President’s report back – July 2013
[ Please note that this has been amended on 17 July because an unfortunate use of language might have given a wrong impression.]
At the AGM a few weeks before our Council meeting on 18 June I was able to report pleasing progress on a number of initiatives. The first full Council meeting of the year took us further forward, with a new Committee structure to more efficiently represent our priorities. Most significantly we have set up a new Member Services Committee, encompassing the work of both the Membership and Master Points secretaries, a reinstated role of Education Convener and a new initiative on communication, including the SBU News and the new website. This big and important Committee is chaired by Russell Frame and I know that he would welcome your views and suggestions. He can be contacted here.
It would be inappropriate not to mention an unfortunate incident that has taken up a lot of time over the last few weeks. A member has been accused of inappropriate actions in one of our clubs. The alleged behaviour was so serious that it was seen as bringing the game into disrepute and a group led by the Chair of the Laws & Ethics Committee have investigated, made some recommendations and suspended a member from SBU sponsored events for 6 months. The circumstances leading up to the investigation prompted me to ask Council to endorse the statement below - which was agreed before the Group reported - and I repeat it in order to ask all members, and in particular clubs and districts, to take note.
SBU’s position on complaints on the behaviour of players
If a member of the SBU is alleged to have misbehaved at an SBU event, the appropriate committee [Laws & Ethics] will investigate and, if necessary, recommend to Council that disciplinary action be taken. If that action is a period of suspension from playing, all affiliated Districts – and clubs in these Districts – will be expected to uphold this suspension.
If the misbehaviour is alleged to have taken place at club or district event that is a matter for the club or district. However if the club/district believes that the alleged behaviour is such that action might be required under section 15.4 of the SBU Constitution [“breaks the Laws of Bridge or brings Bridge into disrepute”] this should be brought to the attention of the chair of the SBU L&E Committee. The Committee may then decide to investigate and may recommend disciplinary action under section 15.4 of the Constitution.
It should be noted that the acceptability of alleged behaviour may well differ when an incident takes place in a club or district event and is then referred to the SBU. Any club/district that is considering referral to the SBU is invited to consult the chair of L&E or the President in advance if they require any clarification of the procedure or appropriateness of referral.
This statement was approved by SBU Council on 18June 2013 and remains valid until any subsequent statement is agreed by the Council.
Finally please make our new website at www.sbu.org.uk one of your ‘favourites’ and use it vas your first point of reference for all SBU information. It is fully operative but still being ‘tweaked’. However can already communicate directly with Chairs of Committees, enter events via the website and see results immediately after events are completed. Combined with the Mempad initiative, which is nearing completion and will allow clubs to record all MP allocations electronically and allow members to view their own MP record, I think we are really getting into the e-age!
SBU AGM – 28th May 2013
Report from the Mike ASH, SBU President, to members.
I am pleased and very proud to report back to members at the end of my first year as your President. I believe that the year has been very successful and that we are laying down the foundations for more improvements year on year.
At last year’s AGM I set myself a target to visit every District and as many clubs as possible. This I have now done, meeting many people who normally would have no contact with the SBU Council. I also met players from clubs not affiliated to the SBU and one club that has decided to leave us. I am very grateful to all the people who helped to make these visits possible and also to all those who took part in the ‘Your SBU’ survey. From the results of this survey we held a workshop in April for Council members and others involved in the follow up work, resulting in a number of action points to take this initiative forward.
At the last AGM the Council identified a number of priorities for this year. These included:
- Unify the membership and masterpoints databases, make accessible it by members and allow clubs to register MP’s directly. This project is progressing well and should be available for next season.
- Produce a new upgraded website, allowing registered people the ability to keep the site up to date, including uploading results from competitions as they produced and for members to enter events electronically This will go live at the July Peebles.
- Establish a more formal basis for training and developing junior players. This is now well established.
- Update and promote the SBU teaching materials, available to clubs and teachers free of charge.
A PowerPoint version has been produced and it is proposed to appoint a new Training Co-ordinator.
- Produce a high quality magazine and look at other ways of communicating with all members.
The magazine is well regarded. Other ways of communicating will be apriority for next year.
- Establish our own simultaneous events, in partnership with other small Unions, Celtic Sim Pairs doing well.
- Establish a National League and produce consistent guidelines for the various trials. 15 teams entered in NL! Trials continue to be well supported.
- Prepare for the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Glasgow 2014.
Continued progress but an important priority for next year.
- Continue to improve the way the Council works. Ongoing.
As you can see we have made considerable progress but much remains to do. We will continue to develop a service for members that combines outstanding value for money with efficiency, utilising technology where appropriate, and maintaining that unique element that make bridge in Scotland the envy of many other countries.
