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Report from Council 11 August 2014

Report from Council

A Council meeting was held at Bronaeron on Monday 11 August 2014. It would be great if every Council Report could highlight the fulfillment of key projects in our strategy, startling new initiatives and successes. In reality the meeting comprised a long list of loose ends, largely matters of detail, to be tied up.

Fundamental to creating a forward looking and businesslike Society, focused on delivering its strategy, is to provide streamlined minutes which record decisions. The debate on the minutes took minutes rather than hours. It was agreed to re-instate the names of proposers and seconders of routine decisions rather than merely recording that it was agreed. It is always a struggle to bring change to an organisation so set in its ways.

In late July the post of Secretary of the Society was advertised and the closing date for applications is 22 August and, it is hoped, the successful candidate will be confirmed by Council on 15 September. The Chairman reported that he had received requests for more than 150 information packs and 15 completed applications had already been received 10 days before the closing date.

In Council’s strategy ‘Serving our Members’ our IT systems were recognised as a weakness and the strategy stated: ‘Key IT systems are creaking, are not integrated and inhibit flexibility and productivity’.  Finance Committee, with the assistance of an independent consultant, is both reviewing existing arrangements and determining priorities for improvement. In anticipation of moving to online registrations Council received an interesting report on the current registrations process.

During the last two years 12,797 applications for registration have been received and 3,592 failed (25%), generating 3,592 letters to members and an indefensible waste of staff time, printing and postage costs. Since registrations are not evenly spread throughout the year the need to re-process so many failed applications increases the backlog at peak times. The main reasons for the rejection of applications were:

1.    Mare not owned by breeder at time of foaling (13%)

2.    Owner not a member (9%)

3.    No service certificate (9%)

4.    Prefix owned by somebody else (9%)

5.    Owner or breeder has not signed (7%)

6.    Chosen name already used (4%)

Half of the failures could have been resolved automatically by on line registration and there would be significant savings in staff time and costs if we could get most registrations right first time. The ability to analyse our membership, their ownership, showing and breeding of ponies and cobs is a prerequisite to providing them with targeted services and support and could help identify potential welfare issues.

Council’s strategy envisages the establishment of a network of local welfare representatives and has redefined the role of what will become a National Welfare Co-ordinator. The honorary postholder will, in addition to investigating complaints received by the Society and liaising with statutory authorities, provide oversight and identify the training needs of our local representatives.

The Judging and Showing committee has almost completed the work of re-writing the Judges Handbook for 2015 and has put pressure on the working party who are re-writing the Society’s Complaints policy to complete their task. A Judges’ Probationary scheme is in the pipeline.

The Promotion Committee is working on a promotional leaflet designated ‘The breed for every need’ to be available in time for HOYS, and is exploring a variety of aps. Since the Society will have a stand, rather than the lorry, at HOYS it is preparing an appropriate backdrop to the stand and will provide staff with ‘uniforms’. It was agreed to co-opt Ceri Fell and Jacky Kirk onto the group tasked with preparing the display. To ensure better long term planning the Committee have produced a publications diary which sets the publication date and lead times for every publication and documents routinely produced by the Society.

The Young Peoples Committee reported unhappiness at the raising of the minimum age for judges. Council has no doubt that many young people are well informed about the appropriate conformation and action of Welsh ponies and cobs but do not believe that they have the necessary life experience to deal with the inevitable challenges with which judges are confronted. A licence has been obtained for a raffle and the Scholarship Scheme has been revised.  Their next meeting will be held at the Society pavilion on the Friday evening prior to the Fayre Oaks sale.

An International Meeting was held at the Royal Welsh Showground on the Sunday before the show. It was reported from Belgium, and endorsed by Denmark and Ireland, that horses were being imported without the require health or transfers of ownership papers. This was causing both costs and extra work for importers of Welsh breeds. The Danes had produced a leaflet setting out the questions purchasers should ask and it was agreed to translate and circulate this document.

The 18th International Show will be held in Denmark on 8 and 9 August 2015. In order to ensure harmonisation of the UK and Dutch studbooks every entry between 1970 and 2003 had been checked by staff and found correct. It was therefore agreed to only check a random sample of entries between 2004 and the present day. The Australian Society, which this year has adopted UK assessment procedures for judges has arranged an assessment day for October overseen by two assessors from the UK. The Australians asked whether Australian rather than UK assessors could be used. Council agreed that newly agreed system should operate for this year and that the matter would then be reviewed in the light of reports from the event.

It was reported that the caterers takings in the Pavilion at the Royal Welsh were down because of the ‘members only’ ruling.  The Society had provided 300 visitor badges but they were not used. The Working Party responsible for the Pavilion will be seeking quotations for a new building on the other side of the road from the existing Pavilion and investigating, for Council, the cost of removing the existing pavilion. One of the prime responsibilities of trustees of a charity is to ensure that the Society uses its resources exclusively in pursuance of its charitable objects and no matter how popular or worthwhile a project may be trustees are not able to spend money on activities which are not included in our objects. Trustees will therefore need to explore educational/charitable purposes for the building beyond the 10 days a year of the Royal Welsh and Sales.

The Society is a founding member of the Joint Measurement Board but trustees were not in support of the JMB contributing a substantial sum to the cost of another ‘all weather’ area at Hickstead.

Junior membership exists both to attract young people who are interested in Welsh breeds to become involve at an early age. It is also required by teenagers who, if competing in HOYS classes, need to be member of a Society. Junior Members receive an age appropriate gift if they do not wish to receive the Journal. The Society currently charges £20.50 for Junior Membership which is much higher than other Societies and as a result potential future members are not joining WPCS. It was agreed to reduce the fee to £12 and to review the promotional material for junior members.

The main corridor at Bronaeron has for years been an untidy storage area for unused Journals and constituted a potential fire hazard. Council has tried a succession of initiatives to sell this stock at ever reducing prices without much success. It has now been agreed to retain 50 copies of the Journals for each of the last 5 years, to take some to give away to interested people at HOYS and the BSPS Championships and reluctantly sell the remainder for pulping.

Trustees are aware the progress in implementing their strategy is not as swift as many would wish. Clearly the absence of a Principal Officer has reduced the management resources necessary to push forward projects and adoption of a more business like approach to governance represents a challenge. Two Committees and a Working Party had, however, agreed to meet before and after the meeting of Council to press on with their work.

4th Sep 2014