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Thread: New proposed GAGB constitution

  1. #1
    paul.blitz Guest

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    Hey, let's get ahead of ourselves.... here, a few days early, is the NEW version of the proposed GAGB constitution!

    It is heavily based on the Charity Commission's Model Constitution, but with all the bits that we talked about last time around. Ok, "aims" are now called "objects" and things like that, but the meat is still in there.

    If there are no major issues, then may I suggest we start the vote NEXT MONDAY EVENING (9th Feb) and run it until approx 9pm on MONDAY 16th FEB?

    As before, I will make sure that anyone who is a member before now is entitled to vote.


    Paul Blitz
    GAGB Committee

  2. #2
    Omally Guest

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    Looks OK to me... is that going to be enough voting time? I should think so, given the time of year, but you never know who'll miss out.

  3. #3
    paul.blitz Guest

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    Originally posted by Omally@Feb 2 2004, 10:55 PM
    Looks OK to me... is that going to be enough voting time? I should think so, given the time of year, but you never know who'll miss out.
    True... but that's ALWAYS gonna be a problem. (If anyone DOES have a problem, please tell us)

    By the way, in the new version of the constitution, there is a paragraph to do with age for membership: the model constitution said 18 (for legal reasons, for a charity). I changed that to 12: don't worry about that figure... it WILL be discussed when we talk about membership etc, and CAN be changed, but 12 seemed a good compromise for now.

    Other than that, the constitution says little about membership: that will (eventually) end up in the SO's... but after all the discussion.

    (Until then, we'll be "open"...ie if you are signed up *before* we start discussion, you get to vote. I don't think the odd vote either way is likely to make much difference.)


    Paul

  4. #4
    MCL Guest

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    OK, looks pretty good to me, but there are one or two glitches that could bear a second look:

    - Section B: should read "constituted by clauses G and P..."

    - Section C: Liaising not liasing .

    - Section C: "To keep membership of GAGB free of charge." Full stop. "for members" is redundant.

    - Section G(2): "..shall be made during a special meeting.." not "at a special meeting" since at implies location and the meetings are online and therefore locationless...

    - Section G(6): This may require clarification, in that many people might infer from it that, say, a 14 year old could not stand for election to the committee, whereas in fact no such limitation applies.

    - Section H(1): I guess the "reason of mental disorder" disqualifies all of us lot then!

    - Section J(2): Reference to "any other business" could be viewed as ambiguous, since one item on many agendas is "Any Other Business" and that always comes at the end! Better to word it something like "..chairman of the meeting before the first agenda item".

    - Section I(2), J(2) and J(5): "..of meetings" or "..during meetings" instead of "..at meetings". Locationless again, you see?

    - Section L(3): I think we should consider the juxtaposition of the November elections and the January accounts. I would prefer to see the annual accounts just before the elections so "if the last lot screwed it up, they face the music in the subsequent elections." I am not suggesting for one minute that anyone currently elected would engage in anything improper, but in the future it might be a different story. It seems daft to me that the task of compiling the last year's accounts should fall to a brand new committee each year. The "accounting" of a year should be just that ie the committee are giving us an account of their time in office, upon which they may be judged. I say make the accounts end on October 31st. Elections 2 weeks later. New accounts, new committee. Simple huh?

    - Section M(6): We need to discuss this because in order to know if a vote is valid there needs to be a person responsible for declaring an official membership number at each election. How this number is arrived at really needs to be pinned down. Over time, lots of apparent members are going to build up in the database, many of whom may no longer be members either because they are no longer interested in caching and have just forgotten to cancel their membership, or indeed may have died and no-one thinks to contact GAGB to let us know. In years to come I can envisage a scenario where there may be say 100 voters yet the database may consist of over 1000 apparently open memberships. This would mean that no vote would ever be valid any more, including one that tried to remove this problem from the constitution!

    - Section N(2): Please define a "4 month rule". I'm sure it is a good one, but please tell us what it is.


    There remains the problem of the absent chairman. Since the constitution dictates that the EC must comprise a chairman plus others, the post of chairman is not optional. Once might argue that the EC is unconstitutional without it, even with clause P included. Since the post of chairman is so explicitly ordained in the constitution, there needs to be a special clause to deal with replacing ones that resign/die/are expelled.

