The South East Region AGM 2015

 

Minutes of the 19th Annual General Meeting of the South East Region

 of The Caravan Club

at

The Abbey School, Faversham

on

Saturday 14th November 2015

 

Present:

 

Mr. Brian Taylor                                             Chairman

Mr. Paul Funnell                                             Vice Chairman

Mr. Mark Sinclair-Watson                              Honorary Treasurer

Mr. Peter Newman                                          Honorary Secretary

Mr. Rodney Lambert                                      Caravan Club Vice-Chairman

Mr. John Page                                                 Executive Member of the Caravan Club

 

Together with 85 Members

 

The Chairman called the meeting to order at 14.30hrs and asked the Hon. Secretary to read out the notice convening the meeting.        

The Hon. Secretary read the notice and introduced Liz Manning who was acting as Minute Secretary. He also advised that to ensure accuracy, the meeting would be recorded. He asked if there were any objections. There were none.

 

  1.   Chairman’s Welcome:

 

The Chairman welcomed everyone and thanked them for their attendance with a special

welcome to The Club Vice-Chairman, Mr. Rodney Lambert and his wife Diane and the

Executive Member, Mr. John Page and his wife Marjorie. Past Regional Chairman, Mr. Ken Sumpter, Centre Chairman and those attending their first Regional AGM were also welcomed.

The Chairman thanked the East Kent Centre Chairman and his Committee for hosting

the weekend and making all the arrangements for this meeting.

He then asked that all mobile devices be switched off or put to silent during the meeting.

The fire exits were identified.

The Chairman asked if everyone had a copy of the Minutes of the 18th AGM held on

Saturday 15th November 2014 together with the Balance Sheet for 2014.

He asked that if any Members wished to speak during the meeting, they should raise

their hands, wait for the microphone, and to assist the Minute Secretary, clearly state their name. Only Members residing in the South East Region who had not previously spoken or voted

at any other Region’s AGM were permitted to speak.

 

The Chairman then introduced the Platform party.

 

 

  1.   Apologies for absence:

 

The Secretary was then asked to read out any apologies.

Apologies were received from:

Maggie and Ken Scrace, Jim and Linda Brown, Steve and Sue Hornsby,

Gerald and Sue Store, Dave and Stella Clayton; John and Pearl Forrest.

 

  1.   Minutes of meeting held on 15th November 2014:

 

The Chairman confirmed all present had access to the above Minutes and a copy of the Balance Sheet for 2014.

He asked if they were an accurate record of the meeting and if anyone had any amendments.

There were no amendments and the minutes were proposed by Karen Shipper and seconded

by Alf Harvey. Acceptance was unanimous.

 

  1.   Matters arising from the Minutes:

 

The Chairman confirmed that tents were allowed on rallies which were five days or over. A tent could accompany a unit and any campers must use the facilities in the accompanying unit.

 

There were no other matters arising.

 

  1.   Chairman’s Report for 2014:

 

Good afternoon everybody.

May I extend a warm welcome to you all from myself and the officers of the South

East Region.

There have been 6 Region meetings this year most of which have been well attended by Centre representatives, independent members, Rodney Lambert and John Page.

Rodney is a Vice Chairman of The Caravan Club and is our representative from The Caravan Club. He brings with him any news or information from headquarters that we need to know and to pass on to Centres through their Reps. He is also able to answer most of the questions raised on a wide range of topics that may be brought up from his vast experience within the Club. He is also Chairman of the Events Committee which organises events including The National and Tow Car of the Year.

John Page is on the Technical Committee and is able to assist us in subjects such as outfit matching and obviously any technical topic.

Thank you both for giving up your time not only to attend our Region meetings but also attending our various events.

We have three independent members and one observer who are not Centre orientated and their input is gratefully received. Thank you for your time and input at our meetings. Karen Shipper, one of our independent members, is also our Web Master, organising and running our web site for us. Following several years of frustration with our previous web provider it is good to have a web site that works, Thank you Karen.

The weekend following last year’s AGM Paul and Jen Funnell joined Sheila and I as tellers at the South West Region’s AGM. I personally enjoy attending other Region AGM’s as we all do it differently and some good ideas can be gleaned from them and brought back to use within our Region.

