Minutes of February 2012 meeting

Final February Minutes
Minutes of meeting of the Board of directors of The Autscape Organisation
Meeting date: Sunday 5th February 2012
Meeting time: 2.00pm BST

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

1.  	Ratifications

1.1. The board ratified its decision to spend GBP 120 plus VAT (one-off
    fee) to register with Virgin Money Giving in order to collect
    sponsorship donations from a marathon runner who has named Autscape
    as one of her charities. This would also be a way of receiving
    donations from other sources, particularly individuals. (decision
    made on list 11/01/12). (Unanimous)

2. 	Appointments

2.1. Chair of sc research.
    In the absence of any volunteers the Chair will continue to be

2.2.	The board appointed Elaine as Childcare coordinator (Unanimous)

3.	Proposals

3.1. The board appointed Martijn to arrange the transfer of the
    autscape.org and autscape.org.uk domains to the company's ownership
    as soon as possible, with a budget of GBP 50, provided that the
    current owners of those domains are willing to relinquish
    them. (Unanimous)

3.2. The board decided to offer a GBP 5 discount on fees only to people
    who: become a member at the time of booking, or extend their
    existing membership for a year, or have at least 6 months' remaining
    of their existing membership. [Rationale available in Appendix  A]. 

3.3. The directors discussed possible fee structures for Autscape
    2012. In response to a question, the treasurer expressed the view
    that Option A was preferable due to lower risk. It was clarified
    that an estimate of GBP 1200 had been used for childcare in the
    calculations. The board agreed the fee structure listed in Option A
    for Autscape 2012. [see Appendix B]. (Unanimous)

3.4. The board delegated a budget of GBP 1000 to the formal programme
    coordinator to cover:
1. presenters' accommodation (one night per presentation)
2. up to two essential carers for presenters
3. invited presenters' travel expenses
4. other exceptional expenses for any presenter
5. other costs directly related to the formal programme which are
    reasonable in the opinion of the formal programme coordinator

[see Appendix C for breakdown] (Unanimous)

3.5. The board delegated a budget of GBP 220 to the Publications and
    Publicity subcommittee chair to cover:
1. A quarter-page advertisement in AuKids Magazine (GBP 120
    incl. VAT). See http://www.aukids.co.uk/.
2. Printing and posting flyers and/or posters to organisations and
    events that might distribute them (e.g. the Autism Show).
3. Any other expenses that are reasonable in the opinion of the subcommittee chair.
[see Appendix D for breakdown] (Unanimous)

3.6.	The board decided to:
3.6.1. set a fee for Autscape-provided transport of GBP 10 now, so that
    this can be collected during the booking process on the web site.
3.6.2. authorise the transport coordinator to book 5 Star Taxis Norwich
    Ltd for transport, with exact times to be decided [see Appendix E
    for further information] (Unanimous)

3.7. Following a lively discussion, the board decided that the theme for
    Autscape 2013 will be 'Finding a voice'. (4 for that option, 3 for
    other options, full options and voting in Appendix F)

4. 	Subcommittee progress reports.

4.1. Formal programme subcommittee (proposals, presenter numbers, carer
    places, invitations, theme 2013) The subcommittee chair reported
    that we had received one proposal so far. The budget for 8
    presenters and up to 2 carers (if necessary) had been approved. The
    invitations list was underway, but proving difficult. Theme for 2013
    will be 'Finding a voice'.

4.2.  Alternative programme subcommittee (sc membership, call for
    leisure activities, budget, alternative programme intentions). The
    subcommittee chair reported that the sc was not very active. The
    main response had been suggestions and offers for activities. The
    call for leisure activities had not been sent as it had not been
    proofread. She was waiting for more information before requesting a
    budget but she had discovered that there was no need to hire
    lifeguards. A sensory room visit had been suggested but she did not
    anticipate running an organised trip this year as it took a great
    deal of organising last year. She also said there would be a
    'hangout' again with less formal activities and designated times
    when it is manned and therefore suitable for young people.

4.3. Fundraising subcommittee (sc membership, task list and timetable
    for the year). The subcommittee chair reported that we had now
    registered with Virginmoneygiving but we needed to do a bit more to
    activate the account. She was also in the process of writing up a
    comprehensive 3 year funding strategy which she would eventually
    present to the board.

4.4. Research subcommittee (sc membership, childcare research
    progress). The chair (coordinating in the absence of a subcommittee
    chair) reported that membership was low despite a plea for members
    and they had yet to make any progress because of this.

4.5. Publications and publicity subcommittee (website wording,
    advertisement deadlines, publicity planning). The subcommittee chair
    reported that The Call for Proposals had been distributed widely. He
    noted that the budget for advertising had been approved and the need
    to start on that right away, though not at imminent danger of
    missing deadlines. There was no progress yet on the website.

