February 2017 Trustee Minutes

Held on Saturday 4th February 2017.

West Offices City Business Centre, Station Rise, York YO1 6GA

In attendance: Jim Clegg, Gill Simms, Karl Hahm, Barbara Boyce, Rob McLeod, and Catherine Marchbank.

1. Apologies.

Sheila Maw, Isla Reid and Joy Gower.

2. Approval of the minutes from the previous meeting held on Saturday 3rd September 2016.

The recorded minutes were approved subject to the previously circulated minor changes. Proposed by Karl Hahm and seconded by Barbara Boyce. Agreed unanimously by those in attendance, who had been at the September meeting.

3. Chairman’s Update.

3.1 Read out by Secretary on behalf of Chairman.

“After the last Trustee meeting I sent in my expenses to Karl, none for travelling, as I came down with Peter, but I submitted a receipt and asked for reimbursement of £60.00 for an overnight stay. Karl, with legitimate reason did not reimburse me as he said he did not have a precedent for paying for this type of expense. I have no difficulty with that decision. He did say, however, that he felt it a fairly unreasonable request to travel 300 miles, leaving approx at 6.am to arrive in time for a 5 hour meeting, and then drive 300 miles home. We agreed that I should bring my claim to the next Trustee meeting for adjudication. In support of my claim I would say that we have to ensure that future potential Trustees are not put off by the distance they might be required to travel, otherwise, we risk restricting our Trustees to those who are either able to return home the same day, or are prepared to finance their own accommodation costs.

The Governing Document under “Duties of Governing Body” section 4, says “In order to maintain and advance the objects of the scheme but not otherwise, the Trustees are empowered to incur such expenditure as appears necessary and prudent……..This shall include reimbursing members and others for expenditure deemed to have been necessarily incurred in support of the work of the scheme.” All the Trustees have, therefore, to decide if an overnight stay in the outlined circumstances is justified. I will abide by any decision but if you agree then a precedent is set.”

There then followed a discussion between the Officers and Trustees at the meeting. Karl stated that in principle he would say no to the request. He went on to say that individuals were aware that they would be required to travel to meetings when they offered themselves as trustees and in his opinion this should be part of their personal contribution (i.e. donation) to the charity. However, Barbara and others were generally in agreement with payment of some kind, for hotel expenses.

After some discussion it was agreed by the majority of trustees that the request should be granted. It was then agreed that the following policy would apply in future:

A maximum of £60 towards accommodation costs only, for one night only, would be paid for any claim for hotel expenses, upon production of the receipt. This would only apply to Trustee meetings that require a person to travel more than 3 hours by car (as measured by the fastest route by Google maps) from their home address.

Proposed by Karl Hahm and seconded by Jim Clegg. Agreed unanimously.

Action: Closed.

3.2 Somerset Fun Day.

“I contacted XXXXXX and XXXXXX regarding assistance for an event. Neither of these ladies wished to take on the responsibility. I contacted at Cath’s suggestion, Islip Hall in Oxfordshire. Their costs were £18.50 per hour. I didn’t enquire further as I thought it best to establish interest in this venue first.”

Both Karl and Cath had done some research on this matter and Karl produced a map showing the spread of members throughout the UK. The venue in Somerset was considered to be difficult to get to and too far away from the southern membership. Likewise XXXXXX home was in XXXXXX which was completely out on a limb with virtually no members anywhere nearby. The areas around Oxford and Dartford were suggested as likely venues for a garden party in the south. It was generally considered that a venue adjoining the A34 near Oxford would be better attended.

Action: Ongoing Cath Marchbank to liaise with Joy Gower

4. Welfare Update.

Cath Marchbank provided a general update regarding rehoming activities. 68 dogs had so far been rehomed in 2016, with the paperwork for a further 7 Scotties, re-homed in Scotland, to be sent in by Peter Duncan. Isla Reid was in the process of arranging for this paperwork to be submitted, as soon as possible. The fifteen (15) dogs from France had cost the charity £15,000 in veterinary fees, STECS paying out over £55,000 in veterinary fees during 2016.

