National Council – 29th Sep 2018
This is my first report as Chair of National Council and the purpose of this report is to provide a shorter and more palatable document for consumption by your county colleagues and the wider membership. I do share some of my own views which are not necessarily shared by all Councillors.
1. I welcomed everyone and started the meeting by saying that as the newly elected Chair, my goal was to revitalise National Council so that it is seen as a valuable resource, not only by the Board but by the members too. I expressed my own view that National Council is a vital body within the sport that must be preserved during this governance review, but I believed National Council must go through a period of re-evaluation of its role and position within the Table Tennis England structure.
2. The report of the TTE Chair yielded a number of questions which were answered fully and to the satisfaction of members. One key piece of information announced by Sandra Deaton was that 2 new steering groups have been setup; one to drive the creation of MAG which would be a new advisory group recommended by the IRP and a voting review group which will look into recommendations by the IRP around voting rights.
3. There we no questions asked on Board report.
4. The issue of financial reporting was once again a source of negative debate, with Councillors and the Board remaining at an impasse.
5. The Treasurer read out a statement (available in the minutes) which effectively said that based on IRP recommendations National Council has no need to see financial reports or discuss them and as such what is currently being provided is more than sufficient. This was disputed by a number of Councillors. Interestingly throughout the meeting there were a few occasions where perfectly legitimate questions were asked and based on the financial reports provided it was not possible to find an answer.
6. A spirited and passionate speech was given about performance and talent development. The words of Peter Charters from Berkshire hit home with many Councillors as he described a series of issues ranging from the significant costs involved with funding young players, through to the lack of selection and representation of the England teams.
7. The Director of Sport, Simon Mills, gave a thorough response to Peter Charters in which he answered various questions that were asked. The questions were answered well, but we cannot escape from the facts… The current Cadets and Juniors are not achieving the standards we would want for them and if something is not done very soon to address this, in a fairly short time we may find ourselves in a very undesirable position. Many Councillors expressed the view that this issue has now become very serious. Most Councillors accepted Simon Mills responses and the reasons he gave, but the general feeling was that we need to see action and given the size of our association it is simply unacceptable to accept the results being achieved now as the norm.
8. Despite the obvious difficult nature of the discussions on performance, the debate itself was very healthy, with good contributions from many Councillors and demonstrated that Council can have difficult debates in a constructive way and be a valuable resource for our sport. I would strongly suggest that anyone interested in performance read the section on this in our minutes.
9. Council set the dates of future meetings, which are: 24th Nov 18 |9th Feb 19 | 6th Apr 19.10. The 24th November date has been pencilled in on the basis of devoting the meeting to the topic of governance. Councillors felt that they should have an input into MAG and voting rights, before the Board make any final decisions. I am waiting on a reply from the Board, as to whether they will agree to fund this meeting
11. Council tackled the very difficult subject of financial reporting. A sub-group has been set up to take the points raised at the meeting and evolve them into a proposal for a future Council meeting.
12. The main debate of the afternoon was how to make National Council a valued resource. I was pleased that the significant majority of Councillors really engaged in this debate. There were unsurprisingly lots of different views expressed, but by the end of the debate, it was clear that really there are 2 main views on the way forward.
13. One is to remain with Council’s traditional role which is to act as a guardian for the sport using its combined knowledge and experience to provide over-sight on Board policies and their performance. A number of powerful arguments were made as to why this is essential, not least being the fact that without National Council performing this role, there is simply no other body within the sport that can or will, which is putting all your eggs in one basket.
14. The alternative view is that the Board ultimately make the decisions and that it is not National Councils job to scrutinise their decisions; instead it should concentrate on being a conduit for the members on more local issues and be a simple advisory group that the Board can choose to engage with, at their discretion.
15. My own view is that I cannot see why these 2 views cannot co-exist. If one role of National Council is to be a conduit for member feedback and representation, then that should extend to ensuring their best interests are safeguarded. Council can continue to perform over-sight of Board policies (on behalf of the members) and still be a valuable sounding Board for them to gain feedback. Performing that role really doesn’t have any impact on the ability to engage with members and represent them on all sorts of local, county and national issues.
16. The final item of the day was a presentation on the new Council website. I am well known within the Table Tennis community for having expertise in IT and in my manifesto, I promised to use those skills to bring about new tools to improve communication between Councillors and members. I was happy to volunteer my time to provide this tool to Council and it is my belief that if collectively we can make it reach its full potential, it can be the catalyst for change that we need and enable Councillors to truly engage with their members they are elected to serve in a way they have never done before. The website has a forum which can be used for confidential discussions by Councillors or completely open discussion by every member of the Table Tennis community. We can push news out to players and engage them in ways that we have never done before. We have lots of functionality we can take advantage of, but we need everyone and that means Councillors, Board members, staff, county and league committee members and the players themselves, to really get stuck in and engage.
17. If you would like to discuss aspects of this report or other Table Tennis related issues you are more than welcome to email me. My personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org
My best wishes ??
National Council Chairman