BMC AGM 17: Essential information and documents

Posted by Tony Ryan on 16/04/2017
Views to Snowdon under beautiful blue skies in North Wales. Photo: Shutterstock / Gail Johnson

The 2017 BMC AGM was held on Saturday 22 April, at Plas y Brenin, the National Mountain Sports Centre in Capel Curig, North Wales. Read on for the essential information and documents.

The BMC Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 22 April 2017 included an agenda item from Bob Pettigrew and others calling for a vote of no confidence in the Executive Committee of the BMC (our voluntary Board of Directors).

The BMC strongly refuted this motion and the accusations levelled at the Executive and we published a full and detailed report on the matter.

There are a number of relevant documents that will be of interest. 

Available documents:

  1. The 2017 BMC AGM agenda (pdf)
  2. The full wording of the motion referred to in agenda Item 9 (pdf). Includes a detailed report by BMC Honorary Solicitor Martin Wragg in relation to the motion. 
  3. Your proxy voting card and how to use it
  4. A statement by the BMC President
  5. 2016 Annual Report (pdf)
  6. 2016 Annual accounts (pdf)

Timetable of the AGM

The AGM was at 11:00 on 22 April. 

AGM agenda

Agenda Item 2 – 2016 minutes
Agenda Item 3 – 2016 annual report
Agenda Item 4 – 2016 annual accounts
Agenda Item 6 - re-elections
Agenda Item 7 - elections
Agenda Item 8 - subscriptions
Agenda Item 9 - ‘no confidence’ motion


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The reason why I’m supporting the motion of no confidence against the BMC Executive is because of the way the rebranding proposals were handled last year which were at best appallingly bad judgment, and at worse a cynical attempt to bypass the membership. I have no confidence that this won’t happen again as the BMC is making decisions about its future role in Olympic climbing without any consultation with the membership, and these could have major impacts on its traditional role, e.g. changing the role of the BMC from a representative body to a governing body.

I have a great deal of respect for the volunteers who give up their time to support their clubs and the BMC and the motion of no confidence is not aimed at them. But there is a real disconnect between the BMC Executive and the membership which should be dealt with by the National Council and area meetings but isn’t. There is little if any dissemination of information downwards from the BMC to the membership and therefore decisions are being made without any consideration of the views of the membership.

You only have to read the National Council minutes to see that major issues affecting the BMC are being discussed and agreed on without informing the membership let alone consulting them.

The BMC needs to improve how it communicates with its members so that any decisions it makes have the support of its membership. The objective of the motion of no confidence against the BMC Executive is to get them to address this as a matter of urgency.
2) Anonymous User
I'm against the no confidence motion. I attended the AGM and have followed the issues closely since then and saw no willful and deliberate withholding. The BMC decided on the rebrand only after pretty much full support of their democratic National Council and responded very well once the significant opposition to the rebrand became obvious and that's the only substantive issue I am aware of in any form of the motion or other documentation in circulation.

As for the Olympics, so far, I've only seen proper discussion and democratic involvement at all levels. I really dislike the selected Olympic format and understand some members have concerns on how this is handled by the BMC but feel the BMC have to engage, given the balance of membership views democratically expressed so far.

I also question why the signatories of the motion could possibly think things are so serious that a no confidence motion was the only route to deal with this; with success leading to the inevitable damage to the organisation, including resignations of key employees and volunteers that will occur and the rebuilding inevitably a major distraction to the function of the organisation (as the motion is right now).

I find it highly depressing that so many climbing 'names' that I had so much respect for would attach their support to the bizarre series of accusations and misinformation in the original draft:,27926.0.html

The same goes for Leo's letter to the vagabond:

I regard the BMC response as sensible

This original draft and letter from Leo is lobbying based on misinformation; all the points have been challenged (with no signatory response) by the BMC legal advice and independantly, on the web climbing forums (UKB and UKC), except with respect to the rebrand where it is completely disproportionate in my view. I'm worried some proxy voters have been duped.

Yes major issues affecting the BMC are discussed by the National Council - that's what they are supposed to do. National Council reps are elected by their local areas and are volunteers who try to do their best.

It's important we have some clarity on the technical governance accusations in the motion as the legal advice to the BMC doesn't seem to recognise any and no one other than the signatories know what these are. If the signatories can't back this up soon, I think they should withdraw the motion. We cant have the AGM debate involving rabbits getting pulled out of hats, where its likely most votes cast will be proxy votes.

I thank Steve for his kind words to volunteers, but I can't see how some doing important work won't fall victims of any successful no confidence vote, given they were explicitly involved in the democratic and executive decisions. Also that such a mess won't put off future volunteers.

