Saturday, 5 February 2011

A Response - February 2011

A member responded to my "Councillor's Viewpoint January 2011" and made the following points:
Here is my response:

Now that we are a charity do we individual members have any say in running the Club?
First point - the poll didn't change anything. It simply confirmed that a majority of the membership (or at least that part that participated) agreed with the motion passed at the last AGM. To reunify the Club and the Trust as a single charitable organisation will require amendments to the M&AA and this will require a 75% majority of those voting. The poll only just achieved 75% in favour, so nothing can be taken for granted.

Secondly under the AGM proposals for amendments to the M&AA governance was to return to the original model that was in place before the formation of the Trust, with Council (who would also be trustees)  running the reunited organisation and being elected by members as at present.  So members would still be voting for councillors and able to put motions to the AGM. The only real change is that future changes to the objectives clauses of the Club would need a 75% majority of the membership plus permission from the Charity Commission.

Do we not lose control of our funds to the Charity Commissioners?

We certainly do not. The Charity Commission never takes funds from charities (apart possibly for fees relating to services). If a charity gets into trouble it will get involved in order to ensure that the assets are used (as far as possible) in accordance with its charity's objectives. Normally it does this by arranging a merger with a similar charity that that is being well managed. It will ensure (if it receives complaints) that the charity uses its assets for purposes within its objectives.


Should the Club Fold what happens to the wealth of the Club? Will the Members get a share?

Assuming that the Club is "folding" because there are no longer any members interested in promoting its objectives and they have voted for this, then the assets of the Club would not go the the Members. Regardless as to whether or not we are a charity, our M&AA (article 8) specify:

If upon the winding up or dissolution of the Club there remains after the satisfaction of all its debts and liabilities any property whatsoever the same shall not be paid to or distributed among the members of the Club, but shall be given or transferred to some other institution or institutions having objects similar to the objects of the Club to be determined by the members of the Club at or before the time of dissolution, or in default thereof by such judge of the High Court of Justice as may have or acquire jurisdiction in the matter.

This is the existing rule.

If there is an overspend and a need for 'cuts' where has the money gone and who or what is to be cut?

As with any business the Council has to look at costs, rank priorities and decide what to cut. As most of our costs are personnel it will usually be a reduction in headcount. This means that as an organisation we can do less of what we want to do.

With regard to where has the money gone, audited accounts are produced annually. You can find the last sets of accounts at and the consolidated income and expenditure accounts can be found on page 9.

The Club should get back to basics.
As a Councillor I have a problem in that different members have different ideas as to what are "basics". From membership surveys (and just looking through my DA's [OK Group's] membership list) it is apparent that only about 15% of the membership have any contact with their local group.

I know of many long-standing members who have never attended a CTC meeting or taken part in group rides. They are members who want to support the Club in its efforts to promote cycling at the national level. So to them promoting cycling in the wider community, campaigning and lobbying would be getting "back to basics".

The CTC is and always has been a "broad church". This is reflected in its "Objects", which are essentially unchanged since the CTC came into being in 1887, the main ones being:

  • To promote and safeguard the interests of riders of bicycles, tricycles and other similar vehicles (hereinafter referred to as “cyclists”); 
  • To encourage cycling and cycle touring as a means of adventure, recreation, character training and other forms of education, to stimulate by all possible means interest and participation, and in particular the interest and participation of young persons, in cycling, and to promote cycling competitions, rallies, rides and other events; 
  • To promote and increase appreciation of the countryside and places of public interest, to establish and protect access thereto by cycle and on foot, to preserve and improve amenities, to take appropriate action thereto in Parliament and in and before Government departments, local and other public authorities, bodies and officers, landowners, developers and others, and to establish and support, or aid in the establishment and support of, or join with or help any association, establishment or institution formed wholly or partially for such purposes as aforesaid or any of them; 
  • To educate in road usage, increase road safety and in particular the safety of cyclists, and to promote and assist in the promotion of any plans, measures, schemes or proposals designed to that end; 
  • To provide legal assistance for the riders of bicycles, tricycles and other similar vehicles in the enforcement of their rights to use the public roads and public rights of way; 
  • To cater for the needs of cyclists by collecting and furnishing information for the planning and conduct of cycling tours, publishing and supplying books, routes, guides, brochures, accommodation lists, maps, periodicals and newspapers, badges and emblems, by arranging for insurance and any necessary documentation, and to organise and conduct cycle tours both at home and overseas and make all appropriate arrangements for participants therein, and to promote and safeguard the interests of cyclists in all such ways as the conditions of the times may render desirable.
 I would point out that there is nothing in our objects that specifically empowers us to promote groups. This is something that Council has identified and we are hoping to address when the M&AA are revised at the time the changes required for the re-unification of the CTC are eventually introduced.

