Minutes of January 2014 meeting

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

Meeting date: Sunday 19th January 2014

Meeting time: 2.00pm GMT

Meeting Chair: Martijn

Present: Alastair, Debbie, Elaine, Liz, Martijn, Stephen, Peter, Trish

Apologies: None

1.  Ratifications

    The board ratified the following decisions (6 for, 0 against):
1.1.  The decision made on the board mailing list to use payasyougopost.com
      as our main address and on our website (cost £60). Review in September

1.2.  The decision made on the board mailing list to pay the extra £20 a
      year to payasyougopost to also use the above as our company address.

2.  Proposals

2.1.  Theme.  On behalf of the chair of the Formal Programme subcommittee,
      Elaine proposed that Autscape adopt one of the following themes for
      the 2014 conference:
          A. Independent Living/Living in the Community
          B. Autistic empowerment
          C. Autistic autonomy
          D. Mapping the world of autism
          E. Expanding autistic horizons/Expanding autistic futures
          F. Autism through the lifespan
          G. Autistic Cultures
          H. Autism and  Culture
      Following a discussion, "Autism through the lifespan" (option F) was
      adopted as the theme for Autscape 2014 (8 for, 0 against).

2.2.  Formal programme budget.  On behalf of the chair of the Formal
      Programme subcommittee, Debbie proposed a budget of GBP 1000 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.
      Rationale: Programme is one of the biggest expenses Autscape has.
      Therefore, deciding on the budget is important for the setting of the
      fees. This budget has worked well for the past two years.
      See Appendix A for a breakdown.
      Following a brief discussion as to whether there had been any
      significant price increases which should be accommodated since this
      budget was originally proposed two years ago, it was noted that this
      is an approximate amount and usually slightly more than required.
      Formal Programme budget of GBP 1000 approved (8 for, 0 against).

2.3.  Registration dates.  The Registrar proposed that Autscape adopt the
      following registration dates for the 2014 conference:
          a) Registration opens on Thursday 8 May, i.e. 13 weeks before the
             last day of Autscape.
          b) Registration closes (advertised deadline) on 01 July 2014.
      Registration dates approved (8 for, 0 against).

2.4.  Registration deadlines.  The Registrar proposed that Autscape implement
      a hard deadline for accepting paid-up bookings (see Appendix B for
      background). This was covered under 2.3 b) above. The board approved
      the proposal (8 for, 0 against).

2.5.  Capacity.  Peter proposed that Autscape should not attempt to fill
      venues to maximum capacity (see Appendix C for background). Following
      a brief discussion around the merits of not filling venues to maximum
      capacity, it was thought to be in Autscape's interest to ensure we do
      not entirely fill the venue. The board approved the proposal (8 for, 0

2.6.  Place allocation.  The Registrar proposed that Autscape reserves some
      conference places for random allocation instead of "first come first
      served", with draws being held each week (see Appendix D for rationale
      and method). There followed a short discussion on the merits of this
      system. Alastair agreed to write up a clear description for the
      website, and Elaine volunteered to act as its editor. The room
      allocation system was approved (7 for, 0 against).

2.7.  Fee structure changes.  The Registrar proposed changes to the fee
      structure as follows:

2.7.1.  To have the following three fee categories:
        En-suite: The person booking chooses the type of room
            (single/double/family) with en-suite facilities.
        Standard: The person booking chooses the type of room
            (single/double/family), but bathroom facilities are shared.
        Flexible: Autscape chooses the type of room, which may be
            shared with up to three people of the same sex in any part of
            the site.
        Flexible bookings benefit the registrar by imposing fewer
        constraints on the room plan, and they benefit the participants by
        providing a cheaper option. This is better than making a certain
        room type cheaper as that tends to make that room type sell out
        early so people who need them can't have them.
        Carers have reduced prices as usual. The price for 'standard'
        place carers will be the one that is at or near cost.        

2.7.2.  Children are not charged an en-suite fee provided they are sharing
        with at least one adult.
2.7.3.  The large non en-suite rooms at this venue are difficult to fill.
        The fourth and subsequent people filling these rooms should get a
        £20 discount each.

There followed a discussion and clarification of how the discount and room
allocation would apply in 2.7.3. The board then passed the fee structure
changes as a whole (8 for, 0 against).

2.8.  Venue size.  The Registrar proposed that: The board makes a
      decision regarding the potential size of the 2015 venue.
      Rational: This is needed so the research subcommittee knows what it is
      There followed a discussion and mention was made of the fundraising
      required to support a venue of larger capacity but one which would
      permit sole occupancy. There is a shortage of venues in the 130-150
      range which are affordable and accessible (physical accessibility and
      single ensuites). It was felt that fees alone will cover a maximum of
      £60 per night whereas venues such as Kings Park charge £70. Concern
      was also shown over whether participants would be comfortable with a
      more crowded venue.
      Reference was made to the accessibility policy at:
      An informal opinion poll found that the Board favoured limited growth
      over no growth or unlimited growth.
      It was noted that the previous Autscape was around 120 people, of whom
      109 were residential. It was also mentioned that the ideal growth
      solution would be additional events but this would currently prove
      impossible to organise without hiring management staff.
      This resulted in a revision of the proposal as follows:
      To ask the Research subcommittee to look for suitable venues
      accommodating about 130 to 150 people for Autscape 2015.
      The board passed the revised proposal (8 for, 0 against).

2.9.  Fidelity Insurance.  The Treasurer proposed that Autscape
      extend its insurance cover to include fidelity insurance.
      We have been quoted GBP 30 + 6%IPT (Insurance premium tax) per annum,
      i.e. £31.80.
      The board passed the proposal (8 for, 0 against).

