Sunday, 24 June 2007

Barry's Blog 16

The last few weeks have been a time of huge interaction between members, clubs and counties of and in the English Bridge Union - due, of course, to the proposals for change put forward by the EBU in June.

This has been a very stressful time for me and others involved in responding to the very many requests for clarification and to the small, but vociferous, number of people who feel that it is necessary - for reasons I just cannot understand - to attack personally the motives and integrity of the people involved within the Union in this process.

These proposals for change come out of a process that was put into place in 2005, well before I arrived in Aylesbury to take up my position. During the time from 2005 until the proposals were made to the Union's Shareholders on June 6th, 2007 many people were involved in researching the wants and needs of members and clubs. Various clubs, up and down the country were visited to ascertain what they needed to grow; many people not connected directly to the Board of the Union participated in the many discussions that took place during that period.

This culminated in the proposals being placed before the membership in June. Please remember these are proposals; they are not being foisted upon the members without any opportunity to consult in the widest sense possible. Even though the consultation is only seven weeks old we have had numerous constructive suggestions for improving the proposals. The process of consulting Counties has now begun and we hope that by the AGM in October, or shortly afterwards, we will have had enough time to consult with everybody, absorb the suggestions for change and put the measure to a vote.

This brings me back to those people who feel it necessary to doubt the motives of those involved in the production of these proposals. I have rarely seen such bad mannered, ill-informed and potentially libellous statements as those made by some of these people. I wish I could publish the emails concerned; I know that most of you would be outraged.

Apart from me, as a paid employee and Company Secretary of the Union, all of those involved in the development, production and follow up on the proposals are volunteers, many of whom work as long hours as I do for the sake of the Union. These proposals may not be to everybody's liking, (although I must say that very many members have expressed that they are acceptable to them) but they were proposed for discussion and to engender a new culture for the EBU. It is necessary to bring the organisation into the 21st Century, to learn the lessons from those bridge organisations around the world that are so much more successful than we are, at all levels, and to elevate and maintain the game of bridge in England.

So, before another member suggests financial benefits for the Officers of the EBU being a motivation, before another member suggests that there is some hidden secret reason for these proposals, before another member writes an abusive email attacking the veracity of an individual, please remember that these are just PROPOSALS, proposals that have been made for the benefit of bridge in England and for no one's personal gain.

Indeed, we could all just let each day roll on, one after the other, as has happened for years with the EBU without consideration for the future. We could report at each successive AGM that the numbers are down again and return back to preside over another year of the same.

Or, and it is a big "or", we can listen to our members, act upon their wise comments when provided and then change the EBU for the better. No one is being "coerced" no one is blackmailing anybody. These are just two of the crimes that we are being accused of.

Listening to our members is the uncharted territory I would like us to conquer, not the previously uncharted territory of abuse that causes people such distress.