Budgerigar Society Press Release September 2020

Response to a Facebook Group

The Budgerigar Society General Council (GC) held its latest Zoom meeting on 10th September 2020.

Most of the meeting was a discussion on the second response received from a minority Facebook group calling themselves, “Budgerigar Society Progression Group (BSPG)”, following an initial reply to them from the GC.

Some councillors took exception to various comments in the response, including one which was considered libellous. Interestingly, the document was not signed, which is in contradiction of the group’s own demand of increased transparency.

The GC agreed this is the last time they will discuss this matter.

GC Responses – Discussed and Approved

1. Open and honest communication from the GC with the membership – The GC have been issuing press releases after every meeting for some time now. As a collective, the GC uphold the principles of openness and accountability but must also maintain privacy to ensure freedom of speech is not stifled.

2. Full action minutes published via the website under member section and also printed in The Budgerigar –This subject was aired at a meeting on 30th July 2020. It was unanimously agreed that this requires a rule change – which the GC will not support.

3. Member’s opinions to be canvassed on regular basis – To be monitored and developed.

4. GC to work with members to remove the two thirds majority voting requirement – This rule is in place to protect the membership. Current and previous Society solicitors have advised against the removal of this rule.

5. GC to work with members to move to a first past the post representation on the GC and not by area – Unanimously agreed that this requires a rule change – which the GC will not support.

6. Improved speed of decision making by use of technology with full published minutes (as item 2) – The GC have been holding regular zoom meetings well before this suggestion by the group. The group added nothing to their clarification of the word speed. The GC works as quickly as practicable within the rule’s framework.

7. Clarity of voting patterns by councillors at GC meetings (votes published by each councillor’s name) – The Society rules require summarised reports of all GC meetings to be published. To change to full minutes published with voting patterns requires a rule change – which the GC will not support.

8. Improved clarity on financial decisions – the request was on how ring prices are determined, how subscription rates are arrived at and future investment plans. – Ring prices are determined by a fixed profit margin above cost of production. The margin allows for administrative costs to be absorbed and for the Society to receive an income that allows for reinvestment in the hobby. Subscription are determined by a vote by GC members and then put to the AGM for approval or otherwise. Investment plans – the GC constantly review opportunities for investment within the hobby. Such opportunities arise from proposals from GC members and the wider membership. There are certain items which remain fixed agenda items in terms of investment, such as the Northampton premises which remain under constant review in the wider society/commercial environment, which can change daily.

9. Improve the offering to both “exhibition” and “hobbyist” sides of the hobby to improve value for money –the group came back with an idea of “tiered” membership. Offering value for money to all members is a constant objective of the GC as is remaining open to new ideas and proposals from all members of the Society. One of the GC sub-groups has been looking at introducing tiered membership well ahead of this group’s suggestion.

The remaining eight items put forward by the group were related to Rule Changes and the GC agreed that they would not discuss them as it is for individual members to put them forward as Rule Changes.

However, it was agreed to discuss the following items where there were factual errors within the group’s response as follows:

1. Improved clarity of ballot counting where ballot papers remain sealed until after the closing date of any ballot and independent BS members to witness the count. The group also understand that “interim states of play” are provided to the BS during the counting period – Members of the GC were furious about this statement which is libellous and felt that the entire group are culpable. The statement not only pointed the finger of doubt at the scrutineer but at BS officials and the Society Administrator. It was agreed that the response to the group should be in extremely strong terms, pointing out that the statement is libellous, untrue and that the GC takes great exception to what they have implied.

2. Another area of misrepresentation is the group’s statement that the Board has taken it upon itself to deal with business outside the limits of the rules and should be abolished – The GC points out in the strongest terms that the group’s accusations are unfounded and untrue, including the example given. All decisions on any subject require the final approval of the GC to proceed.

3. Terms of reference of the BS Trustees – Published in Rule 10 (c). The trustees are elected by the GC if an existing trustee decides to stand down. The only time that the trustees were called upon for their services was when the Northampton property was purchased in 2000.

4. AGM to be an open meeting with no need for prior notification of questions – The current rule of 14 days notification for questions prior to the meeting is there so that answers can be provided at the AGM rather than officials being faced with questions on the day that they cannot answer without further investigation. The only exception is questions on the Society year-end accounts.

5. The Society Administrator to have no involvement in GC Meetings other than for minute taking or to clarify rules and points of reference – The GC advise that when the current Administrator was appointed, he was also a member of the GC, which entitled him to take part in meetings and to vote. Soon after, he stood down from the GC and since this time no longer has a vote on GC matters – to say he currently has an involvement in GC meetings other than as Society Administrator is incorrect.

Date of Next Zoom Meeting

As the face to face meeting planned for 26th/27th September 2020 to discuss the Roles Review and Long Tails has been cancelled due to changes in law over the Coronavirus, the GC will discuss the Roles Review over three Thursday Zoom meetings commencing on 24th September. As there are no shows currently the Longtail subject will be deferred to a later date.

Following the Roles Review, the next GC meeting will be Thursday, 22nd October 2020 to discuss all proposed Rule Changes.

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