Committee Members' Reports 1999/2000

Chairperson - Chris Hunt

Being the chairperson is, by far, the easiest job on the committee. The onerous tasks of financing, informing, publicising and planning the group's events are taken on by the dedicated individuals elected to those responsibilities. I get to sit back, offer what small help I can, and take the credit for the ongoing success of what was described at the local groups' conference as a "supergroup".

I have conducted four committee meetings, which took place at my house. This arrangement, which enables business to be done away from the hurly-burly of Wednesday nights, does not mean that such meetings are closed to ordinary members. If you wish to attend one as an observer, have a word with me (or my successor) to find out when the next one is.

In the spring, I attended the Local Groups' Conference at Coalport Youth Hostel. Whilst the influence this assembly has on the policy of the YHA is minimal, it does provide an excellent opportunity to meet members of other groups and exchange ideas. The highlight of the weekend was winning the first ever President's Award for Best Group Web Site. Sadly we were unable to match this success in the local groups quiz, where we narrowly lost the final to Ipswich group.

As noted above, this has been an award-winning year for the web site. Not content to rest on our laurels, I have continued to add new features and facilities. One area I hope to expand is the "slideshows" of recent events. If you take some pictures that you're willing to see used in this way, let me know.

Looking beyond my immediate responsibilities, this looks to have been a successful year, with a steady stream of new members attracted to the group. We seem to have been less successful in attracting new people to organise events, with the same names being responsible for much of the programme. We rely on our membership to provide a varied programme of events, this can only work if everyone plays a part. Organising a weekend isn't that difficult, and there's plenty of help available if you need it. If you really don't feel able to do a weekend, why not arrange a day walk or social event?

Finally, my thanks go to committee members, event organisers, drivers and everyone else who helped make 1999/2000 a success. Let's see if we can do even better next year!

Secretary - Phil Humphrey

I have enjoyed my second year in this post and I am prepared to stand for re-election. I hope you find the minutes of the 1999 AGM interesting and informative. I apologise now if I have misspelt anyone's name or recorded anything inaccurately.

In my role as Group Secretary, I have endeavoured to accurately minute all the committee meetings and the AGM.

In my role as Group Contact, I have sent out a steady trickle of Programmes and covering letters to prospective new members and estimate that about 20-30 % of serious enquirers actually join us, which I consider to be good. The majority of enquiries seem to still come from the Link magazine or from the publicity posters and flyers that Phil Worden actively manages. We are also beginning to get more contacts via the internet both from Paul Jennings' and Chris Hunt's sites, particularly from students and younger people.

I also attended the National Hostelling and Local Groups Conference in February with Chris Hunt on behalf of the group and provided a write up about this in the Newsletter.

Editor - Paul Jennings

It was another very busy year for the Group. Since the last A.G.M, I have produced 6 issues of "Milestones" (one every 2 months). There have been a number of different contributors, 14 in all, which is good news as far as adding variety and interest is concerned. My main thanks go to Phil Worden and especially Tony Dodson, who has contributed almost a quarter of the articles (and all in very good time!).

Each Newsletter had at least 8 pages. All weekends have been recorded for posterity and where possible, day walks and social events have also been included.

The corresponding web site has been progressing well since its inception (December 1998 issue). A lot more images have been added. There is a huge amount more that can be done, but it is quite time consuming trying to ensure that everything is up to date, information is as easy to find as possible and there are no problems with navigating within the site, or linking to other web sites.

If I were elected next year, I would hope to make at least the following improvements:

  1. Inclusion of more shorter reports to capture the casual reader
  2. Investigate a method of including more pictures in the paper copy (this has always been a problem, mostly when it comes to photocopying)
  3. Investigate a new format since it has not changed for some time
  4. Start a regular themed column

I am always open to suggestions (within reason).

If it's time to welcome someone new to the role (perhaps high time, since I've been in occupation since the December 1990 edition), then I would be happy to offer any assistance that I can, if required. The role has always been rewarding, if demanding. It has enabled me to keep in touch with all the activities of the Group, be involved on the Committee and experiment with Internet web design. Not to mention a free license to pun and insult without the opportunity for anyone to get back at me (well, so far!).

Thanks to everyone who has given me so much encouragement and help over the years. This year has been very difficult because of work commitments, but in 2001 I expect to have a lot more time to devote to the Newsletter.

