirements.  Further, we have a responsibility to ensure that the proposals are addressed in accordance with Council’s existing rules and procedures.  Key queries arising from the proposals as currently presented include:

  • How realistic and practical is it to adopt all proposed measures at once

  • What specific rule changes are required to achieve the implementation of these proposals

  • What are the implications for existing affiliated guilds and societies

  • How are the proposed new measures to be funded.

In Edinburgh we need to allow sufficient time for debate of all motions, including those from CRAG.  Do please come prepared with concise comments and feedback, so that we can make best use of available time and arrive at considered and constructive conclusions.

Chris Mew (President) and Christopher O’Mahony (Vice-President)

28th April 2017

 
Mrs Mary Bone
Honorary Secretary
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Registered charity no 270036

Viv Nobbs (Guild Public Relations Officer) writes to all members

Chunky pieces of material they might appear to be BUT please consider taking time out to read the nine proposals by CRAG http://cc-crag.weebly.com/, at least, and view it as a worthwhile investment in your own ringing, your tower’s future and in the best interests of your District and Guild.

I strongly believe that “Now is the time” and that we will all benefit!!

This from one commentator, Phillip Earis, says much for me…

” These words are worth repeating”  …..and he then refers to an extract of a letter published in the The Ringing World in 1969…. “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.”     [read Philip’s full letter here:  https://wpbells.org/the-most-insightful-central-council-analysis-ive-ever-read/]

During my three-year term of office as Guild Master and now serving as
Public Relations Officer, not only have many members called long and hard for significant change in our ringing world generally, but non-ringers, including Church representatives have indicated that ringing might well benefit if we were to review and consider some transformation.

I would urge all ringers to read and widely discuss the CRAG proposals and consider asking our own Guild’s five representatives to vote for them to be adopted. (contact links below)

Thank you,
Viv Nobbs     Immediate Past Master and Public Relations Officer.

Guild Master, Mike Winterbourne, has confirmed that he is in full support here.


The five WP Guild Central Council Representatives can be contacted with your views:

“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

CRAG publishes proposal for reform of Central Council

CRAG’s long-awaited final report is available at  https://cccbr.org.uk/review/final/. This proposal is a radical and far-reaching plan for change that lays the groundwork for modernisation in the Exercise, by suggesting a slimming-down and re-focus of Council to become more responsive to change and more effective. It is controversial and all of our CC reps (see below) will need to make their minds up how to vote – please lobby them with your opinion!
All Papers for this years CCCBR meeting in Edinburgh can be found here –

Over the late May bank holiday weekend, up to 200 ringers will assemble in Edinburgh for the Central Council annual meeting. This Association will be sending Five Representatives:

CRAG Survey Closes Friday 3rd Feb

Dear fellow ringers

We have had a good response to our previous call for ringers to help by filling out the CRAG survey, but we are trying to ensure that as many ringers as possible are aware of the survey and have the opportunity to complete it, so we are sending out this reminder as the survey closes Friday 3rdFebruary.

Just to remind you CRAG was set up to look at how the Central Council works. You may think that is only relevant to a few ringers but the ideas we are testing are designed to improve the relevance of the Central Council to ALL ringers – of all ages and all abilities. The CRAG website contains links to background articles about the Central Council and about our work so far and we would suggest looking at these before trying to complete the survey. The homepage of the website is at cc-crag.weebly.com .

Please do take part – it’s all designed to secure a healthy future for ringing!

Phil Barnes

Chairman, CRAG

twitter @cccbrcrag

facebook CRAG – The CCCBR Council Review Action Group

Influence the future of ringing (even if you only have 10 minutes)

The Central Council Review Action Group has been steadily working on an iterative series of papers and consultations ever since it was formed back in May. They seem to have reached a key moment with the latest paper (an overview of feedback received to date, then some concrete proposals for reform) and a 10-minute survey for individuals to fill in.