The January Club Council meeting no longer takes place but has been replaced with a Region and Division Forum held at East Grinstead House with three people from each Region and Division invited to attend. Paul Funnell, Carol Meek and I attended this meeting. Last January’s was the first of such meetings and following a tour of East Grinstead House we were given a talk on the structure of the club and how it works and the direction it could take  in the future. This was followed by a question and answer time which proved very interesting.

This being the first of such meetings which proved very successful it is to be repeated annually.

The next event in our diary was our Question Time held at The Mercure hotel at Hollingbourne near Maidstone Kent on Saturday 11th April attended by approximately 80 people whose questions gave way to varied and interesting discussion. There will be another Question time next year. The time and venue to be arranged by the new committee as will the Meet the Members.

This year’s National was held at Cornbury Park near Oxford, where the weather was much kinder than it has been of late. Sheila and I, along with the South West Region Chairman Sue Southwell and her husband Frank, spent a day judging the traders stands and eventually agreed on those worthy of a certificate in their various categories which we then presented to them. At least this year we did not need our wellies as we have done for the previous two years.

Instead of several separate Region and Division receptions I was asked to organise just three by combining all the English Regions into one. It did cause some problems because of the limited space restricting numbers but it worked and gave us more time to enjoy the National. Congratulations must go to Rodney and his team in organising this event. They have cut the cloth to fit the venue and the number of outfits attending and much of the entertainment provided was free. This year’s National was a great success and I look forward to next year’s which will be held at Weston Park over the 27th May to 1st June. I am sure Rodney will have more to say on this subject later.

The Events Committee are going to try something new this year. Instead of having separate Centre, non Centre and EHU lines each Region will have its own block of approximately 200 pitches consisting of EHU and non EHU pitches in each block. All members booking into the National will be sited in their respective local Region block unless they request otherwise. This hopefully will give non Centre Members a chance to mix with Centre Members and maybe encourage some to join a c

Centre. There will no longer be centre CLO’s as these will be replaced by a team of block marshals with a lead member in charge, the idea is to share out the time spent on duty. Should you be interested in helping with this please see Paul Funnel after the meeting.

In July we had our third train trip on The Kent and East Sussex Railway in their Pullman coaches. It has become a very well supported event with most on board this being their third trip. The staff, as always, could not have looked after us better if they tried and the food all home cooked was superb.

Shortly after this we held our Meet the Members at Rowan Park Caravan Club site. Following last year’s not so successful event at Abbey Wood we opted to use a smaller Club site in the hope of making it a more intimate affair but despite visiting every van on site the number of members joining us was very low and I wonder if these events are cost effective. As I said earlier the new Committee will look into this.

Sheila and I joined Darren Charnock and his team at the Southern Centres rally in August this year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Two years ago I said I think that it could not be improved.  Well they proved me wrong and made it even better. Well done to you all and I look forward to the next one in 2017.

As I reach the end of my term in office as the Chairman of the South East Region I must say how much I have enjoyed it. Sheila and I have been made welcome wherever we went. We have made lots of new friends and learnt a lot,  particularly how the Club functions and it has been an experience I would not have missed.

To finish I would like to thank my officers and their wives for their help and support over the past four years. Paul my Vice Chairman, Peter my Secretary and Mark my Treasurer have all carried out their respective rolls diligently and enthusiastically and their efforts have in no small way enabled the South East Region to continue successfully.

A special mention must be made of Peter who is retiring from his post as secretary. He stood in when the previous secretary Bill Boniface passed away suddenly as a temporary measure and stayed for more than nine years doing a job that can be very demanding. Congratulations Peter. 

Sheila and I would like to personally show our appreciation by presenting them with a small gift.

There are three more gifts to give out on behalf of the Region. These are to Alison Palmer for designing and printing our posters, invitations and Christmas cards. Karen Shipper for running our web site and Carol and Keith Nicholls for their help with the catering and erecting the marquee at Meet the Members.

My final thanks go to Sheila for all her support over the past four years and the previous seven when I was Treasurer and Vice Chairman. She has helped and worked alongside me in organizing all of the Regions events and lost me for days on end whilst I have attended meetings, although she probably enjoyed that. She has navigated me all over the country and made countless cups of tea and coffee when we have entertained guests. I could not have held this post without her. Thank you Sheila.