2.10. Fundraising.  The fundraising subcommittee chair proposes we add
      Autscape to 'Give as you Live'. (See Appendix E)
      There followed a discussion on the merits of alternative systems and
      concern at the possibility that 'Give as you Live' may require
      installation of a toolbar which may deter some people.
      The board passed the proposal (7 for, 0 against).

2.11. Sensory Room Budget.  The Chair of the Purchasing Working Group
      proposes that Autscape dedicate a separate budget for the sensory room
      of either
         A. 200 GBP or
         B. 500 GBP
      Rationale: We still need to rebuild our sensory equipment. A budget of
      200 GBP would allow us to buy some larger items and a variety of
      smaller items. However, a large expensive item such as a projector
      would make a big difference to the quality of our sensory room.
      Unfortunately a good projector can cost anything from 200 GBP so this
      would take all of a smaller budget. The board therefore needs to
      consider the merits of buying a projector.
      A discussion followed about projectors. It was also mentioned that
      the alternative option of hiring equipment is exceedingly expensive.
      It was noted that if we select the basic budget more can be added
      later if necessary for a projector.
      The board voted to approve a 200 GBP budget has been allocated to the
      Purchasing WG for sensory equipment. (6 for, 0 against)

3.  Follow-ups

3.1.  DBS checks.  Elaine reported that she had contacted Carecheck who did
      our CRB checks and the person who is going to do our checking needs to
      email them to register us, explaining we have a change of person in
      charge of things. However, she also needs to contact the DBS to check
      which level we need as she is still receiving conflicting information
      and it is important as it involves safeguarding.

4.  Role reports

4.1.  Chair (Martijn).  The Chair had no changes to report. He apologised
      for having being out of commission due to personal problems and said
      he was starting to return to full capacity. He thanked everybody for
      the progress they had made in his absence.

4.2.  Treasurer/Outgoing Interim Treasurer (Peter/Stephen).  The outgoing
      interim treasurer reported that we have paid for the post etc. He also
      said that he was dealing with expenses claims and hoped to get the
      cheques out on Monday, and that he would soon be catching up with the
      finance web system as it needs to be done before the end of the month.
      He asked if the Treasurer would assist him if necessary and to email a
      reminder by Thursday if he hadn't heard from him.

4.3.  Company secretary (Debbie).  The Company secretary reminded the
      Board that she had posted an important message to the board regarding
      the annual return. It is required that we collect the 2013 minutes and
      the treasurer has agreed to do this. It is necessary that we complete
      the 2013 accounts. The Company Secretary also expressed concern about
      the lack of communication between Board members and the fact that this
      has delayed setting up the new address. She requested that we are more
      careful about keeping each other up to date and agreed to inform the
      Board of the new address when it has been arranged.

4.4.  Venue co-ordinator (Elaine).  The Venue coordinator had nothing to
      report but is intending to contact the venue shortly to get things

4.5.  Web systems (Martijn).  The Webmaster had nothing to report.

5.  Subcommittee, working group and any other reports

5.1.  Formal Programme subcommittee (Martijn).  The Formal Programme
      Coordinator reported that the theme has now been decided and he will
      organise the Call for Proposals ASAP He requested that Peter reset the
      proposals database and said the theme description would be dealt with
      within the subcommittee.

5.2.  Alternative Programme subcommittee (Trish).  The Alternative Programme 
      Coordinator reported that there had been no progress due to personal
      problems but that the main issues were likely to be home groups, the
      film licence and, if required, a lifeguard.

5.3.  Fundraising subcommittee (Liz).  The chair of Fundraising had
      nothing to report.

5.4.  Research subcommittee (Peter).  The chair of Research had
      nothing to report.

5.5.  Publications & Publicity subcommittee (Alastair). The chair of
      of the Publicity sc reported that he had circulated an updated version
      of the ad to the sc for comments and that he could now add the theme.
      He said the deadline for Asperger United was 10th Feb and advertising
      was free. He had enquired about 'Your Autism' and they want £511 for a
      quarter page advert which he felt was too much as we only had 5 people
      who said they found out about us from there. Their deadline is 6th
      March should we reconsider this.

5.6.  Purchasing working group (Elaine).  The chair of Purchasing
      had nothing to report.

5.7.  Anybody else.  No further reports.

Liz left the meeting at this point.

6.  Any Other Business

6.1.  The Company Secretary requested that the first draft of the minutes
      be produced more quickly, even if it contains only action points
      rather than summaries.
      The Honorary Secretary said he would endeavour to produce the minutes
      by the following Thursday from now on.
      There followed a discussion on availability of past minutes and
      Martijn agreed that there are links required to minutes from January
      2013. The Treasurer is collecting the 2013 minutes together as they
      are also needed for accounts.

Closed part of the meeting

7.  Roles and responsibilities

7.1.  Registrar (last year: Kalen).
      Candidates: Debbie.
      The board elected Debbie as Registrar for Autscape 2014 (6 for, 0

7.2.  Assistant Registrar (last year: Debbie).
      Candidates: Stephen.
      Stephen was elected assistant registrar for Autscape 2014 (6 for, 0

8.  Proposals

8.1.  Bank account. The Treasurer proposed that we 
      a) Change bank account signatories and 
      b) Add at least one more person to the web interface.
      This proposal was deferred to the board mailing list for further

9.  Any Other Business (for closed part of meeting)
    There was no other business.

Meeting closed 4:14 GMT.