Richard Bache is our BBKA Delegate and reports from the recent BBKA ADM.
On the 12th January I attended Myton School in Warwick for the 59th BBKA ADM. A minute silence was held for the beekeepers that had passed away. There were the usual housekeeping, apologies and adoption of the standing orders. Margaret Murdin (President and Chairing the meeting) reported that there had been increasing abuse over the telephone by beekeepers towards the staff at BBKA headquarters necessitating the introduction of telephone recording. 66 (of 74) Area Associations were present, representing 23284 members.
Minutes and Reports
An amendment from Manchester regarding the minutes of the 2018 ADM had been accepted by the executive. Bob Maurer (Surrey) asked why there was so little recorded about the disciplinary process at last years ADM. Margaret Murdin explained that it was best to leave it out as a lot of what was said was contentious and confidential. The minutes were accepted.
Terry Hitchman (Stratford delegate) asked what progress had been made on the discouragement of honeybee importation. Margaret Murdin stated that lobbying had occurred and that banning importation of honeybees might be possible after Brexit, but there were other political priorities for the government. It was noted that it was mainly bee farmers who were importing honeybees.
Tony Lindsell (Devon) recorded his disappointment with progress reports and the fact that it did not seem that ADM propositions moved freely to the EC to action. He also noted missed opportunities regarding a DEFRA consultation, although Anne Rowberry noted that she had responded in several capacities, including as BBKA trustee. Later, Tony Lindsell asked for a copy of the BBKA response to the DEFRA consultation.
John Canning (Cleveland) asked about the Northern Ireland situation post Brexit. Margaret Murdin noted that there were already difficulties in recording bees crossing the Northern Ireland border. The Northern Ireland (INIB) delegate stated that figures for bees crossing the border were not clear, there are bees and beekeepers that straddle the border and there are likely to be low numbers but also under-reporting.
Tony Lindsell briefly asked for an update on the VAT proposition of several years previously, although it was noted that this might be difficult to achieve before Brexit.
Roger Patterson noted that importation of honeybees was permitted from Argentina and that the have Africanised honeybees.
The reports were dealt with much quicker than in previous years as there were no verbal supplementary reports except on the Spring convention, where a paragraph had been omitted. It was explained that there was much subsidy of the convention by the traders and that they were trialling cheaper day tickets. Michel Badger (Yorkshire) asked whether there was a plan to stay with Harper Adams long-term. Joyce Nisbet replied stating that the venue was frequently under review, and although there were some disadvantages to the venue there were also many advantages and there are no plans to change the venue at present.
Simon Cavill explained that the next International Meeting of Young Beekeepers will be in Slovakia and that it was hoped to get beekeepers aged 12-16 involved for selection. The reports were nearly unanimously accepted.
Val Francis (for the exam board) noted that there had been more basic assessments and awarded the Surrey shield (Basic Assessments) to Newcastle and the George Knights Memorial Shield (higher assessments) to Gloucester.
It was noted that there had been a third consecutive year of surplus and no increase in capitation was intended. The reappointment of auditors and financial reports were both passed with near unanimous support.
New Association applications
After lunch, attention turned to the associations applying for BBKA membership. The Laddingford representative gave a fairly bitter account of their split with Kent BKA which seems to have centred around the insistence that all Kent members subscribe to Bee Craft. They were initially formed from the Yalding Branch and it sounds like there was deeper bitterness around the finances of the division. The Kent delegate offered no objections to them joining BBKA, but noted that some issues with their formation had been raised with the Charity Commission. The Medway representative also had no objections and supported the application. Bob Maurer (Surrey) made the point that once again, inability to sort out local issues had resulted in potential for increased administration at a national level. Michael Badger (Yorkshire) stated that they should pay an appropriate rate. As a delegate, the test I always apply is whether a new association represents fragmentation of existing associations or inclusion of previously unrepresented beekeepers. I felt this leaned towards fragmentation and therefore did not support the application. 34 Associations supported their application against 20 against, but this was overturned with a membership vote (7520 for, 10953 against).
Terry Hitchman (Stratford) reiterated a previous request that local problems could be sorted out by a national taskforce. David Coates (Burton and district, Derbyshire) stated that large associations wield too much power with the membership vote.
The other applicant association, Ellan Vannin, had withdrawn their application. Roger Patterson expressed annoyance that work had been undermined. Points were raised about the BBKA neutrality in membership applications before Michael Badger (Yorkshire) proposed we move to next business.