Ladies and gentlemen that concludes my report.     

                                                    

Brian asked if there were any questions about his Report.

There were none.

He then asked that his Report be accepted. There was a unanimous show of hands with none against.

 

The Chairman then thanked and made presentations to:

Alison Palmer for her help with printing of posters and flyers.

Karen Shipper for her work as Webmaster.

Keith and Carol Nichols for their help at Regional events with setting up the marquee.

 

Brian then made a presentation to Sheila thanking her for her help and support during his term as S.E. Regional Chairman.

 

  1.   Honorary Treasurer’s Report:

 

Good afternoon everyone.

Has everyone got a copy of the South East Region Accounts for the year ended

31st December 2014? If not, then can you at least see a copy?

You may have noticed that the income for 2014 was less that that of 2013.

That was due to our income from the train trip in 2013.

The Grant income from The Club was £5,500 for 2014 as compared to £5,700 for 2013.

This year we were given £3,500 for 2015 but for 2016 it is going back up to £5,500.

I would also like to personally thank Brian for the way he has presented and laid out all of his invoices to me over the last four years. Brian has made my life as a Treasurer easier, although

I do believe he uses an accountant base in Addington called Sheila and Sheila!

This is something I hope you will live up to Paul!

 

Are there any questions?

There were none.

The Report was accepted by a unanimous show of hands.

 

The Chairman thanked Mark for compiling his Report.

 

  1.   Election of Officers:

 

The Chairman asked the current post holders to hand in their Badge of Office and to leave the stage. He asked the floor to show their appreciation for the work they have done over the past year.

All Officers left the stage.

 

Election of Regional Chairman from one nomination:

Paul Funnell was accepted by a round of applause.

Brian congratulated Paul and invited him back onto the platform.

 

Election of Regional Vice Chairman from one nomination:

Charles Patrick was accepted by a round of applause.

Brian congratulated Charles and invited him to the platform.

 

Honorary Secretary from one nomination:

Karen Shipper was accepted by a round of applause.

Brian congratulated Karen and invited her to the platform.

 

Honorary Treasurer from one nomination:

Mark Sinclair-Watson was accepted by a round of applause.

Brian congratulated Mark and invited him back onto the platform.

 

     Following the above election, Brian said he was happy to hand over to Paul and felt

     that the Region would be well looked after by the new Committee.

 

  1.   Nomination for Club Council:

 

     Before announcing the next item on the Agenda, Peter thanked Glynis for her help

     and support over the past nine years.

 

The Hon. Secretary then said we are obliged by The Club to annually nominate delegates

for positions within the South East Council.

At the meeting of the Region Officers on 5th October Mr. Paul Funnell was nominated. The Secretary asked the meeting if they wished Paul to be our Representative. This was agreed by applause and a show of hands.

 

Next was the confirmation of Independent member representation, other than Centres,

on the South East Regional Council. There were three nominees for these positions:

Mrs. Carole Meek, Mr. John Hoy and Mr. Ken Chivers.

Approval from the floor was given by applause and a show of hands.

 

  1.   Address by Rodney Lambert, Club Vice Chairman:

 

Brian then invited Rodney to give a short talk.

 

Rodney greeted everyone and agreed to try and give a short talk and said it was always

difficult to know what to talk about at regional AGMs.

He thought that a little bit about what is going on in The Club would be quite useful and

then he might finish off with a bit of an advert!

Bijou CL’s were beginning to crop up. These were high spec. small sites which were very sophisticated. Nightly charge began at £25. They were all full up and provided a market for different things instead of providing what was once thought a cheap place to stay. They are proving very popular, but the overall number of CL’s has not increased remaining at about two

and a half thousand.

 

Over the last year we have bought two sites which were leased on the network: one is Whitewater Park up in North Yorkshire and the other one is Black Knowle in the New Forest. Both are going through a refurbishment to bring them up to modern specifications. Two more sites are being upgraded over the winter, so investing Club funds wisely over the network for the future.

 

The Chancellor has increased the minimum wage to a national living wage which has increased

the Club’s warden pay bill by £800,000 over the next year. That money has to come from somewhere. We might be paying that ourselves! We have to live with these things but we will try to cut costs where we can to avoid putting any excessive charges through.

