Minutes of the 19th Annual General meeting of the National Association of Boat Owners held on 20th November 2010at Wolverhampton Boat Club
Present: David Fletcher, Chairman; Richard Carpenter, Gen Sec; Stephen Peters, Treasurer; Howard Anguish; Susan Burchett; Geoffrey Rogerson; John Slee and 30 members.
Apologies for absence
Received from Aileen Butler; Andy Colyer; Louis Jankel; Simon Robbins; Andy Soper
To agree the minutes of the 2009 AGM
The minutes were agreed
Proposed by Howard Anguish; seconded by John Slee
To receive the Chairman's Report
David sees three main areas of campaign initiative for NABO for discussion today.
The BW 2020 vision and progress towards the NWC, EA waters
Current Moorings consultation by BW
Legal issues with BW and the acts
He went on to thank Council for their support for his second year and John (and Fi) for sorting the web site
The May issue of NN was the first one for many years not to be edited by Stuart Sampson. He went on to explain that a joint editing sub committee was formed of Richard and Howard and they have alternated editorship, and arranged publishing support from Chris Pink who is canal enthusiast from the K and A area. They are now joined by member Peter Fellows.
Nabo has instigated two surveys. The boaters cost survey, and the waterways condition survey. The first one now has data for three years and we are now seeing a trend. We had around a hundred responses, which is 5% on membership.
The second survey was the Waterways condition survey. We had a good response of over 300. The reports went to BW and EA, They have used the data for planning and for most of the high priority items responded with plans for doing the work. John led this work for us, for both the surveys, and the follow up dialog with Vince Moran, Jeff Wyatt and others in BW. The issues have come up in user groups around the country.
There have been several major consultations with navigation authorities going on in the year. The first covered the national and local mooring strategies, then Waterways for Tomorrow, BW’s 2020, and also the routine of Licence increases, Winter stoppages, BSS and so on.
We have actively worked with other waterways user groups this year, particularly RBOA, TBA, DBA. But also TUGn, IWA and AWCC. We do not always agree but the exchange of views is useful.
Membership and publicity are an important part of NABO’s future, Richard has lead initiatives this year to build the profile, recruit and keep our membership. It is particular critical at this time, not for money, but because if the NWC comes off, the division of the influence within that body will be decided in the next year or so. The more members, the more influence. We are holding our own on numbers at the moment. So we went to Crick and to Leeds and to Skipton and other places. Richard keeps in touch with the press, and phones the members who are slow to renew. Many members and council members give out material on the towpath, and at festivals. We have plans for events in clubs in the winter period. If every member recruited one other boater each year, there would be no problem. We have a privileged position on many waterways consolation committees and we retain this by turning up and talking common sense. We have the passion for the waterways and we are the only group specifically dedicated to the wider interests of boat owners.
We have spent some serious money on legal advice in the year and we have to thank Geoffrey and Simon for taking on the many issues. BW simply stone wall many of the detailed issues with blanket reliance on the early BW act, and readily fill in the gaps on the detail in subsequent acts. Legal interpretation is an art of course and not a matter of fact. We have pressed BW in writing, in meetings and informally to get more cases to court to establish some further rulings particularly on definitions of continuous cruising. I am pleased to say there is some movement, and I am very grateful to members and boaters who have given NABO an insight into their legal cases, legal processes, ombudsmen and the like. Only in this way can we build a picture of what is going on. In our letters to BW we complained about their lack of action in bringing representative cases to court for rulings, and that they rely too much on their own legal interpretation to write terms and conditions. In January they said to us that going to court was unnecessary. Now we see some movement. This in not the final answer, but it is in the right direction.
We do need more members to come forward to help and give time and expertise.
David expressed his thanks to Council and membership for their support and input during the year.
To receive the financial statement for the year ended 31st March2010
The financial report was explained by Stephen Peters.
The income had decreased due to a slight fall in membership due to members retiring and the loss in deposit interest. Advertising revenue should increase as it had been decided to accept some adverts to counter the increased costs of the magazine.
