Well at the risk of completely contradicting myself I’ll respond to your accusations here once and for all.
First off though, if a member wants to ask these questions I will happily answer them as openly and honestly as a I can. You on the other hand have no such right. If you think you have a case please stop making them here on this forum and take it to the charities commission. I will state once and once only that not a single one of your accusations has even a grain of truth. I will deal with every one of your points here for the record and to shut you up finally. You have of course tried and failed completely to urge members to challenge us at the last AGM. I think most people see through you entirely.
Vic2, on 18th March 2011 - 17:49 PM, said:
I'm simply being open and honest, Phil; I highlight what the CPS doesn't want its members and others to know.
Which is just how bad things have become inside the CPS, through appalling neglect from the top.
And how it's going to stay that way - or get even worse - under the ruling status quo.
You are being economical with the truth. The membership can make any points they want at any time to any committee member and further, they can raise these points at the AGM. You on the other hand seem to think that you have a God given right to criticise a society with which you have no
connection. I deny completely and utterly that there is or has been any attempt to cover anything up and further that there is nothing that we do not want our members to know. Everything including finance is stated completely and openly at every AGM. Flick produces a comprehensive statement of account which is handed out to all AGM attendees and is made available in the society publication. Flick also leaves the books for anyone at the AGM to inspect and for those who are not able to attend she is always willing to provide any information or answer questions from members. As for you being “open and honest”, this is a very strange interpretation of the term. You produce facts that are incorrect and brandish them as the truth, you make accusations against committee members that are completely unfounded and you attempt to split the committee by praising some and slagging the rest off. Let everyone see the evidence below.
As for the "appalling neglect" I can see no evidence of this. We have a thriving and vibrant society. We produce displays at the two largest plant shows in the country (RHS Chelsea and the NEC). We are organising a fantastic event at Chester Zoo this year and we have a great new publication, the Planta Carnivora. We also have two specific CPS shows each year (the AGM and the end of the year show) and we have members and other open days throughout the growing season. Neglect? Don't think so. It's actually very easy to make statements like "appalling neglect" without qualifying them or in fact providing a single piece of evidence to back up your claims. And before you even begin to open your mouth again do not make a single accusation against Steve Cottell or Paul McKeown that you cannot back up 100%.
What you don't say is as important as what you do.
- You don't deny that the CPS has £14,000 of members' money sitting idly in the bank, for years;
The current balance in the society account is around £12000 and from this we still have to pay approximately £2000 for the production and mailing of the next Plant Carnivora. The figure you quote is from several years ago and was artificially inflated because we had reserved money for a journal that didn’t appear (my fault – sorry!) and the CP Guide. Since that balance we have produced one guide and two journals at one go. The guide cost very roughly something in the region of £3500, the last journal cost something close to £2000 and each Plant Carnivora costs a somewhat lower figure but it is something around £1300. There are postage and packing costs on top of these figures plus we employ a graphic designer to get the publication print ready. Again I don't have these to hand but it's something close to £800 for the Planta Carnivora. There is also a ring fenced figure for the conservation fund, which is £1200 so the approximate balance of society funds is in fact around £8700. All these figures are available for EVERY member since we publish the accounts from every AGM. They are also available online (I think) and if all else fails, any member can get a copy by emailing or writing to Flick (with an SAE of course). Hardly covering things up is it?
We have to maintain sufficient funds in the account for several reasons. First, we need a cushion for unexpected events and we have already decided that this will be no less than £5000. This is to cover us for anything that might turn up. It is vital that we maintain some sort of financial security as otherwise we risk insolvency and the society will cease to exist. Few members are aware that when Flick took over as treasurer how close the society was to being insolvent. We are also underwriting the EEE this year to the tune of something close to £5000. This means than in the event that the EEE makes a loss the CPS will cover it. Quite obviously we hope to make some sort of profit but you can never tell with these events. Foot and mouth devastated events of this sort not that long ago and the weather can make a tremendous difference too. If it rains all weekend we can expect significantly fewer visitors than if it is brilliant sunshine. But finances are more subtle than that. We also have to have the funds to buy all the resources that we will need for the EEE in advance. For instance marquees have to be hired, PA systems too. We also need to buy publicity and display materials and there are a thousand other things that need to be bought. Quite obviously the money has to come from somewhere for all this and the somewhere is society funds.
Also separately we need funds to allow us to buy things for the members. T shirts and other promotional stuff for instance and books. We can use our buying power to get books at a significant discount which is then passed onto members. All this needs funding and we have to keep those funds so they are available. Our new promotions officer has loads of new ideas for CP related clothing and other stuff. Suffice to say that we cannot underwrite events such as the EEE if we do not have the funds available to do so.
One further point is relevent here. We are and have been running at a slight loss over the past few years. The loss will actually increase this year because the new Planta Carnivora is a more expensive publication than the old journal/newsletter combination. I suppose some might say that the extra costs are unjustified but hopefully these will be a minority and certainly we on the committee think that the improvements in communications and the overal quality of the Plant Carnivora justify the additional cost. The only reason we can justify running at a loss is by having a reasonable financial cushion and as long as the cushion is there we will be able to continue to maintain the membership fees at the currrent price. I have been a member of the CPS for far longer than I care to remember and I cannot recall when we last had a membership fee increase. That is surely a benefit to the members isn't it?
You won't say what conservation work the CPS has undertaken, although this is a prime objective of the CPS' charitable status. (rf. Society Rule 3);
In the last year? Well we supported a research project concerning one of the few (possibly only) site for the Drosera hybrid D. belezeana and the major project is of course the EEE which will be supporting at least two organisations concerned specifically with conservation. All profits (if any) will go to these organisations and we will be fundraising actively for them as well during the show. In addition to any profits there will be separate fundraising activities for our sponsored organisations including a plant auction and collecting tins. Almost as importantly though will be the coverage that our supported organisations will be getting giving visitors an oversight of the threats that carnivorous plants face and the work that is being done to protect them. And before you ask I don't want to name the organisations yet because I don't know that they have been finalised. This is something that Tim will name when the time is right. That's not being secretive. I don't think it is fair to make public announcements before the details have been finalised.
