Phil Green, on 4th April 2011 - 18:08 PM, said:
I don't understand why committee members took offense to the suggestion of independent counting being required. I pointed out the reason many posts ago
Nothing about personal trust of them - just being above reproach. After all, MP's are 'trusted' to run the country - but imagine if they wanted to count their own votes
Suppose we've taken a bit of a bashing here already and it was one comment too far. But fair enough. I suppose the problem is just how far do you take the accountability. As ever, it's a balance between a few amateurs fitting all this in with their spare time but trying to appear professional, versus, wanting to appear whiter than white. We are of course all sparkly clean if anyone feels the need to check! For instance, if we ask another organisation to count the votes, should we not make sure that none of us lot on the committee have any personal connection with them? See where I'm going to.
1) - it seems generally agreed that the CPS web site leaves much to be desired. It needs to be kept up to date AND as importantly, the CPS committee needs to actually use it to put important information on and so inform ITS MEMBERS - preferably as the FIRST place they put information, rather than the last - if anyone can be bothered and after people have complained that it isn't on there.
Darren, our Internet officer will post himself here on the website so I won't speak too much for him. I think the main problem has been the interface, which is quite tricky to get through. It certainly beat me when I tried anyway! I'm not making excuses for Darren but I guess that when you are trying to balance a busy life and work with something that isn't that intuitive to use, then it suddenly becomes a burden rather than a little job to fit in. My opinion (not the opinion of the CPS) is that we need to start something new from scratch and that it needs to have a content management system built in so that we can all update our bit of the site. Even then, having an updated site doesn't mean that it will get lots of hits. We've had the same thing with our running club website where we have a nice new spangly site with lots of up to date info on it, but still it's not visited much. Needs some thought...
Also we may have to pay for this to be done professionally. If we did I'd want to wait until after the dust has settled on the EEE just so we know how much money we have. I know there have been offers of help here of course and I'm not rejecting these outright. The main advantange of using a professional is that it would get done and we could demand rightly some sort of timescales and deadlines.
2) - voting for committee posts. I think it is already quite clear (feel free to disagree), that most members are voting for online voting, with (quite rightly) the option of postal voting for those who can't use the internet. This shows that the membership is fair and want an inclusive voting system, rather than just the few able to attend AGM's.
The thing to get round with a combination of voting methods is how to make sure that a member doesn't vote postal and online. Online votes are anonymous so we can't actually check this. The only way I can think to so this is for members to select an option at the time of renewal (though not neccessarily then) whether they want online voting or postal and then mark them accordingly in the database. Fortunately Dennis is a whiz at Access so he can do this easily enough. We'd have to make sure that each ballot paper was unique so it would have to have a unique identifier number or something similar. Whether that number is traceable back to the member to whom it's sent is another question. There's a need to check there but also a potential lack of anonymity.
I'm not sure that we can have voting via this forum anyway because of data protection implications. We are allowed to hold a record of members but we would have to check, probably with the Charities Commission, whether any member details could be transfered to this forum, not matter how secure it is. Also it would have to be a committee post that managed the voting database and system, again because of data protection. It might be possible to host the database on our own hosting company though even this may have similar implications. Again, I'm not rejecting outright, just trying to work out all the implications.
Whatever, it needs careful thought because it's not that straightforward, or not to me anyway. Also, bear in mind that the poll here is hardly representative of the CPS members. So far there have been 23 votes out of a membership of about 400. As I've already said, I think the next step is to have a full ballot of the membership, which of course brings out the same questions and pointers as before! We have canvassed the membership before when we were considering e-membership and the way we did that was simply to put the question with several tick box options on the renewal form. It's not a vote as such but just a way of seeing what the majority of the membership think and I reckon it probably worked for the question of e-membership, which when we introduced it was quite contraversial. Now everyone is doing it! I even had a few members who expressed their opinions extremely firmly in writing. One member scrawled something to the effect that he doesn't have the Internet and intends NEVER to get it, all in capitals.
However, it has been made quite clear by the committee, that any voting will likely be irrelevant, as there would be no vote unless two people contested the same post. And I don't believe that most members have any issue what so ever, with MOST of the current committee.
That was my personal thoughts not those of the committee. And I didn't say that there wouldn't be no vote, just that I can't see the point of having a vote unless you just turn it into a popularity contest, quite apart from any other potential dangers (albeit unlikely) to the management structure of the CPS.
Now Phil pointed out the consequence of 'voting out' certain committee members, but neatly avoided the posts of most concern Steve & Paul. But much earlier he said
Sorry - I wasn't intending to avoid the issue. I suppose the only way to vote off any committee member is to find someone else to vote for. That's the way it works with pretty much all electoral systems. I suppose if there a substantial number of members backing it we could ask for a vote of confidence but there are no structures set for this in the constitution and it's never been done before.
So it looks as though there would actually no consequence of 'deselecting them'.
According to accounts we make enough profit from Chelsea to subsidise the membership by approximately £3 so there's one immediate consequence of deselecting Steve and Paul. Gardener's World Live makes a very small profit apparently. To be absolutely frank, show secretary is one of the hardest jobs on the committee so I'm not saying that it would be impossible to replace Steve or Paul (and we will eventually have to of course) but it's not going to be easy and we may have to consider whether the CPS can have a precence at these shows. I'm not trying to sound too negative but just show that there are consequences of deselection.
Which seems to be the 3rd point.
3) - a vote of confidence in Steve and Paul. And their absence in this debate has been very obvious, even though there are several CPS members raising issues here, the CPS Chairman has said not one word.
These are reasons not excuses but I know that Paul has virtually no Internet prescence due to working away and and very often out of the country. Steve has had a number of issues too which I have no intention of elaborating on. Rest assured that he will state his case here when he has the time and stomach for it, though personally I wouldn't want to.
But again - no one seems to really be questioning Steve and Paul being Show organisers - it has already been said they do a good job. It is just the Chairman's post and 'apparent' vice Chairman.
Sigh! How can you question Paul as 'apparent' 'defacto' or any other term you want to use - vice chairman. He is not the vice chairman and while I think that we ought to have a vice-chairman's post, you can't suggest that Paul stands down from a post that he doesn't occupy! As for Steve, I expect I'll be accused of collusoin, jackbooted Stalinism or something simlar but I happen to think that he's done a pretty good job. Steve has a very hands-off approach which I know Vic could not handle but I think that this is exactly the way to handle the CPS management. Steve (and Paul) are often working behind the scenes takling problems and issues and just because they don't make themselves visble very often doesn't mean they aren't doing their jobs. For instance, most of the current members of the committee were recruited by Steve and Paul. Often it's not what you do but how you do it.
And it does seem to me that CPS members are now calling for a vote of confidence.
You do need to be careful there because while opinion has been quite vociferous it has come from a very tiny majority of the CPS membership. I haven't gone through this thread and others to count the numbers but let's just say there are ten who have expressed disatisfaction. That is hardly even representative of the society membership. It's not something to be ignored either but just needs to be put into perspective.
Also a general plea to remember that I'm speaking as myself here and not as a committee member and none of this is neccessarily CPS policy or even policy in the making.
Edited by pwilson, 05 April 2011 - 14:22 PM.