Steve Clark, BMC guidebook volunteer
3) Anonymous User
Absolutely against this no confidence motion. I read the original draft proposal too, it was an appalling exercise in lunatic conspiracy theory, which they then cut down to something slightly less tin-foil hat.
I was then sent a copy of Bob's letter to Vagabond MC and that is, frankly, full of lies.
After 38 years of climbing and BMC membership, I find this disgusting. These members are so far out of touch with the reality of climbing and mountaineering today, it is appalling. I spent the day talking with young climbers, today. None of twenty or so I spoke to were BMC members (ages 16-24), though one pulled out his phone and joined just to vote against this.
The BMC needs modernising, not dragging back into the past. The old guard should be letting go and understand they don't own the sport, the spirit, the mountains, the crags or the people that love them and use them.
I'm against this motion of the no confidence. It's very hard to see how any good can come out of this. I'd love to see a backer of the no confidence motion with a plan for how the staff and volunteers that leave because of this motion will be replaced. And what direction the replacement team will lead the BMC in that is so different to now?

Without a doubt the BMC remains focused on access and conservation. It seems to me that competition climbing and Climb Britain have gathered a lot of media coverage that has made them appear larger areas of focus within the BMC than in reality they are. The local area meetings I have attended recently are entirely focused on access. The re-brand was dismissed as it should have been after seeking opinions from the area meets. The opinions of the membership on the Olympics is well known, not very positive. It is not the BMCs fault that climbing is in the Olympics but it would be foolish to not engage with this development in our pass time.

The BMC has shown itself to be forward thinking and pro-active on the current issues facing climbing. This motion wishes to return to a past that no longer exists.
5) Anonymous User
I disagree with the motion of no confidence. A long time ago, Aesop and Horace summarised perfectly this ill-informed and angry protest; “Mountains will labour: what’s born?  A ridiculous mouse!” 

Alan Espie, BMC Club Member and Volunteer
Can we please see a statement from the proposers to explain why they feel a vote of no confidence is justified? The motion alleges that decisions were withheld from the 2016 AGM but does not say what these were, or why this was in breach of the duties of the directors.

Neither do they say what they envisage happening if the motion is passed. Presumably the Executive Committee will be expected to resign, so who will be standing to take their place?

Many of those voting, myself included, will be doing so by proxy, and will be unable to hear arguments at the meeting and in particular won't be able to cast an informed vote for a new EC, should that situation arise. If the proposers of this motion want my support they need to earn it, by explaining their case.

7) Anonymous User
I do not think that I am thick, but I am confused about Item 9 of the Agenda and hope that others are likewise. In Summit we have a simple, if very badly drafted, no confidence motion that reads:

Item 9 That this motion of No Confidence is brought against the Executive Committee of the BMC and in particular because of the wilful and deliberate withholding of future policy decisions from the members in attendance at the Annual General Meeting held Lhosehill (sic) Hall, Castleton, Derbyshire, on Saturday 16th April 2016’.

So far so good. I can see my way to deciding how I will vote on this. However, in the accompanying flyer Background to AGM Agenda Item 9 there is an addition that reads:

'Further, this withholding of key and vital information to its membership is an example of very poor governance by the Executive Committee in their role as Company Directors, in a registered company limited by guarantee, and does not conform with the recently published Sport England Code for Sports Governance'

This sentence follows the phrase in bold 'Wording of the Motion' and has attached a few proposer's whose names I recognise. It contains what amounts to a second motion to do with the executive failing generally to meet it's duties as our Board of Directors that is exemplified by the first sentence. I can also see my way to deciding how to vote on this. My confusion is of course that my two decisions are not the same..

Can somebody in head office or the proposers explain what precisely it is that we are supposed to be voting on, the specifics of the failure to report last year, or this same thing as an example of poor governance that runs counter to a Code to which I assume BMC is signatory?

I see no reason to remain anonymous.

Dave Unwin, Bowline CC
8) Anonymous User
As far as I can tell the 'Climb Britain' saga is all about an organisation trying to modernise. When they realised the extent to which members disliked this name change, they reconsidered and did not go ahead. A good example of leadership and consultation.
I cannot support this motion of no confidence, which seems ill-founded and reactionary. Given all that the BMC do for the benefit of all climbers I will be voting against the motion.
Rick Ginns, BMC member, LCCC member, volunteer
I will not be supporting the vote of no confidence.
Whilst I do think mistakes were made in not having a clear objective, argument and financial presentation to give to the membership re the "Climb Britain" I do think lessons have been learned and the views of the membership were listened to. I also think there is little evidence the Executive tried to hide the process. It is my understanding that the area reps were all consulted about the proposals and no issues were particularly raised. That is probably because we as climbers and mountaineers are so apathetic , how many of us actually attend area meetings???
I also think that the majority of BMC members are members because the BMC is a great brand which works hard through the many volunteers in the best interests of all its members to maintain safe access to the hills and mountains of the UK. It is a concern for the future that the BMC might get side tracked and put alot of resource into chasing funding primarily to support climbing in the Olympics which would benefit a few and if nothing else Bob's motion has galvanised many members not least myself to get more involved and participate in the debates about the future direction of the BMC. .
10) Anonymous User
I speak as an ex chairman of the International Committee. to I recieved(byEmail) info and papers for Proxy voting
a. The Proxy Form would not download.
b.I was given just 24hrs to complete and submit the Form.
c. This bears all the hallmarks of a fiddle
Norman M Ridley
11) Anonymous
This comment broke the house rules and has been removed


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