Many felt that there was a pressing need to ‘advertise’ these payments both in-house via the web site and Newsletter and by Social media. However, all agreed that this required care and attention to ensure the charity remained loyal to its members and supporters, whilst still maintaining the aims and objectives of the charity. Cath reported that following the resignation of Peter Duncan in Scotland, she had been able to maintain re-homing activities in Scotland using local area representatives.

Cath Marchbank proposed that Liz Bradley and Jean Hill should be formally adopted as members of the Welfare Committee, with immediate effect. This was seconded by Gill Simms. Agreed unanimously. Action: Cath Marchbank re Welfare Committee.

Jim Clegg to contact Peter Duncan to resolve paperwork issues.

4.1 Financial assistance Molly XXXXXX

Cath Marchbank provided a detailed update of Molly’s condition, operation and progress to date. Initially the owner had expected a vet bill of £1,200 but Cath had warned her that the fee would be much higher, in the region of £5,000. No bill had been produced to date but the costs involved were thought to be £4,688. Molly had been re-homed via Preloved and Gill Simms confirmed that she had been in contact with the owner, from a very early stage, as STECS had made enquiries regarding the dog, before it was re-homed. Gill was aware of Molly’s background and home circumstances, prior to adoption by XXXXXX. Molly had been insured, via Animal Friends, for the basic cover of £1,000 per illness. At the time of the meeting, XXXXXX was not a member of STECS and no application had been submitted.

Molly’s illness had attracted a high volume of attention on social media, via an open Facebook page and via a new web site and Facebook page. There was also a Facebook ‘secret’ page which had approx. 400 friends, which included Karl Hahm, Gill Simms and several STECS members. Gill and Karl confirmed that some posts on the ‘secret’ page XXXXXX had been very ‘negative’ towards STECS involvement, with this financial assistance claim. Karl passed round a printout of the comments that had been made by XXXXXX which (amongst other accusations and claims) accused the trustees of paying themselves expenses rather than applying the charity’s funds to help Scotties, and asked members of STECS to change their wills and not leave money to STECS. The Secretary had also received e-mails regarding STECS lack of involvement, in the fund raising for Molly.

During the discussion to decide the amount to be awarded to Molly for her treatment, it was clear that every Trustee had differing views regarding the amount that should be given. The amount varied between the minimum in the circumstances of £500 to the maximum under the current policy of £2500. Joy Gower preferred it to be called a ‘goodwill’ gesture. After some deliberation the general agreement was to award £XXXXXX, less the fee for 2 years STECS membership. XXXXXX would then be a STECS member for 2 years. Gill Simms did have reservation about the amount. Payments based upon gross income were also discussed, and an item under A.O.B. was briefly explained by Jim Clegg. The payments based upon gross income had been suggested by Isla Reid. She had proposed a formula based on a sliding scale, which if it was applied to this particular case would have resulted in a contribution of more than £XXXXXX.

Proposed by Cath Marchbank and seconded by Jim Clegg. Agreed unanimously. Action: by Karl Hahm. Closed.

5. Treasurer Update including Annual Accounts for 2016.

The 2016 accounts were circulated prior to the meeting. Karl Hahm stated that the highlights were:

 Veterinary fees amounted to £55,892

 Net inflow of funds was £13,223

 Memberships had decreased from 796 to 769 (a 3% fall)

There were no questions or issues raised and it was agreed that the accounts should proceed to the Auditors, for subsequent inspection and approval at the 2017 AGM

6. Actions and matters arising from the previous meeting held on 3rd September 2016.

6.1 Update regarding actions arising from letter from Mr & Mrs Smith. (RM/JC)

Rob McLeod had written to, and received replies from, all four previous Trustees, regarding the alleged bullying comments, raised by XXXXXX, at the 2016 AGM. In his letter Rob had offered the opportunity for all concerned, to seek a resolution and a way forward, by attending a ‘mediation’ meeting. Rob read out the various replies to his letters.