 

A couple of years ago, The Club bought Alan Rogers which promoted much discussion at the time. If any of you have had the Foreign Touring Brochure as it used to be called, this has now been extended considerably to add more European sites. This is just the first extension with far more sites to visit in Europe. We have taken the tours and put them in a separate book to include rallies in Europe run by other Centres. This will give more offers to our Members across the whole Club and the people who run rallies through the Alan Rogers Organisation are very impressed with the way that they can do things that we weren’t able to do as a Club. There is one rally that is going ahead which wanted to go to the Monza Grand Prix next year and Alan Rogers have even got the tickets for the Grand Prix. So there is more work you can do to run rallies in Europe and Alan Rogers will help to do things the best possible way.

 

The other thing I wanted to talk about was Strategy. You will have noticed in the Handbook last year that we formed a Strategy Committee because if you were at the AGM this year you would have heard Nick Lomas highlighting problems with caravanning in the future, what the problems will look like and how we can do things to maintain our membership of the Club. There is a big question as to what the Club will look like five, ten, fifteen years time. We need to plan for that now: it is no good waiting until things have happened so we are working very hard at looking at how things can be done to enable our Members to move forward.

We tried some Pods a couple of years back. This year was the first full season and the ones at Brighton were fully occupied most of the summer; the ones in Strathclyde very poorly attended.

Abbey Wood was OK.  So we know some of these things work in some areas and not in others and we are trying to learn what Members want and how we can move forward.

What we found was that in some cases these were often used by Grandparents with the family caravan, or vice versa. So it adds to the ability of families to use the sites which they would not have been able to otherwise.

We have also extended the camping side.

The use of tents on site can now be booked on line and this has increased the number of bookings considerably.

 

We are working very hard to try and look at the future.

The B license is one of the issues. We are coming up to twenty years ago that people stopped being able to tow a caravan with an outfit over three and a half tons.

We are now talking about thirty eight year olds, family people, who are limited to three and a half tons. At Tow Car of the Year we tested forty three cars. Sixteen of those would tow a caravan and still be under three and half tons. The caravan could be a five berth caravan, albeit one of the lighter weight vans: so it is not impossible. Units may be limited in choice, but it is not impossible with a B license you can still caravan. We need to get that message out there. Rodney was unsure how to get this across as it is technically complex and education needs to go on as to how this can be achieved.

 

This time last year East Surrey Centre went into hibernation which we were very sad about. It was hoped to re-start the Centre, but nothing has happened yet.

We were even more dismayed when the East of Scotland had a similar problem later this year, but thankfully they have managed to reform themselves and they will be up and running.

Another Centre has delayed their AGM until January while they look for officers who

can commit time and help. That is the hard thing going forward; people committing their time to help one another. Our club has been based on the ethos of helping one another for so many years and we just need the new people coming in to be as willing to help one another as we are. I don’t know how we do that but we just need to encourage it. Rodney is sure we all struggle to get people

to run all the rallies needed. It is exactly the same problem getting people willing to commit.

Rodney did not have the answer to this problem.

 

Rodney then gave his ‘advert’.

This year he felt The National was not bad and he was normally critical.

One thing we changed last year was providing more in the basic fee. We had a little social each night and some ‘ try before you buy’ type things on.

In 2016 at Weston Park we have added to that:

Segways will be provided at £1 for 10 minutes ride (purely to stop people being on them all day!);

Sorba balls (things you climb in and roll around in); archery, angling, cycling and walks will be available.

 

The sports at The National cost £6-7K to organise with very few teams entering.

Regional Centres are being asked if they still want sports as for so few it is a waste of money.

The Committee are trying out different types of things with individual as well as team events.

Individual games such as lawn darts and boules are better attended than team events.

 

Bookings went live ten days ago with 144 to date, which is up for November numbers.

It will be a special event for the Queen’s ninetieth birthday, which may have had some impact.

We have also sold 500 Entertainment tickets. There are 4,000 tickets so there are more available together with pitches, but we are around 12% sold. If it is that interesting to people and there are

 a lot of Centre Members booked Rodney did have some booking forms with him.