    Thats it as far as I can see. Now, did anyone murmur something about "he should get out more..." :P

  5. #5

    Join Date
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    Sorry to nit pick Paul, but section I (2) needs a slight change. Currently it reads "professional capacity on behalf of the charity", charity needs changing to organisation or association. Dave
    My post is my personal opinion and as such you do not have my permission to quote me outside of these forums!

    Dave
    Brenin Tegeingl
    Formerly known as Mancunian Pyrocacher on GC

  6. #6
    paul.blitz Guest

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    - Section B: should read "constituted by clauses G and P..."
    yes, agree

    - Section C: Liaising not liasing .
    yes, so it is!!!!

    - Section C: "To keep membership of GAGB free of charge." Full stop. "for members" is redundant.
    If were to introduce "commercial associate membership" then maybe we would want to charge them.... heck, we can sort THAT out when we debate membership, so, yes, lets go with your suggestion!

    - Section G(2): "..shall be made during a special meeting.." not "at a special meeting" since at implies location and the meetings are online and therefore locationless...
    Picky, but you are correct....


    - Section G(6): This may require clarification, in that many people might infer from it that, say, a 14 year old could not stand for election to the committee, whereas in fact no such limitation applies.
    No, there IS a limitation. All current committee are over 18.

    The original CC constitution had membership and exec membership both at 18 (for good legal reasons).

    Whilst I dropped membership to 12 (and have already indicated that this needs to be discussed by the membership), my meaning here was that any committee member MUST BE 18... if exec members are to negotiate etc, then they need to be of legal age.

    - Section H(1): I guess the "reason of mental disorder" disqualifies all of us lot then!
    damn, better call a new committee election right away then!


    - Section J(2): Reference to "any other business" could be viewed as ambiguous, since one item on many agendas is "Any Other Business" and that always comes at the end! Better to word it something like "..chairman of the meeting before the first agenda item".
    That comes straight from the CC model constitution: if they are happy with it, then I see no reason to change it. I don't find it confusing. :-)

    - Section I(2), J(2) and J(5): "..of meetings" or "..during meetings" instead of "..at meetings". Locationless again, you see?
    yep, fair comments, done!


    - Section L(3): I think we should consider the juxtaposition of the November elections and the January accounts.
    Hmmm... VERY valid & important point.... let me think on it, but will probably do something along the lines you suggest.


    - Section M(6): We need to discuss this because in order to know if a vote is valid there needs to be a person responsible for declaring an official membership number at each election. How this number is arrived at really needs to be pinned down.
    That should be the duty of the returning officer, and should be included in the SO's. Thanks for highlighting that one.

    Over time, lots of apparent members are going to build up in the database.....
    This is one of the things that MUST be addressed in the membership discussions coming up. In fact, the Data Protection Act REQUIRES the database be kkept up to date.

    <shooting from the hip>
    One thought I already had was to require members (at least the VOTING members) to "rejoin" every year, just like in any other "club"... that WOULD keep the database up-to date
    </shooting from the hip>

    - Section N(2): Please define a "4 month rule". I&#39;m sure it is a good one, but please tell us what it is.
    To be defined in the SO&#39;s&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33; :P

    There remains the problem of the absent chairman.
    This constitution is really no different from the CC one in that... we can coopt etc Given that we are about to run an election for chair; this occurs in other organisations & is manged withing the constitution, I see no real problem.

    Thats it as far as I can see. Now, did anyone murmur something about "he should get out more..." :P
    You said it, not me&#33;&#33;&#33;


    Many thanks for that feedback&#33;


    paul

  7. #7
    BugznElm&#39;r Guest

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    Hi Paul&#33;

    Good work there ... on the whole seems excellent. However, I feel the need to bring up the issue of financing.

    According to the proposed guidelines, committee members are responsible for covering their own expenses ... travel, fuel, food and so on. Also, they are responsible for other GAGB running costs ... currently, I&#39;m not sure what these would be but I&#39;d hazard a guess of website, telephone and stationary. I can see how this is currently needed as the GAGB is, I would imagine, quite brassic&#33;

    However, a huge part of me is uncomfortable with this for a few reasons that I&#39;ll try to get across ...

