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Constitution again

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  • Dave Chambers
    Hi All, First please let me apologise for being so uncommunicative for such a long time. I ve had a number of things going wrong, none of them too serious,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2008
      Hi All,
      First please let me apologise for being so uncommunicative
      for such a long time. I've had a number of things going wrong, none
      of them too serious, some almost trivial, but one following the other
      in quick succession has left me breathless.
      The latest of these is that we had our gas meter changed last
      week. The engineer who changed it found a leak and shut us off. The
      emergency plumber came round assessed the job – the old pipes under
      the floor appear to be the cause, so he'd be around on Thursday. He
      didn't make it, he's off sick right now. The upside is that cold air
      is more dense so breathing is easier, or so I'm told!
      I have been mostly following the debates but not
      contributing. There's a lot of work going on and clearly I haven't
      done my share. I hope to begin to rectify that now by posting this on
      both TheFED and TheFED-Exec groups although I'm not trying to claim
      double time, I just think it's relevant to both. This is essentially
      an explanation of my thinking when I made alterations to the FWWCP
      Constitution. I did say much of what follows at the meeting or in
      Lynne's workshop but that is of no use to anyone who was not there.
      When we met in 2007 at Syracuse London Campus in Holborn we
      were informed that the Arts Council England (ACE)would be very happy
      if we could form a group which would replace the FWWCP. Indeed they
      would look kindly upon a grant application from such a group.
      We needed the trappings that go with a group, Bank Account,
      Committee consisting of Chair and Treasurer, Constitution and it's
      derivative equal opportunities statements. These were (are) minimal
      requirements for a group such as ours. The fact that we might have a
      friendly reception at ACE gave us good heart.
      I said I would look at the last FWWCP Constitution (accepted
      at the 2006 AGM) and attempt to alter it to suit a new organisation,
      specifically an organisation which could replace, and do the work of
      the FWWCP.
      The first bit was easy, electronically change FWWCP to
      TheFED. Sadly I was affected like almost everyone else in that
      sometimes the change was to TheFed, or Thefed instead of TheFED. The
      last one is the correct name.
      In discussions although most of the FWWCP Constitution
      appeared to be roughly what we wanted, it was established that there
      were two things (apart from the name) that did need some thought. One
      was membership, and with it the status and voting rights of these
      members and the prospect of giving Friends of the Fed a better 'deal'
      from the new organisation. The second was the procedures for dealing
      with behavior outwith the terms of membership by individuals who were
      members of member groups.
      Taking the second of these first I looked through the
      relevant part and found that in the event of a complaint being upheld
      TheFED could act against a member (a group) but it has to be the
      member group to take any appropriate action against an individual.
      The question which had been posed (and I have not answered) is if a
      reason for complaint arises during a TheFED function, unless the
      execs present can act with some immediacy it could spoil the
      function. TheFED can act in the interests of those present so
      probably can do something, but it is not spelled out. It is a point
      which we need to look at sooner rather than later. It may be that the
      Executive Committee, and those in charge of TheFED functions, need
      guidance about how to – instead of a change to the constitution, in
      which the necessary equal opportunities statements are set out in
      Appendix A.
      Membership then. This has been a very large subject of
      discussion within both egroups. It is also the thing I changed most,
      at all really.
      In proposing the changes I made I took into consideration the
      following points.
      a) the structure of the FWWCP was a group of groups
      b) the ACE statement that they would look kindly on a
      replacement for the FWWCP
      c) many FWWCP projects depend on local groups, like
      'Voices Talk and Hands Write' in Grimsby, depended on, amongst
      others, expertise from Pecket Well College and a local group, Grimsby
      Writers, willing to give unstinting time and effort to the project.
      (see chapter 21 of Occupational Therapy Without Borders, Elsevier,
      ISBN 0-443-07440-2).
      Bearing in mind the above three points I thought it prudent
      that we maintain a group structure so that ACE can have no doubt that
      we intend to actually replace the FWWCP and take it's unique place in
      writing and publishing in this country and maintain links, and
      members, with groups in other countries too.
      I made minor changes to the types of membership extant in the
      FWWCP Constitution. Class of membership changes to Type of
      membership, and a new form of membership was added, called Friends of
      the Fed (FoFs).
      In Section 4 – Membership
      Clause 4.1 became - Membership of TheFed is open to any
      group, organisation or individual engaged in activities falling
      within the Aims and Objectives of TheFed. It is for TheFed to
      determine the eligibility for membership of any applicant. -
      The change here is the mention of individuals and a change of
      wording but not meaning in the second sentence.
      In Section 6 Bylaws - clause 6.1.6 was deleted. It threw out
      any group which did not send someone to the AGM, which does seem to
      discriminate against a number of possible groups. I also intended to
      delete clause 6.1.5 as it's usefulness is questionable but it is
      still there so that's a note for another AGM.
      That was the easy part. The problem now was to give the FoFs
      some say in the running of TheFED while maintaining the structure of
      a group of groups, run by groups.
      I did this by adding a new clause 4 to Appendix B and
      renumbering the existing clauses 4 and 5 to 5 and 6.
      The new clause 4 is:-
      4. Individuals - - Friends of TheFed (FoF)