Next year will be a time to ‘bed down’ the IT systems and major new events – the National League, Celtic Sim. Pairs etc – but we are also determined to drive forward an initiative to help clubs recruit more players, in particular looking at how we can convert the very many new players into regular tournament players. We will review our complete programme of National and International events to make sure that we respond to demand and new types of life styles and, top of our agenda, we will ensure that we are able to communicate regularly and directly to as many members as possible. To achieve this we will continue to need the active support of Districts and Clubs –
I thank all club and district officers for what you have been doing and in anticipation of even more next year.
May I end this report by thanking my Council members for their work this year – often demanding, mainly unpaid and sometimes unappreciated – and wishing the very best of luck to our Senior team which represents Scotland in the World Championships in Bali this September. They have put Scottish bridge on the map and we are very proud of their bronze medals, achieved at the European Championships in Dublin.
A number of people who have contributed a great deal are either retiring or having a break from Council next year.
I would like to thank them all but in particular mention David Liggat who is retiring after being our Secretary for 10 years and also Peter & Helena Cohen who have done such a wonderful job running our Congresses. Also thanks to John Wilson who has been Chief TD for many years. A well deserved “Thank You” from us all.
Enjoy your bridge in 2013/14 –
If you think we do well – please tell others, if we don’t – please tell me!
Report back to members – April 2013
The April Council meeting was an important one. We agreed a budget and a new format for the National League but most importantly we met during the afternoon to take part in a workshop on the way forward for the SBU. I was particularly pleased at how many were able to take part and we were joined by one or two others who have been involved in the Your SBU initiative.
The overriding theme that emerged was that the SBU needs to be proactive in supporting clubs and districts to promote bridge and the way it is played. Also we must embrace new ways of working – in particular how we communicate with members. The Bullet Points emerging at the plenary, in no particular order, are listed below.
- Positive action to discourage bad behaviour by targeting teachers and TDs and the clubs
- Must persuade schools to take Mind Sports seriously as an aid to improve pupils overall skills, if possible liaising with Chess Scotland
- Enable entry to competitions via the SBU website
- Set up a website partnership desk
- Encourage newcomers to advance into clubs
- Set up a virtual bridge club for class members and send out a monthly newsletter
- Use the Commonwealth Nations Bridge Championships to promote bridge through the media
- Publicise what the SBU provides by way of support to members and clubs, especially unaffiliated clubs
- Encourage participation in congresses and competitions
- Run more events tailored to players in or about to leave classes and “uncompetitive” club players
- Districts to follow up on disaffiliating clubs
- Restructure Council
In previous reports I have referred to the two IT projects that we sought to introduce this year. Both the establishing of a single database and using it to electronically register MP’s and introducing a new website, which will allow members to enter events on-line, have taken longer than we anticipated but we received presentations on both of them at the seminar and they will be going ‘live’ before the new season starts in September.
Finally please note – and tell others in your club – that we are running a session on helping students who have completed teaching programmes to progress to be club members and tournament players. My trips around the country have indicated that this is a major issue for many clubs but there are several examples of clubs recruiting significant numbers of new members from their classes. There will be a workshop on the afternoon before the AGM, which will be held at Stirling BC on 28 May. Refreshments will be available at the end for those wishing to stay for the AGM.
More information is being sent to all clubs via district secretaries and there will be more details on the website shortly.
Report Back from SBU Council – February 2013
Since the last meeting I have been able to complete my tour of the Districts, visiting North and Central last month. It is a very pleasant part of this role to be able to meet club players who I may not normally come across in National events and Congresses. Whilst many were keen to share their views – often pointing out some areas where we could do better, everyone seemed pleased to see me and they were generally supportive of the organisation. A big thank you to all of the people who made these trips possible and in many cases went out of their way to make arrangements and offer accommodation.
I have passed on my general impressions to a small group that I have set up, co-ordinated by Ann Wickens. It has a representative from every District and draws from a cross section of members. They will be reporting back in April and I really hope that some of the ideas generated will form a basis for a wide ranging reappraisal of what the SBU offers its members.
I took the opportunity of Hogmanay to write directly to all clubs. I was pleased to receive positive feedback from this and I hope to do this again following our April meeting. Ideally we could do this through the District secretaries but the communication channels at District level are variable. We must improve this and have an open discussion on what the clubs expect of the Districts, what the Districts expect of the SBU and how we can meet these expectations.
Further to this initiative we have already had a long – many might say, far too long – discussion on how we can use IT systems to streamline the way we handle Membership and Master Points. I know I said a similar thing at the last meeting but I trust that today’s meeting will finally give us a way forward so that members will see the fruits of our efforts by next season. Certainly I expect that we will have a new website up and running by then.
As mentioned last time, I would like to invite all members of Council and our officers to a workshop session in the afternoon before our next meeting on 9th April. I will ask some Council members to lead on different topics and we will circulate some material in advance so that representatives can consult members in advance. Coming out of that session I would hope that we would be able to produce a draft of our annual report back to the membership and a programme of action for next year to be confirmed at the AGM. I am sure that this event can be really worthwhile and I am asking for everybody’s support to make it successful.