Minutes of May 2012 meeting

Minutes of meeting of the Board of directors of The Autscape Organisation

Meeting date: Sunday 6th May 2012

Meeting time: 2.00pm BST

Meeting Chair: Martijn

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

1.      Statement

1.1.   The board noted its decision by written resolution on 19/04/12 to
approve the final accounts.

2.      Ratification

2.1.   The board ratified its decision to co-opt Debbie to the board (made
on list on 12/04/12) (4 for, 0 against)

2.2.   The board ratified its decision to accept a revised proposal
"Interests, people, and autism" (Dinah Murray) for the Autscape programme
(made on list on 21/04/12) (5 for, 0 against)

3.      Proposals

3.1.   Childcare. Following a brief discussion of potential options if any
problems occurred in making the intended booking, the board agreed to book
Kidzonecreche.co.uk to provide childcare at Autscape 2012 and allocate a
budget of £1750 for childcare. [See Appendix A for the rationale considered
by the board] (5 for, 0 against)

3.2.   Merchandise budget. In response to a question, the purchasing
coordinator stated that he expects to recoup between 80 and 120% of the
intended budget from sales and the treasurer confirmed that last year's
figure was 120%. Yo commented that the risk is small in Autscape financial
terms and, in any case, provides a service to participants. The board agreed
to allocate a general merchandise budget (excluding pens) of £200. (5 for, 0

3.3.   Webhosting. The meeting chair enquired as to the source of the
donation and the conditions attached. The company secretary clarified that
the conditions are that it is used for this purpose with this provider and
that the donation is anonymous at present. The board decided to retain Jump
Networks as Autscape's web hosts for a further year. The cost will be GBP
102 (the full amount is GBP 168 incl. VAT, and because of a reduction in
costs, we have a credit note for GBP 66), however, Autscape is being offered
a conditional donation to meet the full cost. [See briefing paper on
donation conditions posted to list on 03/06/11 for reference] (4 for, 0

3.4.   Alternative programme budget. In response to a question the treasurer
confirmed that the proposed budget is affordable. The board approved a
budget of £300 for the alternative programme to cover:
* Glowsticks (sparklies and 'olympics'),
* Refreshments during registration period (incl special diet needs),
* Art, craft and similar material refunds,
* Stickers and other costs associated with registration activities,
* Cheap table tennis bats, balls, nets (if venue's are not adequate),
* And other relevant items.

(5 for, 0 against)

3.5.   Single night registrations. The board discussed a proposal from the
registrar that we do not allow presenters coming for only one night to book
single en-suites unless they have a very good reason. (Allowing them to do
so would take the room out of action for participants coming for the whole
of Autscape - see discussion on list 4/5/12 'Presenter one night options').
Following discussion of various options, the board recognised the complexity
of the issues and the need for rapid responses to changing circumstances.
The board decided to delegate to the registrar the authority to restrict the
availability of room options to groups of participants as necessary to meet
the overall needs of Autscape provided she acts fairly and in the interests
of maximising the accessibility of Autscape in accordance with our
accessibility policy. The intention of the proposal was to cover things like
the recent issue about family rooms and future such issues that may arise as
well as this specific issue. (5 for, 0 against).

4.      Follow ups

4.1.   Purchase/transfer of autscape domains (Peter). Peter reported that he
had so far been unable to action this due to lack of time.

4.2.   Chair of sc-research (Kalen). Kalen reported (via the secretary) that
she had appointed Debbie to chair sc-research.

4.3.   Echo feasibility report (Kalen). Kalen reported (via the secretary)
that she will be unable to submit this report until June.

4.4.   Draft chat list guidance (Martijn). Martijn reported that he has made
no progress with this task and invited support from others. He stated that,
if no-one else is able to assist or take over the project he will get to it
as possible but that this may be a while.

4.5.   Registration system (Peter). Peter reported that the registration
system is finished and registration is open. He reported that travel
payments are now incorporated into the booking and hopes that this will
reduce cash handling. Yo mentioned a minor issue with the provision of
payment information which Peter undertook to adjust.

5.      Subcommittee progress reports (suggested topics in brackets)

5.1.   Formal programme subcommittee (invitations, schedule - including
availability of it to other board members and the website) Chair: Kalen.
Kalen reported (via the secretary) that the addition of Dinah and Josh
Hennessey, who will talk about supporting autistic people, makes 7 approved
presentations. She hasn't had any confirmations from those she has invited
so far. She can make the outline schedule available to anyone who wants it.
It has been posted to the subcommittee email list already. It will be filled
in as information comes in from presenters. She also reported a conflict
between two presenters who want to be at the same time, which she is
attempting to sort out.

