Minutes of June 2011 meeting

Minutes of meeting of the Board of directors of The Autscape Organisation
Meeting date: Sunday 19th June 2011
Meeting time: 1pm BST

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

1.        Ratifications
1.1.     The board unanimously ratified its decisions taken in the 
meeting of the management committee of Autscape held at 1pm BST on 
Wednesday 18th May 2011 (minutes available at 
http://www.autscape.org/organisation/meetings/) and all prior decisions 
of the Autscape management committee which affect The Autscape 
Organisation (whenever taken), as decisions of the board of directors of 
the Autscape Organisation.

1.2.    The board unanimously ratified its acceptance of a proposal to 
amend our decision on the fee structure (adopted March 3.3) to cap the 
en-suite supplement (see posts on list 5/6/11 and Appendix A for full 

1.3.    The board unanimously ratified its approval of the May minutes 
(final version posted 13/6/11).

2.       Approvals
2.1.    The board unanimously approved the May closed meeting minutes 
(posted 13/6/11 and not included below due to confidentiality).

2.2.    The board unanimously approved the debt policy (see discussion 
22/05/11 and Appendix B).

2.3.    The board approved the general confidentiality policy (see 
Appendix C) (7 in favour, 1 abstention)

3.      Proposals

3.1.    The board unanimously approved the chair's proposal that 
Autscape 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 GBP 360). The cost for any carers or family 
members who will also be staying is the individual's responsibility.

3.2.    The board considered the company secretary's proposal to either 
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]. The board decided to accept the offered donation (7 in 
favour, 1 abstention).

3.3.    The board considered the venue coordinator's proposal to decide 
whether the venue and dates for Autscape 2012 should be:
(a) Belsey Bridge 23-26th July
(b) Ackworth 26-30 August (or 27 to 31 August to avoid the bank holiday)
(c) Sidcot during the last two weeks of August
There was some discussion regarding the best dates because there were 
bank holidays, school holidays and international holidays to consider. 
Yo stated her opinion that, while Belsey Bridge is the ideal venue in 
other ways, the underlying cost per person of option (a) is too high and 
will set up
expectations of a level of comfort which are not in the interests of 
Autscape's accessibility to those many autistics on low incomes. It was 
decided that further enquiries be made regarding other possible dates 
and that a preliminary vote on venue preference, without dates, be 
taken, to be
confirmed by a vote on the board list once availability for all 3 venues 
is known.

The board decided to choose Belsey Bridge as the preferred venue for 
2012. (5 in favour, 2 for other venues, 1 abstention)

3.4.   The board considered the company secretary's proposal to decide 
Autscape's position in relation to Data Protection registration. There 
was a brief discussion regarding the amount of paperwork and the 
affordability. Kalen also confirmed that it was the opinion of the 
Company Secretary and the Treasurer that we are not required to 
register. The board decided that
Autscape is exempt and does not need to register (7 in favour, 1 

3.5.   The board approved the treasurer's proposal that Stephen Miller 
(vice treasurer) be authorised as a signatory for the Autscape bank 
account (7 in favour, 1 abstention). Note: This is for a new bank 
account under the name, "The Autscape Organisation." The other 
signatories would be Peter
(treasurer), Yo (company secretary) and Kalen (chair).

3.6.   The board unanimously approved the treasurer's proposal that we
3.6.1. Event insurance from CaSE at a maximum cost of GBP 300
3.6.2. Directors indemnity insurance from CaSE for one year at a cost of 
GBP 157.50
Kalen asked if these were competitively priced, affordable, and 
necessary. The company secretary said in her opinion they were necessary 
and the treasurer thought they were competitively priced and affordable. 
Stephen asked for clarification as to what they actually cover. The company
secretary said that directors indemnity covers us for the consequences 
of directors making mistakes or being negligent and the treasurer 
confirmed that event insurance is the public liability insurance.

