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Responses to the East Wing AGM Zoom chat

Forum Home Forums Horizon Project – Have your say! Responses to the East Wing AGM Zoom chat

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    Whilst Martin Bishop and I were addressing the AGM in the room the meeting was shared on Zoom and messages were being sent using the Chat facility.

    The whole Chat is published on the Club website and here:-

    As we could not respond to them at the time I decided to pick out the ones that were relevant and give a response. Some of the responses are shared. Some my own personal view which Martin may (or may not!) agree with.
    I believe these are the ones that need some comment:-

    “The younger family members who carry the bulk of the fees are not well represented. There is a very good chance that the people who are present and take an interest may inadvertently vote for self-serving decisions, the use of the East Wing being a good example!”

    Response. Getting more use of the East Wing will benefit ‘younger family members’. In the reasoning for our Resolution we identify a need for more space and for improved food and beverage. We suggest the solution comes from greater use of the East Wing. Everyone, young and old, will benefit. “Younger family members” are certainly not being ignored.

    Chantal Croneen:
    “How will the shortfall be made up if we decide to reduce non-member events. Also do you not think that non-member events contribute not just financially, but also to the variety and energy of the club. Most importantly, who’s going to pay for these ideas?”

    Response. Martin and I have been friends of the Croneen family for years. Chantal’s husband is Chairman of the newly titled Events and Member Experience Committee.

    Chantal never agreed with our resolution and two years ago she expanded on what she said on the Chat comments by saying “I believe the energy and enthusiasm that is generated by outside events is an important part of the balance of Club. It is a chance to showcase the Club, and stop it being too much of an ‘Ivory Tower’ as well as providing an important income stream and providing the staff with much needed variety and motivation. I would also never chose to use the East Wing as a place to be so you would most probably have a great big white elephant which would be totally underused.”

    Strong words!

    As Chantal is, I hope, still a friend I am not going to argue with her. I would rather keep her as a friend and leave our resolution with one less supporter!

    Personally I do not recognise this “energy, enthusiasm, ‘Ivory Tower’, variety and motivation”. But clearly I do not see our club in the way that Chantal does. If anyone wants to elaborate on what she says please let me know. For me the arguments against are as important as those in support.

    Joe Vincent:
    “Comment to this motion – we are a SPORTS club!”

    Response. You may only treat it as a sports club but, as Andi Wellman commented on the chat, we are actually a social, family and sports club. My own view is that improving the food and beverage, so it becomes more of an attraction and less a facility, might encourage you to use it. For you it would then cease to be purely a sports club but somewhere you could bring your friends and family to socialise in attractive surroundings and at affordable prices.

    Amanda Burton:
    “I have no problem at all with non-member events. I think they add to the cachet of the club and I do not want subscriptions increased!”

    Response. Amanda’s father was Chairman when these events were introduced.

    I know the Burton family well and regard them as good friends. Not surprisingly I don’t want my subscription increased either. Who does? However, if we are to solve the key problems highlighted in the Satisfaction Survey an increase in subscriptions might be necessary. We are now paying the cost of a decade ago when members resisted even the basic RPI increase. The recent Survey on Subscriptions found that one third of the members would accept an increase and another third would not object to one. Not wanting an increase is another matter!

    On the matter of cachet I don’t understand what cachet these events add. I also wonder what cachet the club actually needs with its impenetrable waiting list. If there is a problem it will be with the council, and the locals who are not members, who see us a privileged community, with 42 acres of land, that it is almost impossible to join unless you marry, or are born, into it. The newly formed Hurlingham Club Foundation is one step in the right direction to correct this.

    J Townsend:
    “I would be very curious to enquire why it is in decline.”

    Response. Assuming this is a question relating to the dropping contributions from non-member events two of the reasons were covered in my address to the AGM. One was the steadily growing difficulty of accessing the Club and the other the declining condition of the structure and décor. These were the only ones I had time to list.

    Henrietta Biddick:
    “Yes I also enjoy seeing events going on and non-members experiencing the club.”

    Response. The non-members at these events don’t get much experience of the club as they are contained in the banqueting area. There are signs prohibiting them entering the member’s areas and they can’t use our grounds.

    I cannot comment on what Ms Biddick enjoys seeing as these are private gatherings we can’t join in with. All I ever see are people standing outside the room they have hired whilst chatting and drinking.

    Robin Griffith:
    “NMB footfall is some 32,000 a year spending on average about £100 so not that bad as this speaker suggests.”

    Response. Mr Griffith is correct about the turnover. It is the contribution of £478k that is relevant to the club’s finances. Turnover and contribution seem, as often happens, to be being confused.

    Rosalind’s iPad:
    “What about traditional prestigious events like rowing, tennis, politics and balls which we rather like hearing about. Lovely to let outsiders enjoy our lovely club.”

    Response. It is lovely to let outsiders enjoy our club but it comes at the cost of not being able to use and enjoy it ourselves.

    Charles Craven:
    “Members resolution should not have been passed with such a one sided argument and audience with self interest.”

    Response. The reason for the argument being one sided was explained by the Main Committee as, to a degree, they are also in support of it. They said that the use of the East Wing was already a key factor in the Horizon discussions, but was for the members to decide whether greater use of the area was affordable. I do not understand the comment about the “audience with self interest”.

    “Members resolution did not have a large majority. It wouldn’t have passed as a special resolution (even with the reduced pass rate of 60%). So it should not prevent continuing the status quo in the East Wing.”

    Nicholas was Chairman when Martin and I were first preparing our resolution. We shared our thoughts with him as we felt it was the polite thing to do. We rarely felt he was in tune with our thinking. For example when we suggested lowering the stage in the Mulgrave Room, thus doubling the floor area, so it become more multipurpose he said it would “it would probably require us to research the number of players, tickets sold etc.” That seemed to miss the point!

    He is now suggesting that although our resolution was passed “it should not prevent continuing the status quo”. Maybe ex-Chairmen are entitled to say that!

    However I do question his perception of the mathematics as I believe that many of the people who voted against our resolution at the AGM did so because they thought non-member events substantially reduced their subscriptions.

    Possibly they did not read the reasoning attached to our resolution.

    What I have found is that people are far more supportive when they read the reasoning and see the figures. I say that because my start point was sixty six members whose home addresses I had on file. They were not handpicked to produce a positive result because I had not discussed the subject with most of them.

    Several of the recipients asked permission to copy the document to friends. After a month we had received 144 supports, eight indecisive and three positive rejections.

    I am sure it was reading our reasoning that produced such a percentage of support. I have never spoken to a member who already knew how little non-member events make. If they don’t know they will almost certainly vote for them to continue in order to prevent their subscription increasing beyond their means.


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