The CPS won't commit a contribution towards a major UK peatland preservation project, where native CPs are known to exist and all the administrative work has been done by the RSPB;
The RSPB are welcome to make an application to the conservation fund. But this is also a classic example of how you twist things to suit your own purposes. Because no one has bothered to reply to your comments you assume it means we have refused it. We have not refused anything because we have not even talked about it.
We have a specific duty to make sure that society funds are only spent on projects that specifically benefit carnivorous plants. Specifically and quoting from the CPS website,
The aim of the fund is to provide support to conservation projects where carnivorous plants are to be saved, their habitat protected from destruction, cultivated for reintroductions to wild sites, or where key sites can be used as an educational resource.
This means that we have to examine every application to make sure it conforms in one or more respects to the criteria set up for this purpose. While I'm sure that the RSPB project is extremely valuable and worthy there is no mention specifically of preserving carnivorous plant habitats. Having said all this I am going to contact the RSPB to see if there is any relevance to carnivorous plants and to see if there is any way that we could support a specific funding application. I don't think buying gimmick parcels of land is a suitable use of society funds though of course if members think otherwise they are more than welcome to let any committee member know.
You don't give any statements from the CPS leadership;
Well I am one of the CPS leadership and I suppose you could consider this to be a statement. In preparing this reply the committe have discussed the response in detail so please be absolutely certain in the fact that I am representing the opinion of the entire committee. You continually make the point that certain committee members do not respond to comments and emails. I have stated it before and I will state it again that all committee members have a right to a private life and they should not be subjected to personal abuse from you or any other person, member or non-member. You do not have any right of reply where society matters are concerned.
You don't deny that Tim and Dennis are the only CPS Committee people doing anything about the DEFRA consultation and the EEE.
Thank heavens for Tim and Dennis, otherwise the CPS wouldn't even have the EEE this year.
Even fair Sheila is showing welcome signs of returning to activity, despite a recent double lung transplant.
More than can be said of others, eh?
DENIED. Tim wrote the reply to the DEFRA consultation because writes these sorts of reports professionally so he knows the format. There was a general contribution towards the content and we had several drafts before we agreed a final format. Naturally Tim announced this on the forum - why wouldn't he. You assume from this that Tim did all the work. You are WRONG. As for your claim that Dennis had a major input I'm sure he will forgive me if I'm wrong but I'm not aware of him making any more contribution than the rest of us. As for the claim that only Tim and Dennis are responsible for putting on the EEE I will put you right there too. It is true that Tim has taken on the major role of organising the EEE and that Dennis has had a major input but to say that the rest of us are taking a back seat is pure insult. Let's see, we have Flick who is responsible for the overall funding. Darren is producing the website. I am organising the speakers. Steve and Paul are organising the plant display.
I think it's about time the Charities Commission was made aware of what is (not) happening inside the CPS, don't you?
So stop right now and send your accusations to them. Go on! I'll even make it easy for you. Here is the website for the Charities Commission. http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/
We would love you to do this in fact because we do not have a single thing to hide from you, the charities commission or any single member.
Now, since I have answered your accusations it's only fair that you answer some of mine.
1. You wasted CPS funds on software that was not needed. I still have an educational/chartitable organisation copy of Dreamweaver CS4 that we will sell to anyone who is interested BTW. Contact me by PM if interested. Vic bought this software insisting it was needed shortly before he resigned his post as Internet Officer. Later I found that the society website was written in a language that is not compatible with Dreamweaver. Presumably you were planning to re-write the society website but suddenly found you needed to spend more time with your family.
2. You left your post as Internet Officer with no notice leaving us with no one to maintain the site. Is this the behaviour of someone who claims to be profoundly concerned about the society?
3. You sent offensive and probably libellous emails to certain committee members including me and then denied all knowledge of them. You also threatened prosecution under the data protection act unless we deleted these emails from our personal computers. Fortunately you are not a lawyer because if you did you would know of course that the data protection act does not cover data held on personal computers. I for one still have these emails and intend to keep them for my personal protection.
4. While a committee member you attempted to cultivate and ferment disorder among the committee. At one point for instance you suggested that I stand against Steve as chairman for instance. I refused point blank because I considered it to be disloyal. I suspect it was at this point that you turned your spiteful venom against me.
5. Why do you continue to criticise a society with which you have absolutely no connection. You are not a part of the society. You left the committee after a very short time and were later ejected from the society because you refused to retract certain allegations made to me and other members of the committee. It matters not a bit to you what happens to the society now you are no longer a member and in fact there is nothing to even stop you forming your own splinter carnivorous plant society. Perhaps this is what you should do considering you think we are making such a bad job of it.
And now a general message to whoever moderates this section of the forum. If you feel that I have answered these continued accusations once and for all please say so. If you think that there is more to answer please also say so. If however it is your opinion that Vic's accusations have been answered once and for all I urge you to prevent him posting on the topic again. I've said it so many times now but I'll say it again. He is an ex-member with a grudge and that's the end of it.
I'll state once more that I have the backing of the entire committee on this so this is not just me giving my opinion. If neccesary we will take these accusations to the full CPS membership and get their reaction. We will also seek assistance from the charities commission if we think it neccessary.
And now a final appology to anyone else who has waded through this post. We don't respond in this manner lightly and I am aware that there will be those on the forum who will be saying to themselves, "not again"! Sorry.