3.7.   The board approved the treasurer's proposal 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 (7 in favour, 1 
abstention). The
treasurer explained that he was looking too distribute the money that we 
have received from late bookings last year on the late cancellations 
with the idea of correcting obvious injustices incurred prior to us 
having a cancellation policy. He also stressed that GBP 300 was a limit 
and not a
target and that if it becomes part of the cancellation policy and we 
think we have dealt with all edge cases, we could revoke this authorisation.

3.8.   The board decided to defer a decision on the treasurer's proposal 
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 pending further research. There was a 
brief discussion regarding
the intrusive personal questions and information required of the 
trustees on the application form of the account the treasurer had 
proposed on list. Elaine and Yo offered to research some other banks 

3.9.   Transport issues (see report in 5.9 for background information)
3.9.1. The board unanimously approved the treasurer's proposal that 
Autscape book transport at a maximum cost of GBP 300 with the provider 
identified by the transport coordinator. Kalen asked if this was an 
affordable risk (i.e.if we didn't recoup all the costs from transport 
users). The treasurer said if we charge for this, there has never been a 
problem getting people to pay. Kalen then asked if it was it affordable 
if we didn't have enough users. The treasurer said it would be fine.

3.9.2. The board considered the treasurer's proposal to decide how much 
to charge for transport. Yo said she wasn't keen on offering free 
transport, even if we can afford it, because she thought once we set 
that precedent, participants are likely to expect transport to be 
provided for free. The
treasurer said that the GBP 400 excess he had calculated was before he'd 
taken into account the early stay for directors and the registrar and 
now he was recommending against the option of offering free transport. 
Kalen asked for clarification on how the charges put as 'return' would 
be applied if someone only wanted one way. Peter said it was a flat rate 
and one way is the same cost as both ways. There followed a brief 
discussion on previous year's transport use and costs. The board decided 
to charge GBP 5 return (4 + casting vote in favour, 4 favouring the 
alternative of GBP 5 each way)

4.         Follow ups

4.1.      Newsletter

A report was not available so Yo offered to chase up with a post on 
wg-news and Stephen offered to email Alexis.

4.2.     Registration

The Registrar reported that she had stopped accepting bookings for 
single rooms. Kalen said she had checked yesterday and there were 70ish 
registered. The programme coordinator said that one of the presenters 
had still to register and reminded the committee that we know nothing 
about the requirements of the invited presenter who we had offered 1 day 

4.3.    Cancellation policy

The treasurer and the venue coordinator said they had not made any 
progress. The company secretary said she was concerned about the risks 
of not having a policy in place (given that registration is open). Trish 
asked if it was more of a risk this year and the company secretary said 
it had been a risk every year and that she would like to see it end. The 
treasurer reminded the committee that the default is that they are in a 
contract and cannot cancel without compensating us. A cancellation 
policy gives people additional rights. The company secretary agreed but 
thought there were risks to our reputation which needed to be avoided. 
The venue coordinator said she would attend to the Cancellation policy 
after the meeting.

5.       Subcommittee Progress Reports

5.1.    Venue. The venue coordinator apologised that she had forgotten 
about the website information. She also said that the venue liaison was 
fine. A second visit was booked for 12 July to look at specifics of 
accommodation and activity areas. This year's venue continue to be very 
good, rapid responders to queries. Finally, a shortlist for 2012 venues 
has been created and details passed to board for decision at this meeting.

5.2.    Tech. The Tech subcommittee chair said most of the web site 
changes have been in the admin section to support the activities of the 
secretary and registrar.

5.3.    Publications/publicity. The publications/publicity subcommittee 
chair said that the poster has been sent to Russell Stronach to be 
distributed at the Autism show, but he had not confirmed receipt. He had 
sent a follow up. Stephen said he gave the poster to an Autism 
Initiatives pottery studio.

5.4.    Constitution. The constitution subcommittee chair said that the 
work for the governance policy was almost complete. Also, she intended 
to make a proposal in AOB about sc-cons future.

5.5.    Fundraising. The fundraising subcommittee chair said that text 
donations were now possible and that the on-line merchandise shop was up 
and running.

