CENTRAL VETERINARY SOCIETY
Minutes of a meeting of Council held on 10th October 2002 at Belgravia House, London.
Present: the President Prof. A. R. Michell, Prof. J. Bleby, Mr. R. Ewbank, Dr. M. Kerr, Mr. K. Meldrum, Mr. A. Muckle, Mr. M. Nelson, Mr. J. Oliver, Mr. A. Porter, Mr. G. Tribe.
Apologies for Absence: Mr. L. W. Gibson, Mr. H. Robinson.
Minutes of the previous meeting on 17th April had been circulated and approved.
Matters arising from the minutes not covered elsewhere: none.
Correspondence: There had been a very large amount of correspondence from the BVA, including papers relating to the Council meeting on 2nd July, information and examples of the new Off the Record newsletter, and about thirty separate consultation documents, some arriving as email attachments and some simply as URLs identifying the documents on the web sites of the initiating organisations. Some of these documents were very large (one, the DEFRA Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the recognition of professional qualifications, was 144 pages long), and few were printed out for the meeting. Due to the time elapsed since the last meeting, the deadline for comments had already elapsed for many of these documents. There was also an email from Helena Cotton, BVA information and media services, regarding the retirement of the Chief Executive.
It was noted that this degree of consultation from the BVA was a new phenomenon, and there was some discussion regarding how to deal with it. Concern was expressed that the BVA could thus claim that it was consulting widely, but that in fact the documents might never reach the attention of those best qualified to comment. Mr. Porter pointed out that in-depth consultation of experts should be addressed as well as blanket dissemination, and questioned whether the BVA had a list of suitable experts in a variety of fields whose attention was being specifically drawn to relevant items. It was agreed to set up an email list of members of CVS Council so that the Secretary could pass on details of these consultation documents as soon as they became available. It was also agreed that the Secretary should write to Jane Virgoe (the originator of the consultation documents) to suggest that BVA should organise a meeting of divisional secretaries (both territorial and specialist) to discuss communication with both external and internal bodies.
It was also agreed to send a short report of the general meeting to Off the Record, as suggested by Peter McCormack in his covering letter.
Two requests for transcripts of the FMD presentations had been received, one from Mr. Norman Leslie and one from Mr. James Smith, who is not a Fellow but who is an old friend of Angus Taylor. After some discussion it was agreed that a tape-recording of the scientific presentations and discussion could be made, subject to the agreement of the speakers, and copies of the tape sent to these two individuals with the express warning that these were for private and personal use only and should not be published or further distributed.
An email had been received from Kathryn Clarke at the Veterinary Record offering to insert the notices of the meetings at the appropriate time if they were all sent to her in a single batch. This was agreed.
President's report: The programme for the 2002-03 season had been finalised, and catering matters for each meeting would be dealt with at a later date.
Secretary's report: Catering information had been received for the meeting at the House of Lords. It was agreed that the Secretary and the Treasurer should liaise on this matter, and that a charge of more than the standard £30 would be appropriate for that meeting.
Treasurer's report: Problems had been encountered inducing members to change standing orders to the new subscription rates, the current position being 38 full Fellows (£30), 22 retired Fellows (£10), 7 life Fellows and 30 people still being chased. Persons more than two years in arrears with subscriptions have been removed from the list. Thus at best we have 97 persons in Fellowship, but it is estimated that about 10 of those being chased will fall by the wayside. The average age of Fellows is high, and unless there is a recruiting drive the Society will die a slow death. Current cash position is £1,499.08 in the current account and £4,585.10 in the capital reserve account.
Suggestions made for increasing membership included contacting new graduates in the Greater London/Surrey area; writing to Fellows to suggest that they enroll younger colleagues in the Society; offering a free dinner to prospective new members; changing the focus of the programme more towards small animal topics; and offering 'corporate membership' whereby if a practice paid (say) four subscriptions they could send any four of their veterinary staff to a meeting.
BVA Representative's report: It was reported that two people no longer work for BVA, thus the primary objective of the Society in this matter had been achieved. The retirement of Mr. James Baird, the Chief Executive, and the departure of Mrs. Ailsa Edwards were announced before the AGM on 6th October. A desire was expressed for more 'useful' people in the executive, and an end to the practice of parachuting new people into office from outside. Concern was expressed that a 3-month period appeared to be seen as adequate for making all arrangements for the future, whether any suitable appointee could be identified and in place in that time, and whether a single post of Chief Executive was the most appropriate solution to the situation. However, Prof. Bleby's suggestion of Mr. Brian Hoskin as a possible temporary Chief Executive had been received unfavourably by Mr. David Tyson. The opinion was expressed that concen tration of power was undesirable, that there should be limitations to the extent of one person's authority, and that more power spread around at a lower level would provide useful checks and balances.
Prof. Bleby had sent letters to the Veterinary Record and Veterinary Times expressing thanks to all those who supported the motion of no confidence, which he was certain had played a major part in concentrating minds on the need for action in this matter. He had also flagged up that the motion could be revived if matters did not proceed satisfactorily in the future. Appreciation was expressed regarding Mr. Martin Alder's willingness to publish material which was in effect critical of his own employers.
It was noted that the entire affair had started with an article in the Veterinary Times by Mr. M. Nelson.
Mr. Porter requested that we minute our appreciation of Mr. Pat Turner, former secretary of the BVA, who died recently, and also of Mr. Oliver Graham-Jones.
AWF Representative's report: Mr. Ewbank had attended a symposium on 22nd May, and noted that some of the general BVA problems were evident here also. Accounts were hard to get hold of. Lines of communication were unclear, but the key appeared to be You and your Vet. It was suggested that every BVA member should receive one free copy of this publication.
Prof. Bleby raised the matter of a legacy of land, which it was proposed that the best thing to do with would be to sell it with planning permission. The question of an AWF seat on BVA Council was raised, but it was suggested that this was in effect the PR branch and thus a seat was not appropriate. However, was it therefore not accountable? Suggestions were invited to be sent to Mr. Ewbank within seven days.
Membership: This was covered in the Treasurer's report. It was suggested that the Secretary bring membership application forms to meetings to try to sign up new faces on the spot.
Any other business: None.
Date, time and place of next meeting: Thursday 14th November 2002 at 6.00pm at Le Café du Marché, 22 Charterhouse Square, Charterhouse Mews, London, EC1M 6AH.
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