Minutes of May 2011 meeting

Autscape Management Committee Meeting Minutes
Meeting date: Wednesday 18th May 2011
Meeting time: 1pm BST

Present:  Elaine, Kalen, Katja, Martijn, Peter, Stephen, Trish, Yo,

1.      Announcements

1.1.    Autscape's application for Charity Registration (as 'The 
Autscape Organisation') has been approved. Our registered charity number 
is 1141913. This completes the process begun as a result of the decision 
of the membership at the AGM in 2008. Autscape is now a charitable company.

Thank you to Yo for all her hard work. It was agreed that the Chair 
would make a general announcement after the meeting.

2.     Ratifications

2.1.   March part 2 minutes (approved on list 20/4/11)

2.2.   To appoint Debbie F. as transport coordinator (agreed nem 
con 18/4/11)

2.3.   To appoint Debbie F. as registrar (agreed on list 11/5/11)

Approved unanimously.

3.     Proposals

3.1.   Approve April minutes (version posted on list 24/4/11)[minutes of 
closed meeting to be approved separately]

The committee unanimously voted to approve

3.2.   To adopt the proposed booking and cancellation policy (see Appendix)
Some people found the text under Cancellation, in particular, Paragraph 2,
complicated and difficult to understand. After a brief discussion it was 
decided to defer the cancellation policy for discussion on the list as a 
matter of urgency and just look at the Payment policy.

The committee unanimously voted to approve the Payment policy

4.     Follow ups

4.1.   Newsletter

Kalen said that there have been no contributions sent in so Alexis 
doesn't know where to start on the next newsletter. She has been waiting 
for ideas from the newsletter working group, but the list has gone 
silent. Since then a couple of prompts and suggestions have been made. 
Stephen volunteered to follow that up again in a week or two.

4.2.   Registration

Debbie reported that 27 people have registered. 16 for single rooms, 7 
new names. She was awaiting info from two people with mobility 
difficulties regarding use of the stairlift. Peter and Kalen were 
working on a payment deadline system with the aim of seeing a policy on 
the website regarding people's attendance at one Autscape if they owe 
money from a previous one. Katja also raised the issue that, as she 
mentioned on the list, there have been questions about what low income 
means. Martijn pointed out that the registration page now says under 
"low income":
"Many of those who attend Autscape are on benefits and some people who 
are working for low pay have less money than some who are on benefits, 
so we don't have a clear cut way of deciding what is low income and we 
don't require proof. We encourage you to pay the full rate if you can 
afford it. If you have very little money and the £20 discount would make 
a substantial difference to your life, then you may pay the low income 
Kalen said this basically meant for now low income equals the low income 
discount is very important to you. Also that we'll see how it works and 
re-assess after this year (or sooner if it becomes evident it's not 
working at all). Martijn also pointed out that the low income rate is 
unavailable to carers (who already get a discount) and professionals 
(who pay a surcharge). It was decided to defer the money owing policy 
for discussion on the list.

4.3.   General confidentiality policy (set for review this month by 
December 2010 meeting 3.4.1)

Yo said she hadn't had time to do it because of more urgent Autscape 
work. In the absence of any volunteers to take on the task of drafting 
it would have to wait awhile.

4.4.   Drafting of email re item 7 March meeting

Kalen said she had failed to do this. However, she now had reasons to 
doubt whether it should be done. It was decided to address this in a 
closed meeting at the end.

4.5.   Adding working groups to 'getting involved' page

This hadn't been done but Martijn agreed to do it.

5.     Subcommittee Progress Reports

5.1.   Venue. Kalen said that the Website information is in progress, 
but not yet complete. At least the site has been updated to specify the 
venue instead of just a vague location. Progress on the venue search for 
2012 has been very good, thanks to Debbie. They are working on a 
shortlist of candidates and Debbie has prepared a comparison table of 
those that currently seem most viable. Debbie would prefer the table is 
moved to a place on the Autscape site. We have 4 venues (including this 
year's) that all seem viable, all of which will have been visited by the 
end of this week and we should be able to decide at the June meeting.

