Committee Members' Reports 2003/2004

Chairperson - Anne Shapland

Since last year we have been meeting in the Local Hero on Wednesday evenings, with fluctuating numbers. The provision of food has been appreciated though less the price of drinks! Any comments from members on the venue would be welcome.

Thanks to the first-time organisers this year: Stuart, Catherine, Brian and, in advance, Marie and Jo. The weekends were appreciated and help to keep the vitality of the group. Thanks also to those who organised other walking and social activities. However, as Chris will mention in his report, we have lost several long-term organisers, and so still need more weekends and activities to have a strong, varied programme. There is plenty of help available. Please have a try !!!

Two training sessions were offered this year: Emergency First Aid at Leicester College and a Map Reading weekend in the Brecon Beacons. Both were rated very highly by the participants, but the take up of places was disappointing - especially as one was free and the other was subsidised. The Map Reading course could possibly be run again, but we will only consider this if adequate numbers request it, and commit themselves to attending.

Finally, congratulations to Chris for winning the President's Award for the Best Website yet again. Thanks to members and the committee for supporting the group in 2004, and we look forward to doing more in 2005.

Secretary - Phil Humphrey

As Secretary, I just record the work of others.

As Group Contact I continue to get enquiries via all the ways the group promotes itself, with a peak of enquiries in the spring.

I don't get to the Wednesday pub meetings regularly at the moment. I do take along copies of the "YHA News" and any other correspondence of general group interest when I do go. If anyone wishes to regularly see copies of the YHA News, please let me know and I'll ensure you get a copy.

There will be a Local Groups Conference on the 19th February 2005 (venue not decided yet).

The YHA have recently appointed three Local Group Organisers for YHA Groups. They have been seconded from the Inland Revenue. Our group's nominated contact is Mrs Gail Turner.

2005 is the 75th Anniversary of YHA.

Treasurer - Dave Self

The Affiliated Group's Booking Form is working, in the way that we expected it to. Not only for us but also for all the other Local Groups, whose delegates welcomed it at the National Hostelling & Local Groups Conference 2004. It was liked as much, if not more, for its more appropriate booking conditions, than it was for the 10% Discount. I would appreciate hearing the opinions of any of our weekend organisers that have used the form. Using it for an entire Financial Year, has gained this Group a combined Loyalty Discount of 407.83pa; the equivalent of a 1.26 discount per hostel overnight per YHA member. However, as I warned at this same time last year, it is continuously under review by YHA's policy makers. If they feel it is no longer cost effective they can stop us using it. If I say that that 400 discount was only gained on 12 YHA (E&W) weekends in 12-months - in fact, that 2003/04 was the lowest ever year of hostelling weekends for Leicester Local Group in the 18-years, since I've been Treasurer - do we expect to keep it? We can only hope that the other Local Groups are doing more hostelling per year than we are! At onetime, the other Local Groups considered Leicester Local Group, to be one of the most active hostelling groups in England and Wales. I do not think we could make that claim now! Our latest Group Programme would appear to indicate that we are going to do even less hostelling in the 2004/05. The Spring/Summer Programme 2004 was a good one - with at least one hostelling event in each month, interspersed with weekend day walks and social events; the correct mix of events but just not enough of them! So, what if the YHA has changed its policy, such that we cannot use YHA hostels, as we would like to, from the end of September until Easter? There are always the independent hostels that are open all year round! We may not get the 10% discount, but they are still reasonably priced and the Group can still collect its Admin Charge on each bed night. This Group does not charge its own membership fee, unlike the majority of the other Local Groups; we rely on collecting these small surcharges from each member for attending our hostelling events. If we do not go hostelling as a group, we make no surplus; without a surplus income I cannot afford to administer the Group, in the way that I have detailed in my Financial Summary. As your Group Treasurer, I am not too pleased one other score; although it was an excellent informative course, I did attend, the Group paid eleven 5 subsidies from Group Surplus for a members' map reading course and we do not appear to have got anything back for them! This course was provided to help members to organise their own weekends and/or lead walks for the Group. Where are those urgently needed new events?

The Programme Fund is just in the black at 1.75. However, since the number of Programme Subscriptions collected has fallen this year, we have had to use up our surplus in the Programme Fund, to pay for the programme's costs. I am aware that I suggested transferring the Annual Surplus to the Social Fund at the last AGM. At this AGM, might we actually consider splitting our Annual Surplus between both the Social Account and the Programme Fund? This is only my suggestion; we agreed last year that the members would in future decide the fate of each year's Annual Surplus, from the floor of the AGM; any member could still put forward a completely different idea on the night.

