Minutes of May 2014 meeting

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

Meeting date: Sunday 18th May 2014

Meeting time: 2.00pm BST

Meeting Chair: Peter

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

Apologies: Alastair, Liz (Trish and Martijn late)

Meeting opened 14:03 BST.

1.  Ratifications

    1.1.  Our decision to set day fees on a 'Pay-as-you-go' basis (decision
          made on list on 29/04/14)
    1.2.  Our decision to accept the new fee for taster days. (decision made
          on list on 29/04/14)
    Ratified (4 for, 0 against).

2.  Proposals

2.1.  Sensory equipment transportation and storage.

2.1.1.  Debbie proposed that we accept Yo's offer to donate support worker
        time to take the items to a depot in the Lancaster/Morecambe area.

[Trish joined the meeting at this point.]

        Support worker time approved (5 for, 0 against)

2.1.2.  Debbie proposed we decide to either:

        a) Send the items direct to the venue from the depot (Cheaper, has
           less slack time)
        b) Send the items to Peter, who can then run them to the venue in a
           van (More expensive, has more slack time)
        There followed a brief discussion as to comparative expenses, the
        amount to be moved and the risks of a).
        It was mentioned that Peter would be likely to need a van for other
        items so the difference in cost would in that case be small.

[Martijn joined the meeting at this point.]

        Option b (sending to Peter) approved (5 for).

2.2.  Film licensing. The alternate programme subcommittee chair proposed we
      do one of the following regarding film licensing (See Appendix A for
      original e-mail):
        a) get the PVSL as usual and abide by it
        b) try and get one or two individual licenses e.g. snow cake
           (if this doesn't work, will need to do a) or d))
        c) both of the above
        d) neither
      There followed a protracted discussion about the usefulness of the
      licence, which films and programmes it covers and what has happened in
      the past. It was noted that the licence costs £112 incl VAT.
        It was suggested we approach individual producers as a charity.
      Stephen noted that he may be able to find out some information from
      people he knows and Elaine offered to check out films if she is
      provided with a list. Suggested films were Snow Cake, Mozart and the
      Whale, Rainman and Star Trek/Monk programmes.
      Option b) (individual licences) approved (6 for).

2.3.  Web systems hosting. The Treasurer proposed we spend GBP 68 on virtual
      machine hosting service (annual lease).
      Web systems payment approved (6 for).

3.  Follow-ups

3.1.  Personal Data Retention Policy.
      Martijn reported no progress. Stephen has produced a very early draft.

3.2.  Basic DBS Checks.
      Elaine reported no progress.

3.3.  Outstanding Minutes.
      Martijn reported no recent progress.

3.4.  Website Files.
      This item deferred for this month.

3.5.  Dutch Autscape.
      Martijn reported no progress. Trish offered to draft an initial letter
      and Peter to discuss offlist with Martijn.

3.6.  Newsletter.
      Stephen reported that he has emailed the newsletter groups and one
      person has offered assistance in editing content.
        There followed a short discussion on whether a newsletter after
      Autscape would be helpful, with pictures and summaries of talks. It
      was suggested that the experience list might have ideas as to what
      they would like to see.

3.7.  On-site Team.
      The onsite team so far consists of Alastair, Debbie, Elaine, Martijn,
      Peter, Stephen, Trish.

4.  Role reports

4.1.  Chair (Martijn).
      The Chair had nothing to report except that things seem to be
      progressing nicely overall.

4.2.  Treasurer (Peter).
      The Treasurer noted that he had posted a rather long report to the
      board list, which was much too long to repost in the meeting, however
      he requested that it be included in the minutes. The report contains
      some actions for improvement, and some actions are for everyone. See
      appendix for report.

4.3.  Company Secretary (Debbie).
      The Company Secretary reported that Stephen and Martijn are due to
      retire by rotation this year.

4.4.  Venue Co-ordinator (Elaine).
      The Venue Coordinator has not much to report. She has started talking
      to the venue a lot more ie. with queries and tried to call the chef
      who was not available.

4.5.  Web systems (Martijn).
      Nothing concrete to report. We've begun exploring ways to migrate the
      whole system to a more modern operating system but that is all still
      very preliminary and concrete action will have to wait until after

4.6.  Honorary Secretary (Stephen).
      Nothing to report.

4.7.  Registrar (Debbie).
      The Registrar sent a private report to the board list. Less than a
      week after registration opened we are already 75% full and have
      started the draw period. We increase places when people take en-suite
      doubles, flexible bookings and standard family rooms. En-suite singles
      are too popular. The Registrar has spoken to the venue to best place
      some of our mobility impaired delegates. Peter's new system is working
      well and Stephen is assisting with registrar tasks as agreed. It has
      been a very intense week.

4.8.  Childcare Coordinator (Debbie).
      The Childcare Coordinator reported that the deposit has been paid. The
      next step is for them to visit the venue and make sure the room we've
      chosen meets their requirements.

4.9.  Travel Coordinator (Peter).
      The Travel Coordinator reported no progress to date. He has assumed
      that the costs will be similar to previous years. He will make a
      proposal for the transport fee to participants within AOB as this has
      not been done yet.

5.  Subcommittee, working group and any other reports

5.1.  Formal Programme subcommittee (Martijn).
      The Formal Programme Coordinator reported that the list of formal
      programme presentations is now online, though changes are still
      possible. They now going to work on putting a schedule together.