5.2.   Tech. Peter said nearly every change he wanted to do on the 
booking system was implemented, including payment acknowledgements which 
are new this year. They are issued automatically when payment is entered 
into the finance system. Kalen said that we need to update programme and 
venue information, but that first has to be done by those in charge of 
those areas.

5.3.   Publications/publicity. Martijn said that the poster is ready but 
Kalen might want to do one final proof read and then he could put it on 
the site within hours of this meeting. He had also made an international 
version (just to internationalize the phone numbers). Re brochure, he
thought perhaps it was not worth the effort; a flyer might be something
better to concentrate on first. He said they were going to discuss that
on the sc-pub list. Yo said she thought the point of the brochure was
for those who find online difficult or don't have computer access and
questioned whether a flyer would give them enough info to allow a paper
booking and was this inclusive practice. Martijn said that the brochure
wouldn't be good enough for that either but a paper registration form
would. Kalen pointed out that the brochure has included a registration 
form in the past. Kalen also said a brochure is a costly (both our time 
and postage) means of advertising. Its long term viability should 
probably be discussed on the publications/publicity sub-committee. Yo 
said she was just asking for accessibility to non-computer users to be 
considered in whatever they decided to do about flyers/brochures/forms 
etc. Martijn acknowledged this.

Kalen reported that ARM UK have agreed to advertise Autscape on their stall
at the Autism Show in London in June. Yo agreed this was good but raised 
the concern that we could be swamped with bookings as a result. Kalen 
said that, if so, we could consider this useful information re demand.

5.4.   Constitution. Yo said nothing has happened over the last month 
due to her situation. However, now that the charity registration has 
come through, she should be able to make progress. She noted that 
getting a full governance policy in place before the AGM was vital to 
ensure the new board would be able to get elected!

5.5.   Fundraising. Yo said there was nothing happening. Unfortunately. 
Katja who had agreed to help has also been having difficulties. Anyone 
else who can help move things along would be welcome. 

5.6.   Youth. Elaine said she had emailed the childcare provider to ask 
for an invoice for the £25 booking fee. They are happy to wait until 
later to finalise details regarding how many staff, children etc. The 
subcommittee is still discussing the programme but things have been a 
bit slow so nothing has been decided yet.

5.7.   Programme. Trish said that not as much progress as hoped had been 
made for variety of reasons but we have heard back from some presenters 
re which day they want to come and are awaiting the rest of the replies. 
Presenter information is currently being put together. Liaising with 
sc-pub over printing of presentation handouts. Re invited presenter - an 
invitation has not yet been issued and it was decided that, if possible, 
the invitation should come from a person known to the person being invited.

5.8.   Merchandise working group. Stephen said he hadn't talked to 
Fundraising about using mugs as a membership benefit yet. He was still 
looking for a supplier of stuffed animals, since they sold fairly 
quickly last year. No progress on T-Shirts as of yet.

5.9.   Transport working group (report from the transport coordinator
because the wg isn't yet functional). Debbie said she was making good 
progress. She is keeping the working group up to date and is currently 
looking for a local firm which has a larger taxi / mini coach but she 
needs to obtain various quotes. She has also written guidance for people 
who prefer to make their own way by public transport.

6.     Key position progress reports

6.1.   Venue coordinator. Kalen said she had sent the venue an e-mail 
with a number of questions, but her contact there was away this week. 
She is usually very prompt, so she expected to hear back next week. She 
also was still awaiting a list of what is needed in terms of AV 
equipment from people who know about these things. She had also asked 
for an appointment to see the venue again and to discuss things with 
catering and tech (regarding internet access) directly.

6.2.   Treasurer. Peter said Kalen had done the low income definition,
and he hoped people understood the visualisation of how Autscape's 
income is spent (which he had posted to the committee list). He hadn't 
done anything about accountancy issues in the last month, apart from 
going to the bank to find out what to do regarding to our new name and 
status. Lloyds say that we can use our existing account, and that we 
just need to change the name. With regard to the accountant, now that 
registration is open, he asked if he should deliberately delay until 
just after Autscape. The problem is that we lose access to our 
materials, including credit books, for about two weeks. It was agreed 
that delaying seemed reasonable. Yo also asked if he could make the 
visualisation available on the website, perhaps as part of the FAQs 
Peter said it needed lots of checking before it gets published, but yes 
in principle.