The executive nominees, John Canning, Margaret Wilson and Diane Drinkwater were duly elected as there were more candidates than vacancies. The Exam board were elected as Somerset wished with Stuart Roberts, Marin Anastasov and our own Lynne Ingram getting the three-year terms, Celia Perry getting the two-year term and Michael Cullen getting the one-year term.
After Lunch there was a rearrangement of the agenda to enable some work on the constitution.
Margaret Murdin explained that the VAT issue (from Devon) was best brought up after Brexit, and presented the past presidents badge to John Hendrie. There was a series of quick-fire non-contentious propositions which were heavily supported (including by me): Enabling videoconferencing (8), Winding up BBKA Enterprises (7) and changing the BBKA news wrapper to a recyclable material (5).
The proposition for protected time for propositions at the ADM (9) was felt to be too restrictive. Suggestions that were raised to enable more discussion included an informal forum, a digital forum or even a second day of voting. I was among 39 that voted against this one.
The first proposition to generate much debate was the inclusion of a schools category, should the new constitution not pass. It was clarified that one school would constitute one voting member and that the school would rely on their own insurance. It was agreed that the educational establishment would have to be defined more precisely with Ofsted registration (or Estyn in Wales). Annette Campbell (Newcastle) was concerned that all the students at the local university could converge on the club apiary, but Margaret Murdin stated that it was up to local associations to define the relationship they have with Educational establishments. Lesley Jacques (Cheshire) suggested that universities should be excluded as they were comprised of adults that could join independently. There was suggestion that the fact the wording was not published in time would make the proposition out of order, others suggested that it ought to go to the executive to work on it in more detail. However, two amendments were tabled- one to necessitate OFSTED/ESTYN registration for a school being a members (which I supported and passed) and one which included Universities (which I supported and did not pass). The proposition was passed (which I supported) with 56 votes (84%) for and 8 against. It was noted that it is up to associations to amend County membership classes accordingly.
The proposition on whether BBKA should be represented at tradex (6) divided opinion with many seeing an opportunity to engage with more beekeepers. It was noteworthy that those involved in the BBKA spring convention and those who were executive members when Bee Tradex was formed were very much against this, citing the inflexibility of the proposition. It was supported. The next proposition on publishing BBKA minutes divided opinion. Tony Lindsell (Devon) stated that this was a matter of transparency while Margaret Murdin felt that draft minutes could not be published and John Canning stated that it can suppress ideas at the meeting with decisions taken away from formal committee process. He instead pressed for a good report of the meeting. Margaret Wilson highlighted the positive thinking newsletter. It was suggested that the whole proposition be re-written. Padraig Floyd (Essex) proposed that the word Draft be omitted and I seconded this as this was the steer that I had from Somerset and this was well supported. John Canning then immediately proposed an amendment that this should be a summary of the meeting, which I felt watered down the proposition but was nonetheless passed and the amended proposition passed. The proposition to discourage manufacturers from selling leather gloves to beginners (11) was next, with the Derbyshire delegate stating that the best use for leather gloves is smoker fuel! Mike Duffin explained that he gets bad reactions and wears disposable gloves over the leather gloves. Anne Rowberry added that the suppliers had their reasons, but all agreed to suggest nitrile gloves. I was one of 44 who voted for this proposition.
The next proposition to be discussed was the discipline and dispute resolution policy (1). Stephen Barnes, for the executive, acknowledged that there were some weaknesses that had been identified. The broad change was that the right of appeal moved from being at the BBKA ADM to being independent arbiters. This, of course, would avoid the farcical events of last year where the EC were left potentially legally liable for the outcome of a dispute but had no input into the decisive vote. Padraig Floyd (Essex) supported the broad policy direction and vowed to work with the trustees to bring amendments to the next ADM. There were concerns that on one hand the BBKA needed a policy, but on the other, it needed to be well thought-out. The policy was accepted and collaboration with the review was invited.
The major proposition was dealt with last: that of the new constitution (now that BBKA are becoming a charitable incorporated organisation). Stephen Barnes discussed the background to the document and the progress that had been made over the past year. He stated that there had been little feedback, but that it had been of high quality, and sometimes quite novel. There had been a number of amendments, many of which had been received in the previous 24 hours, ranging from minor to substantial. It was even considered whether to pull the document, but that they had identified 7 amendments for consideration:
The amended constitution was put to the vote and I supported it along with 58 other associations. The Manchester delegate expressed his thanks for all the effort that had been put into the document to widespread applause. Margaret Murdin thanked the delegates for their time and goodwill, and also the staff of BBKA.