Rob had received three separate replies from XXXXXX, together with a previously circulated report, regarding the re-homing of the 4 dogs, from Scotland in 2015. XXXXXX in her recent communications reiterated that she blamed XXXXXX and XXXXXX, for the dispute amongst some of the Officers and Trustees in 2015. In XXXXXX opinion, XXXXXX lacked integrity and was duplicitous. In her last letter, these allegations were reinforced, and XXXXXX also stated that she felt that XXXXXX was pompous and arrogant. This last communication from XXXXXX, arrived after an e-mailed reply from XXXXXX. In summary XXXXXX declined to attend any mediation meeting or return to STECS as she considered it would be a waste of time while XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX.

XXXXXX in his e-mail stated that he had no interest in pursuing any issues raised at, or before, his resignation and that he bore no malice. He hoped that STECS would continue in carrying out its good work and that the Trustees were effective in facilitating that work. He sent his best regards to Rob and his fellow trustees.

XXXXXX had previously referred to bullying tactics, by at least three Trustees in 2015. In her letter to Rob she said that she had received aggressive phone calls and emails from XXXXXX. XXXXXX had shouted at her and accused her of stealing a Scottie. In addition she claimed that XXXXXX and XXXXXX had tried to bully her into doing the wrong thing for a rescue in her care. XXXXXX also declined to attend any mediation meeting or return to STECS whilst XXXXXX or XXXXXX were still associated with STECS as this would be a waste of time. She felt that as both XXXXXX and XXXXXX had shown no intention of apologising for their actions she did not see how she could move forward. Notwithstanding, she hoped STECS would learn from the experience and wished STECS with continued success.

XXXXXX had also been in contact with Rob, stating that she had indeed felt very “bullied” on more than one occasion during her time with STECS. She did not name the persons who she felt had bullied her. XXXXXX was happy to attend any mediation meeting, as she considered that bullying in society today was a serious issue She was also very much in favour of ‘moving on’ in a positive way, for the greater good of the Scotties that we aim to help, which is why she had already returned as a rehomer.

Jim Clegg had received a letter from Isla Reid, concerning this dispute. This letter was read out to the Officers and Trustees at the meeting. In this letter she stated that we should all remember that we are volunteers, coming from diverse backgrounds with greatly different points of view, personal values, and life experiences. It is not, therefore, surprising that we do not always agree with each other. We may not even like each other but we have to make an effort to respect each other’s viewpoint, whether or not we agree with it. She went on to state that she was a straightforward person and direct in her dealings with people. She accepted that she could become annoyed and frustrated when her objections were not being taken seriously, or even listened to. Isla indicated that she was happy to participate in any form of mediation, if this would be of assistance. She felt that the situation was the result of two sets of people, simply disagreeing with each other, so perhaps some honest dialogue would be a good idea, between all the parties involved, to allow STECS to ‘move away’ from this situation.

Rob McLeod then asked the Trustees how the matter could be moved forward. Clearly there were two opposing sides, with one side willing to seek a resolution, but XXXXXX and XXXXXX refusing any kind of contact with STECS whilst XXXXXX and XXXXXX were still part of STECS. XXXXXX had been very considered and positive in his reply and clearly wished to move forward, away from any involvement with STECS. It was agreed that an ‘anti-bullying’ policy should be introduced and that all within STECS should learn from the events of the past, by following good practice, when re-homing STECS dogs. The general feeling was that the matter could not be pursued any further in the circumstances, following the replies from those involved, without some form of mediation.

Rob McLeod proposed that he should prepare suitable letters for the four people involved, who had resigned as Officers or Trustees over this matter, thanking them for their devotion and efforts on behalf of STECS. These letters would be signed and sent out by the Chairman Isla Reid. Seconded by Jim Clegg. Agreed unanimously.

Action: by Rob McLeod and Isla Reid.

6.2 Update regarding financial assistance for Bracken. (CM/IR)

Isla in her note to the meeting, confirmed that Peter paid the money agreed at the last Trustee meeting, to Mr and Mrs XXXXXX. She also confirmed that the invoices given to Peter were for only half of the treatment Bracken received. Mr and Mrs XXXXXX funded the other half as they recognised their financial responsibility towards Bracken. Though we did not know at the time, we in actual fact paid for half of the veterinary bill for Bracken.