      4.1 FoFs may form groups or e-groups based on area or some other
      criteria which has a community base and accepts the Aims and
      Objectives and this Constitution. Such a group could apply for full
      membership of TheFed.

      4.2 Fofs who are not members of any member group may form an ad hoc
      group at the AGM with the provision that the group must be declared
      and its members named, and present, within 15 minutes of the start of
      the meeting. No fees will apply, other than Fof fees, to this ad hoc
      group but it will have the same voting rights as a full member group.

      4.1 Allows Fofs to form a group and apply for membership as a
      normal full group member. The group could reflect a some commonality
      among the Fofs as a basis for a group and as long as TheFED rules for
      groups are satisfied that group could become a full member.
      4.2 Allows those Fofs who are not a member of any group at
      all, and who attend the AGM, to from and ad hoc group, with
      provisions as above, and that group will automatically have full
      voting rights as a full member group. (Note that the clause talks of
      group, not groups. There can be only one ad hoc group at any one
      general meeting.)
      This has at least the potential of giving Fofs something like
      the voting rights of any member of any member group. The smaller
      groups, in which individuals may appear to have disproportionate
      influence over the way their group votes tend to be the Community
      Publishers who by their nature do not consist of lots of people,
      however, the number of these groups is far outweighed by the number
      of writing groups.

      I believe this structure is close enough, but different
      enough to the structure of the FWWCP for us to talk to ACE as the
      replacement.
      At the 2008 meeting at Syracuse London Campus we wanted to
      approve a constitution so we could start the 'group' process. There
      were some reservations about this constitution but it was approved
      and accepted as the constitution of TheFED. It was also stated that
      constitutional amendments could be made at the AGM with proper prior
      notice of such amendments.
      Much of the discussions so far have centred on the voting
      rights of individuals and the denigration of groups to the point that
      we do not require groups, only individuals. I have said that we
      should keep a group structure so we can be recognised as the
      replacement for the FWWCP but if you think that sounds a bit
      mercenary, then you are correct.
      We can do a lot with donations and fees, but so much more
      with 'proper' funding that allows the execs to plan ahead. If a plan
      is put forward, it would be a great help to the exec if they have a
      group or groups within the area where the plan is to be put into
      action, (as Voices Talk and Hands Write referred to above).
      If you've got this far it is probably obvious by now that I
      favour a group based organisation, a group of groups.
      I do not believe the FWWCP would have survived as long as it
      did, and blossomed into the international field as it did if it did
      not have at its heart a group ethic. The FWWCP was formed in 1976 and
      a few years later someone said there is no such thing as society. In
      the years following that statement many groups, recreational groups,
      educational groups, night classes, sports groups, within large
      companies as well as local authorities went to the wall. It was as if
      someone were trying to prove it was true. It wasn't then. It isn't
      now. And the FWWCP played a part in keeping society alive. We should
      also play a part in keeping society alive, and reminding society
      about some of the bits it would like to forget or ignore. I do not
      think that this can be done by banning groups. We need them.

      Apologies again for this being so long, and so late.
      See you all sometime soon
      Dave Chambers
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