4.6.	Working group reports 
Newsletter. The working group chair had nothing to report. He was asked
    about the possibility of getting a newsletter out before July. He
    said that the last time he enquired on the list the response was
    negligible and he got no sign ups so he didn't think if was possible
    unless we abandoned the member lead idea. It was suggested that they
    need more guidance and perhaps some prodding and structuring to move
    things along.
Purchasing. The working group chair had nothing to report.
Echo. The working group chair reported that they were making progress
    though that was mostly in the form of posting thoughts and results
    of research with very occasional comments from others but they were
    two thirds of the way through the most important aspects and she
    should have a report ready before she went on leave so that a
    decision could be made and the project advertised at Autscape if
Tech. The chair reported that there had been some discussion about the
    website issues on the list, though that's no longer the remit of the
    wg in theory and it seems to be being taken care of.

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

5.1. Webmaster (updating website, certificate issues, registration
    system). The webmaster reported that the SSL certificate for the
    autscape.org domain had expired and he had experienced difficulty
    renewing it because the domain is effectively in limbo. . However,
    getting the domain ownership sorted is a prerequisite for fixing the
    SSL certificate. The SSL problem doesn't affect the proposals form,
    that's not on the secure site, but if the problem extends into
    registration, the backup plan will be to use autscape.org.uk. He had
    not done any work on the registration system but he anticipated
    finishing it in time to go live by the end of March.

5.2. Venue coordinator 2012 (planned venue visits, venue information for
    sc pub). The venue coordinator said he had resumed contact with the
    venue but he still needed to coordinate with other relevant parties
    over dates of second venue visit which he will be doing that over
    the next couple of days. He had also drafted a document about the
    venue for the website which he posted to sc-pub and made the minor
    changes suggested but there had been no progress since then. The
    chair of the publications and publicity subcommittee said he would
    put it on the website asap.

5.3.  Treasurer (bank form, tax return, accounts, expenses payments,
    fees). The treasurer reported that he believed everyone's expenses
    had been paid. The bank form is signed and was sent off to CAF
    (Autscape's new bankers) at the start of the month and it should
    take a couple of weeks to be processed. Elaine did the
    Virginmoneygiving registration and he had done some of the rest of
    the information required to activate the account. They will also
    need a description of the Charity for their web pages and the bank
    details which he can't complete until he gets the new bank
    details. The chair of the publications and publicity subcommittee
    said they would come up with the necessary description. He had also
    completed compiling the accounts for the 2011 financial year but he
    hadn't sent everything off to the accountant yet. He reminded
    everybody that this was the last chance to ask if they needed a
    cheque writing urgently. He also provided the following links for
    people who wanted to see how much money remained in their delegated


5.4. Company Secretary (files, annual report, info@ guidance, policies
    and job descriptions). The company secretary reported that she
    hadn't had time to do much because of another major project. As soon
    as possible she will attend to the annual report. She had also done
    some research on another non urgent issue which she will make a
    proposal on when she gets a chance.

5.5. Chair. (general progress, any other matters). The chair thought
    that progress was improving though she had concerns about the
    functioning of sub-committees and working groups. She thought things
    would come together in good time, possibly earlier than usual for
    many things. She thanked everybody for their efforts.

6.	Any other business 

6.1. The board approved an increase of GBP 100 in the allocated money to
    the accountancy services from GBP 400 to GBP 500 to cover additional
    costs due to extra work requested by the treasurer. The extra work
    consists of asking the accountant to convert the CC39a into a form
    suitable for Companies House, and for the accountant to do the HMRC
    charity paperwork.
 (Approved, Unanimous).

6.2. The board approved a minor change to the fee structure to offer
    'free en suite' for double rooms (at a cost of GBP 30 per room) as a
    means of encouraging the use of double rooms as doubles.  (Approved,
    6 for, 0 against)

Meeting closed at 16.16 BST


The membership fee is not quite neutral because this year the conference
    is unusually early. If we were to follow last year's scheme exactly,
    we'd be offering GBP 5 discount to nearly everyone because they'd be
    in month 11 of their annual membership so there'd be no incentive
    for people to extend their membership for another year.

In terms of our finances, this is small change. The big deal is that the
    number of members will drop significantly in August, leaving
    Autscape in the control of a small and probably unrepresentative
    subgroup of its current membership. The proposal would prevent this
    by encouraging attendees to renew their membership.