Do not set up in competition with Sustrans.
As far as I am aware we are not in competition with Sustrans which has a very different aim to that of the CTC. To quote from their website :
We're a leading UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day.
Their remit it the promotion of sustainable transport and the associated infrastructure. This can sometime be complementary to the CTC but they are not, I think, in competition.

I would suggest that we can summarise the aims of the CTC as being the promotion of non-competitive cycling in all its forms. A very different focus and one that also qualifies for charitable status under the promotion of amateur sports as well as some other headings.


Like many members I have Insurance in my Householders Policy plus Legal Advice and ready access to good local solicitors.Apart from contact with local group, what value is there in Membership?
You are quite right that you can purchase all the membership benefits of the Club elsewhere and possibly at lower cost, although you would have to do the work involved in obtaining them separately.

The CTC offers a package of benefits to its members. The value each member puts on each aspect, whether it be supporting Bike Clubs, 3rd party insurance, Cycleclips, Keep Posties Cycling, the magazine, the companionship of the local group, Chris Juden, the excellent rides organised by groups etc. etc.  varies from member to member, but overall each member must see the package of value or they would have left. Since our membership is at record levels I suggest that we must have been doing something right and the current package is reasonably attractive.

That said I believe there is room for improvement and we will need to continue to change and evolve in the future.


I am one of the 25% who voted to stay as we were.

You are certainly free to oppose charitable status but I'd be interested to know why?

Re-unification would return all of the CTC to the control of the membership through its elected Council, simplify administration and provide some financial and reputational benefits.

To date the only arguments I have seen against relate to various changes people would like to see in the way the CTC is managed that have nothing to do with the issue. In particular they seem to confuse the various contracts we have taken with the government with the charity issue. There would be nothing to stop us ceasing all such work and still remain a charity.

Some have said that charities have to be for public benefit. True. But then our members are part of the public and the charity law recognises that what we do constitutes a public benefit.

The sad low level of interest in the vote does not (IMO) indicate contentment, rather apathy.
I have to agree that the level of participation in both the AGM votes by the use of proxies and the poll was disappointing and you may well be correct in attributing this to apathy. Many members just want us "to get on with things" and whilst supporting the CTC through their membership, want minimal involvement.

In terms of votes in the voluntary sector it was quite a good level of participation. In local elections a turnout of 30% is considered good and in the recent election for the General Secretary of the Unite Union (membership 1.6 million) the participation rate was 16% and the winner was elected on 100K votes.

Council will no doubt be looking at ways of encouraging higher levels of participation.

Everywhere I see the 'Crap Cyclepaths' and wonder why no major effort has been made by the CTC to force some proper standard of construction on Highways Authorities.
 Unfortunately, whilst there are quite good policies and recommended standards in place, they are often not followed. The problem is how can these be enforced, particularly when just about all of them have "escape clauses"? The latter mean that legal action will probably be futile and then we are left with "moral suasion".

Speaking as someone who has been involved in cycle campaigning and talking to my local politicians for many years, the problem is that cyclists are not seen as an important constituency. Only c.2% of trips are made by cycle and our membership at c.70K may be at record levels, but in political terms is minute. I think that we "punch well above our weight" but if we are to bring about real change we need more people cycling and more members. A bit of a "chicken and egg" situation I'm afraid.

Put existing members Interests first, if the Membership is happy others will be attracted.

We certainly need to do this, even if it is only to ensure that we retain them. However I think that we must look to attract as broad a range of the cycling population as we can. If we are to improve the cycling environment we need both more cyclists and more members. We know that more cycling means safer cycling and this would also ensure that politicians and the authorities would take the needs of cyclists into account. It is this virtuous spiral that I believe we must aim for.