Council Minutes - 12 September 2015

Present:  Vicky Seddon (Chair), Alan Debenham, Mary Southcott, Peter Hirst, Avtar Singh, Andrew Blick, Danny Zinkus Sutton, Phil Starr, Stephen Carter, Owais Rajput

Apologies: Jack Maizels, Finola Kelly, Phil Davis, James Grindrod

In Attendance: Alexandra Runswick (Director), Simon Howard (Minutes)


 1          Minutes and Matters arising

Vicky Seddon (VS) informed Council that Management Board minutes from 2nd June had been distributed for information. The minutes from the Council meeting on 4th July were approved and there were no matters arising that were not already on the agenda.


2          Finance

Alexandra Runswick (AR) advised Council that the change in Budget had been caused by the need to invest in the website to improve both functionality and income. Inclusive of VAT the cost is £12,000. A conservative increase in online donations is included in the budget of £4,000. AR continued, highlighting other changes such as a £1,100 legacy and a reduction in staff costs. The amended budget was accepted by Council.


3          Strategy discussion

AR spoke to her paper giving some background information to it. She suggested that Council first needs to talk about agreeing campaign principles. The alienation project is not to be the sole project there is also a campaign around Follow the Money. VS asked Council if it wanted a general or specific discussion and suggested starting with the political context, followed by campaign principles and an outline plan. Following a discussion on the political context Council continued by considering the principles of the proposed campaign. It was content with these subject to some further consultation and consideration of the Council strategy day and by staff team.

Council then discussed the outline plan for 2015 to 2020. AR started with Council following. It was clear from the discussion that Council was interested in the alienation project but, also action particularly around decentralisation to local government. It was accepted that a discussion on this was needed at the AGM. Stuart Weir to is work up his local government proposal and the strategy group should shape the proposals for discussion at the AGM.

It then became clear that a number of Council were concerned that decisions on the UD plan should not be left until the February meeting. VS suggested that following discussion at the AGM a decision should be made by Council in as quick a timescale as is reasonable and practical and look at earlier dates for a potential rescheduling of the next meeting.


4          Membership

AR started by saying that following the motion at the last AGM UD has carried out much work with its members regarding communication. A newsletter has been setup that is emailed monthly to members. There has been significantly more interaction with the website since it has been updated.

The results of the membership survey show that 70% were broadly happy and members were recommending friends to join. The demographics did not surprise us.

 Council was asked to consider by AR what being a membership organisation means and a short discussion took place.


5          Preparation for AGM                     

AR referred to her draft response of Council. If there are any additions please contact her this week. It is proposed to remove the option of nominations by fax from the constitution since UD no longer has a fax machine.

Council then discussed the proposed changes to the constituencies for Council elections, following the motion at last year’s AGM which resolved to move to a single constituency, with reserved places for regional representation (to be specified by the AGM immediately prior to the next Council election ).  AR explained the options set out in the paper. Following debate, it was clear that Council members had different opinions, so the proposals were put to the vote

Recommendation A was taken as the motion on the table:

Council recommends moving to a national list with a third of places reserved for candidates from regions outside London and the South East. Candidates’ regions would be indicated next to their name on the ballot paper. .

Option D was taken as the first amendment: One reserved place for each existing UD constituency.  By 5 votes to 4 (with one abstention) Council voted in favour.

C was next put to the vote: Two reserved places for each existing UD constituency:  this was lost by 8 votes against to 1 (with one abstention)

The substantive motion as amended by D was then put to the vote as the option that Council was recommending to the AGM, and this was carried with 6 votes to 3 (with one abstention):

Council recommends moving to a national list with one reserved place for each existing UD constituency. Candidates’ regions would be indicated next to their name on the ballot paper.


 6          Rodell Properties update

Simon Howard (SH) informed Council that the refurbishment of Cynthia Street had started, that the lease with Pronunciation Studio had been ended and a new one agreed allowing either party to give 3 months’ notice. This will mean the rear ground and basement can be vacant for the redevelopment making that cheaper and easier. He continued that obtaining finance for Rodell has been difficult due to its unique structure.




7          Director’s report

Before AR presented her report to Council there was a discussion on voter registration. AR set out briefly the historical perspective before explaining the changes that the government are trying to implement and then invited Council to consider what campaign UD should do. UD is to start with a letter to MPs.

AR took Council through her report. She mentioned the petition by Owen Winter of the UK Youth Parliament and the facebook group Voting Reform Team. UD needs to look at the Labour party election results and what it means regarding policy issues and electoral reform.

AR then spoke about the success of the Pankhurst Picnics.

With the dissolution honours finally announced UD reactivated its House of Lords list and sent out an action. 2,500 letters were sent to David Cameron by supporters. There was also the quiz. Emily Randall has set up UD Digital. This is supported by volunteers but they are not based in the office. In respect of Follow the Money (FTM) with the new MP register published UD did a list of second jobs. The FTM website is soon to be launched in the middle of the Tory party conference. A second soft launch will be linked to the SNP party conference.



8          AOB & close

Next planned meeting:  20th February 2016