The CA Working Party Report on Federations has been studied and discussed at great length by clubs in the region. Today the Federation organised a conference at Culcheth to exchange views and gain a greater understanding of the issues involved, all in preparation for a CA Conference for all northern clubs to be held in Huddersfield in two weeks time. About 25 delegates attended from our league clubs.
The conference was facilitated by Brian Storey from Bowdon who had produced an excellent analysis of the WP proposals which was circulated prior to the meeting. The proposals are many and varied and would, if implemented, create a major change to the organisation of Croquet in the region. It was stressed several times by senior croquet people in the room that the WP Report was not attacking the Federations but was looking for ways of integrating members, clubs and Federations to create a structure more suited to the development of Croquet than at present. Unfortunately, the report is complex and unintentionally does create a feeling that the Federations should be managed by the CA in a different manner to what happens at present.
Brian Storey set out a logical Agenda for discussion focussing on Structural Changes, Financial Implications and the Role of Individual members.
The Working Party focussed on size of Federations, their playing strength and role in decision making. Clubs in the north west are proud of their Federation with its support for smaller clubs, excellent Flying Circus coaching system, competitive leagues and tournaments plus strong communications. The consensus was that our Federation was successful and whilst not being complacent, did not require any changes being forced upon them. The WP report also recommends that the NWFCC Representatives to CA Council should become a Federation Representative instead of a Representative of Federation clubs. This concept has caused confusion amongst clubs and a satisfactory explanation was still not forthcoming at the meeting. Delegates felt this issue had become over complex and could be addressed by amendment to the CA Constitution.
The WP Proposal that would prevent club subscriptions or individual payments being made to Federations found no support amongst delegates, clubs feeling this would attack their autonomy and the Federation freedom to act quickly when situations require a rapid response. The very contentious concept of “Pay to Play” also found no support, delegates feeling this would not encourage members to engage in competitive play and clubs do not wish to implement any further financial burden.
Role of Individual Members
The concept of making all club players, members of the Croquet Association by way of increasing the individual club levy, had total support. In practice this would cause individual club subscriptions to increase by about £10 pa – a figure delegates thought would not cause clubs to leave the Federation or indeed lose club members. The concensus view seemed to be that this concept should have been implemented decades ago and for our national organisation to only have 22% of players as members was not acceptable.
So after about two hours, delegates retired back to their clubs to consider their position in readiness for the meeting at Huddersfield in two weeks time. Some clubs are presenting their views directly to the Working Party Chairman in writing. There is uncertainty about the next stage after the Huddersfield Meeting, however, we were informed, there would be a further paper with firm proposals before any definite decisions are made.
The above represents my view of the proceedings, so should not be regarded as the official view of the North West Federation. It was a complex meeting and if I have misinterpreted club views, I apologise – Tony Thomas