Thursday 23rd March 2017

Annual Meeting of the CCCBR
Southsea, 28th - 30th May 2016

This year’s CCCBR meeting took place over the Late Spring Bank Holiday weekend, hosted this year by the Winchester & Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers. The headquarters hotel was the Royal Beach Hotel at Southsea.

There were ringing tours arranged for the Saturday, including one to the Isle of Wight, and in the evening an informal social evening had been set up at the hotel with real ale and a curry supper. This proved a very popular event enabling those attending a chance to catch up with friends and acquaintances.

On the Sunday, Central Council members and friends were invited to join in morning service ringing at Portsmouth Cathedral. In the afternoon an open meeting was held in the form of the BBC “Question Time” with Elva Ainsworth acting as moderator to a panel of “some of the key commentators on the health of the Exercise”. As might be expected this was well attended and it was good to hear discussion on topics which have been well-aired in the Ringing World such as “Is ringing a sport?; Recruitment and Retention; Is the CCCBR effective in achieving the aspirations of ringers?; Are its aims and objectives suitable for today’s ringers?”. Naturally no conclusions could be drawn from such a meeting, but here was certainly food for thought. After this there was time to walk to the Cathedral for the usual ringers’ Songs of Praise service.

Sunday evening saw the Reception and Dinner at which the guests were the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth and the Lord Bishop of Portsmouth. This extremely pleasant annual event is another occasion for lots of chat and discussion with other members who included a large contingent from overseas who are beginning to make their presence felt at Council meetings.

The main business of the weekend took place on Monday 30th May with the opening of the 3rd session of the 42nd Council (119th Annual Meeting) at 9.30am.

The form of the meeting is much the same as with any Association/Guild - the president’s welcome to new members, apologies for absence, loss of members through death, minutes and matters arising etc. A popular item was the election of John Barnes as a Life Member.

There were several motions to be debated: the first was a tidying up exercise amending Council following the winding-up of The Ringing Foundation Ltd which was carried; secondly was a motion to avoid time-consuming elections to committees by introducing advance nominations and removing a maximum size for committees. This was carried and should speed proceedings at future meetings. Thirdly and most interesting was a proposal that the Council should make a declaration to clarify its relationship with ringers, churches and with other ringing service providers. This was proposed by John Harrison (ODG) and Ruth Marshall (Scottish Assn) and carried with few amendments. Furthermore it was recommended and approved that the Council should appoint a working group to undertake a detailed review of its rules and activities, and to make recommendations for modernisation reporting back to the 2017 Council meeting. This was approved and steps are already underway to recruit to this working group. The remit is vast and it will be interesting to hear what they come up with. Exciting times could be ahead!

After this, a proposal to allow a wider range of possible lengths for peals of Doubles, Minor & Triples seemed a bit mundane but one can see the reason behind it. All the Methods Committee proposals were carried.

We then broke for lunch at 12.30 and reconvened at 1.45 with the AGM of The Ringing World.

2014 was all doom and gloom and a story of continued losses. 2015 on the other hand, thanks to a fairly strict cost cutting regime, and particularly due to an increase in donations by the ringing community of 90%, the operation ceased to be loss-making and generated a substantial surplus. It is the director’s intention to continue to look for savings wherever possible, but the response by ringers for assistance and from the survey carried out during the year has encouraged them to stabilise and continue the paper on a weekly basis and to invest in its future. The meeting congratulated the directors on their efforts and wished them well in the year to come.

After a short tea break it was back to the work of the Council. This last section is to receive, discuss and adopt the reports of the various committees and elect members to fill any vacancies. This takes an inordinate amount of time which may be slightly shortened by the motion approved earlier in the day. There are 16 committees, several of which appear to overlap, and whilst most provide a useful service to ringers throughout the Exercise, some have only limited appeal. The one interesting moment came with the report of the Ringing Trends committee, whose chairman had resigned during 2015 as a result comments about her committee and the way she managed it. The report was duly presented and adopted, whereupon all the members of the committee resigned with immediate effect. With no-one willing or able to be elected to the committee, there is now a committee with no members.

There were finally reports from the Stewards of the Carter Ringing Machine, the Rolls of Honour, and the Dove Database. It was also pointed out that the Central Council Rescue Fund for Redundant Bells had not submitted accounts to the Charities Commission for several years and the trustees were charged with rectifying this.

The 2017 meeting will be in Edinburgh and 2018 in Lancaster.

The chairman thanked everyone for attending and dealing with business in a civilised manner.

The meeting closed at app 5.20pm.

This was my third and last Central Council Meeting. It has been an honour to represent the Suffolk Guild and hopefully gone some way to completing my ringing education.

Peter Harper

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