Dog of two head – strange but true, this is the title of a 1971 album from Status Quo. After today’s AGM it’s also what we’ve got at the BTA, the status quo and a dog of two head.
In what was a predictable, but disappointingly low turnout nothing really changed. Any suggestion that British Triathlon is run by a secretive “jobs for the boys” elite was answered. It most definitely is.I for one was caught completely off guard by at least a couple of things that happened today, and both endorsed my view that it’s run by a group of people who are not really interested in input, only ratification and support for their ideas.
The meeting trawled through the normal business, various staff including Graeme Maw reports on the year. There was a healthy discussion about finance, and eventually having been pushed by Henry and I, Norman finally gave out some answers on the approach, strategy, expenditure for the kit and bikes in the accounts. Norman seemed to be attempting rationalise the kit item on the basis that it was for age groups and this meant it had to be good. What we were pushing for was the former, to understand where the organisation was going with this relatively large expense item, not why.
We moved on to the resolutions for amendments. There was no debate on resolution-1, it was passed with the support of the board. Resolution-2 was withdrawn as Henry announced it would be. What followed was some debate on resolution-3, attendance at the AGM, interjected with shambolic procedure lorded over by Peter Coulson, it went to a vote and was defeated.
We then moved onto my open governance resolution. Given the rumoured changes to the BTA in the coming year, and given some of the things that have happened this year, I proposed an open governance amendment that would provide process, encourage transparency and accountability. It might not be perfect, but was largely worded after a similar “sunshine policy” which is good enough for USA Triathlon and formally adopted by them.
Jem Lawson spoke against, and attempted to justify why the proposal wouldn’t work and why the articles were a contract between members and the association, and why the sentiment was good but the implementation was not supportable. Of course, I would argue that Jem was wrong to oppose. What he should have done if he or or any of the board really wanted to be open and accountable was to propose amendments to address the concerns, such as the time it should be acceptable to approve minutes etc. But no, everyone thinks it was a good idea but only those not currently involved in a board, region or committee voted to support the resolution. So, almost everyone with a reason to keep things secret voted to support the status quo.
I didn’t get an exact count of the attendees, but by the time you count the Executive Board, representative committees, Regional Development team, BTA HQ Staff,there were probably less than ten or twelve others present.
At that point it was out with the old, in with the new. So it was with some surprise that Dr Sarah Springman took the floor to announce Jasmines appointment and to handover to Jasmine. With only appointment of officers, date of next meeting and we were done. Well almost.
The formal AGM was closed but then we had a presentation on the One Stop Plan for triathlon. Of course no one knew this was coming, it wasn’t on the agenda, it didn’t need to be as it was presented after the meeting was closed.
Norman would have it that this was no big deal, as the One Stop Plan has been on the web site for months. True. What was new news, and should have at least justified a mention on the web site if not full blown promotion, was that Norman used this presentation to set out the timetable for dismantling the BTA and handing over power at the British level to a quango, and three National Governing Bodies including a newly constituted Triathlon England.
So that was that. Next, was a meeting of the English Triathlon Forum. Of course, you all new about that didn’t you? Of course not, notification didn’t appear anywhere, there was no agenda, as far as I can tell, no real constitution.
But normally that really wouldn’t matter, the ETF have no real budget and no real power and only nominally oversea the the Commonwealth Games selection and low key Home Nations championships. However, given the importance Norman puts on the regionalisation of triathlon and the creation of Triathlon England it was worth sticking around for the 15-20 minutes current Chair Dave Bellingham promised.
Once again, shambolic procedure ruled, it wasn’t clear at all if anyone was taking minutes, Dave held some informal discussion, handed out minutes and accounts which were duly passed and swiftly moved on to elections. Almost with indecent haste and while BTA Vice Chair Clive Faine had his back turned, Dave stood down, and that defender of open transparency Jem Lawson, took the floor as Vice Chair of the ETF, called for nominations for Chair, Dave proposed, Jem seconded, and in the blink of an eye Peter Coulson took the floor as the new Chair of the English Triathlon Forum.
More shambolic procedure followed, and within a few minutes Peter was telling us how he would be working to ensure that Triathlon England would have greater say in the one stop plan than Triathlon Scotland and the Welsh Triathlon Assosciation, after all England has a much higher percentage of the competitors. Huh ?
How did a man who was just defeated and polled less than half the votes for Chair suddenly become the Chair representing the largest majority of triathletes in the UK? I’ll tell you how, it was carefully manipulated, pre-planned and voted in by no one with only twelve people at the meeting.
Talk about golden parachutes. Some argue(and they did afterwards, one even suggested they thought this would happen) that this isn’t important because the ETF has little power and will be out of business in a year along with the BTA.
However, I argue quite the opposite, what it does is to give Coulson a seat at the table, a place in the discussions on the future of British Triathlon, something the membership voted to stop him having. Yes, the BTA is a dog with two heads.
Me, I’m done with it, which will no doubt delight Peter, Norman, Graeme et al. although after today, I suspect they will be even more dismissive of public and membership opinion.
Since I started with a common theme here, one of music, I leave you with one to go along with a dog of two head.
I’m off to listen to Depeche Mode, “To be broken, Feelings are intense, Words are trivial, Pleasures remain, So does the pain, Words are meaningless, And forgettable, All I ever wanted, All I ever needed, Is here in my arms, Words are very unnecessary, They can only do harm" - Enjoy the silence.