Agenda for June 2011 meeting

Final Agenda for June 2011 committee meeting - revision 1
Meeting date: Sunday 19th June 1pm

Meeting Chair: Kalen

1.      Ratifications

1.1.   To ratify all decisions taken in the meeting of the management 
committee of Autscape held at 1pm BST on Wednesday 18th May 2011 (minutes 
available at as decisions 
of the board of directors of the Autscape Organisation.

1.2.   Acceptance of a proposal to amend our decision on the fee structure 
(adopted March 3.3) to cap the ensuite supplement (see posts on list 5/6/11 
and Appendix A for full proposal)

1.3.   Approval of May minutes (final version posted 13/6/11)

2.      Approvals

2.1.   Approve May closed meeting minutes (posted 13/6/11 and not included 
below due to confidentiality)

2.2.   Approve debt policy (see discussion 22/05/11 and Appendix B)

2.3.   Approve general confidentiality policy (see Appendix C)

3.      Proposals

3.1.   The chair proposes that we fund as many directors (and the registrar) 
as wish to arrive on the Sunday before Autscape to stay overnight and 
undertake essential preparatory work (max cost 320 GBP). The cost for any 
carers or family members who will also be staying is the individual's 

3.2.   The company secretary proposes that we decide whether to accept or 
reject the offer of a donation to underwrite 10 places at Autscape 2012 in 
order to offset the risk of choosing Belsey Bridge because of the high 
minimum number required by that venue. The offer applies only if Belsey 
Bridge is chosen as the venue and is, in that sense, conditional (please see 
briefing paper on donation conditions and independence posted 3/6/11) [Note 
that the donor prefers to remain anonymous]

3.3.   The venue coordinator proposes that we decide whether the venue and 
dates for Autscape 2012 should be:

(a) Belsey Bridge 23-26th July

(b) Ackworth 26-30 August

(c) Sidcot during the last two weeks of August

[Please see comparison table and 
full discussion on list for essential background information]

3.4.   The company secretary proposes that we decide which of the following 
positions to take in relation to Data Protection registration:

(a) To decide that we are exempt and do not need to register
(b) To decide that we are not exempt and must register
(c) To seek legal advice as to whether we need to register (likely cost
upwards of £95)
(d) To register voluntarily
[Relevant background information: The annual cost of registration is £35 and 
the board should bear in mind its responsibilities to use Autscape funds 
efficiently in the interests of our beneficiaries. Registration will require 
the company secretary to carry out some administration (form filling) 
annually. See Appendix E for full briefing paper on the issues. This 
decision will be reviewed annually.]

3.5.   The treasurer proposes that we authorise Stephen Miller as a 
signatory for the Autscape bank account.

3.6.   The treasurer proposes that we purchase the following insurance 
policies from CaSE:

3.6.1.      Event insurance at a maximum cost of GBP 300

3.6.2.      Directors indemnity insurance for one year at a cost of GBP 

3.7.   The treasurer proposes that he be delegated the authority to offer 
ex-gratia refunds to participants who lost financially when they cancelled 
their Autscape place, at his discretion, up to a total of GBP 300 in any one 
financial year.

3.8.   The treasurer proposes that he be authorised to open a treasurer's 
account for The Autscape Organisation and to require all directors to 
provide him with the information necessary to do so.

3.9.   Transport issues (see report in 5.9 for background information)

3.9.1.      The treasurer proposes that we book transport at a maximum cost 
of GBP 300 with the provider identified by the transport coordinator.

3.9.2.      The treasurer proposes that we decide how much to charge for 
transport, either:

(a) no charge
(b) GBP 5 return

(c) GBP 7.50 return
(d) GBP 5 each way

4.      Follow ups

4.1.   Newsletter

4.2.   Registration

4.3.   Cancellation policy - urgent. We decided last month that this needed 
to be sorted out within a few days of that meeting, but this hasn't 

5.      Subcommittee Progress Reports (suggested topics listed)

5.1.   Venue (website information on 2011 venue, venue liaison)

5.2.   Tech (website updating, adding working groups to 'getting involved' 

5.3.   Publications/publicity (poster distribution, paper registration form 
and brochure replacement)

5.4.   Constitution (progress on governance policy)

5.5.   Fundraising (progress on fundraising including text donations, online 
merchandise sales)

5.6.   Youth (liaison with childcare providers, seeking information from 
parents about their children attending, youth programme contents and 