5.2.  Alternative Programme subcommittee (Trish).
      The Alternative Programme Coordinator reported that she has been
      working on the home and interest groups and the films issue but more
      to do. She also said the meeting about rooms was very helpful.

5.3.  Fundraising subcommittee (Liz).
      No report.

5.4.  Research subcommittee (Peter).
      Peter reported difficulties in finding the time to deal with this.
      Elaine offered to help look into venues as this has become urgent.
        There was a discussion on how to cope with increased number of
      bookings in the future. The possibility of multiple events was
      considered impossible for the Board to run alongside the main
      conference. A larger event would have a different atmosphere. High
      Leigh and Kings Park were mentioned as well as a school near
      Blackpool. Discussion deferred to list.

5.5.  Publications & Publicity subcommittee (Alastair).
      No report.

5.6.  Purchasing working group (Elaine).
      No report as Elaine lost contact at this point.

5.7.  Anybody else.
      Nothing else to report.

6.  Any Other Business

6.1.  The treasurer proposed that we charge a return fare of GBP10 to
      transport from the Norwich train station to the venue and back.
      £10 fare approved (6 for).

Closed part of meeting

7.  Key Positions to be filled

7.1.  On-site Team Coordinator.
      Candidates: Elaine, Martijn
      There was a short discussion and it was mentioned that this should be
      someone who is onsite the day prior to the conference.
        Peter proposed that the Board assign Elaine & Martijn as on-site
      team coordinators.
      On site coordinators approved (4 for).

8.  Any Other Business (closed part of meeting)

8.1.  Invited onsite team members.
      There followed a discussion including how many additional members may
      be required.
        Peter proposed the Board allow the on-site team coordinators to
      assign up to two additional people to the on-site team.
      Approved (4 for).

Meeting closed 16:07 BST.

Appendix: Treasurer report

I have finished looking through last year's accounts, checking that all
income and expenditure is authorised in accordance with the articles,
bye-laws and governance decisions. I have a number of comments based on
the review:

1) Recording of expenditure

It is expected that small amounts of expenditure, which are authorised by
the bye-laws, will not be known about until an expense claim is made.
This happens a lot with postage.

For all other purchases, the expenditure should be recorded when the
organisation commits to the payment, even if the payment is scheduled
for later.

A consequence of not recording expenditure is that was not noticed that a
supplier had not presented a cheque that had been issued to them because
there wasn't a mismatch between the known expenditure and the bank accounts.

ACTION [treasurer]: Make sure that, where possible, all expenditure is
recorded in advance.

2) Approval for income

We are okay at checking that expenditure is approved. We are not good at
checking that income is approved. For example, it is so obvious that we
should accept income from conference bookings that we've never actually
agreed to do this.

ACTION [treasurer]: Review all income and make sure that future approvals
are granted appropriately.

3) Checking income and expenditure approval authority

It is very hard, and getting harder all the time, to check
approvals. From a legal point of view, what matters is solely what we
have agreed in the governing documents. To make that workable, some
powers are delegated, but this has the result that approval authorisation
is distributed throughout all the board meetings. Some board meetings
include list items by reference, making checking very difficult.

ACTION [treasurer]: Implement a system for recording approvals in a more
convenient fashion so that expenditure may be checked against those

4) Limits on authority

Occasionally there is a resolution for a person to perform a task that
involves some expenditure, but the amount delegated is not set. The
bye-laws prevent the limit being without bound (expenditure above 2K
is reserved to the board), but this limit is higher than is sensible
in those cases.

ACTION [board]: Always include a limit in proposals to delegate

5) Personal liability for overspent budgets

There's a pattern over a number of years where some tasks are left late
and are set a budget that's too small. (The budget may have been correct
if the task was done earlier.) The lateness means that there is no time
left to ask for a higher budget; people are taking on the overspend
personally without the board having a chance to retrospectively approve a
higher budget.

ACTION [everyone]: Where possible, go back to the board to review the
budget if it is too small.  If there isn't time and the expenditure is
necessary for the functioning of Autscape, go to the board
afterwards. I don't want to encourage unapproved expenditure, but at the
same time I don't want people to be out of pocket personally if the
organisation has allowed the schedule to slip. The worst that happens is
that the expenditure is declined leaving you in the same position that you
would have been in anyway.

6) Review period for expenditure approval authority

An authority was delegated indefinitely to arrange TENS and other
licensing, with a periodic review.  The maximum interval between
reviews was not agreed, and the task of initiating a review not assigned
to anyone.

ACTION [secretary?]: Propose a limit on the review period. Implement a
system for making sure that reviews happen.

7) Disposal of excess stock

The tuckshop sales need to divided into sales at the event to our
members, sales outside of the event to other organisations, and other
forms of disposal. Different tax rules apply depending on the
circumstances so these shouldn't be lumped together.

Where excess items are disposed of by distribution among the trustees,
we need to be careful to avoid accidentally giving a perk to the
trustees. Sale at cost could be a perk because we acquired the goods
at wholesale prices; the benefit to the trustee would be the
difference between the wholesale and retail prices.

ACTION [treasurer]: Ensure that disposal arrangements are agreed in

8) Recording of donations

Some small donations appear in the accounts without any paperwork.

ACTION [treasurer]: Do better record keeping when donations are accepted,
and in particular, make sure that donors are thanked.

(end of treasurer report)