Publicity Officer - Phil Worden

  1. I receive considerable help from other committee members and would like to take this opportunity to thank:
    1. Dave and Sheils, who are the contact names on the calling cards that are left at the Hostels and Camping Barns we have visited. At least 43 have been distributed throughout England and Wales;
    2. Phil Humphrey and Sheils who deal with enquiries from the Leicester Link. Sheils also answers responses from Leicestershire County Council's database 'Infolinx';
    3. Tony Thompson who arranges the printing of the leaflets and of the posters;
    4. Chris Hunt who produces the master copies of the leaflet and poster.
  2. The leaflets are distributed to 12 city sites. The posters are circulated to 42 city sites (22 of which are city libraries) and 58 posters go to libraries in Leicestershire and Rutland.
  3. We have placed National office Local groups' publicity leaflets in the Tourist Information Centre to advertise the group.
  4. The group has used the Leicester Mercury's Friday night 'Rambles' section, which publicises walks for the following weekend. Where appropriate the group's Day walks also appear in the walking sections of the Harborough Mail and the Harborough Herald and Post.
  5. We now have a contact number in the Out and About section of the monthly Country Walking magazine.
  6. One of the latest developments is, from a suggestion by Alan and from the Group Post provided by Phil H, the Direct Mail Shot Service. By specifying a Postal Code, National Office will provide a local group with the address labels of YHA members, in that region, for publicity purposes.
  7. Through these various routes we are attracting quite a few new enquiries and through a continual process of refinement we are hoping to keep the group membership growing steadily or at least at a healthy turnover.

Regional Representative - Alan Summers

There have been the usual reports from the eight YHA national committees over the past twelve months heard at the periodic Central Council meetings. The National Committees are National Executive; Chairman's; Finance; Countryside; Hostel Standards; Hostelling and Local groups; City Hostels, and Group Hostels. These reports are available on request and will be at the Leicester Local Group A.G.M.

The Regional Council meetings were held at Stratford on Avon, Stow on the Wold, Gradbach Mill, and Ilam Hall Hostels. Four members of the Group were elected to the Regional Council at the last A.G.M. held in Leicester on October 23rd 1999.

The year 2000 was celebrated as the seventieth birthday of the Y.H.A. with various publicity events taking place around the country. Some of these were by invitation only and therefore were not truly representative of the membership, Principle concerns were expressed on the increase of the Rent a Hostel scheme during the summer and at weekends which has the effect of denying small groups who cannot fill all the beds the chance of staying. This is also the case for the individual guest (the use of the word Hosteller has discontinued). There was also the massive increase in the hostel overnight fees at some hostels. This was explained by the policy of price banding and what the market will stand before a decline in overnights becomes apparent.

Hostels regraded for 2000 were Blaxhall, Ivinghoe, Dimmingsdale, Copt Oak, Stow on the Wold, Meerbrook, Welsh Bicknor, Mankinholes, Bakewell, Sherwood, and Crowden. During the next few years YHA hostels will receive English Tourist Board Grades on a similar basis to the SYHA hostels in Scotland. This tourism grading will not relate to O/N price.

Hostels dosed during the year: Pendennis Castle expiry of the arrangements with the National Trust.

Hostels under threat include Byrness since the Forest Enterprise sold the estate to another landlord. Duntisbourne Abbots will close when sold. Buxton due to essential repair costs and declining O/N's. Hindhead another National Trust property.

Hostels opened during 2000. Leominster opened its doors to RAH bookings last month. Alstonfield in the peak is open.

New hostels due to open during 2001 are Portland, Peterborough, Oxford, Wells next to the Sea, and Lee Valley.

The National Office is currently relocating to Matlock in the old Severn Trent building up the hill from the Hostel. It is expected that Matlock Hostel will host V.I.P's in future.

Sheils, Dave Self and myself attended the National Council AGM. recently held at Birmingham University. Two agenda motions were carried by the delegates after discussion on the effects on membership, to increase the inclusive B & B package to more hostels on a trial basis; carried 81/9, and to supply of alcohol from a hostel bar in those hostels too far away from a local pub where there is a demand; carried 71/4.

It was stated that the majority of small hostels are viable and therefore are not under threat of closure although a continuing review will be carried out. A copy of the 2000 Annual report will be available at the Group AGM.

Dr Roger Clarke outlined his vision of the future of the Association in the new millennium under the headings: - Education; international understanding through travel IYHA (YHA is the biggest provider of budget beds in the UK); Improve the quality of life for individuals and families; Better countryside and environment; Contribute to Rural and Urhan Community; Broaden YHA appeal for all society; Successful in Business; An active membership organisation; Modernise the organisation and review the structure of the Board and its committees; Extend YHA influence; Better value for money by being leaner and meaner.

There is a Five year forward financial plan in progress up to 2004/5.

An internal audit is planned.

If re-elected I will continue to monitor and influence any proposals detrimental to the group and the individual HOSTELLER.

OED Hosteller - one who stays in hostels especially whilst travelling.

The Central Region A.G.M, will be held in MANCHESTER at the Friends Meeting House on 28 October 2000. Your reps will be travelling on Friday to Manchester and on Saturday will be at Beverley Hostel.