5.7.   Programme (invitation(s), presenter info on website, leisure issues, 

5.8.   Merchandise wg (if necessary)

5.9.   Transport. Full report available on the list. Summary: Only been able 
to obtain information from one company. They can offer a 24 seater mini 
coach for 50 per trip, and they can supply more than one bus or do multiple 
trips. Two trips both ways would be GBP 200. The cost is in line with 
transport costs last year. We need to agree a cost for the service. Upper 
bound on costs if we've under 40 people is seven pounds per person return, 
lower bound is five pounds per person return. Worst case scenario is 26 to 
28 people - if that worries you make it seven pounds fifty return. Once 
unknown commitments are taken into account, the treasurer estimates we have 
GBP 400 available so we could do it for free if we wanted to. (There are 
other possible uses for the excess, eg. lifeguards.)

6.      Key position progress reports (matters not covered earlier)

6.1.   Venue coordinator (catering, ongoing liaison with the venue)

6.2.   Treasurer (paypal, new bank account, accountant, budget, reserves)

6.3.   Company Secretary (solicitor, training, policies, development issues)

6.4.   Chair (overall progress, timetable)

7. Any other business


Proposal to cap ensuite supplement:
To limit the number of ensuite supplements to two per room.

Background information from the registrar:

At the moment

- twin ensuites have two people and a supplement of £80 (£40 per person).

- a group of three pay a supplement of £120 extra to have an ensuite.

-a group of four pay £160 extra to have an ensuite.

I want no group sharing the same room to be charged more than £80 for
their ensuite.

This then gives

* an incentive to larger groups to use the larger ensuites and not
split their booking into two rooms.

Which in turns helps us fill the larger rooms to capacity, thus
leaving us with more rooms for other people.

Groups may then see it as better to take a triple ensuite then a twin
ensuite and single as of now because the former will be cheaper.

* It also providers a fairer supplement for parents sharing with more
than one child.


Autscape Debt policy

Autscape recognises that many participants find it difficult to afford the 
fees for the Autscape conference and that autistic difficulties can pose 
challenges with achieving timely payment of fees. However, Autscape is a 
charity and depends on fee income to provide the Autscape conference for 

Autscape will work constructively with an individual to assist them in 
achieving timely payment of fees owing to Autscape. In doing so, we will 
follow these principles:

(1) Any money paid to Autscape should first go towards paying off any debt, 
before it is applied to a current booking.

(2) At the discretion of the treasurer, individuals may be permitted to 
agree payment plans. However, individuals may be required to maintain 
compliance with a payment plan as a condition of registration at future 
Autscape events.


Autscape general confidentiality policy

[This policy should be read in conjunction with the participant 
confidentiality policy. In all instances where it applies, the participant 
confidentiality policy takes precedence.]

With the exception of board meetings held in public, communication in any 
format between board members about Autscape should generally be considered 
confidential to the Autscape board and professional advisers appointed by 
the board (e.g. solicitors, accountants).

The content of such communication should not be disclosed to any other 
organisation or individual without the explicit consent of the board, 

  a.. When the disclosure is required by law;
  b.. When necessary to provide a non-director with information directly 
relevant to a task they are carrying out on behalf of Autscape;
  c.. When individual directors choose to discuss such matters in confidence 
with supportive individuals (such as a family member, close friend, PA or 
counsellor), provided the director accepts responsibility for the behaviour 
of those individuals in respecting the confidentiality of the information.

In exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary for a director to disclose 
information in contravention of this general policy. In doing so, the 
overriding principle is that directors should act at all times in what they 
genuinely believe to be the best interests of Autscape. When it is 
consistent with that principle, directors should seek to obtain the consent 
of the full board or, failing that, as many other directors as possible. 
Failing that, directors should seek to inform the full board of the 
disclosure or, failing that, as many other directors as possible.

This policy does not apply to personal information disclosed by individual 
board members to the board. Such information should be treated as 
participant information and is subject to the participant confidentiality 


Donation conditions and ensuring independent decision-making

Briefing paper prepared by the Company Secretary

This document has been compiled based on information from the Voluntary
Sector Legal Handbook (Russell-Cooke 3rd edition), the Charities Commission
Good Governance Code and 'Who's in Charge?', a guide produced by the Office
of the Scottish Charity Regulator (not legally applicable to Autscape but a
useful guide to good practice).

