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A number of questions have been raised both before and after the meeting. The following Q&A is intended to respond to those issues.
Given that all the meetings have been held in the Midlands area, has this not given a rather Midlands slant to the debate? Why were all the meetings in the Midlands?
The Midlands were chosen, as it is the centre of the country. Interest had been expressed in the North East, on the South Coast and in the North West. No one area was going to be ‘right’ but it did appear that there was greater positive interest north of London. It is possible that MKF members have had more input than others but as can be seen from the attendance list at this meeting and the first, Brighton were as well represented as MKF, with NEKF following fairly close behind. It should be remembered that many MKF members are also members of other clubs.
Why was a vote held only amongst those present? Should the vote take place in the heart of the Brighton or Avon areas the vote might potentially be different. Why was no other method of voting chosen? Surely those who voted were not representative?
It seemed to me that it was only right that those who had been able to attend, many to all three meetings, had earned the right to take that first step, if that is what they wished to do. The constitution ensures that clubs will have a chance to decide both whether they wish to join and indeed whether BKFA continues, as if there is insufficient interest it will not be able to form a committee. I think it is possible that the view would have been different in other areas of the country, but as many who have contributed to developments thus far have come from the Midlands or the North, to move to a southern location and then achieve possibly a lower turnout and not to reflect their wishes, would have seemed rather unfair.
A postal vote could have been organised but it would have raised a number of issues. I do not have a complete list of all clubs. Would it be one vote per club? – rather unfair on larger clubs such as NKG, NEKF, MKF and WHKF for example. Would we invite clubs who had had limited involvement in the debate to vote? It would have been slow – many clubs would feel unable to vote without knowing what it was going to cost them, what the benefits might be and without being able to get agreements from their membership. This way, the BKFA exists and it is now up to clubs to consider a much clearer proposal in a sensible timescale.
Were those who voted representative? I suspect not, as they travelled to the meetings whilst others chose not to. This in itself implies a greater level of interest. Would it be right at this stage to have the interest and even enthusiasm of some dominated by the apathy or antipathy of others?
Why was there no facility for a proxy vote to enable the people who cannot attend to express their opinion?
The same issues arise as with a postal vote. If the vote was on the basis of membership (the union ‘block’ vote), it is possible that KSGB would have exercised proxies one way whilst MKF exercised them the other, on behalf of the same person. If they had sought the views of their membership I believe they would have received a poor response and it would have taken a long time.
How is this being publicised? Rec.Kites is not very well read - and the last few notices have gone out quite late anyway.
This has been a problem. Currently, as with everyone organising a kite club, this is done between the ‘day-job’. That has led to delays. I hope that this communication will be seen as rather more prompt. Various media have been used – mail, email, rec.kites, the website and my thanks to KSGB for their assistance through The Kiteflier. Going forward, with more people involved I hope that we can address some of these issues. As a federation of clubs, all communication will be with them, for them to pass on to their members. I am however hopeful that Jon and Gill will be able to let us have some regular space in The Kiteflier. I am also indebted to Julie White for her time in putting material on the website.
Why bother? Why cannot individual kitefliers determine the future? Is an organisation not a contradiction to a pastime that is dedicated to ‘chilling out’?
I hope that the details in Appendix C give some suggestions on these very valid points.
Is it not just another national body?
No, I don’t think so. Each of the present national organisations covers a specific area of kiteflying. The exception in my mind is KSGB who come closest to representing all kitefliers. They however would not claim to be representative to the extent that their members can dictate policy to them in the way that the Council is expected to work in the BKFA.
Can we allow time for discussion in clubs and ensure that future votes are not limited to those present?
The first Council meeting is planned for Sunday 17th October 2004. Clubs have between now and then to consider their positions, although an indication as to whether they will attend is requested earlier so that location can be decided on. The voting at the Council meeting will be in line with the constitution, with each club having votes proportional to its size. I believe the fairest way to deal with this is on this occasion only to allow proxy votes on the day but for the voting to be identified to each club. If at the end they decide not to join, we will re-count the votes for those that decide they want to be involved: it seems unreasonable to me that provided there are at least eight clubs that wish to join (the number required in order to form a committee), others could deny them the opportunity.
Surely this is a way for interfering busybodies in government and authority such as HSE and CAA to get at us? We should be making their lives harder, not easier. What is wrong with the status quo?
It is certainly one view, but not one I share. What is wrong with the status quo? Nothing. But I believe I am not alone in believing that unless we do something, the status quo will change, and probably for the worse.
How are we funding the steering group and the work so far?
Those that have attended have generously funded their own costs. As the person that decided I wasn’t prepared to sit on the fence any longer, I have funded the printing and postage costs, some of the meeting costs (others have been contributed to by those who came along) and the costs of the website. Julie White has kindly donated her time to run the website whilst Lawrence Rayment kindly produced the first draft constitution and continues to provide free legal advice.
What does the money buy? Won’t membership cards and printing rapidly soak up the small amounts being talked of from clubs?
The money buys the running costs of the BKFA. I believe that projects such as kite safety leaflets, display material for events etc, will be subject to separate fundraising. As this is an association of clubs, there will be no membership cards and costs should be low. The principal cost will arise IF the Council decide that Committee members should be paid reasonable expenses.
Is an unincorporated association not a rather risky way to go? Members would have unlimited liability in the event of a claim and all clubs and all their members could be bankrupted.
The advice is that an unincorporated association presents no problems at present. The Committee, who are trustees in law, keep an eye on the future and take whatever steps are necessary should the association go in a direction that could give rise to liabilities. For example, should they start to sell clothing, kites or other items, a limited trading company would be set up with its memorandum and articles of association requiring the committee to be the directors and all profits to be directed back to the BKFA.
Whilst I hesitate to mention insurance, BKFA would only act as an introducer, not an intermediary or agent. Should the latter be the case, again legal advice would be sought as to the best way to ensure there is no risk to member organisations.
A ‘Company limited by guarantee’ had been suggested. Legal advice is that this an unnecessary expense at this stage, there being no significant liabilities. BKFA will not be organising events, it will have no ‘products’, it will not offer insurance (although it will work with insurers to identify suitable policies for member clubs and seek to obtain discounts on them), and thus no liabilities are likely to arise. The committee would need to consider anything produced eg safety leaflets, and whether it increases risk. If so, it would need to consider legal advice to ensure that BKFA are not creating a liability that cannot be managed.
What about traders and manufacturers?
Their involvement initially through sponsorship would be very welcome. I will be proposing to Council that a separate group is formed for traders and manufacturers and that group then affiliates to BKFA just like any other club.