Saturday, 29 October 2011

Councillor's Viewpoint October 2011

Member Groups

The consultation on the new Member Group policy as set out by a group of volunteers from member groups (and mentioned in my last Viewpoint) has been completed. The response was overwhelmingly in favour of the proposals relating to the areas covered by groups and Council has endorsed them.

Practically this means that:
  • Voting and elections at all AGMs will be open to all. (N.B. It may not be practical to provide each member group with a membership list that covers all local members under the new rules so membership cards will need to be presented.)
  • Groups can select a new membership area at their AGM and apply for the new list to be set up.
  • National Office will need to be able to implement the new structure from early 2012.
  • The Touring Trophy will need a new set of rules for 2012 to deal with which Member Group gets Tourist Trophy points.
The proposals to make the definition of Member Groups and relationships between Member Groups more flexible were also endorsed. This means that the two types of Member Group are retained, i.e. Member Group or Informal Group. However, there will be no rules to defining the relationship between Member Groups and local members. It is considered that this is best determined at a local level.

If current relationships between groups are working effectively and meet CTC policy requirements, they can be retained.

Because the relationships are so diverse it is not practical or necessary for the structures to be the same for every situation. Member Groups can choose if they want to be part of a collaborative structure, whether that is with a larger Member Group or whether they will work with other Member Groups in a different way. A decision to maintain existing structures is perfectly acceptable as long as it is mutually agreed by all participating Member Groups.

More information about groups can be found at

Charity Registration

The good news is that the Club’s application for charitable status has been approved by the Scottish regulators and the CTC is now registered as a charity in Scotland.

In England and Wales registration is undertaken by the Charity Commission. We had pressed for an early decision on our application so we could start our new financial year on October 1st 2011 as a registered charity.

The Commission's officers have told us that at present they cannot approve the application. It would seem that the decision to make minimum changes needed for charitable status in our Memorandum and Articles of Association (our constitution) which contains much wording from the founding document, has complicated the issue. Also our website, which has not been fully updated as a new site is being built, did not properly present the charitable nature of our work. This will be reflected in the new site. However the Charity Commission make their judgement based on what they find when they look.

We are going to take some additional advice about the best way forward from here, including how we handle the different approaches taken by the Scottish and English regulators.

Since other similar organisations such as the London Cycling Campaign and the RSPB already have charitable status in England and Wales, we feel confident that we will succeed in due course

Charity and Member Groups

Council is continuing with the policy that Member Groups will remain outside the charity for the immediate future as subsidiaries.

Once the new structure has bedded in the issue of where MGs should sit within the structure will be revisited. The only change for the moment is that Member Groups will have to report back each year on how they spend the money allocated to them by the Council, confirming that it was spent on CTC’s Charitable Purposes. As this includes promoting cycle touring there should not be a problem.

Web site

As I have previous indicated this complex project (tying together all our membership activity and databases, handling memberships and renewals) has not proceeded to plan.

The project keeps stalling because the contractors are putting new business before our completion and we have had a number of disputes about progress. CTC has brought some work in house as well to leave the supplier with the technical integration project as their major activity. We are in the testing and handover stage at the moment, something that would normally take a couple of months to ensure that all the integration works. This means we should have some elements of the site ready this year and it is hoped that it will be in full operation early in the new year.

Council and staff has felt frustrated, disappointed and quite angry about where we are. Unfortunately once embarked on such a project there are few options available. Walking away, to start again, while suing to get our money back, might have been one, but in itself that would have been a major drain on resources and there could be no guarantee that we would obtain full damages.

It is still the plan to offer each group a page they can tailor or link to their own home page.

The future of the AGM

My suggestion for a change in the way we hold National AGMs (see July Viewpoint) was put to Wayforward Committe who have decided to defer the issue for a few years. The view being that this would be one change too many on top of those relating to the change to charitable status.

Finance and Organisation

In September the CTC started a consultation with its employees about restructuring and staff reductions to reflect the reducing project income and increased costs in the coming year. CTC Income has been reduced by reductions in central government funding for cycle projects. This is very unfortunate for those concerned but it must be borne in mind that CTC is twice the size it was ten years ago. Staff levels peaked at 80 and even after restructure, when the largest funding programmes end, there will be around 50 staff.

Membership continues to rise and direct member services have improved steadily. Overall we have had a relatively successful year, finances are on target and we are managing the transition out of high levels of government funding.