No prohibition

There are no legal restrictions prohibiting charities from accepting
donations which have conditions attached. In general, the board should:

  a.. seek, where possible, to diversify income streams to help ensure that
no single funder can exercise undue influence over the actions and decisions
of the board. (Charities Commission Good Governance Code)

However, Autscape is not prohibited from accepting a specific donation from
a funder where doing so may allow that funder to influence decision making.

Ensuring independence

Thus, the issue falls under the core duty of trustees to act in the best
interests of the charity. Under that duty, the board must ensure that it is
not unduly influenced by other parties (anyone other than the board as a
whole) in making decisions. The application of this principle to the
situation of conditional funding is best expressed like this:

  a.. Funders of charities may place conditions on funds offered to a
charity but the charity trustees should decide whether these conditions are
acceptable. A charity should ensure that a funding agreement does not
unreasonably limit its ability to make decisions in the overall interests of
the charity about how best to fulfil its charitable purposes. (Who's in

Acting in the overall best interests of the charity

However, whilst care must be taken to protect the independence of Autscape's
decision-making, the board should consider very carefully whether refusing a
donation is really in the overall best interests of the charity. Difficult
issues arise if what seems ethically right is not necessarily in the
organisation's financial interest.

A decision to refuse a donation needs to be fully justified. Such a decision
would normally only be justified as in the charity's best interests where:

  a.. the aims or activities of the donor are contrary to Autscape's
  b.. acceptance could negatively affect support from other sources;
  c.. conditions placed on the donation are unreasonable or contrary to
Autscape's objectives;
  d.. the donation is the product of illegal activity. (Voluntary sector
legal handbook)

In other situations, a refusal is likely to be harder to justify as being in
Autscape's overall best interests than accepting a conditional donation and
further advice (even the consent of the Charity Commission) is advisable
before deciding to refuse any donation.


Data Protection Registration

Briefing paper prepared by the Company Secretary

Peter asked me to revisit the question of whether Autscape should register
under the Data Protection Act. His concern was that, although there is an
exemption for non-profit organisations and charities that covers certain 
activities for people in regular contact with us, he
felt that some of our activities fell outside this exemption. He cited two

 *  We want to keep membership information indefinitely, including
    for people who are no longer members.

 *  The mailing list archives include messages from people who have no
    longer have a relationship with Autscape. Some of those messages
    contain personal information.

I have reviewed the guidance carefully in the light of our current
activities and am now ready to provide some advice to the board on the

My opinion is that we currently do not need to register. This is because:

- As a charity, we are allowed to keep information about people for the
purpose of "providing or administering activities for either the members or
those who have regular contact with it.". The detailed guidance provided by
the ICO for the charitable sector says "So an organisation that provides
activities or support on an ongoing basis to the same individuals (even if a
minority only contact the organisation once) will fall within the
exemption.". This would seem to describe most of Autscape's purposes very

- We are also allowed (as a charity) to keep information on people who are
no longer members without registering if we are doing so for the purpose of
Autscape's own "advertising, marketing and public relations.". This is
exactly why we want to keep information on former members, so that we can
advertise Autscape to them and encourage them to rejoin.

- Our mailing lists are provided as a service to our beneficiaries. People
can themselves directly join or leave these lists. Autscape does not place
the information in the emails on these lists. Autscape merely provides the
archives where the list messages are stored and crucially, these are not
stored in the form of records on individuals (i.e. copies of the emails are
not placed into a file about a specific person). Therefore, I do not believe
this constitutes a basis for Autscape to have a requirement to register.

The typical situations under which not-for-profit organisations need to
register are where an organisation is doing something like trading or
sharing personal data with other organisations or operating a CCTV system
for the purpose of crime prevention (none of which apply to Autscape).

However, whilst I do believe Autscape continues to fit within it, the
not-for-profit exemption is fairly narrow and the consequences of failing to
register if we were required to do so are serious (it's a criminal offence).
Whilst I have some experience with this and it falls within my general remit
as company secretary, I am not legally qualified. So, while I can give my
opinion, I cannot say definitively that we do not need to register.