Wednesday 22nd May 2024

Annual Meeting of the CCCBR, Bearsted
Monday, Monday 26th May 2014

This year’s CC meeting was hosted by the Kent CACR held at Bearsted nr Maidstone. The headquarters hotel was the Marriott Tudor Park Hotel where a helpdesk was manned by KCACR members each day of the bank holiday weekend. A varied programme had been arranged to suit ringers & non-ringers alike, including ringing tours, a visit to the RHDR, and a trip to France on the Tuesday to experience carillons and lunch!

Jane and I went to Kent on Saturday afternoon, and after checking in spent an enjoyable evening meeting friends old and new.

After a leisurely start on Sunday, there was the new members welcome at Headcorn village hall and a buffet lunch during which the work of the Council was briefly explained by the President, Kate Flavell. There was then the opportunity to meet committee chairmen and find out more about their work. There is no doubt that some of the committees do excellent work and make useful contributions to ringers everywhere (publications, redundant bells, towers & belfries, tower stewardship, bell restoration, education, public relations, ringing centres) whilst others are rather specialist in nature (peal records, compositions, methods, library, biographies, ICT) and some appear rather abstract (ringing trends). The administrative committee consists of chairmen of each of the other committees plus CC officers. I found that whilst looking for a certain number of new members for the various committees, most were content to re-elect those members whose term had come to an end. New members were really required if they had specific skills which the committees required. Whilst I was interested in committee work, I did not seem to have the skills they were looking for and so decided not to put my name forward this year.

This was followed by the AGM of The Ringing Foundation Ltd. Right from the start the directors and trustees seemed to be on the back foot following the letter from Steve Coleman in the Ringing World, as prior to the meeting they issued a paper refuting his comments. Also it was announced that Tim Davis had decided not to remain as a trustee following his recent decision to stand down as company secretary. At the start of his address, the chairman Brian Meads, declared his intention to stand down during the course of the year. He said the RF had achieved one of the aims in its business plan with the development of ITTS which had been his main concern, and he felt that a new chairman was now required to carry forward other items in the plan. He invited comments from the floor, which whilst supportive of ITTS and ART, were sceptical about the future of the RF.

The new company secretary, Bob Hancock, ran through the accounts and whilst these were accepted, there was a sceptical tone to comments from the floor and it appears that the 2014 budget is very much a wish list rather than based on evidence. After that the rest of the meeting was straightforward.

The meeting closed at 4pm to allow time for ringing at Headcorn prior to the CC “Songs of Praise” service.

In the evening the reception and dinner for CC members took place at the HQ hotel at Bearsted and was a very enjoyable occasion.

The main business of the council meeting took place on Monday 26th May at the HQ hotel. After registration of members the meeting opened with a welcome from the President, Kate Flavell who then competently oversaw a very long agenda.

The Guild of St Agatha was accepted for affiliation to the Council with Anne Bray representing the Guild.

47 new members were welcomed and then we had the usual AGM formalities (apologies, minutes, matters arising etc).

2 life members were elected – Alan Frost and David Kelly (Keltek Trust).

Election of Officers, notably Chris Mew was elected President for the next three years, replacing Kate Flavell whose term has ended.

Election of additional members, all retiring members were re-elected.

Motions: mostly admin, but a few items of wider interest –

  1. Updating the terms of reference of the education committee to recognize best practice and changes in media to disseminate information.
  2. Appointing a Public Relations Officer as a member of the Council to be the main point of contact with outside media, associations and ringers.
  3. Non-method blocks to be recognised (a non-method is a block of changes that does not constitute a plain course of a method).

Change Ringing for the Future was a presentation by Elva Ainsworth chairman of the Ringing Trends committee and Chris Mew. It may be that as it was nearly lunch time my concentration was not what it should have been, but I felt this was well-meaning but a lot of public relations waffle which did not seem to be fulfilling its task of how to bring the Central Council to the Ringers.

We then broke for lunch!

The afternoon session began at 1.45 with the AGM of The Ringing World. The RW is still losing money and circulation (3000). However it does support the Young Ringers Competition (perhaps young ringers could support the RW with subscriptions as Christmas/birthday presents) and the biennial Roadshow. Both these events are almost self-financing with little or no cost to the RW.

They have various cost-saving proposals including admin savings by shortening office hours and there are plans to develop Bellboard in the pipeline. There will be a management review and a new business plan later this year re the future shape of the RW with widespread consultation, although one cannot but wonder why this hasn’t been ongoing anyway, rather than wait until crisis threatens.

The bulk of the resumed CC AGM was taken up with the acceptance of reports from each of the chairmen and seconders of the 16 committees and the proposing and seconding for the re-election or election of members to fill the various vacances (George Salter was elected to the compositions committee). Time consuming!

By the time we got round to the reports and election of the Stewards of the Carter Ringing Machine, Rolls of Honour & the Dove Database, and the CC Rescue Fund for Redundant Bells, people were visibly flagging.

Then suddenly, the last items:
Next meetings:

2015 Beverley & District Hull
2016 Winchester & Portsmouth  
2017 Scotland  

AOB The new President warmly thanked Kate Flavell for her hard work over the past three years.

The meeting was formally closed at 5.40pm and the outgoing President handed the Badge of Office to her successor.

Although this was my 1st CC meeting, I was fairly well aware of how it works and found it an interesting and enjoyable experience overall. If a way can be found to simplify the acceptance of committee reports and the election process for membership of those committees, the business meeting might not be such an endurance test.

Peter Harper