Minutes for CUHWC EGM, 08/10/2012
Chair: Mr Andrew Williamson
Secretary: Miss Vicky Ward
Also present: Dr James Hickson, Michael Fordham, Greg Chadwick, Helen Phillips, Becky Howard, Peter Kirkwood, Mike Simpson & Jo Smith
Apologies for Absence
Election of Officers of the Club to vacant positions, in the following order:
• The one nomination Mike Simpson identified himself as a fourth-year engineer who had been involved in the club for a couple of years. He spoke of his highlights being the Seathwaite and Swaledale Trips. He felt that during this time he had gained a good feel for the club and that he now felt that it was time for him to get more involved by coming on more trips and being part of the committee. He spoke of his informal qualifications for the role being that he had ‘time’ and a ‘good feel for numbers’.
• After much discussion of the fact we couldn’t vote for RON, nor draw a box for another candidate, Mike Simpson was duly elected with the results: Mike Simpson 10 with 0 abstentions.
Discussion of CUHWC’s present financial predicament
President's Report on Finances
The club needs an excess in the account in case of emergencies (e.g. a minibus crash). We should aim for £1500 as a buffer at all times.
We need to start paying people as soon as possible. Laura and Peter have both not been paid back for months. Peter is still currently owed about £500 (for instructor courses and so on) which the club can’t presently pay. This is unfair on members.
Bunkhouse down payments can’t be made.
The current committee inherited these problems and debts, following several years of consecutive losses.
Membership costs have been increased to £15. This breaks down to £7.25 for BMC affiliation, with the surplus being used for equipment. An increase does mean that people coming on fewer trips are subsidising those who go on more. But, we are still cheap (the cheapest?) compared to other University clubs, most of which charge £20 at a minimum.
In 1997, we had to pay no BMC affiliation. If we took national inflation into account and transferred the extra costs of paying the BMC affiliation, membership should now amount to approximately £21.
We aim to increase trip costs so that they are more in line with what we actually pay. The costs of bunkhouses, transport and most especially fuel have all increased but trip costs have not increased in line with this – or had not until the new committee was elected in February. Since then, trip costs have increased.
Data on trip losses and profits since the new committee was elected is not available, but we do know that Patterdale made a £134 loss. Note that this does not take into account the money from the Societies Syndicate (a grant of £2000 this year represents a £200 increase on the previous year). This would mean that the trip made a small profit.
One of the reasons the Societies Syndicate did not give us the extra £400 that we applied for was that they felt driver discounts should not be included in the application - indeed, they had not been in previous years.
Currently trips are subsidised at a rate of £181 per trip assuming that weekend and day trips are subsidised by the same fraction.
Membership cost may have to increase further in the future to keep this more in line with inflation.
As the resigned Junior Treasurer pointed out, most of the drivers are the club’s older members who may be on full-time wages, so the discount may not be necessary for them.
The resigned Junior Treasurer also recommended that membership should strictly run by academic year so that it does not stop and start, providing a solid and predictable income at the start of the year. It is largely felt this is not necessary at this moment in time.
Discussion of the Predicament
Peter: We need a 12-month target for accounting, so we can track linear progression. We also need a new accounting system so that the profit/loss of any given trip is known more instantaneously than presently.
Mike: Plans to communicate with the President more effectively to provide this data.
Jo: It should be remembered (and perhaps more lucidly expressed in the Presidential notes) that the President is in overall charge of Club accounts.
Greg: Each year a review has to be done to see how we are progressing.
Peter: By knowing profits and losses more instantaneously we would be able to adjust trip costs throughout year.
Jo: We need a financial report for each individual trip. More communications between President and Junior Treasurer is needed. A financial plan for the year needs to be made soon after the AGM.
Andrew: Most trips made small losses this year, but the data on losses and profits has not been provided to me, despite having asked for it.
