Reflections on the BTA EB Elections

The results have been posted on the BTA Website and I wouldn't be me if I didn't make some comment. Overall there are some good and bad things, and definitely some lessons to be learned.

GOOD
A nice geographic spread across the board from England. As the One Stop Plan gets implemented at least the various "regions" such as Eastern, London, North East and North West can't say they didn't have a voice on the EB. Its much more balanced than it was under the prior "North East mafia" and much better balanced than the "Southern posse" we could have got.

Nice to see Barry Frost get elected, its up to him now to show that he can actually get things done without getting embroiled in the various factions and infighting. Good to see Sarah Springman formally involved in the UK Sports Administration, I'm sure given time and patience she will get a fair shot at standing for higher office either in or out of triathlon. Lets hope that through her election to the board she can make some real difference to the perception and support for triathlon in the UK and not wasting time fighting old battles, at least until 2007!

BAD
The number of members who bothered to vote, only 373 down from last years poor showing..

Clive Faine being defeated as Vice Chair. Simply don't understand that? He's done a great job at home on a number of projects and really advanced the cause of Duathlon internationally. One assumes the Team MK folks didn't get organised, surely if everyone at Team MK had voted for Clive he'd have been half way there... According to the Annual Report he also did it for free, where as new Vice Chair Jem Lawson had claimed £2,594 in 6-months?

LESSONS
1). Well the Southern posse can't be surprised they got whooped. My first reaction when seeing the list of candidates is wow, who put them all up to it? With John, Alan, Lynda, Paul all standing, their votes were split and they all lost. If only two had stood, and the votes transferred as many would have, then fewer nominees would have easily been elected. For example, if Chase and Spelling or Groves had not stood, its likely that say Lunt, Spelling and/or Groves would have got over 200 votes each and made the cut-off.

We are very careful about this election stuff where I work to make sure we don't fall foul of this same problem. Candidates for elected positions are reviewed and only a minimum number are selected to go forward based on the likely outcome. I have to say, in this case the Southern nominees needed to work better amongst themselves and agree at least two hold their nominations over. If they couldn't do this, then what hope they would have been able to find common ground when elected? Heck even Blair and Brown managed a pact and thats much less important than triathlon.

2). The general membership simply doesn't care enough to vote unless there is a real crisis. This is true for most member organisations. I bet the AGM attendance will be its normal fifty or so again this year. Why? Because there is no major panic, there are no major problems and people simply don't need to do anything to get what they think is the status quo. There is some speculation that the WTC/IM Resolutions were put forward as a strawman to distract from the important business of elections. I don't buy that. I put it down to simply failing to understand the way voting works in a member based association where everything just seems to be going fine.

3). Many of those elected made some grand claims, integrity, independence, will work for the age grouper etc. Actually you've got to ask is that what you want for a committee member for the sports governing board? Someone who sits in the corner and refuses to cooperate because they think there is a clique, or there is an imbalance between commercial and club or between elite and age group or between age group and development? What is needed for board members are people who can cooperate, who can reach a consensus which often involves having to compromise. Compromise doesn't deny integrity but it does effect independence. Integrity is good, but what is needed is transparency and openess. taking the moral highground doesn't mean anything, being willing to work for the greater good and being seen to do this is much better.

FINANCE
Is important beciuase of what's happening in the One Stop Plan. I've tried to reconcile a number of public statements made about kit and staff with what is in the accounts and can't. The annual report as usual doesn't include the detail needed to make an informed judgement on them. There are though a number of questions which are either carry overs from previous years or just don't get addressed in this glossy presentation.

Are the expenses justified? We can see from the Annual report that Jem Lawson was a comparitively expensive addition to the board last year, and Clive Faine claimed nothing. How could this be?

Whats happened to the kit itemised in the budget and where are the costs? According to the report we still have £34,389 in kit. Yet many of the GB Team at the Worlds didn't get the kit they'd ordered and paid for. So where is all this kit? A question that was asked last year and not satisfactorily answered. If I read the annual report kit accounted for 3% of the expenditure and 2% of the income, yet the report says that stock levels are lower. Does this mean we are subsidising kit?

What happened with the championship events and how much profit or loss did they make? And what is the financial outlook for 2006?

The costs of publications went up significantly.  The report contains a long note that seems to suggest that the Association has invested significantly in publictions to make them a net zero cost by 2008. How are they going to do that and doesn't that put the Association in direct competition with 220 Magazine and is that desirable?

And whats all this about written off cars? I'm sure thats a book keeping term but it would be nice to understand what this meant and since the report shows only up until June 2005 if there is any significant financial changes since then?

The above are all reasonable questions for a member based association that receives a substantial contribution from government bodies. The goverment is another "member association", so ultimately all the money came from us, don't we deserve to know the answer to these basic questions?
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