5.6.    Youth. The youth subcommittee chair said that she had extended 
the childcare to cover Monday morning and she intends to make a 
proposal to the subcommittee about the youth programme following this 
meeting. The treasurer asked for an estimate of the extra childcare 
hours and the company secretary said the cost should come out of the 
development budget and that she had authorised this extension under her 
delegated authority relating to expenses falling under the development 

5.7.    Programme. The programme coordinator said she was making slow 
but steady progress and put in the following report:
1. Invited presenter - 3 people so far invited but can't make it and now 
need to clarify situation regarding inviting people from overseas and 
subsidising travel.
2. Meals - We are now looking at: Breakfast 8-9,Lunch at 12.30,Supper at 6.
3. Information for presenters - have been awaiting info and decisions, 
reaching completion of parts in progress.
4. Webpages - some updated. Thank you Peter
5. Schedule - have initial draft. An issue has been raised over the 
distance between activities/meals etc and whether enough time has been 
6. Handouts - still in discussion over presenter suggestions.
7. Leisure - to be addressed
8. Miscellaneous - pool and visit to sensory room no progress - ideally 
need a volunteer to do these so I am not sidetracked.
She also said she was finding it takes a lot of time to get each issue 
sorted out and she would like some responses to issues she has raised 
recently as she has urgent things to do. Kalen offered re point 5. to 
check whether drinks could be served in the meeting room at breaks.

Peter reported on the printing stating that Autscape's printing costs 
have been all over the place. The reason being that we are wildly 
inconsistent in the amount we want to print. In one year, we printed way 
more feedback forms than could possibly be used, and printing was 
relatively high. Fortunately most of the forms were usable for 
subsequent years, and the following years have been particularly low.

5.8.    Merchandise wg. The merchandise coordinator Stephen said that 
purchases of supplies with logos were progressing slower than he'd like, 
but definite progress is being made. Debbie and Peter are sorting out 
the insert for the pens. Sensory toy purchases are progressing steadily. 
He was also coordinating with Katja on interaction between on-line and 
off-line merchandise on the merchandise working group.

5.9.    Transport. Kalen said that a full report from the transport 
co-ordinator was available on the list. However, to summarise: Only been 
able to obtain information from one company. They can offer a 24 seater 
mini coach for GBP 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 is worrying we should 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

6.1.   The venue coordinator said she had nothing additional to report.

6.2.   The treasurer said that the main work has been the bank account 
with the correct business name. In the course of that, he's found that 
it is much harder to get a charity account once you've incorporated and 
that it has taken an inordinate amount of work to get as far as knowing 
what information is actually needed. However, once we actually get an 
account, we'll be able to get reduced Paypal fees.

6.3.   The company secretary brought to the board's attention the fact 
that Autscape fairly regularly encounters legal issues. The ideal 
situation would be for the company secretary to have access to a 
solicitor to provide such advice. However, the cost is approx GBP 900 
per year which was, in her judgement, too high an expenditure on this 
issue for an organisation of our size. Therefore, the board will have to 
be content with an informed lay opinion (i.e. hers) on most issues and 
only resort to paying for legal advice in rare situations where the 
extent of the risk to Autscape justifies the cost. She pointed out that 
this situation is not unusual for a small charity, even one which is 
also a company, and would be considered quite normal by the regulatory 
authorities. She also notified everybody that Board training was now 
organised for Monday morning and she would like to also invite all 
nominees for election to the board.

6.4.   The Chair reported that progress is adequate. Much still to be 
done by venue, programme, publicity and constitution, but she believed 
these are more or less in hand. She also said she had been asked to 
produce a visualisation of the overall timetable for the Autscape year 
and while she was initially reluctant, she had worked out a way to do 
this and will endeavour to do it by the time it is needed for next year.

7.      Any other business

7.1.   The board unanimously approved the Constitution subcommittee 
chair's proposal to dissolve sc-cons once the work of that sc on 
substantial decisions involved in the governance policy is complete 
(exact timing at the discretion of the SC chair).

Meeting closed at 15.09 BST


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 
   with supportive individuals (such as a family member, close friend, 
PA or
   counsellor), provided the director accepts responsibility for the 
   of those individuals in respecting the confidentiality of the 

In exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary for a director to 
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