Minutes of October 2014 meeting

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

Meeting date: Sunday 19th October 2014

Meeting time: 3.00pm BST

Meeting Chair: Martijn

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

Apologies: Liz

Meeting opened 3:07pm.

1.  Request from the honorary secretary for directors to waive their right
    to formal notice of this meeting.
    Approved (8 for).

2.  Proposals

2.1.  Booking a venue. Stephen proposed we choose a venue to book for
      Autscape 2015 from the options Elaine has been providing us over the
      past month. An incomplete list of these being:
        - Smallwood Manor (Low cost, 140 capacity but averages 4 per room).
        - Hothorpe Hall (Fixed rate cost rather than per delegate making it
          awkward to compare to previous venues cost wise, mostly doubles
          and twins, lots of child places which wouldn't really be usable by
          adults, capacity caps out at 153 adult places and 45 child
          places). We would need to include Woodlands.
        - Belsey Bridge (Might be slightly smaller in 2015 compared to this
          year. No longer qualify for introductory rate, which could result
          in a large difference between standard and en-suite rates).
        - High Leigh. Capacity 220. (Would need to push for 150. Same price
          as Belsey Bridge.)
        - Hayes. Capacity 400. (Would be sharing with another group, but
          apparently good at dividing (dining only). Same price as Belsey
      A two hour discussion followed including concern over costs,
      accessibility and the implications of an income greater than £25k
      pushing us over the threshold for mandatory independent examination
      and filing a trustee report. Dates required are during school
      holidays, roughly 25 July to end August but preferably at beginning or
      end. Giggleswick was suggested as an alternative. 

      Further details of discussion in Appendix I.

      Proposal: to provisionally book Giggleswick School for Autscape 2015,
      subject to Giggleswick's availability during Summer 2015, and for an
      emergency board meeting on Sunday 26th October if Giggleswick are
      Provisional booking of Giggleswick passed, 8 for.

2.2.  Sensory materials storage. Proposal: that we decide how to progress
      with storing Autscape's sensory and other materials.
      Rationale: see Appendix B.
      The proposal was rewritten due to two options no longer being available.
      Rewritten proposal: to assign a budget of £200 to Peter to get
      Autscape's boxes with sensory materials to Yo.
      Passed as amended, 7 for.

2.3.  TSB bank account closure. Peter proposed to close the TSB bank
      account. Rationale: see Appendix C.
      Closure of TSB account approved (8 for).

2.4.  Recombining programme subcommittees. Martijn proposed the Formal
      Programme Subcommitte and Alternative Programme Subcommittee be
      reunited into one Programme Subcommittee in order to streamline the
      organisation of the conference programme. Rationale: see Appendix A.
      Peter commented that, without mutual awareness of what the two
      programme coordinators are doing, having two groups is actively
      harmful to both.
      The proposal was passed, 7 for.

3.  Follow ups
4.  Role reports

Items 3 and 4 were left out due to time constraints with Board agreement.

[Kalen left the meeting at this point.]

5.  Any Other Business

    There was no other business.

Closed part of meeting

6.  Role Assignments

6.1 to 6.6 were deferred to the next meeting due to general fatigue and lack
of time. It was agreed by the Board that all roles apart from Programme
Coordinator continue as before until the next meeting.

6.7.  Programme Coordinator.
      Proposal: Kalen for Programme Coordinator for Autscape 2015.
      Approved, Kalen is programme coordinator (7 for).

Meeting closed 5:38pm.

Appendix I: Further details of venue discussion (2.1)

The increased size of Autscape has made some previous venues (Ackworth,
Emmaus, Ammerdown, Belsey Bridge (which is losing some rooms next year) too

Autscape aims for accessibility both physically and financially and
therefore tries to alternate high cost, high accessibility venues with low
cost, less accessible ones. Smallwood was considered as the only low cost
alternative this year but the fact that bedrooms will take on average 4
people was considered too risky a change for the main event (although it may
be suitable for an additional retreat).

Larger venues will tend to require a high minimum number (High Leigh wants
180 though we could push for 150) which puts us at risk if we cannot fill
the minimum number, or require that we share with another group. Although
there was a suggestion that 25 people were unable to attend last year,
interest does not guarantee a booking and even this number would be
insufficient to ensure an exclusive booking in larger venues. There was
concern at the idea of sharing, particularly as the other group would be an
unknown and may even be several small and therefore more unpredictable
groups. Although some people felt that sharing could be an option, it was
still felt that this should be looked at when we have no time pressure and
can consider amongst ourselves and with the venue how sharing can work and
how demanding we are with interaction badges, perfume etc.

Higher costs not only may make attendance inaccessible to lower income
participants but push our income over the threshold of £25k, requiring
mandatory independent examination and filing a trustee report.

Giggleswick has some physical accessibility issues. However, the Honorary
Secretary reminded the board that our accessibility policy is "once every
two or three years", with intent on rotating between physical accessibility
and low cost. We could move some things around to improve it and the greater
numbers may mean the venue works better. It is cheaper. We would be unlikely
to have to share. Capacity 200, mainly twins, and with no door locks
(lockers available if we bring padlocks). We do not know if they have
availability yet.

Interest was shown in Hothorpe. However, the overall cost would definitely
send us over the £25k threshold (which seemed high but is comparable with
the significantly higher rate CCT will be charging us from next year).
Positive aspects for future consideration include being able to set our own
carer and child rates as there is a flat fee (which seemed high but is
comparable with CCT), and sole occupancy. There was concern over current
building work and whether the Woodlands part (which we would need) might be
delayed. All ensuite - a popular option for participants but this plus
shared rooms will affect our ability to provide a low fee incentive.

At some time in the near future we will find we are over the £25k income
threshold for mandatory independent examination and filing a trustee report,
for which failing to comply can involve criminal liability. The treasurer is
of the opinion that currently we are not ready to cope with the additional
filing of reports and time constraints involved. To do it means getting
accounts ready on time, making sure all income and expenditure is authorised
and that the authorisation can be tracked, etc. We would need to limit
ourselves to considerably under £25k to allow for extras, mainly childcare.
Last year income was £22k.

Tracking of authorisation appears to be one of our main difficulties as we
need to read back through all our minutes since Autscape began. The honorary
secretary needs to look into tracking future authorisations (and income) and
the possibility of looking through past records, also chasing up receipts
and ensuring that they are received by the treasurer in good time. There is
also the issue of our dependency on the Treasurer who has differing
availability across the year, and a need to approve and publish minutes more
quickly. We already have more regulation than we can deal with now and
struggle with deadlines although it can be done in theory.