Original Proposal:

Adult - Standard - £195
Adult - Low Income - £175

Child 6-13 - Standard - £115
Child 6-13 - Low Income - £95

Child 14-17 - Standard - £175
Child 14-17 - Low Income - £155

Child 0-5 - Standard - £60
Child 0-5 - Low Income - £40

Carer/SA - £165

Professional - £250

En-suite supplement: £30 *per room*.

Attached to my email to the board list of 29/1/12 you'll find my working for
how I reached the residential figures, unfortunately due to the per-room
supplement the spreadsheet is slightly more awkward to interpret compared to
last year's, and I didn't make it able to handle the family rooms being used
by more than two people. For the
purpose of the contracted minimum, 6-13 year olds count as half an attendee,
which is why the figures add up to 91 attendees rather than 90.

Option A:

Adult - Standard - Single - £200
Adult - Standard - Shared - £190
Adult - Low Income - Single - £180
Adult - Low Income - Shared - £170

Child 6-13 - Standard - Single - £120
Child 6-13 - Standard - Shared - £110
Child 6-13 - Low Income - Single - £100
Child 6-13 - Low Income - Shared - £90

Child 14-17 - Standard - Single - £180
Child 14-17 - Standard - Shared - £170
Child 14-17 - Low Income - Single - £160
Child 14-17 - Low Income - Shared - £150

Child 0-5 - Standard - £60
Child 0-5 - Low Income - £40

Carer/SA - Single - £170
Carer/SA - Shared - £160

Professional - Single - £250
Professional - Shared - £240

En-Suite Supplement: £30 *per room*


Option B:

Adult - Standard - Single - £195
Adult - Standard - Shared - £185
Adult - Low Income - Single - £175
Adult - Low Income - Shared - £165

Child 6-13 - Standard - Single - £115
Child 6-13 - Standard - Shared - £105
Child 6-13 - Low Income - Single - £95
Child 6-13 - Low Income - Shared - £85

Child 14-17 - Standard - Single - £175
Child 14-17 - Standard - Shared - £165
Child 14-17 - Low Income - Single - £155
Child 14-17 - Low Income - Shared - £145

Child 0-5 - Standard - £60
Child 0-5 - Low Income - £40

Carer/SA - Single - £170
Carer/SA - Shared - £160

Professional - Single - £250
Professional - Shared - £240

En-Suite Supplement: £30 *per room*

Day fees (same for all options):

Adult day attendees attending for three days of the conference cost us
£33 less. This allows us to broadly speaking keep the costs to day
attendees the same as last year while having day attendees who are
attending for three days pay about the same amount towards the
non-venue costs of the conference as residential attendees. Like
last year, the venue is not charging for children age 0-5, so I
haven't reduced the cost to 0-5 year olds compared to residential

Adult - Standard - £80 one day; £160 two or more days
Adult - Low Income - £70 one day; £140 two or more days

Child 6-13 - Standard - £45 one day; £90 two or more days
Child 6-13 - Low Income - £35 one day; £70 two or more days

Child 14-17 - Standard - £70 one day; £140 two or more days
Child 14-17 - Low Income - £60 one day; £120 two or more days

Child 0-5 - Standard - £30 one day; £60 two or more days
Child 0-5 - Low Income - £20 one day; £40 two or more days

Carer/SA - £45 one day; £90 two days; £135 three or more days

Professional - £100 one day; £200 two or more days

Rationale for original proposal

Proposed fee structure

    The minimum cost for an adult to attend the venue for this proposal is
    higher than last year (£170 last year compared to £195 this year),
    however it is cheaper than the last time we were at Ammerdown, which
    was a venue with a comparable cost to this one (£200 last time we
    were at Ammerdown compared to £195 this year), and the cost for an
    adult using a single room - Which many of our participants either
    need or prefer - is lower than last year (£210 last year compared to
    £195 this year)

    Due to the significant lack of shared rooms at this venue, I haven't
    offered a discount for using them. This is to lower the demand for
    shared rooms so that attendees who need them due to caring for young
    children and needing support in the mornings will be able to get
    them. This is partially countered by the per room rather than per
    person en-suite supplement, which is intended to help encourage
    those who can use the en-suite doubles as doubles to do so -
    traditionally this type of room has proven difficult to fill and
    this venue does not have a lot of rooms compared to our target of 90
    attendees. This is unlikely to have much impact on those who need
    the twin and family rooms, since only three of those are en-suite.

    The fees include the membership fee. Subtract GBP 5 to get the fee
    offered to members. Since the membership fee is neutral, you can
    ignore it for any analysis.

    I've assumed an organiser rebate of a single day, and included any
    non-committee members on the on-site team in the estimate of how
    many organiser rebates we'll have. Other costs are estimates based
    on last year, and numbers that some of the subcommittees have been
    floating round prior to proposing them to the board.