 

 

The Review of Central Council Part 2: The role of a central body – ***RSVP by October 31st***

Philip Barnes (chairperson of CRAG) Writes:

In my last article I outlined the background to the review of the Central Council and the work that CRAG (the Council Review Action Group) was undertaking in order to advise the Central Council on how it might change and modernise in order to serve ringers better.

At the time of writing we have had just over 50 responses of which about two-thirds were in total or general agreement with what was proposed as a vision for ringing. About ten per cent of respondents felt that a Vision was unnecessary and that CRAG should simply have proposed reforms to the Central Council. A number were disappointed that there was no mention of ringing as a sport, while a few others (all from the UK) felt that the church should have featured more prominently. While both of these viewpoints were from a small minority it is clear that any central body (or bodies) that exist to support ringing in the future will need to understand and accommodate both points of view.

The services we need…

Having consulted on the proposed Vision for ringing, we wish now to present our outline suggestions for what needs to be done centrally to support and develop ringing. We describe [click to read on]

Mike Winterbourne (Guild Master) Writes about Central Council

How often do we hear “What do the Central Council do for me / my tower / us ringers / the guild / my district?” and frequently it appears to be nothing.

Well some of your subs go towards the Central Council and you now have the chance to affect the way the Central Council operates and make it more relevant to us. You can just sit back and complain or get involved by responding to the aim / vision statement and use your influence on planning the future of ringing.

According to the Guild report we have over 1200 members can we make sure the W+P makes a significant response to the first consultation and maintain our involvement so whatever the outcome we can proudly say the W+P were involved in driving towards a Central Council which represents our future.

The challenge is to have input from at least 20% of the membership that’s 240 responses.

Use this link http://cccbr.org.uk/review/part1/ have a read and send CRAG a message.

Thanks

Mike Winterbourne

Master

CCCBR President’s Blog September 2016

School holidays may be over but September seems very much like summer at the moment. Whilst I did manage a short break in the Lake District, there were a few ringing items still occurring in July and August.

Over 7th/8th July we held the annual Diocesan Bell Advisers Conference in Warwick, part of the Council’s work with Church Care. Chris Pickford gave a comprehensive overview of bells in Warwickshire and Keith Chambers, adviser to Coventry Diocese, made an enthusiastic survey of work done and potential for the future, particularly making best use of old bells and installations. The sometimes emotive subject of radio masts in towers was my own talk and Alan Frost illustrated the key points of recording bells and bell frames. Church Buildings Council updated their side with reference to new faculty rules which were introduced in January. Finally, Andrew Wilby and Simon Adams talked about current challenges for the bell founder before we dispersed for a tower tour.

heritagedaylogo2An official launch of the Heritage Open Day programme, headed by National Trust, took place in London on 18th July as a precursor to the September activities. No doubt as you read this many will have been involved in organising open days and demonstration ringing at your own towers, this is a most important event which I hope will continue to get ringers’ support in future years. The following day I had two more meetings in London, one regarding Safeguarding upon which an update will be appearing in the Ringing World soon. The second was our regular joint meeting with Church Care and Heritage England on bell related matters.

The Ringing World has not surprisingly been recording summer ringing tours and there was also an important article (pages 847-849) outlining opportunities for ringing at Universities. Anyone having young ringers going off to University should encourage their continued participation which could be of mutual benefit both to themselves and their University society. I would not normally single out a ringing performance but the peal at St James, Garlickhythe, London (report page 820) was the first by a local band newly trained on the “Royal Jubliee bells” by Dickon Love and which included no less than four “firsts” – well done.
You will have seen [published the list of volunteers who have joined the Council Review Action Group (CRAG) and will be conducting an independent review of the Council’s activities. They will be contacting many organisations and individuals throughout ringing circles and I trust that you will give them support and assistance when requested.