Karl had asked Peter Duncan for a copy of the letter that he sent to Mr and Mrs XXXXXX. This had been an action on Peter from the previous trustee meeting. Karl required a copy of the letter as audit evidence to support the significant payment made to Mr and Mrs XXXXXX. Despite Karl’s request and reminders, Peter had failed to provide a copy of the letter.

Action: Jim Clegg to contact Peter Duncan to obtain copy of letter. (JC)

6.3 Update regarding Rainbow Bridge notifications. (JG)

Joy is already overseeing the work with the Rainbow Bridge letters and is happy to continue. Christine phones her for addresses of members from the database. Karl confirmed that any Rainbow Bridge notification should be sent to Joy, with a copy to Shirley (for microchip database), Karl (for any donation) and Mr & Mrs Yates.

Action: Closed.

6.4 Letter to Local Authority and SSPCA re puppy farm in XXXXXX. (IR)

From Isla Reid: SSPCA has filed a complaint against the breeder with XXXXXX City Council.

Action: Closed.

6.5 Update concerning XXXXXX to become a member and Northern Ireland Re-homer. (CM)

Cath Marchbank confirmed that XXXXXX is now an Area Representative in Northern Ireland. She had made contact with her and obtained her mobile telephone number.

Action: Closed.

6.6 Update International Breed Conference. Update. (SM/IR)

Cath Marchbank is now attending with Sheila. Isla Reid had previously agreed to accompany Sheila and deliver a presentation on the work of STECS. However she had recently advised Sheila that she would not now be attending. The event is planned to take place over three days from Saturday 4th March to Monday 6th March 2017. It will be held at the Royal Court Hotel, Coventry. This was work in progress. The STECS stand (with Joy & Ian Gower) would be in place on the Sunday and Monday.

Action: Ongoing Cath Marchbank & Sheila Maw.

6.7 Update re STECS eBay charity account. (JG)

As Joy Gower had been unable to attend, Karl and Isla would contact Joy direct with an update regarding particular items. Karl was aware that £90 had been raised to date.

Action: Ongoing Joy Gower.

6.8 Distribution of specific Trustee responsibilities. (IR)

Isla Reid had circulated a discussion document to all Trustees prior to the meeting. Gill Simms was happy to take on the role of (6) Re-homing Administrator, but asked for the financial assistance section to be transferred back to the role of the Welfare Officer. This was agreed by all. Items: (3) Communications, (4) Marketing and Sales and (5) Advertising were currently covered by Isla, Joy and Sheila respectively.

Karl Hahm asked if responsibility for “corporate branding” (e.g. consistency of letterheads) could be added to item (3). There were no immediate volunteers for the role of (1) Events manager and (2) Manager for Health and Safety, including risk management. Barbara Boyce considered that it was the job of Trustees to seek volunteers from the membership. Jim Clegg said it was important to note that Trustees were not required to perform all the jobs themselves, but should maintain an overview and report back to the Governing Body at meetings. Rob McLeod was concerned that these roles required a degree of knowledge and expertise and suggested that further advice and research would be required. Barbara suggested that STECS should consider taking on a paid part-time (2 days a week) Administrator. This idea was vehemently rejected by Karl Hahm. There was also a discussion concerning the degree of care a small charity, such as STECS, was legally obliged to exercise and the possibility of legal action against the Trustees. Barbara suggested that to avoid liability, STECS could consider changing its legal status.

Cath informed the meeting that Sheila was concerned about the job description requirement for the role of President. Jim Clegg reassured those present that there was no likelihood of any change to Sheila’s current duties. These duties were agreed and well documented at the time Sheila took on the role of President.

Rob McLeod proposed that he would seek advice and complete some further research on these matters and report back to the Trustees at the next meeting. Seconded by Jim Clegg. Agreed unanimously.

Action: by Rob McLeod and Isla Reid.

6.9 Update: Events past and future. (CM/JG/JC/IR)

2017 AGM. Now changed to Sunday, 7th May 2017 at Mere Parish Club, Warrington Road, Mere, Knutsford, Cheshire. WA16 0PU Action: Jim Clegg. Agenda and documentation

Northern Scots. Cancelled due to possible sale of venue. Read out by Secretary on behalf of Chairman. “There is an administrative difficulty for running Northern Scots in Crail this year. Although the hall is booked I am advised that Fife council is in talks with a company who are considering buying the Community Hall. Negotiations are not finalised but may mean cancelling bookings. I’m not happy to proceed on that basis. I have looked for another venue but the only one I can find is 20 miles from me without the parking or outdoor facilities, and I’m not keen on it. If anyone else wishes to look for a venue I’ll happily help all I can.”