5.2.   Alternative programme subcommittee (leisure activities, budget,
alternative programme intentions) Chair: Trish. Debbie reported on behalf of
Trish that a budget has been proposed (see 3.4 above). Next steps are to
source some items and maybe send out another call for leisure activities. In
response to a question, Debbie stated that the subcommittee has to find more
items for the alternative programme before being able to make progress on a
schedule. Debbie asked whether the alternative programme subcommittee or
Kalen is responsible for the schedule. The secretary clarified that Kalen is
doing the actual scheduling but it is the alternative programme
subcommittee's responsibility to tell her what content to put on the
schedule for the alternative programme. There was also some brief discussion
of the urgency, or otherwise, of the production of a schedule for the
alternative programme.

5.3.   Fundraising subcommittee (Trefoil grant application, funding
strategy) Chair: Elaine. Elaine reported (via the secretary) that we were
unable to get Virginmoneygiving up and running before the London Marathon.
However the person who ran raised £1300 in 48 hours for the charity
designated instead. Whilst this is good news for that charity and not us, it
does show the potential for this type of thing. The good news is though, the
person was so impressed that they and another person will be running a Half
Marathon and they will both be raising money for Autscape.

5.4.   Research subcommittee (childcare research progress, transport
research progress, venue research progress) Chair: Debbie. Debbie reported
that she took over the research subcommittee from Kalen on 12 April.
Childcare: The subcommittee checked the availability of some more
(local-ish) providers and made a final decision of what to pass to the
board.  The subcommittee chair passed the research subcommittee's
recommendations to board on 24 April and received confirmation from Elaine
(childcare coordinator) that she would take it from there. Travel: These
pages unfortunately became delayed. The international ones and the arranged
travel ones went to sc-pub for proof-reading on 30 April. The research
subcommittee chair received the results of the research Alexis was doing on
the evening of 2 May 2012. Unfortunately this overlapped with start of
registration and the load in the first few days has been very heavy.  Hence
she has not had time to format them into html yet. She hopes to do so next
week. Once that is done she intends to pass them to Martijn (publications
and publicity subcommittee chair) as well.
As other routes come she will add them. Venue: The subcommittee shortlisted
a number of venues. These have been passed to Peter who will phone them and
report back on price, availability and suitability. She hopes this will
produce a venue shortlist. If not she intends to discuss the matter further
in the subcommittee and pass another list to Peter. The secretary and vice
chair congratulated Debbie on the volume of progress in these areas since
her return.

5.5.   Publications and publicity subcommittee (website wording inc. venue,
poster production and distribution and publicity generally, generic
description) Chair: Martijn. Martijn reported that, unfortunately, there has
not been as much progress as desired. The posters are almost done, currently
in proofreading stage. He intends to print posters and flyers and physically
mail them to the Autism Show to make sure they are present this year. He
reported that the venue information is now up on the website (thanks to
Stephen and Yo) and progress on travel information is as in Debbie's report
(5.4) above. He reported no progress yet on a generic description of
Autscape. In response to a question Martijn reported that he expects to have
the poster ready for distribution in two days but that there is not yet a
distribution list. Yo offered any assistance required.

5.6.   Working group reports (if any) (Echo - Kalen, Newsletter - Stephen,
Purchasing - Stephen, Tech - Stephen). Echo - see 4.3. Tech - Stephen had
nothing to report. Newsletter - Stephen reported a general lack of progress
this month and took responsibility for that. He has redrafted a request for
submissions (Thanks to Debbie for getting an initial draft on that). He
intends to get that out next week, leaving a little more time for others to
comment on/redraft further, and prompt that this is the case today in case
people missed the redraft. Yo commented that she intends to put out another
bulletin in May and that she could include the email address for submissions
and a few details in that if Stephen likes. She requested a copy of the
current draft of the request for submissions and Stephen confirmed he would
supply this. Purchasing - Stephen reported progress starting to be made
properly here, and with the budget we can start making merchandise purchases
in earnest. He intends to start looking for quotes for initiation badge
printing over the next week. He reported that he has had an initial look for
costs for replacing caps just prior to the meeting; it's looking like
they'll cost between £7 and £8 per hat.

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

6.1.   Webmaster (updating website, registration system, questionnaires).
Peter reported that updating the minutes is way behind, but he intends to
try to
get that up-to-date today. He asked that, if people want to submit any
questionnaires, they should please let him know.