6.3.   Company Secretary.
Yo provided the following report.
1. The Charity registration has now been achieved and the Charity 
Commission had no questions or concerns. However they did make a couple 
of observations regarding issues which we should keep under review. 
These were:-
A. Whilst the Charity Commission notes that the current fees for 
attending conferences seem reasonable and that we give concessions where 
possible, we will need to keep an eye on this issue.
Our solicitor recommends that all directors (i.e. committee members) 
read the Charity Commission's guidance on public benefit and 
fee-charging which can be accessed via the following link:

Given this I recommend that we ensure that the proposal regarding fee 
levels is made earlier next year to allow sufficient time for all 
directors to read the proposals and reflect on their compatibility with 
our charitable status prior to voting on them.
B. One of our objects (the charitable aims of Autscape) is "to advance 
the education and awareness of the public in all matters relating to 
autism and in particular to increase public awareness of the problems 
faced by, and the general circumstances of, autistic people and their 
families, thus encouraging increased acceptance and support of autistic 
people in the community.
We did not provide the Charity Commission with much detail as to how 
Autscape will educate the public (for obvious reasons, as this is not 
currently Autscape's main focus). However, the trustees will need to 
monitor whether Autscape is in fact educating the public and if (say) by 
the time the trustees provide their first annual report to the Charity 
Commission there is no real education of the public taking place the 
trustees may need to consider seeking Charity Commission consent to 
deleting this object. For information, following is a link to the 
Charity Commission's guidance on what constitutes advancement of education:

In the short term I suggest we don't worry about this. This is a busy 
time of year for Autscape. I will put this issue on the agenda early in 
the new Autscape year (i.e. September or October) for discussion on 
whether we should aim to fulfil or delete this object.
Our solicitor would also like to know whether anyone has any outstanding 
questions about the charity registration. Please raise any such 
questions within the next few days.
2. There are also quite a few important things still to achieve to fully 
complete the transfer from 'Autscape - the members association' to 'The 
Autscape Organisation - charitable company'. I intend to make a 
comprehensive list of these in the next few weeks and start ploughing 
through them. Many of these things are administrative and can be 
achieved between myself and Peter. Others require sc-cons to get 
proposals ready for this committee and the AGM to ensure we have a 
comprehensive governance policy in place asap.
3. I need to make a start on drafting the annual report which I will do 
as soon as possible.
4. It would be ideal for all directors to be able to access training on 
being directors/trustees. However, since I believe this is likely to be 
too expensive and/or impractical to arrange from an outside source, I am 
willing to work up a training session and run this for all directors 
just before Autscape (i.e. sometime on the Sunday or on the Monday 
morning). Therefore, I suggest that we plan for the whole committee to 
be present at the venue long enough before Autscape to allow for that 
training. In the meantime, can I remind everyone that the most essential 
information is contained in this Charity Commission publication

Also, as this was a lengthy report, any issues can be addressed on list 
in the future.

Martijn asked if it's possible to officially incorporate list posts in 
the meeting by reference. Yo said that would make it harder for the 
person doing the minutes and her concern would be those who don't read 
the list. Kalen said we often do that by making them into appendices.

6.4.   Chair. Kalen said that progress is adequate considering Autscape 
is late this year. A few things are behind, and registration opened 
later than hoped, but these should not have serious consequences. A 
timetable has been more-or-less worked out for registration and programme.

7.     There was no other business.

Meeting closed at 14.43 BST

Payment Policy

This policy should be examined every year since it necessarily
interacts with the venues' policies.


Bookings for Autscape will be held, pending payment, for two weeks from
the date that the registrar accepts the booking or until booking closes,
whichever date occurs earlier. The registrar may cancel bookings which
remain unpaid after this date.

The registrar is not compelled to cancel unpaid bookings, and they may
arrange an alternative payment schedule with a participant where it is
appropriate to do so.