Cath Marchbank offered to make some further enquires to try and locate another venue.

Action: Cath Marchbank.

Southern Garden Party. See 3.2 above.

Action: Ongoing Cath Marchbank to liaise with Joy Gower.

Summer Garden Party – Date confirmed as Saturday 12th August 2017. Cath to ensure advert is placed in the Newsletter and on the STECS web site, Gill to advertise event on Facebook. Action: Cath Marchbank and Gill Simms.

Christmas Fair. Cath was liaising with Joy Gower. Joy had provisionally booked Hasland.

Action: Ongoing Cath Marchbank and Joy Gower.

Glamis event in Scotland. Isla Reid to research event attendance in 2017.

Action: Isla Reid

6.10 AGM 2017. Documentation and draft AGM minutes. (JC/KH)

Jim Clegg confirmed that the venue had been booked, the deposit paid and telephone confirmation had been received from the Secretary at Mere Parish Club. The draft AGM minutes prepared by Karl Hahm were then discussed. Karl had asked XXXXXX for a copy of her statement. He felt that the Trustees should have a written record of exactly what XXXXXX said at the meeting. Some Trustees felt that XXXXXX was guilty of abuse of process and should have asked to speak under AOB, giving us notice, and that the chairman had acted correctly. Jim Clegg said that with the benefit of hindsight, the Chairman could have acknowledged XXXXXX statement and offered to speak to her after the meeting. He also stated that the ‘complaint’ was now well documented in the full minutes of the September 2016 Trustees meeting and will appear in the summaries, published on the web site. Karl indicated he was happy for the full text to be removed from the draft or for it to be summarised in a few sentences. A number of trustees considered that if all reference to XXXXXX statement was removed it could be interpreted as a cover up and in any event, would not stop members raising questions at the next AGM. Therefore the latter option was agreed and Rob volunteered to edit the draft.

Proposed by Rob McLeod. Seconded by Jim Clegg. Agreed unanimously.

Action: Rob McLeod

6.11 Trustee Declaration Charity Commission England, Wales & Scotland. (JC)

The previously circulated document was approved and provided to all those requiring the form for the 2017 AGM. It was agreed that the form would need to be signed each year by all Trustees, in the light of the recent insurance declaration requirement circulated by Karl.

Proposed by Jim Clegg. Seconded by Rob McLeod. Agreed unanimously. Closed.

6.12 Agria Insurance contract and other options available. (RM)

Rob McLeod had been in contact with XXXXXX from Agria again and explained that the contract provided by them, did not reflect the way in which STECS was set up and run. Agria were not prepared to change their standard contract and, therefore, Rob felt that the product did not meet the needs of the charity. He had discussed the idea of STECS providing one year’s free dog insurance to adoptees. The cost was estimated at approximately £30,000 per year, however Karl estimated that this would only result in a saving on veterinary fees of £5,000 per year, so this would not be good value for money. Karl suggested that perhaps STECS could pay for one month’s dog insurance, with Agria or another company, providing a further free month. This option was considered worthy of further investigation.

Karl also suggested that there was still an option to accept the contract with Agria “as is” in consideration for one month’s free insurance. He was unclear exactly which clauses some of the trustees had difficulty with. The risks of accepting the contract had never been properly evaluated or quantified.

Rob agreed to complete this research.

Action: Rob McLeod for further research.

6.13 Anilog. (BB)

Barbara confirmed that no action had been taken by her. She was unable to gain access to the database and was not given any information to process on the database. It was agreed that the use of Anilog had been very poor, despite all the Trustees being keen to use the system when first introduced. Jim Clegg pointed out that it is very difficult to ‘force’ volunteers to operate in a certain way. Anilog was dependant on personal ‘IT’ skills and equipment available. It was decided that no further effort would be made to use Anilog and it would be cancelled at the end of the 3 year contract, in accordance with their contractual terms and conditions.