Social Secretary - Stella Smyth

A review of the social activities organised in 2004:

Monthly Wed Cinema Meetings

From the first Wed in Feb 2005, I arranged for a monthly cinema trip to see any one of a choice of approx 5 films starting around 7pm at the Odeon Cinema, Freeman's Park. The idea was that individual members meet at the box office and decide what they'd like to see either as a plenary group or in smaller subgroups. This would be followed by a visit to The Local Hero pub to socialise with other members of the YHA

Initially we were aiming to meet at 6:30pm, but as this proved to be quite pressured for some people we changed it to 6:45, and this still enabled us to select from a choice of films.

There has been a small turnout at these monthly cinema events, possibly due to these reasons:

I am prepared to continue doing this for Wed 1 Dec 2004. Due to further evening work commitments, I can offer to do it on the first Wed in March (2 March 2005) Wed 6 April 2005 and Wed 4 May 2005. There will be no monthly cinema meetings in the summer, (June, July, Aug 2005). I will then consider whether there is sufficient interest to restart this event again the first Wed in Sept 2005.

Sat 15 May Day trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon (including a matinee of the RSC's Romeo and Juliet)

Two YHA members and one non member went to Stratford for the day and enjoyed a matinee followed by a pub meal.

The Sat afternoon trip to see Macbeth at Stratford-Upon-Avon on 2 Oct was cancelled 5 weeks before the event due to my being abroad. However at least six YHA members had contacted me to express their interest in going to see this matinee. So it may be that there is more interest in going to the theatre during the autumn winter months.

Further events for the future

In March 2005 there will be a day trip including a matinee and follow up drink or pub meal (venue and play pending on the release of theatre information from theatres within a 90min drive from Leicester)

Social Treasurer - Mick Nice

Last year's annual deficit of -94.81, due to planned subsidies given back to group members, has this year been turned around into an annual surplus of 39.56, this would seem healthy. However the annual turnover of income is 997.06, this being the first time in at least 3 years that the turnover has fallen short of 1000. There were 15 social events this year, 5 fewer than last year, 8 fewer than two years ago. Unless members come forward and organise social events, a once vibrant social account will stagnate.

The 20 pence Administration Charge per person per social event remains unchanged. It applies to all social events, regardless of whether or not they're advertised in the programme, newsletter or on the website. The exceptions being Christmas and New Year parties, members' house warmings, birthday parties, weddings, etc.

Many Thanks as always go to all those volunteers running the social events.

Programme Secretary - Chris Hunt

This year has been a year of extremes. The Spring/Summer programme was the first one for several years to extend to twelve pages, including several events organised by first-time organisers. The Autumn/Winter one, in contrast, is the slimmest programme I can ever remember, with barely a half-dozen events between September and the end of the year. This is totally unacceptable - but as Programme Secretary I can only schedule those events that people come forward to organise, not conjure them from thin air.

We have managed to organise a weekend away for every month since last year's AGM, but only as a result of two organisers being prepared to run three weekends each. Tony Thompson has kept the day walk count up almost single-handedly, Mick and Stella have been similarly short of aid in maintaining a social programme. Contrary to popular belief, this is not how the Leicester YHA Group works. It is not the function of a committed few to arrange all the events for everyone to enjoy - we rely on a wide range of organisers to spread the load and ensure a good selection of events.

I recognise that people have personal, family and work commitments that get in the way of organising something for the group. I recognise that some people lack the confidence to organise a whole weekend. Help is at hand - there's an Event Organisers' Guide to show you what to do, and plenty of experienced people who will help you out. It doesn't have to be a weekend - if anything we're even more short of people willing to run day walks and social events. So take the plunge and organise an event next year!

On a happier note, the web site continues to flourish. I've recently made changes that raise the profile of slide shows within the site. With increasing numbers of members getting digital cameras and internet connections, I'd like to see more people contributing pictures - let me know if you're interested. In the coming year I intend to re-work the system used to store events online so that I can give people their own sign-ons to the system. This will enable them to enter and update their own events and keep their personal details up-to-date, hopefully this will encourage greater participation in the group.

Finally, I'd like to thank everybody who has run an event in the past year, and especially thank Tony Thompson for his help in producing and distributing the programme.

Publicity Officers - Alison King & Jo Vickers

Publicity for the group has continued through the Leicester Link, the Triangle, the web site, the Leicester Hospitals' intranet site and also via posters and leaflets. The Leicester Mercury has been updated regarding details of the group.

The Chairperson and Secretary continue to receive phone calls from prospective members, approximately 2 per month. The meeting time of 8:30pm at the Local Hero is suggested for convenience, though people often turn up later than this. The majority of people have seen the publicity in the Link or through the web site.

To ensure that newcomers find members inside the pub, the current Programme is displayed on the table. Newcomers are pleased to look at this. Their names are added to the programme circulation list if they wish to subscribe.