Dr Hickson: The BMC subscription should be paid directly by the members themselves, not by the membership fees. Cash flow is below the viable limit. You can see the rising fuel costs in today’s society just by looking at Ryanair ticket prices... There is no point to driver discounts, except possibly for students. Discount amounts need to be reconsidered to something more like £10 or £15 per trip.
Jo: Without driver discount, we may struggle to get people to drive the minibuses. Jo expressed that she would not have driven on as many trips without the incentive – driving the minibus is a horrible task. We need to think of the discounts on a supply-and-demand basis.
Andrew: Informal discussions suggest that older members of the club would drive without discounts. But we are struggling a little with drivers for this term, so maybe they need to remain.
Michael: Trip costs are the main way to solve problems (as already expressed by the President). The club does not lose money on BMC affiliation. We should perhaps consider rising trip costs above real costs. This is unfair but is better than increasing membership further. First trip he went on (in Michaelmas 2003) was £29. Last time fuel costs were even discussed was during the recession when fuel prices went down. Trips are still significantly cheaper than doing it yourself – suggested for inclusion at the Freshers’ Squash. Trips are always sold out.
Jo: We should perhaps consider advertising trips more widely if there is not enough demand. Presently this has not been an issue on trips.
Michael: Perhaps we should consider reducing the number of weekend trips per year if the demand is not there once costs go up. This is probably not likely to occur though.
Jo: We should compare the costs of a trip to a night out – duly done at the Squash.
Michael: Should we reconsider online banking?
Peter: Lloyds TSB do not allow us to do this because of our status as ‘community banking’ – confirmed the following day at the bank by Mike and Andrew.
Andrew: Part of the issue is that bunkhouses are not cashing their cheques fast enough, so it is difficult to track the current status of the account. This provides more of a reason to have a buffer.
Greg: We need to look at what is written down in the ledger rather than what the account says.
Andrew: That’s what the red book is for.
Michael: We need a pessimistic trip cost plan.
Vicky: We need instant money in the account. Long-term gains are fine but we need money now. Possibility that certain club members may pay a certain amount of money (say £150) upfront at the start of the year. This is then used to pay for their trips throughout the year.
Michael: He himself would have no problem with this scheme, but does not like the idea of the club owing members money. Sees the scheme as shady. He also said that he did not like the idea of money from fundraising events being split between the club and charities, which had been one suggested way to increase money.
Andrew: The income from such events is relatively low (compared to turnover) so would not be a panacea.
Dr Hickson: Part of the budgeting problem is that we do not really know what percentage of the turnover we need as cash float. This is a major budgeting problem. We need to think more before the next Societies Syndicate application once the new committee is elected in February.
Michael: Is 10% of annual turnover sensible? We need to work out how to get more members to sign up at the Squash.
Peter: We can use the new membership money to help pay for transport this term.
Michael: Dunmail Raise is a big bunkhouse and is cheap. This is a popular time of year for the club. It presents a great opportunity to make money.
Peter: The £10 discount for trip leaders on Edale is not necessary. And was therefore duly scrapped.
Michael: We really need to sell Edale at the Squash. [The trip is currently full and should make a (considerable) profit.]
Mike: What about opt-in driver discounts?
Michael: Driver discounts are dodgy ground for insurance purposes. Up to a certain limit people can claim for wear and tear costs.
Dr Hickson: There wouldn’t be this problem with driver discounts for the minibuses as they are commercial hires.
Vicky: On the membership forms, people tick the boxes displaying their willingness to drive without being aware of the discounts.
Michael: In three weeks, we will be able to know the financial status on the club better.
Becky: Socials can’t make money - and even if they did, again it would only be relatively small amounts.
Helen: We still have 5 t-shirts left in odd colours. We attempted to sell some stash at the Squash.
Any other business
- Jo: The situation of the minibus bookings this term needs to be resolved. It is a D1 licence issue due to the increased weight of the new Milton bus. She drove on every trip she went on last year - it would be good to give drivers a break sometimes. She won’t do it without the incentive. The CCVR minibus you need to be over 25.