    1 - Elections are in Nov and accounts come out at the end of Dec ... prospective candidates aren&#39;t going to know the cost that they are going to have to shoulder to keep the GAGB running if they get elected. Would that be 10, 100, 500 or 1000 a year? Currently, I guess that the costs are low, however, as the GAGB grows, so the costs are likely to grow.

    2 - Is the prospect of shouldering increasing costs going to a) stifle potentially good committee members and B) possibly cause committee members to withdraw. Again, I&#39;m not seeing this as a problem in the short term but more in the intermediate term.

    3 - Is it realistic for the association to be funded by the committee? Are we really just going too far of the free lunch thing here for members (because, at the end of the day, the if members aren&#39;t picking up the cheque, the committee memebers are :P )? I&#39;m not advocating a fully paid for membership but the more I look at the objects of the association, the more I feel that it is soon going to need a cash injection. There is only two places that this will come from - Geocachers and donations. Wanting to appear "free" and "non-commercial" is not a bad thing but just look at GC.com ... ads, trinkets, affiliate programs. It would be a terrible shame if opening opportunities with landowners or promotion events were stifled simple because at the early stages there is a instilled a "phobia" to having a revenue stream.

  8. #8
    paul.blitz Guest

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    Originally posted by Mancunian@Feb 3 2004, 10:19 AM
    Sorry to nit pick Paul, but section I (2) needs a slight change. Currently it reads "professional capacity on behalf of the charity", charity needs changing to organisation or association. Dave
    well spotted, thanks for the nit-picking&#33;

    paul

  9. #9
    paul.blitz Guest

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    Good work there ...
    thanks...

    However, I feel the need to bring up the issue of financing.
    please do... I&#39;ll try & give a "simple" answer.... but please remember that a constitution is NOT set in stone. It is QUITE possible to change it in the future, as needs change.

    The "keep membership free" and "non-commercial" are "objects", or "aims" if you prefer that word. Often "real life" does get in the way of our desires.... doesn&#39;t stop us stating our desires though. With our current "apparent needs" we believe that we can "keep it free" for at least the near future. I can&#39;t predict the more distant future any more than you though...

    ***Let me make it clear here & now: I am ###NOT### using this as a way of suggesting GAGB be commercial or should charge a membership***

    According to the proposed guidelines
    would you mind if we replace that word "guidelines" there with the word "constitution" please. Guidelines are just that: a constitution is FAR more "rigid".

    committee members are responsible for covering their own expenses ... travel, fuel, food and so on. Also, they are responsible for other GAGB running costs ... currently, I&#39;m not sure what these would be but I&#39;d hazard a guess of website, telephone and stationary. I can see how this is currently needed as the GAGB is, I would imagine, quite brassic&#33;
    Just because a committee member is "responsible for" doesn&#39;t mean it actually has to come out of their own pocket. Already there are 2 people who have "schemes" for providing GAGB with some money to cover some of the obvious costs of web-hosting etc.

    1 - Elections are in Nov and accounts come out at the end of Dec (etc)...
    ... already spotted by MCL (although always good to see someone else with their brain working&#33;&#33;&#33. I agree 100%, and that will need to be addressed before we vote on the constitution. I suspect MCL&#39;s idea of accounts to be "published" at end october would seem reasonable... which probably means we run the "accounting year" from Oct to Sept.

    Currently, I guess that the costs are low, however, as the GAGB grows, so the costs are likely to grow.
    There are 2 ways to approach this one (and we&#39;re rapidly getting away from the constitution on this&#33;&#33;&#33... one is to accept that we WILL need to "generate funds".... the other is to "cut your cloth to suit what you have". Lets not worry about this JUST yet, please&#33;

    2 - Is the prospect of shouldering increasing costs going to a) stifle potentially good committee members and B) possibly cause committee members to withdraw. Again, I&#39;m not seeing this as a problem in the short term but more in the intermediate term.
    Again, a very fair comment, but not really relevant here (yet&#33. It *is* something that will need addressing. you go on to say...

    3 - Is it realistic for the association to be funded by the committee? (much deleted)
    I think we will see certain "donations" coming our way, by willing cachers who do things to raise some funds (O&#39;mally selling ammo boxes, also Cat has indicated a possible donation from his next charity foxhunt or similar).