New members have attended various events and through the year, since the programme includes a broad range of interests and activities. The group's web site shows future events as well as other useful items such as "Frequently Asked Questions". The Newsletter is also useful for giving new members an idea of the group's recent activities.

Editor - Paul Jennings

Since the last A.G.M, I have only been able to produce 2 issues of "Milestones" and my not attending weekends (and consequent lack of badgering) seems to be resulting in very little in the way of reports.

There have been a few contributors (4) and each Newsletter had 6 pages, mostly due to Mick's sterling efforts in describing our passage along the Midshires Way. It is still important to reinforce my annual urging that contributions are made in good time.

The web site has been kept up to date. My efforts to include older editions of "Milestones" mean that I have just added back to December 1992. There is much more that could be done, but it needs a lot of effort to ensure that information is easy to find and there are no navigation problems within the site, or linking to other sites.

I hope to make improvements, mostly to the paper copy and am always open to suggestions (within reason). Unfortunately, the most obvious steps remain as last year. A first step would be to get more short write-ups included. A second is to ask all weekend organisers to ensure that someone is appointed before a weekend to do its write-up and that it is produced within one month of the event.

My time with the Group has been extremely limited with no weekends since the last A.G.M and only one day walk (which I organised myself). If it's time to welcome someone new to the role (perhaps high time, since I've been in it since the December 1990 edition), then I would be happy to offer any assistance that is required. It has always been rewarding, if demanding and has enabled me to keep in touch with Group activities, be involved on the Committee & experiment with Internet web design. Not to mention a free license to pun and insult without too much comeback (well, so far!).

Thanks to everyone who has given me so much encouragement and help over the years.

Regional Representative - Alan Summers

Central Region Council

There have been five meetings of Regional Council during the year. These have been at Coalport, Wells next the Sea, Ilam Hall, Kings Lynn and in December at Leominster hostels. Three of these are self-catering.

At these meetings concern was being expressed at the amount of overspend on capital projects. Several members with construction experience voiced their opinion on the apparent lack of expenditure control during these projects. We are all aware that the projected repayment of the 30M debt is not happening. In fact this debt is increasing slightly each year despite a period of low interest rates.

Dave Self continues to represent local groups at Central Region Council.

National Council

So great was the concern of members of all four regions that at the one day National Council in September the proposed 2005 business plan was rejected by the delegates and referred back to NEC for adjustment which would hopefully avoid a projected increase in the size of the overdraft to 38M by 2008. The delegates have in the past accepted that there would be a reduction and each year excuses have been forthcoming to explain why a reduction has not happened. Well this National Council has said enough is enough. This year there has been a change in the banking arrangements to obtain the best terms for the loan and overdraft.

Motions to extend the voting arrangements to unelected delegates were defeated.

It is sad to record that two hostels were put out of action during the year. Eastbourne was burnt down. It is suspected that this was an arson attack.

Heavy rainfall at Boscastle washed through the building to a depth of five feet rendering that building uninhabitable. YHA management did manage to relocate all those that had booked accommodation. Both hostels will reopen when the necessary repairs have been completed.

Local Groups Conference

Great concern was being expressed by e-mail about the lack of a coordinating group early in 2004. The Presidents Award entries were received following the usual circulation of entry forms to groups. That this happened at all was thanks to Paul Madge of Stafford Local Group who continued the work of the NHLG committee in this respect. I was one of the judging panel.

The date of the Local Groups conference was not announced early enough for groups to enter the date the their activities calendar. This was mentioned time and time again during debate. In fact one of the elected National Council delegates Paul Shearman of Harrogate Group left an arranged YHA Youlgrave weekend to attend because of the lateness of notification.

This fault has been remedied next years conference date is 19th February 2005.

A considerable amount of time was spent on the insurance cover provided by Local Group affiliation to YHA. A copy of the relevant section of the policy was forwarded to each affiliated group. Cover for hazardous events can be arranged directly with the insurers.

The proposal from myself "that a co-ordinating committee be formed" was carried almost unanimously despite the fact that Barbara Smith, the Chairman asked me to withdraw the motion during the tea break. This then managed to reach the National Council agenda as Proposal Three on the agenda. It was amended by the Agenda Committee to read "That this National Council urges NEC to consider the establishment of a co-ordinating group for affiliated YHA Hostelling and Local groups". So great was the debate on the business plan which as stated above appeared to make no serious attempt to reduce the debt that time ran out and the item was never put to the meeting. I did detect a threat to defeat the motion. This is now to be put before the National Executive Committee at their November meeting. As the originator of the proposition I have spent a considerable amount of time urging the Local Group National Council delegates to support the motion by forwarding to Barbara Smith at YHA papers in support. She is a very busy person within the volunteer section of YHA that I hope that she is able to do justice to our needs. I attended National Council as a delegate elected from the Local Groups national conference.