Stephen explained that the magazine costs had increased since April and needs to be addressed by Council.
Expenditure was up due mainly to the Legal expenses incurred, but we now have Legal Opinion. In the future storage costs would be nil and there would be no costs for the House of Commons bulletin.
The loss of £9526 needs council discussion.
The acceptance of the treasurers report was proposed by Carole Sampson and seconded by John Slee.
To determine the annual subscription fees.
Stephen proposed keeping the fees at the same level but matching Council expenditure to income. It is felt more important to increase membership. Carole Sampson seconded .
To elect Council members for the year 2010-2011.
David Fletcher; Howard Anguish; Richard Carpenter; Andy Colyer; Susan Burchett; Stephen Peters; Simon Robbins; Geoffrey Rogerson; John Slee stood for Council.
The nine nominations were elected on block. Proposed by Philip Wilson and seconded Carole Sampson. Carole then thanked Council for their hard work and Stephen Peters thanked David Fletcher for being Chairman. There were no changes in their respective posts.
To appoint the auditor
Alan Davis was again appointed. Proposed by Stephen Peters and seconded by Howard Anguish.
The formal part of the meeting ended at 11.30am
There followed an open discussion where David explained Simon Salem's role. Land & Water have a dredging contract worth £5m a year for 5years. Views on our stance on the third sector were sought and other organisations views explained. BW is to become the star of David Cameron's proposals for the 'Big society'. Defra have to consult and the choice is to stay as we are or become a 'third sector' organisation.
Our 20 page Legal Opinion is available to assist members should they need it. Stephen proposed publishing this to didclose BW's actions. Geoffrey explained the constraints on publishing and David explained that after publication it was of no further use to us. The room was divided on what action to take, shown by a show of hands.
Richard talked about recruitment and road shows asking for places to do the shows. Merchandise is now done by smudgeonline so we have no involvement but receive a profit.
There was then a break for lunch and David welcomed our guest speaker Simon Salem.
Simon started by talking about the advantages of the third sector and charitable status.
The present grant isn't stable and a 10year contract will give some stability. The property will be locked into the charitity and so will not be able to be sold.
There are tax advantages in new ways of being able to earn money.
There will be new ways of governence with each waterway having its own board.
David asked about enforcement and was told it is much improved with figures going down for non-payment.
Carole asked about the effects on the BW Acts and was told that it would be a Statitury Transfer under the Public Bodies Reform Act, which would largely consist of the new name being inserted. There would be a few changes in wording as IWAC had been disbanded.
Simon hoped the Ombudsman job would continue.
With regards to EA joining BW it could be that the incomming trustees may turn this down.
Geof Wood was concerned about the large withdrawal of mooring wardens. Simon stated that he wanted continuous mooring to be self policing. Members considered volunteer mooring wardens a step too far. Howard pointed out that there could be conflicts with local mooring stratagy. Geoffrey asked how an idea by a pilot group to restrict the number of boats would work legally?
Ian Fletcher mentioned that the funding for the Charity only meets half of the shortfall. Simon is optomistic that reducing cost will help.
Geoff Wood asked about using volunteers to take away frontline staff. Simon said that there were no plans to do this. Volunteers have the same H&S rights and must be trained to the same level.
Panda asked 'Should continuous cruisers be able to send their children to school'? Simon – There are no plans to stop them.
David asked what BW is doing to get boat builders to inform buyers about the legalities. Simon was surprised how few boaters knew of the existance of user groups. Stephen suggested BW helped Nabo with publicity.
Simon asked how many would pay extra to gift aid. One person put his hand up. There followed a discussion on gift aid which Simon said was useful.
A suggestion was made on adding Rod money to boat licences with a roving rod licence for boaters.. EA at present get rod money
Property would be held by a subsidary company and BW could borrow against assets.
Simon explained the role of BW directors in the new charity. DEFRA appoints the trustees (a small number will be BW directors) for probably 12 months and the trustees will decide on executive directors.
Simon was presented with an offering of wine and a Dunton Double windlass and thanked for his talk.
David summed up and the meeting then ended at 3pm