Proposed by Karl Hahm. Seconded by Jim Clegg. Agreed unanimously.

Action: Karl Hahm. Closed.

6.14 Welfare Officer Job Description. Review of the role, responsibilities and delegated powers. To including all policies, procedures, documentation, together with the financial aspects and spending limits of, the welfare procedure and guidelines. (IR/CM/KH)

The previously circulated document from Isla Reid was discussed. The first paragraph of the document referred to the Welfare Committee. Karl Hahm advised the meeting that the historical reason for establishing a Welfare Committee was to empower them to make minor day to day decisions without the need to consult the trustees. Karl felt that the first paragraph of the document required rewording, as it suggested that every decision made by the Welfare Committee, would need to be ratified by the Governing Body. Jim Clegg said that he did not think that this was meant by Isla and that he would send Karl’s amendment to Isla, for her consideration and action. It was agreed that Cath and Isla would review the job description, taking Karl’s comments into consideration. The other policies, procedure and documentation, in particular the re-homing booklet, would then need to be reviewed, as a matter of urgency. Cath was concerned with the lack of Welfare Co-ordinators and suggested that the re-homing map of the UK will need to be reviewed. Jim Clegg suggested that the map should revert to Counties not post codes. This was something that had been ongoing for some time.

Action: Ongoing Cath Marchbank and Isla Reid.

6.15 Welfare Committee. Review of the role, responsibilities, numbers and delegated powers, including financial aspects, procedures and spending limits. (IR/CM/KH)

This item was directly linked with item 6.14. The discussion was, due to time restraints, limited to proposed changes to the financial aspects of the Welfare guidelines and procedures, circulated by Karl Hahm. After some discussion the only proposed change, that was not approved, was the reduction in overnight boarding and kennelling fees from £4 to £3 per night. The amended changes, reproduced below as appendix 1, was proposed by Karl Hahm, seconded by Jim Clegg and agreed unanimously.

Action: Ongoing Cath Marchbank and Isla Reid. Financial matters Karl Hahm.

6.16 0845 numbers. (JC)

This matter was previously circulated by Jim Clegg. The use of 0845 numbers, with a suitable warning, required by Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Agency was agreed for the Newsletter and the STECS web site.

Action: Jim Clegg. Closed.

6.17 VAT payments & XXXXXX. (KH)

Karl Hahm confirmed that XXXXXX are now complying with the VAT legislation and all payments have been agreed and finalised. Isla Reid in her letter to Jim Clegg confirmed that there was now only one ongoing STECS dog receiving treatment from XXXXXX.

Action: Closed.

7. Spring Newsletter.

As the meeting closed Jim Clegg raised the question of the Spring Newsletter and who would be responsible, as Isla Reid had previously indicated, in an earlier email, that she would not be helping out with the newsletter, this time around. Jim Clegg pointed out that if no one wished to liaise with the editor Bee Duffy, the Trustees would have no say in the final content. Barbara Boyce stated that her previous article had been changed anyway so what would be the difference. No willing volunteer came forward. Jim Clegg confirmed that he had sent off three articles to Bee last week, and that any other articles should go straight to the Editor.

8. A.O.B.

8.1 Sliding scale of earnings vs. % of help from STECS. (IR)

Action: Held over for next meeting.

Meeting closed at 1630hrs.

As the room was being cleared Karl Hahm asked that an acknowledgement and thank you to Barbara Boyce for arranging such excellent meeting facilities and for providing lunch be recorded in the minutes.

 

Next Meeting:

Sunday 7th May 2017 at 11am

Mere Parish Club Warrington Road Mere Knutsford Cheshire WA16 0PU

 

Appendix 1

Changes to the financial aspects of the Welfare guidelines and procedures

1. Dog Donations

Minimum donation scale:
Dog age (years)  Proposal     Current
Less than 1.0     £250     £150
1.1 – 2.0             £200     £120
2.1 – 5.0             £150     £120
5.1 – 8.0             £120     £100
8.1 – 10.0          £100     £80
10.1 +                 £nil     £nil

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