Post by President Elect Harry Owens and Johnny Kipps

In truth, there are not a lot of matters with which we take issue concerning the existing “Fed” Constitution – but one would definitely be that the current document isn’t signed and there is no indication – although perhaps buried somewhere in past Fed minutes – when it was approved by the members?

So first off, we hope that if members agree to make the handful of improvements to be tabled on 26 March, the President will sign and date the document!
The purpose of trying to improve the Constitution is so practise and precepts are written down and agreed, hopefully to provide clear ground rules so allowing our Council to concentrate on issues that affect Manx bees – and not, for instance, whether this official or that has a vote in Council!

[For ease of reading, the Draft Proposal circulated on 14 March is here, and the proposed Constitution, inclusive of a handful of small amendments, listed at the end of this post, is downloadable here.]

Article 2 – The Objectives Clause includes a real anachronism –

To become a member of the Federation of the British Beekeepers Association-

Perhaps some of our members can tell us how long the Fed has actually been a member of the BBKA – but this clause certainly seems to be redundant, whilst the second part ensures

that all Member associations are included in membership of B.B.K.A;

this never happened and as far as I know, is not on the cards; it seems to be a totally redundant clause.

But it is an ongoing necessity to keep Isle of Man Beekeepers and their craft in the mind of Government and it does seem as if Objective 2( e ) in the proposed changes is an important Objective for the Fed to keep near the top of the Agenda. Especially now – only a few weeks ago, our President Elect and Peter Long sat down with IOM Government to ask what is being done to keep the issue of non-importation of bees into the Island alive and clearly this does need to be an matter to which the Fed applies constant attention.

Article 3 – The Fed is a member of the BBKA and in this, the BBKA is our “higher authority”.

Article 4 – this clarifies that although the three local authorities are the only “members” of the Fed, they don’t actually count for quorum nor have a vote. It’s the elected representatives who count at Fed Council meetings and the members of the Local Associations that count at General Meetings. Whilst this has probably been quite clear from precedent, its not written anywhere and so, the status regarding Corporate Member votes and quorum has not (officially) had the consent of the members?

Article 5 – tries to clarify who counts for quorum, what the quorum is, and who may vote. In the existing Constitution, some ex officio members (ex officio – elected because of their post) have a vote, and whilst the Constitution states neither the Secretary nor the Treasurer have votes, its not clear whether the Bee Disease Officer and the Education Officer have votes. Just because they are identified as “Ex officio” says nothing about their status when it comes to votes.
There is also nothing in the existing Constitution about a casting vote for the meeting chairman which is pretty important if we are to avoid voting deadlock!

We hope the additional wording in Article 5 will clarify the situation- a bit! It will also clarify roles on the Council for the Honey Show Convenor, the Teaching Apiary Convenor and the official responsible for Publicity and the Web.

Article 6 – This article ties in classes of membership with the BBKA. It doesn’t preclude the Fed from allowing – encouraging Associate memberships – those who pay a sub to their Local Association and the Fed, but don’t wish to be listed as members of the BBKA.
There is nothing in the existing Constitution that ties in our membership categories with the BBKA. The proposed amendments details who does what in the collection of subs and agreeing the lists of Members with the BBKA
It also empowers the Fed to receive donations. And if a member fails to pay subs, the Fed will have the power to charge a rejoining fee. This doesn’t oblige the Fed to do so, but grants the Fed Council the benefit of choice!

Article 7 – clarifies that the Fed will accept a deputy – elected by members of the Local Association, or in extremis, co-opted by the Local Association if necessary.

Article 8 – provides some detail of AGM procedure. Also lays the onus on the Fed to ensure the minutes of the meeting are prepared and circulated quickly.

Article 9 – This allows the members to call a meeting of their Council in between AGMs. Without this, members are virtually disenfranchised other than at the AGM, which is a bit strange as its their Council!

Article 10 – This article codifies the existing practise, where the Accounts are examined – but not audited – by a qualified Accountant.

Article 11 – Outlines who may vote at general meetings.

Article 13 & 14 – Provides powers not previously in the Constitution – making clear that the Council can co-opt Council members and can take action on behalf of the Federation members.

Article 15 – Provides that the Constitution can be amended at general meetings, either Annual, as in the present Constitution or at an Extraordinary meeting of members.

Article 18 – Gives the Fed Council the authority to communicate with members using electronic means and provides for private section for the website.

Articles 19 & 20 – Hopefully self explanatory.

There are a handful of minor amendments from the Draft Constitution circulated to members with the Notice of the AGM on 14 March 2016:
These are:
Article 6 – deletion of “and”
Article 6 – Inclusion of “The Federation Secretary has the job of agreeing the list of paid members with the BBKA derived from the information provided by the District Treasurers.”
Article 9 – Chairman replaced by President.
Article 18 – Chairman replaced by President.
Article 20 – Chairman of the Meeting replaced by President.
Signature block – Chairman replaced by President.

These amendments – and any others from the floor – need to be voted for as amendments prior to members voting for the substantitive motion.

Harry & Johnny


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