    It IS something that we will need to watch...

    I agree with a lot of what you have said, but this current discussion is about the constitution. In the future, we CAN change it...(we = 2/3 of membership voting)


    (Paul&#39;s personal thoughts follow...)
    Keeping GAGB "free to members" is much a "frame of mind". If the decision were taken to go the other way, and charge membership fees, have adverts on the website, directly sell GAGB merchandise, then we would (possibly) have lots of money, which would end up being spent almost just for the sake of it. Such an attitude would greatly, maybe COMPLETELY, change the "mindset" of those in GAGB.

    Yes, things cost, but there are many things you can do to minimise the costs... and if the money is very restricted, then you WILL watch what is spent.

    Geocaching will never be "free". I buy maps. I buy welly boots. I buy bits to go into caches. Heck, I buy caches too&#33; I buy batteries (even rechargables need initially buying & then replacing). I need food & drink. Luckily, at the moment, my petrol is "free".

    But there IS a difference between THAT and having to pay 50p for each cache page I want to look at. Or even paying a 30 membership fee.
    (end of my thoughts)


    The whole issue of "paying the running costs" is, whilst an important topic in its own right, it is at the moment, getting rather away from the issue in hand.... agreeing on a constitution&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33;


    Paul

  10. #10
    paul.blitz Guest

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    OK, new updated version of the constitution is online (same place as before, same name):

    - various typos / cockups fixed in paras B, C, G2, I2, J2, J5
    - accounting year ends 30th Sept (it was NEARLY 31st Sept&#33;&#33;&#33 in para L3
    - accounts to be submitted to membership by end of October in para L2


    Paul

  11. #11
    BugznElm&#39;r Guest

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    Thanks for clarifying Paul.

    I wasn&#39;t meaning that any change was needed to the constitution as it stood for now but wondering if there had been some planning for the future - and I see that there has been planning&#33;

    Well done&#33;

  12. #12
    Teasel Guest

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    I think M6...
    6. A vote will only be deemed valid if at least one tenth of the ?voting members?, or 10 members of the GAGB, whichever is the greater, cast a vote.
    ...should be removed. Alternatively, we could change the word "greater" to "smaller" (just in case membership should ever fall beneath 100 members).

    There are currently 394 accounts registered on the GAGB forums. Even after removing admin and sockpuppet accounts, that would mean that the recent 32:2 acceptance of the GAGB guidelines (which I regard as a resounding endorsement&#33 would have been declared invalid.

  13. #13
    MCL Guest

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    Originally posted by paul.blitz@Feb 3 2004, 09:14 PM
    No, there IS a limitation. All current committee are over 18.

    The original CC constitution had membership and exec membership both at 18 (for good legal reasons).

    Whilst I dropped membership to 12 (and have already indicated that this needs to be discussed by the membership), my meaning here was that any committee member MUST BE 18... if exec members are to negotiate etc, then they need to be of legal age.
    Ah. I think, read literally, there isn&#39;t, so perhaps one should be put in.

    My reasoning runs thus:

    The constitution says that "Nobody shall be appointed ...who is under age 18...". The key here is the word appointed. If you think about it, committee members are only appointed by co-option. Most committee members are elected.

    I can find nowhere in the text that says no-one can stand for election unless they are 18. Therefore, there is no limit on election to committee, apart from the obvious one of minimum age for membership.

    All that the current text says is that the committee cannot co-opt anyone under 18.


    Now I do actually think that is fair. To place a limit on co-option is fine by me, since for co-option purposes the whole membership is not consulted. However - and this goes back to our old debate about democracy and the will of the membership - if the membership decide that they want to elect a 14 year old one day, then I think they should be free to do so. The election process itself is a good enough regulator without having an extra one built into the constitution. I say if a 14 year old has the ability to get enough people to vote him or her into office then I see no reason why we "constitution-writers" should gainsay their judgement. It goes against all the tenets of democracy that I hold dear.

    Trust the electorate to decide each case on its merits.


    Having said all that, if you still want a limit placed on standing for election, then you must realise that as it is currently written, there is no limit. So please write one in.