6.2.   Registrar (registrations so far and issues arising). Debbie reported
that there have been over 30 registrations in the first few days.  Some
bookings are in a state of flux while people consider their options
regarding room types. She reported that she is currently spending between
two and three hours a day on processing bookings and answering queries on
registration matters, info@ and travel related. She has a list for travel
consisting of me, Peter and Alexis which takes a little of the load off. Yo
advised Debbie to bear in mind a prior decision of the board regarding
travel advice and undertook to email Debbie a copy after the meeting. Debbie
also reported that single en-suite rooms are very popular this year (20 to
21 bookings for them so far to only 4 for standard singles). In response to
a question Debbie confirmed that we currently have space on all room types.
The only room types filling too quickly are family en-suites (mentioned on
list) and doubles en-suites are getting close to filling. There are over 30
single en-suites available. Debbie commented that in hindsight we could have
increased the price on them and decreased on normal singles for more
accessibility. She expressed surprise at their popularity and wondered
whether people think the bathroom facilities are like last year's venue. She
has asked Peter if it is possible to get the bathroom pictures linked into
the registration system so that people could see they are not cubicles they
would be sharing. Debbie also reported that about 7 of the bookings are
people who have not previously attended Autscape. The meeting chair thanked
Debbie for her work.

6.3.   Venue coordinator 2012 (planned venue visits, venue information for
info pack, coordination with programme coordinator on use of rooms). Stephen
reported that he is in ongoing dialogue with venue for any additional
queries that occur. He is starting to compile venue information for info
pack. No more venue visits planned. Coordination over use of rooms not yet
started. In response to a question, Stephen confirmed that he intends to
start discussion about catering in either late May or early June. Yo queried
whether that would produce a draft menu early enough. Stephen commented that
the venue's approach to dietary issues appears promising but that he can
move the discussion forward to mid May if that is thought to be needed. Yo
commented that it is ideal if we can include a menu in the info pack and
Martijn requested information needed for the info pack as soon as possible.
Yo offered to provide input on GFCF issues if Stephen needs.

6.4.   Treasurer (actions taken under delegated authority, insurance,
virginmoneygiving, bank account, HMRC, accounting advice). Peter reported
that the accounts were finished, approved and filed. He has just received a
letter from HMRC saying that they were about to look at our charity
application and that it could take another 10 weeks! We can't make progress
with Virgin Money Giving until this is complete. He reported that he now has
access to on-line banking at CAF. The web interface is, well, rather hostile
to users, but most people won't be exposed to that. The procedure for
receiving international payments is rather more involved than before. He
reported that he needs to sort out insurance. I need to know what unusual
activities may be taking place as these will make a difference to the
premium offered. In response to a question Peter stated that the addition of
various activities is unlikely to make a huge financial difference to the
cost of insurance and certainly not enough to put us off doing things.
Debbie asked when Peter needs to know about activities and it was agreed to
discuss that further on the board email list.

6.5.    Company Secretary (actions taken under delegated authority, filing
and distribution of accounts, PVSL, info@ guidance, policies and job
descriptions, files, postholding). Yo reported that the process of getting
the minutes approved by the chair is very nearly up to date. She reported
that she sent out bulletins in March and April using her delegated
authority. She has posted the renewal for PVSL and tried to get them to
correct their records. The accounts were finalised and submitted to the
accountants. She had not yet received confirmation that they have been
submitted to companies house, but Peter was able to check this and confirm
that they have during the meeting. Yo reported that, annoyingly, the
accountants managed to use an earlier draft of our annual report and undid
all the careful proofreading she and Kitt had done on the final version. She
also reported having been busy with a lot of general admin and coordination
in the absence of the chair on maternity leave. She has also been working on
director training and development issues on an individual basis. Longer term
jobs are now on hold til after Autscape 2012. She intends to start working
on prepping this year's AGM shortly.

6.6.   Chair (actions taken under delegated authority, general progress,
board communication, any other matters) Kalen reported (via the vice chair)
that the on-site team for Autscape 2012 will consist of: Elaine, Debbie, Yo,
Trish, Stephen and Katja. Martijn's participation is still uncertain. Yo has
volunteered to be the coordinator of the on site team, but will need help
from those who know more about Autscape participants and history. Kalen also
reported that communication within the board has not significantly improved.
To reiterate, please at least keep the board up to speed as to the progress
of your activities, even if you take decisions independently. It is very
important to avoid surprises caused by working past each other.

7.      Any other business

7.1.   [Held in closed meeting]

Meeting closed 16:01.


There are not many contenders in the area and this one seems to meet all our
requirements. The price is also reasonable. They quote based on £7 per hour
per child under 10 and £6 per hour per child over 10 plus petrol. The
proposed budget covers 10 children and petrol but could come down
significantly with less children. The nearest contender is the Care Fairies
who have quoted £1500-2150 depending on whether 2 or 3 staff are required.
(if we had 10 children it would be 3 staff and this therefore makes them
more expensive). All quotes are based on 28 hours. If we added more hours
Kidzone would still probably come out cheaper and it is unlikely that we
would have 10 children.