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Well, once again we have arrived at that time of year when members will be recovering from Christmas and New Year celebrations and it is almost as if the founders of the Quainton Railway Society Ltd arranged to catch members in a state of stupor when their minds should be considering who to nominate as Trustees for the April Annual General Meeting.
Yes, Tuesday the 31st January is the latest date by which nominations should be on the Honorary Secretary's desk before midnight or more practically before the office closes at Rewley Road around 16:30. Members will not be aware if any one of the existing Trustees will be vacating their seat with the intention of leaving the Executive Committee entirely as existing members may automatically be nominated on the day of the AGM by default according to the rules of the Society. However, at least three places will be vacated by way of the Rules and should be open to ballot between those that are nominated by 31st January and those retiring that agree to be further nominated for another term.
Another complication that arises this year is that, owing to the mismanagement of last year's AGM, no one was nominated or elected to the Officer positions of Chairman or Honorary Secretary these positions having been filled for the past year by way of appointment of the incumbent elected Trustees from their own number. The reason for this confusion arose out of the 2015 ballot form being devoid of nominations for these positions therefore it is essential that the nomination forms sent out to members makes it clear that the Society Rules (21b) provide for all Officers of the Executive committee to be elected for the prescribed periods of office and not subject to review at an Executive meeting following the Annual General Meeting. It should be the choice of the Shareholding Members who they choose to be Chairman, Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer. It is the view of a concerned group of members that these offices should be open to nominations this year together with the Honorary Treasurer role which expires by default as David Aplin was elected in 2014 on a correct ballot basis. (Note: As were Peter Mitchell Chairman and Brian Ammann - Hon. Secretary)
This publication has been campaigning for more than a year now for greater transparency in matters relating to the governance of our Society especially in respect of the shareholding members if not the whole associate membership. Most shareholding members have made a significant commitment to the Society either in earlier years or currently or a combination of both so they deserve to be aware of Executive decisions and direction policies. No one joins the QRS to be a members of a secret society.
We would urge members to consider carefully their responsibilities as shareholders and guardians of the legacy of the Quainton Railway Society Ltd it's artefacts and collection hard won by past endeavours of members some of whom are no longer with us to enjoy the fruits of their labours. We are not here solely to fill the coffers of the HITS Corporation or be manipulated by those with their own narrow interests so we must hold our Trustees to account and they should be willing to account for themselves, their actions and intents both in terms of the Society and the wider community from which we claim accreditation and charitable status.
In mentioning corporations the writer remembers the one word that IBM instilled into its workforce prior to and at the heights of its fame and fortune and that was THINK. It seems that when these signs were taken down from the IBM headquarters, their considerable number of branches and offices worldwide the Company started a downward slide.
Members may recall that during the 2015 AGM the voting ballot paper contained space for persons nominated as Chairman, Hon. Treasurer and Hon. Secretary. This was because each of the candidates were retiring members of the Executive and David Aplin drew attention to the Executive that the rules specifically state that the purpose of the AGM is to elect both the officers and other members positions for the rest of the committee. David Aplin also expressed a desire to be nominated only for the role of Hon. Treasurer and not just an ordinary member of the Executive Committee of Trustees. All these positions were uncontested the candidates being nominated by the default Rule 31b and no other nominations being received as the the January nomination papers did not make clear the right of members to nominate Officers to the Executive Committee.
In 2016 the nomination papers remained unaltered and the members were again not advised about their right to nominate Officers and there being no nominations received it fell to the members to vote an appropriate number of persons onto the Committee after which those members chose their Chairman and Hon. Secretary under Rule 30 while the Hon. Treasurer remained in post for his remaining year of office as defined in the Society rules. In fact the Executive Committee has been short of one member for this current year.
Members should be aware that the Rule 30 definition of Executive Committee elective office can only apply to Officer positions as these are the only defined elective offices. Officer appointments made from within the committee are subject under this rule to retire from that office at the following Annual General Meeting, but shall be eligible for the re-election to that office if nominated by the Executive Committee. This means that for the 2017 AGM all three Officer positions are open for nomination of alternative candidate members.
A further question arises out of the use of the appointment prerogative this being the status of a Trustee having been initially elected for a two year term and having served their first year as an Officer but not re-elected to an Officer position. Do they automatically revert to "other member" status for what would have been their second year?
The Society rules are unclear how a ballot should be construed given the wording in Rule 31a in conjunction with Rule 21b and the question arises if an Officer position is contested what happens to the member who fails to be elected. Does being nominated for an Officer position preclude a member from also being jointly nominated as a normal Trustee being a second option to that of an Officer? Given the unwillingness of members to become Trustees this question is unlikely to arise but unless a multiple nomination paper or papers are used and accepted then there is a good chance the Committee could loose a valuable nominee. The concerned group of members are of the opinion that the nomination papers should make clear and have provision for multiple nomination positions for persons willing to serve as Trustees either as Officers or another member of the Executive Committee.
For suggested alternative executive nomination paper click
The highlighted and underlined texts in the above will take the reader directly to the referenced rules mentioned.