The British Mountaineering Council's headquarters in Didsbury, south Manchester. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The British Mountaineering Council's headquarters in Didsbury, south Manchester. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The annual meeting of the British Mountaineering Council is likely to be put back by two months to allow further consultation on proposed governance changes.

The council’s organisational review group is recommending the change as it prepares alterations to the report it revealed at the Kendal Mountain Festival in November.

The group, headed by crown court judge Ray Wigglesworth, said it will introduce some changes plus an addendum to its document, following what it said was ‘constructive criticism’.

The ORG has been consulting with BMC membership at area meetings, via focus groups and discussions with the existing national council, which would be disbanded under its proposals.

The group now wants the annual meeting to be put back to June; it was originally scheduled for April. It will call for the report’s recommendations to be accepted in their entirety by the meeting, with a further members’ meeting in November to vote on the proposed new articles of association.

The ORG said: “In the main, the groundswell of opinion from the members is in favour of our recommendations.”

The review followed last year’s stormy annual meeting at Plas y Brenin in north Wales, which saw a motion of no confidence in the BMC’s executive committee soundly defeated, but at which the council’s then president Rehan Siddiqui resigned.

The review has so far cost the BMC, which represents climbers, mountaineers and hillwalkers in England and Wales, more than £41,000.

A series of area meetings are scheduled in the near future to gauge opinion on the review, with the promised addendum due in March.

Ray Wigglesworth, chair of the organisational review group. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Ray Wigglesworth, chair of the organisational review group. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The review group said: “The ORG was asked by the BMC to prepare new articles of association for acceptance at an April AGM.

“However, one of the most common pieces of feedback we heard was that the process felt rushed, and that members weren’t being given the time to process the information and feedback on it.

“The ORG has taken this on board and discussed it with the BMC. As a result, the process is slowing down. It is now proposed the AGM be held in June, with a further general meeting in November.

“For this round of area meetings, we would like local areas to review this summary and revised timeline, and feed back to the national council and to the ORG.”

In an open letter to Mr Wigglesworth, the ‘BMC 30’, the members who brought the failed motion of no confidence, welcomed the new timetable for the AGM.

The letter, signed by Bob Pettigrew, Paul Braithwaite, Rodney Gallagher, Dennis Gray and James Gregson, said: “We strongly encourage you to press for an open technical forum to consider both the broad principles on which the articles of association will be based and upon the detailed language of the articles themselves.

“We do not believe that the local area meetings are either a practical or appropriate forum for the consideration of such detailed, technical issues.

“We believe that the current approach of the ORG requiring that all 51 recommendations be accepted as a package by those members voting in the most recent members’ survey about their views of the ORG report is deeply flawed and undemocratic.

“This approach prevents members from endorsing or rejecting specific and very different recommendations and distorts the survey results.”

The ORG said the old articles of association are out of date, contain conflicting provisions and are not fit for purpose for the BMC in the 21st century.

Sport England, which has provided thousands of pounds of funding to the BMC, said in December last year that the Manchester-based council was one of only three out of 58 national sports bodies that still hadn’t met the requirements of the its new code for sports governance, adding that it expected the three bodies to be compliant by April 2018.

  • Bob Smith is a member of the British Mountaineering Council

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