He did ask people to book by telephone or via form on Website as it saves the Club money.

All the information was available on the forms and Rodney finished by saying he looked forward to seeing everyone at Weston Park in May for a sunny Bank Holiday!

 

Rodney had a email from Liz Boughton. She and Ian head up the team on the arduous task of clearing the rubbish, which is not one of the nicest jobs but is done with good humour! She sent a couple of pictures of big tractors they have been practising on. Rodney replied that he thought they would be useful for towing everyone off the rally field! He did not get a response!

 

Rodney closed by thanking all for listening and invited anyone for a chat about anything over the weekend.

 

Brian thanked Rodney for his address and asked if there were any comments or questions:

 

Jay Williams (East Kent Centre).

Sports are still enjoyed at Southern Centres. If they are not well taken up at the National

perhaps it is because people don’t want the challenge of Centre against Centre.

Mixed teams, rather than Centre based, seem to work well.

Rodney said that anyone can take part in any team.

Jay then said that recently on the BBC new sports were shown with an over 60’s walking football team. Perhaps that is the way the Caravan Club need to go?

Rodney thanked Jay for his comments and said he would take these ideas back to his Committee.

 

There were no other comments from the floor.

 

  1.    Appointment of Auditors:

 

The Chairman proposed the continued services of Feist Hedgethorne of Preston Park, Brighton.

He asked if there were any objections?

Approval was asked for by a show of hands.

The proposal was accepted.

 

  1.    Slinfold Report:

 

Brian said I will now give my report as Co-ordinator of our Slinfold volunteer site.

 

We had a sad start to the season this year with the passing of Pam Prosser in February

following a short illness. Pam and Tony have been wardens for several years and will be sadly missed.

 

This year the site opened on Friday 20th March and closed on Monday 19th October,

closing two weeks earlier than last year. Despite this according to my records there were

3791 van nights this year up 80 on last year which is good.

 

We had three new couples join us this year; John and Pearl Forrest, Rick and Rita Jeffery (who most of you know) along with David and Carol Hummerstone from Southampton. They must have enjoyed their time on site as they are all continuing next year. I am losing one couple of wardens this year due to personal reasons but I am gaining Darren and Cheryll Charnock and I hope they enjoy their time on site as well.

 

I must thank all the volunteer wardens without whom the site would probably have to close. The site has never looked better and this is down to their time and hard work. This has prompted several complimentary comments in the Site Comments book. One even suggested that as a reward for all our hard work we should be given a free stay on a Club Site! I look forward to working with them all next year.

 

Simon Hicks, my Regional Manager, has continued to guide and support me this year for which I am very grateful. Sadly he is moving to pastures new nest year and I wish him well in his new post working for a children’s charity.

 

Should anybody be interested in joining us as a volunteer please see me after the meeting.

That concludes my report.

 

  1. Date and venue of 2016 AGM

 

      Brian then handed over to Peter to announce details of the next AGM.

 

      Peter advised that East Sussex will be hosting the AGM next year.

      The venue is Uplands College, Lower High Street, Wadhurst, Sussex, TN5 6AZ.

      The meeting will be held on Saturday 19th November 2016 commencing at

      2.30pm.        

 

 

  1.   Any Other Business:

 

Loraine Tullett, Chair of South London.

On behalf of everyone, Loraine thanked Brian for being an approachable chair and hoped

that Paul would follow in his footsteps.

Brian thanked Loraine for her comments.

 

Rodney Lambert thanked Brian and Sheila for their time hosting the S.E.Region.

He said Brian had been a fireball in pushing things forward and getting them done!

Rodney thanked him on behalf of The Club.

Rodney also thanked Peter and Glynis for their support and hard work.

 

 

Paul Funnell then took the Chair.

Brian gave a presentation to Peter in recognition of his past nine year’s service on the Committee. Thank you flowers were given to Glynis.

Paul gave a special present to Brian for his retirement and on behalf of the Region.

Brian was asked to open his gift and told those present it was a bivvy brolley for fishing.

Sheila was also given flowers.

 

Paul then presented badges and window plaques to Charles, Karen and Mark.

 

Paul asked all Members of the Regional council to attend a short meeting at 15.45hrs.

 

The meeting was declared closed at 15.24hrs.