    I just knew that people would get confused by that clause. Even the writers&#33;


    There is a further alarm bell that has just rung in my head. Nowhere does it say that a committee member has to be a member of the organisation&#33; So in fact, even the minimum membership age does not preclude someone younger from standing for election as the text current reads. I suspect the reason for this is that for the CC version, they don&#39;t envisage a membership organisation for their charities. Most small charities don&#39;t have members, just people who turn up and help out. In fact, normally the hardest bit is getting anyone to turn up for the AGM and vote, let alone stand for committee...

    Anyway, this whole mess needs to be cleaned up one way or the other.

  14. #14
    Teasel Guest

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    Nowhere does it say that a committee member has to be a member of the organisation&#33;
    Clause G1 states: "The Executive Committee shall consist of not more than 7 members being"
    So the committee is made up from members. (We should probably insert a &#39;GAGB&#39; in there if it makes it clearer.) Any age rules that apply to membership therefore automatically apply to committee members also. Personally, I believe we need some sort of age restriction on membership (otherwise my 16mth old son could join up and vote&#33.

    So, two questions remain:

    - What age we should allow people to participate in the gagb democracy? (birth if you wish, but I&#39;d argue for somewhere in the teens)

    - Is there any reason we should have a higher age limit for election to the committee? If there are legal reasons, then the decision is made for us, but otherwise it is for us to decide.

    FWIW, my personal opinion is that I&#39;d be happy for a 13 year old to be allowed to have a say in the running of their sport, and to be voting members of the GAGB. However, I&#39;d be much less happy for that child to take time off school to negotiate land access agreements on our behalf with their County Council. So much less happy, indeed, that I&#39;d be willing to forgoe a little "democracy" and ban it under the constitution. In an online environment, the subject of age rarely comes up. I don&#39;t think it&#39;s particularly unlikely that a mature 13 year old could win a seat on the committee without anyone suspecting how old they were. But should that person present himself in person to a landowner, there&#39;s a good chance they&#39;d not be listened to, no matter how good their rhetoric.

  15. #15
    paul.blitz Guest

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    The constitution says that "Nobody shall be appointed ...who is under age 18...". The key here is the word appointed. If you think about it, committee members are only appointed by co-option. Most committee members are elected.
    Bearing in mind that the constitution comes from CC model...

    I would argue, quite simply, that an election is a mechanism via which the membership appoints exec committee members.

    If we accept that, then your next comment:

    I can find nowhere in the text that says no-one can stand for election unless they are 18. Therefore, there is no limit on election to committee, apart from the obvious one of minimum age for membership.
    is covered

    However - and this goes back to our old debate about democracy and the will of the membership - if the membership decide that they want to elect a 14 year old one day, then I think they should be free to do so.

    As I&#39;ve said before, we want to discuss all aspects of membership after the constitution / SOs are accepted & a chair elected... this discussion needs to happen there, and not here.

    But, from a purely LEGAL perspective, I would be urging members to allow only 18 year olds to the committee. We are delegating the running of our organisation to the committee, and that implies certain legal obligations (eg we want these people to go & talk to outside organisations).... only an 18 year old plus has the "legal status".


    If it helps, I&#39;ll rweword the relavant bit to make things 110% clear.

    I just knew that people would get confused by that clause. Even the writers&#33;
    to be honest, you&#39;ll find that maybe 90% of people get confused by something in a constitution&#33;&#33;&#33;


    There is a further alarm bell that has just rung in my head. Nowhere does it say that a committee member has to be a member of the organisation&#33;
    Oh for heaven&#39;s sake&#33;

    It doesn&#39;t say that in the CC one either, but I think you&#39;d find, in law, that an exec commitee member MUST be a member of the organisation.


    ....I suspect the reason for this is that for the CC version, they don&#39;t envisage a membership organisation for their charities. Most small charities don&#39;t have members, just people who turn up and help out.
    The CC model constitution states that members must be 18, as well as exec.

    And no, the huge majority of charities DO have members.... more so now than historically, as charities will need to have suitable insurance to cover "their members".... if they ain&#39;t members, then they don&#39;t get cover. At WHR, we have a rule that sub-18, and non-members are NOT ALLOWED onsite unless accompanied by a member.


    If there is going to be an issue with the age restrictions, then IN THE SHORT TERM until we discuss it further, in keeping with the CC model constiturion, I&#39;ll set the membership age to 18.



    Paul

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