The fact that a review is taking place does not affect the ongoing work of the Council. We have just been involved in a number of radio interviews, myself covering 10 stations in 2 hours on Sunday 10th September with PRO Kate Flavell taking a similar range. As always one is hostage to the questions and assumptions made by interviewers but the positive aspect of ringing were brought to the fore.

Finally, the first of a series of Regional seminars is to be held at Southwark Cathedral on 1st October to which “home counties” societies have received invitations. The aim is to share experience and best practice in the way that ringing is run and highlight resources and new ideas available. It is the intention to cover as many societies as possible at different centres in coming months.

I hope you have all come back to ringing refreshed and with energy to do the best in your respective towers and societies, ringing only survives by what we do as individuals.

Chris Mew, September 2016

CRAG Report 01.09.16 (Central Council Review Action Group)

At its meeting on 30th May, the Central Council agreed to set-up a review group (“the Central Council’s Review Action Group or CRAG for short”) to undertake a detailed review of its rules and activities, to make recommendations for modernisation and to report with recommended changes to the 2017 Council Meeting in Edinburgh.

The CRAG Group held its first meeting at St. Martin’s-in-the-Bullring, Birmingham on Saturday 13th August and we are very grateful for the support given to us by the St. Martin’s team.

Prior to the meeting, we were informed that one of the Group’s members would not unfortunately be able to serve. To ensure that our composition reflects as far as possible the desired breakdown between current members, ex members and non-members of the Central Council, we are seeking an additional ex Council member to join the Group. We invite further volunteers to get in touch via review@cccbr.org.uk.

The Group elected Phil Barnes (KCACR) to be its chairman, with Alison Everett (Sussex Association) as its deputy chairman.

The Group concluded that its remit to consider modernisation (rather than merely technical efficiency) required it first to take into account the wider landscape of ringing, the future opportunities which will exist, and the place which the Central Council will occupy within the Exercise.

CRAG has proposed a single sentence Vision Statement to encapsulate what we feel the Central Council’s vision for ringing should be. A draft of this will be published in the Ringing World and elsewhere on 9th September and we invite written submissions on the Vision Statement until 30th September.

Review of responses will inform a high-level Mission Statement including several objectives to summarise how the Central Council should pursue its Vision. Ringers and other interested parties will be consulted on this between 7th and 31st October.

Alongside this work, as part of its information gathering and at the formative stage of consultation, the Group will interview current Officers and Committee Chairmen of the Central Council in order to understand what they feel works well in the current organisation and what could be the subject of improvement. As well as asking for ideas from within the Council they will also invite and listen to suggestions from outside the Council to give others the opportunity to feed in their overall comments.

However, as an independent body CRAG will of course make recommendations based on its own assessment of the various forms of information available to us.

The Group’s work will conclude with recommendations setting out practical measures which will assist the Central Council in managing future change and taking the steps necessary to achieve its desired end-state.

Ruth Marshall and John Harrison proposed the group and have facilitated setting it up, they kindly agreed to support the Group’s work going forward and may attend its future meetings, but will not take an active role in its deliberations or developing its conclusions.

Alison Everett, Public Relations Officer, CRAG Group. 01.09.16.

CRAG  (Central Council Review Action Group) Reports on their first meeting


Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Review
Action
Group

Twelve members (including the two overseas members by Skype) met for the first time on Saturday 13th August in central Birmingham for an all day session. They were joined by CCCBR members Ruth Marshall and John Harrison who acted as facilitators.

The group discussed the strengths of the current structure, the opportunities to develop the exercise and the creation of a modern structure to promote ringing, foster new initiatives and enrich people’s ringing. The group developed a programme of action and will meet regularly face to face and electronically over the coming months.

A number of sub-groups were established to focus on key activities, including creating a vision for the future and developing a strategy for consulting widely and obtaining input from all stakeholders including grass roots ringers, new ringers and non-ringers.

Further information, including how everyone can input into this process will follow soon.

For immediate release – 17th August, 2016
More information:
Phillip Barnes 01732 885443
Alison Everett 01243 775366