The BMC’s main policy making body, the National Council, met at Plas y Brenin on 5 December. Neil Foster (Peak), Steve Scott (Lakes) and Vic Odell (London) were welcomed as new Area reps on the Council. Issues on the menu included the development of the BMC’s work for hill walkers and clubs, and the prospect of an artificial crag in South East England.
Committee Reports & Forward Plans
The December National Council meeting includes the presentation of the Specialist Committee reports and forward plans as well as the main business of National Council. Each Specialist Committee gave a report of its activities over 2009 and presented its plan for 2010; these were agreed by National Council with some minor changes. The updated membership list and Terms of Reference of each Committee were also reviewed and agreed, again with some minor changes.
Points of note from the reports and forward plans included the following:
The appointment of an Access & Conservation Officer covering Wales is allowing greater focus on access issue negotiations in Wales and is freeing up staff time to address site based and legislative issues in England.
Sport England has now formally passed the ownership of Harrison’s Rocks to the BMC. Land management is an increasingly important aspect of the BMC’s work. The BMC also owns Craig y Longridge, Wilton 1, Bwlch y Moch (Tremadog), Horseshoe Quarry, Alderey Cliff & Stone Farm Rocks.
The Clubs Committee is up and running and has set itself the following four issues to consider over 2010 - funding, young members, legal structure and the promotion of clubs. Several BMC Areas (Peak, South West, North East) are yet to appoint reps to the Committee.
The International Committee has a £10k/year fund for allocating to expeditions, with a focus on younger mountaineers; it is also responsible for an annual grant derived from the Julie Tullis Memorial Fund.
The Competitions Committee has produced an excellent new full colour newsletter, Psyched.
The new Roaches Guidebook was published in November; the Froggatt Guidebook is expected in April 2010.
The BMC is conducting a major online survey of climbing wall users in the first quarter of 2010.
£5k has been allocated to the Better Bolts Campaign for 2010.
A special note of thanks was recorded for Iain McMorrin, Dave Binney and Tony & Debbie Powell all of whom were reported as stepping down from their positions within the BMC.
Main business of the meeting:
Neil Foster, Steve Scott and Vic Odell (Peak, Lakes and London & SE Areas) were welcomed as new National Council members. The majority of the Area Meetings are showing encouraging attendance levels of between 20-30 people per Meeting. Access issues in several Areas were discussed e.g. Cheddar Gorge (South West), Langcliffe (Yorkshire), the Eastern Moors (Peak) and Charnwood (Midlands). It was agreed that important National Council papers must be produced in time to allow for prior circulation to the Areas. It was noted that Mike Parsons is the new chair of the Lakes Area.
Finance, membership and insurance.
The year end forecast is for a £15k surplus; membership growth and travel insurance sales have remained strong in 2009 despite the economic downturn. Total BMC membership now stands at c.68000; 67% of individual members now pay by direct debit. A questionnaire survey of all BMC members is taking place in March 2010 as part of the Summit mailing.
National Council agreed that the subscriptions for club and individual members would be held level in 2011. It was therefore agreed that the proposal to go to the April 2010 AGM would be for, ‘no increase in subscriptions’ for the year 1 Jan-31 Dec 2011.
AGM / National Council business.
The 2010 AGM is at the Worm's Head Hotel, Gower on 17 April. Pat Littlejohn completes his term as Vice President at this meeting and will be replaced by another VP. The 2010 National Council Meetings will take place in Hayfield (Peak), Gower (S Wales), Malham (Yorks), Croyde (Devon) and Plas y Brenin (N Wales).
Artificial crag discussion.
The London & SE Area raised the possibility of constructing an artificial crag of some form in the south east of England; options included using an old quarry or building artificial boulders. Several BMC Areas expressed reservations about the idea. The issue of who would pay for it was unclear. It was eventually agreed that the L&SE Area would produce a more detailed proposal for consideration.
Clubs / Opt-out consultation.
The results of the recent consultation exercise and the position of the Clubs Committee were discussed. It was noted that 126 out of a total 234 clubs had responded to the consultation document and that the majority were against the introduction of an Opt-out facility. In view of the above, National Council voted not to adopt the Opt-out facility.
The BMC’s work for hill walkers.
There was a continued discussion of ways in which the BMC could develop its work and services for hill walkers. It was agreed that members should be encouraged to bring forward hill walking issues to the BMC and that the Areas should include a standing item, ‘Hill Walking Issues’ on their agendas to encourage discussion.
The meeting accepted 5 new clubs for BMC membership - Herts & Essex CC, Brathay Exploration Group, DYFI CC, Committed to Outdoor Activities & Pursuits and Osler Rock CC.
New events for 2010.
Harrison’s Celebration Dinner, High Rocks Hotel, Tunbridge Wells, 13 March.
BMC Upland Environment Conference, Losehill Hall, Peak District, 18 March.
BMC members hill walking courses at PyB, April / May.
BMC International Sea Cliff Meet, Land's End, 9-16 May.
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