You asked and they answered! The BMC invited members to ask questions of the Board of Directors ahead of the virtual AGM. There will be a second opportunity for members to ask questions prior to the AGM, which will be after official notice of the AGM together with supporting documents is sent out.
Question 1 – from Peter Judd
With people presently finding themselves confined in-doors much of the time and encouraged to keep exercise outings fairly local, there may well be a growing appreciation of time outdoors and valuing of the benefits to health and well-being that our now much restricted time outdoors and in nature offer.
Do the board see any opportunities for the BMC to campaign and lobby the powers that be more effectively arising out of this heightening of appreciation that might allow us to do more to encourage the authorities to take more and better care of our upland landscapes, their environmental quality and our opportunities to access them arising out of this heightening of appreciation?
This is an interesting theme, especially as some of our over-accessed upland landscapes will have benefitted this spring from the reduction in outdoor activity participation. The BMC’s Access & Conservation team is in regular dialogue with government and land management agencies and key landowners in both England and Wales. We also feed into national conservation policy discussions through our membership of the Wildlife & Countryside Link and the Wales Environment Link. Opportunities for improvements to the uplands may also arise through The Agriculture Bill (Environmental Land Management Scheme) (for England); the BMC is submitting a detailed response to this important government new consultation.
Similarly, do the board see any opportunities to draw more of those presently active in the activity areas we represent towards joining us arising out of people's heightened appreciation of their shortened opportunities to take part in those activities outdoors at present (given the targets for recruitment that we have)?
The current situation certainly provides a new context in which to attract people to the BMC’s mission. A new recruitment campaign is in planning for launch in June 2020 initially focused on hill walkers and outdoor climbers, then moving onto indoor climbers once the walls begin to reopen.
Question 2 – from Anonymous
Is the BMC doing enough to ensure that is lobbying for only evidence based restrictions to be placed on climbing and hillwalking (and other activities)? Or is it a victim of, and unwitting (assumed) supporter of, the irrational panic, driven by power hungry politicians, that has gripped the nation? Have its actions to date been those of a responsible organisation genuinely working for its members based on the actual available evidence in a rational manner? Or, could it do better for its members?
The BMC aims to behave responsibly by seeking to strike the right balance in advocating on behalf of its members, but also recognising the transmission risks associated with our range of activities, particularly as these are activities that we typically do not practice alone nor in our immediate neighbourhoods. It has been important to avoid antagonising opinion by advocating too early a move towards permitting activity that involves collective participation and travel away from home neighbourhoods, recognising that the rate of progression of Covid-19 has not been uniform across the UK. As the situation evolves in different parts of the UK, we have of course been able to take more robust proactive positions.
Question 3 – from Anonymous
In the article "When will I be able to go climbing and hillwalking again" it says that negotiations and lobbying is underway to reopen the countryside. Is this the BMC lobbying and if so who are we lobbying? Should we be "lobbying"? Should not the emphasis be on helping to maintain measures put in place to help control the pandemic.
The BMC is the national representative body for climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers and as such we made a case for a phased reintroduction of activities based on the relative safety risk of individual activities (hill walking, bouldering, sport climbing and traditional climbing), and the risk they pose in terms of transmission of the virus. Our lobbying efforts have been directed at the various levels of government, other bodies with decision-making roles together with a range of stakeholder organisations with diverse views and influence. Lobbying has been conducted in the context of understanding and respecting the rationale for the measures that remain in place, recognising that whilst some of that rationale remains valid there are also other aspects that become more important over time, including physical and mental well-being. Detailed BMC advice has been issued to participants stressing the need for people to respect local communities and to minimise pressures placed on the mountain rescue services.
Question 4 – from Anonymous
The board have been weak in taking action in the interests of your members to maintain access to the hills. Specifically:
Why have you not taken legal action against the National Parks in relation to the closure of footpaths ?
Why has the board allowed incorrect messaging about going onto the hills and driving to take exercise on your website ?
Why has the board allowed repeated non legal advice from government ministers in regard to taking exercise only from home on your website
Why has the board repeated comments on your website by a senior North Wales police officer in relation to the North Wales being closed and the hills being closed - neither are factually correct ?
Which board member is responsible for what is on your website and what actions are you taking against that board member for failing to do their job properly ?
Why have the board not taken a much stronger position in relation to defending members access to the hills with central government , local government and the National Park Authorities ?
Which members of the board are intending to offer their resignations in relation to their handling of the current crisis ?
The Board feels that the BMC has adopted a well-considered and balanced position on the closure and reopening of the countryside under the Covid-19 pandemic, taking into account the balance of guidance and regulations that have been in place in the various parts of the UK. This work has been overseen by our staff team guided by an expert panel (BMC C-19 Access Advisory Group) of access, environmental, legal and medical specialists who have met weekly to review and advise on our position during these uniquely challenging times. In terms of strategic position and policy, the Board has acted collectively.
Have more questions? There's still a chance for you to ask the Board of Directors your questions ahead of the 2020 AGM over a Webinar. See how to to ask them here
Your AGM: Thanks for your vote!
This year's historic AGM had a record voting turnout, with 6,796 of those votes being made online. We want to thank everyone for having their say and helping to shape the future of the BMC.
Detailed info on the BMC AGM 2018
Find out more about the last AGM. It's a complicated topic, so start with this one:
We were asking our members to vote on some significant changes to the BMC's constitution. Part of the discussion was the relationship between the BMC and Sport England.
There were two constitutions to vote for: Proposal A (as recommended by National Council) and Proposal B, proposed by a group of members. To learn more about the two proposals, you can read a detailed comparison written by BMC honorary solictor Martin Wragg.
How did the recommendations get decided? Read more about the process that lead to this stage, including the reports from the Organisational Review and more.
Watch the Open Forum debate
We held a debate in Manchester on 15 May for both options to be discussed. You can watch the livestream here: