Six additional meetings of the Board were held subsequent to the scheduled meeting of 1 April. The need for these meetings arose largely from the need to address the evolving Covid-19 situation, but they also provided an opportunity to consider other matters. All were evening meetings, typically 2 hours in length and all directors were present. Dates of meetings were 9, 16, 23, 30 April, 14 May and 9 June. Also, a meeting of the full Board with the trustees of the Access & Conservation Trust was held on the morning of 19 June.
The Board appreciates the diligence of staff in their work on behalf of the BMC during these difficult times, largely working from home and with a reduced complement because of the need to use the “furlough” to ease the financial pressures on the organisation.
The main matters covered during these meetings were as follows:
a. Management of the BMC in the context of Covid-19: This has been a constant theme across the meetings, with updates being received on priority areas of work alongside updates on financial scenarios and staffing arrangements (including some adjustments in the use being made of the furlough scheme). Monthly information relating to membership renewals was reviewed, together with updates to financial modelling undertaken by the Finance and Audit Committee (which also met weekly at one stage), taking account of staffing levels. Taken together with information provided by staff teams in relation to expenditure savings arising from reduced activity, this has led to an understanding that the 2020 financial out-turn may be not dissimilar to the modest budgeted surplus. However, the situation for 2021 requires careful management because of the continuing impact of the reduced in-flow of new members during the period within 2020 when participation in climbing and mountaineering has been impossible.
b. Strategic Plan and Resilience/Recovery plan: The Board has reviewed proposals from the Senior Management Team (SMT) in relation to the positioning of each main aspect of work, especially looking ahead to the challenges of 2021: the approach taken is based on considering for each aspect whether to “persevere”, “pivot”, “pioneer”, “park”, leading to initial conclusions on profiling expenditure levels and staffing requirements. This process leads naturally on to the strategic and financial planning work which is the focus of the Board’s next meeting mid-July.
c. Membership Retention and Growth: Arrangements for offering interim terms to members who are considering discontinuing BMC membership because of circumstances arising from Covid-19 were consulted on with National Council and subsequently implemented. An initial paper from the SMT has also been considered in relation to the broader approach to attracting new members, building on the successful work of the BMC in representing the sector in the circumstances precipitated by Covid-19, with an emphasis on hill walking and indoor climbing (but going beyond the age-delimited “blue” membership category); suggestions have been provided by the Board for further development of the proposals.
d. Competition Climbing Performance Group (CCPG): An interim report was received on the early progress being made by the CCPG, with work being underway on a vision and mission statement which will be subject to consultation. A key area of work relates to gaining an understanding of the financials, including the cost of elite athlete programmes. The postponement of the Olympics provides an extended timeline for seeking corporate sponsorship, this to be in the context of the BMC’s financial position and its overall expectations from corporate sponsorship.
e. Access and Conservation Trust (ACT): Ahead of an excellent joint meeting between BMC directors and ACT trustees on 19 June, consideration has been given to a range of matters relating to the need for a closer working relationship between the two bodies, taking into account also the work of the Access Management Group. This has included consideration of the financial and staffing resource available to ACT, in the context of the BMC’s intended financial contribution for 2020 being withheld because of the impact of Covid-19.
f. Mountain Heritage Trust (MHT): Representatives of the MHT joined part of the Board meeting of 23 April to discuss the merits and appropriateness of applying to the Heritage Lottery’s emergency fund and the consequences of the BMC needing to put on hold some of its financial contribution during 2020. Communication has continued and a further meeting is being arranged before the end of June.
g. BMC Cymru Committee: Arrangements for setting up this new committee were reviewed and approved that the Chair should represent the Board committee, with CEO supporting.
h. Organisation Development Group (ODG): Options in relation to the continuance of ODG work beyond the 2020 AGM were considered and an action plan relating to the outstanding ODG work was approved.
i. Risk Register: Risks have been reviewed by the SMT and the Board and the register updated with particular reference to the impact of Covid-19 on the organisation and its work. Further improvements have been made to the way in which the likelihood and impact of each risk is shown in the light of mitigating actions.
j. Annual Accounts 2019: A number of detailed matters were reviewed, in liaison with the Finance & Audit Committee and external auditors, leading to the approval of the accounts which were subsequently received by the AGM.
k. Appointment of Auditors: Following completion of a selection process undertaken by the Finance and Audit Committee, a recommendation to appoint Hurst Accountants Limited was accepted and subsequently approved at the AGM. The appointment took effect from the close of that meeting, is for three audit cycles relating to financial years 2020 to 2022 and is subject to annual re-appointment at the next two AGMs.
The next scheduled meetings of the Board are on 15 July, 30 September and 25 November.
Chair, BMC Board of Directors
More FAQs about the BMC and Covid-19
🌳 Can I start climbing / hillwalking? Yes, but be cautious in your actions, respectful of local communities and vigilant in avoiding transmitting the virus. Read our latest advice for July here and for the general return to climbing here
🌳 What's the situation in Wales? Read the full October update here
😷 When and how will the walls reopen? In England it's July 25th Read the ABC's advice for walls and watch their live update here
✈️ Can I now travel abroad again? Get the latest answers to going abroad with travel restrictions now easing
🛒 Is the BMC shop open? Yes - we officially reopened at the start of July!
🏡 Do you have any advice for clubs and huts? The latest club huts update and all you need to know
📜 Will the BMC keep running smoothly? Read more or watch our weekly live updates from our CEO
🚗 What have the BMC access team been doing during this time? Read on
As the climbing walls, crags and mountains start to open, we wanted to say thanks to every BMC member who supported us through the Coronavirus crisis.
From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t have made it without you.
If you liked what we did, then tell your friends about us: www.thebmc.co.uk/join