    The figures I am proposing loses us around £10 for each low income
    14-17 year old attending compared to what the venue is charging
    us. This is well within what we can afford, and the lower cost,
    despite no discount to us, should help our accessibility to families
    and young autistic people who cannot attend without an adult.

    We are currently towards the upper end of our reserve range, as such
    I have set the fees with the aim of running our reserves down. If my
    estimates of attendance and costs are correct - and we meet the
    venue minimum – These fees will run our reserves down by about
    £750. If we fall short of our contracted minimum by 20 places, and
    only get 70 attendees, then this proposal should run our reserves
    down by about £2500 when taking the underwritten 10 places into
    account. If that happens, we'll be at the lower end of what our
    reserve policy permits. We obviously don't want this to happen, and
    I hope our publicity can get us the 90 contracted minimum so we
    don't have to use any of the underwritten places, but we can afford

Rationale for Options A and B

    While we do have 20 shared rooms counting doubles as shared rather
    than single, historically we have apparently struggled to use the
    doubled as shared with higher discounts for shared rooms than we can
    offer this year due to how high our reserves are and what the venue

    Last year, six of the seven carers shared a room, two with en-suite
    facilities. Assuming the same number of carers attend, and all the
    carers who shared last year did so due to the support needs of the
    person they were attending with, that leaves 6 twin and family rooms
    left over, along with the 8 double rooms.

    Bearing that in mind, and attempting to cut into our reserves
    without reducing the cheapest option for low income to the same
    amount as the carer rate, I would like to propose the following two
    additional options:

    The discount for sharing in both options is half of that for low
    income, it is possible some people will choose to go for a low
    income in order to get a free upgrade. In both cases, I have reduced
    the lowest carer rate by £5 from the initial proposal, which is
    necessary to get the figures to work in both cases - in the case of
    Option A, this slightly helps get our reserves down slightly more,
    and is simply to help us get our reserves down from the high end of
    our reserve policy. In the case of Option B, it's needed so that low
    income participants are being charged more than carers. This, I
    believe, would make the fees look off to someone who doesn't know
    how much Belsey Bridge is charging us.

    I expect it to make a difference of less than £50 to our finances
    (We had 7 carers attending last year, I've been working on the
    assumption of 8), although carers in a shared non-ensuite room are
    being charged £5 less than the venue are charging us.

    Option A gives us a deficit of about £500 assuming we meet our
    minimum booking, and £2400 if we miss by 20 places, after taking
    into account the ten underwritten places. In both cases, this lands
    us within the range our reserve policy allows, although a £500
    deficit would still be a little high in the range, and I've been
    working with figures indicating more low income attendees than there
    were last year.

    Option B gives us a deficit of about £900 assuming we meet our
    minimum booking, and £2700 if we miss by 20 places, after taking
    into account the ten underwritten places. Again, this lands us
    within our reserve range in both cases, however if we miss by 20
    places, that puts us only about £1000 over our minimum reserve
    amount, after taking into account the deposit we've paid for Belsey
    Bridge into account.

Relevant comments from the board list on the above proposal:

Chair: "There is a significant lack of shared en suite rooms. I don't
think there's a lack of shared rooms overall. There is an abundance of single
rooms, relatively speaking, which is good, but there are 20 shared rooms,
which is *far* more than we have families of any description (including
couples and parent carers with child). With no motivation to share, even
some families will prefer to split up."


Breakdown of how the budget has been calculated:
1. 8 x £55 = £440
2. 2 x £55 = £110
3. 2 x £200 = £400
4. £50
5. Any surplus from the above.


1. £120
2. up to £80
3. any surplus from the above


Setting a fee now and collecting it during registration will save a *lot* of hassle later on.

Norwich is the best station to use - it is a terminal station so people
don't have to keep on eye on where they are in their journey. It is
also has direct trains to Peterborough on the East Cost Main Line,
and to London Liverpool Street. It has step-free access to the
platform. If people arrive early, they can visit the city.

The proposed fee is at cost. The cost of transporting people from
Norwich station is going to be around GBP 10 (total, not each
way). This is based on taxi quotes for a combination of 4 and 8
passenger vehicles.

The full shortlist of themes considered for Autscape 2013 was:
A. Autism through the lifespan
B. Autistic autonomy
C. Expanding Autistic Horizons / Exploring Autistic Futures (this would
    go back to the sc to work out the exact wording)
D. Finding a voice
E. Independent living / living in the community (as with C)
F. Mapping the world of autism
(The breakdown of voting was: 1 for A, 2 for B, 0 for C, 4 for D, 0 for E).