The 2012 Annual
Conference & AGM
For a full summary
of the conference, its programme, the dial tour, what delegates thought and
many images taken at it go to: www.bit.ly/bss2012
The 2012 Discussion Forum
At the 2012 Conference a part of the programme had been set aside for a discussion about the Society's future. Late in 2011 the entire membership of the Society was circulated with a questionnaire. A document summarising the responses to this had been prepared by the Council and was included in the delegate wallets at the conference. This was to form the basis for the discussion forum. That document turned out to be faulted.
Sadly there was insufficient time for many delegates to read the document before the discussion took place but those that did read it expressed considerable alarm at the way that the conclusions reached in the document did not accord in any way with the declared counts of the survey! The Conference Organiser was approached privately by several delegates to express their concern before the discussion commenced and a summary document of their concerns was prepared for delegates just before the discussion started [See "Delegates' Concerns" and the other links below]. Later and after the meeting, former charity trustee Graham Aldred, kindly prepared his own detailed analysis of the available survey results. His conclusions agree with the points raised by delegates before the meeting and fundamentally differ from those of the Council. In short a majority of the membership is entirely happy with the present format of the Society and its management in recent times and does not see the need for significant change. Yet the Council Document attempted to suggest something quite different!. What was going on? Read the documents for yourself here.
Questionnaire | Council's
(Incorrect) Analysis of Results | Delegates'
Concerns | Independent
Analysis of Results | BSS
website popularity |
As indicated in the above documents, delegates to the conference quickly
pointed out that many of the conclusions drawn by the Council from the
responses received were actually quite WRONG and
that the Council's Summary
Document is therefore and
at best, confusing. In particular the numbers given in the Council's
Summary Document do not
accord with the conclusions. Faced with this extraordinary position an
independent analysis was later performed by Graham Aldred and was sent to
the entire Council - see links above. Additionally, the 2012 Conference
Organiser wrote an Open Letter to
the Chairman on this point and on the extraordinary lengths that the
trustees were going to to prevent the membership from finding out that their
conclusions were false. See the links to all of this above.
- There is NO widespread call for change from members.
- There is NO greater emphasis on change from younger members than older ones.
- There is NOTHING striking about member's views of the website - It is in fact the most accessed and popular of all sundial related web sites on the Internet. See 'BSS website popularity' link here or above.
- 83% of members do NOT want a change to the events programme.
- 75% of members are NOT critical of Society's management up to 2011
- Opinion on society communication is NOT split down the middle - two thirds are satisfied with the present approach.
"In view of these and other flaws members cannot be confident that this analysis has been conducted impartially.
There should be full visibility of the actual returns (made anonymous) so that the quality of the published interpretation can be reviewed by an independent sub committee. The returns have been very poor; only 1 in 6 members have replied consequently the published survey results cannot reliably be used to justify radical changes to the direction of the Society.."
After considering this, a Council response to the membership was included
with the June 2012 Bulletin.
It does not however,
specifically answer any of
the above points but it does withdraw from the views expressed in the
summary document and concentrates upon the
Council's new realisation that it is now only necessary to improve the web
site. Yet, despite this expression of intent, until the beginning of
2013, the website had not been maintained or regularly updated since early
2012. Instead a similar web site has been designed...
The 2012 Conference Organiser welcomes for publication here any further reports of comments either made at the discussion forum or after learning of the revisions mentioned above.. So far we have received the following after the Council's response::
*** From a BSS Member in late 2012: "A victory for common sense"***
The Annual General Meeting of the Society was
held during the Conference. The following persons, having agreed to serve,
were duly elected:
Chairman - Frank King
The Independent Examiner of the society's accounts (IEL)
After many years service as a
trustee, the Bulletin Editor John Davis did not offer himself for
re-election at the AGM but he will continue to edit the Bulletin as a
A retrospective commentary on the post AGM discussion
After the AGM was concluded there was an opportunity for some discussion. One member who hadn't attended the 2011 AGM, complained that there was no delegate copy of the latest Society accounts in the Conference wallets. The Chairman explained that at last year's AGM (2011) it had been agreed unanimously by the members present (and later properly agreed and implemented as policy by the Council) that, for cost reasons, the full (12 page) accounts need not be provided to delegates in the Conference wallets because they had been properly approved, were available on display to all delegates throughout the meeting and would in any case be published to all members of the society in a subsequent Bulletin. A supplementary suggestion that if cost was the issue then the complimentary pens in the wallets could be abandoned, was not pursued. Discussion over lunch suggested a general agreement that the pens are useful for over a year whereas separate printed delegate copies of the accounts would only go to delegates (that is only to some 20% of the society membership) and in any case several such copies are always displayed at each meeting for all present to study and even copy if desired. Perhaps as a result of this, no Cheltenham delegates took advantage of the free accounts-copying facility that had been established by the conference organiser. In a further intervention during the discussion the member pointed out that many charities, for example the Antiquarian Horological Society and the North American Sundial Society publish draft accounts for all members to see in the journal before their respective AGMs and subsequent ratification by members. The Bulletin Editor thought that this was potentially feasible though it emerged in later discussion that in BSS's case there would only be a few weeks between the end of the Financial Year and the 17th February printing deadline for the March Bulletin. Afterwards some members agreed that such a requirement, at a time when very many charities are also at their year end, may well increase the cost of the necessary independent examination and place a burden on the Treasurer.
As in previous years, the 2012 conference organiser welcomes for publication here any further input or reports of comments made at or after the post-AGM discussion.
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