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Friday, 19 June 2020

Kennel Club to hold virtual AGM

Featured Written by Our Dogs - 19/06/20

Kennel Club Members have now received final details of how its 2020 AGM will be organised. It will be held on 30th June by video conferencing after being postponed from May because of the Coronavirus situation.

It will be attended by just Chairman Tony Allcock, Vice Chairman Ian Gabriel, Secretary Kathryn Mansfield, Membership Secretary Shirley Gregg, KC Legal Executive Linda Branwhite, a representative of independent scrutineers ‘Mi-Voice’ and any Director of the KC who wishes to attend.

The decision making content of the meeting will be restricted effectively to simply announcing the results of votes which will have taken place entirely by proxy. These will be for the election of Directors, Vice Presidents, Honorary Life Members and Auditors. All of the proxy voters will require to appoint the Chairman of the meeting as their proxy and will indicate which way the Chairman must vote on each item. They cannot give the Chairman discretion on how to vote on the issues concerned. Votes will be counted by Independent Scrutineers ‘Mi-Voice’.

In addition the meeting will formally receive Reports on last year’s meetings, the accounts for the year to December 2019, and a summary of the Club’s activities since the previous AGM.

It is known that certain other proposals for discussion at the meeting have been rejected because it has been agreed, perfectly reasonably in the circumstances, that only items stipulated as mandatory for the meeting by the KC’s Articles of Association should be included on the Agenda. The Board has however given Members the opportunity to ask questions on any of the agenda items and these will be answered in writing after the meeting. Responses will be circulated to all Members.

A recording of the proceedings will be available to members and details of how to access the recording will be provided to members after the AGM takes place.

Hot contest 

Seventeen candidates are standing for the nine available board positions and there have been three resignations from the Board.

Professor Dick White resigned his position in March having been Chair of a group tasked with examining the Governance and Organisation of the Club and re-establishing an atmosphere of trust between Board and Executive. In his resignation statement Dick White was extremely critical of the way the Board had handled certain issues and said that the KC was plagued by extremely serious, deep rooted and systemic challenges at its very highest levels. 

He said: “In a world where there are increasingly more relevant and attractive options now representing the interests of all dogs, Members need to consider urgently what they want their Club to be, how it is to be run and what ethical standards they want it to observe. Regarding the Club as something that is simply a resource that can be made use of by Members from time to time will condemn it to a path of increasing irrelevance. Every single member should therefore regard themselves as a ’share holder’ in this very important institution and be prepared to get involved and contribute to its future.”

In addition to Professor White’s departure Pat Sutton has decided to retire under the 75 year rule though she could have continued for a further year. Steve Croxford has decided not to seek re-election. He was Vice Chairman from 2015 and then Chairman for some months until Tony Allcock took over the position in 2019.
Therefore only six existing Directors are seeking re-election. They are Paul Eardley, Paul Harding, Hector Heathcote, Robin Newhouse, Liz Stannard and Wilson Young.

Eleven new candidates are seeking election.

Concerted objectives

Four of the new candidates, and one existing Board Member Wilson Young, have obviously picked up on the concerns raised in Professor White’s resignation statement and his plea to KC Members. They have all five included in their nomination papers the following objectives for their candidacies and have said that, if elected, they wish to:

• Provide strong leadership based on a clear strategy involving all KC disciplines
• Address the problems identified in the recent staff survey in order to improve staff morale
• Sort out governance issues to simplify and clarify decision-making
• Ensure a strong business-like approach to the commercial aspects of the Club so as to support its work for the benefit of dogs and canine activities.
• Make work on canine health issues a priority
• Improve communication channels to and from the KC and ensure that views from outside the KC are properly heard
• Work to repair the image of the Board and demonstrate that it is primarily working in the best interest of dogs

 The candidates making these points include Dr Ruth Barbour who had previously been a member of the General Committee of the Kennel Club and held some senior positions there from 1989 to 2012, but has taken a break from such duties since then and has now decided to seek re-election.
Other candidates subscribing to these objectives include Nicky Ackerley Kemp, Jenny Campbell, Lee Janaway and existing Board Member Wilson Young.

Other candidates

Other candidates standing for election, having been unsuccessful last year, are Yvonne Billows, Christofer Habig and Mark James and the following other candidates are standing for the first time: Yvonne Croxford (wife of retiring Board Member Steve Croxford), Stuart McCabe-Bell, Mark Walden and Sussie Wiles.
Several candidates have mentioned what they wish to contribute to the future of the KC.

Yvonne Billows says that she wants to bring her canine and business experience to the KC and would follow the seven Nolan Principles recommended for public life, these being selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

Yvonne Croxford says that from her experience she brings an ability to adjust and adapt to change. Her KC Committee work and her husband Steve having been KC Chairman and Vice Chairman have given her an unprecedented opportunity to understand and see how the KC works.

Paul Eardley says that the combination of his professional and business experience with his lifelong experience in canine affairs means that he can make a meaningful and balanced contribution to the KC Board.
Christofer Habig who lives in Germany says of the KC that he wants to help shape the future of this internationally unique institution….embracing change…invest into a targeted, transparent and responsive organization.
Paul Harding lists his current KC and other canine positions.

Hector Heathcote says that he belongs to no group or cabal and brings the science of his profession as a veterinary surgeon and experience of a business career. 
Mark James says he wants to use his wide canine experience to protect and promote the welfare of dogs and to support the continued evolution of the KC.
Stuart McCabe-Bell says that it is necessary to act on a strategic and local perspective while maintaining a flexible approach to changing demands.
Robin Newhouse says he wants to continue to help the KC to regain its reputation as the most prestigious and respected Club that it has always been.
Liz Stannard says that it must never be forgotten that although the KC is a business and a successful one it is also and importantly a dog club for dog people.
Mark Walden says he has a passion for dogs, that the KC encompasses that ethos and that there is an ongoing need for flexibility and adaptability.
Sussie Wiles says that she believes that you have to be prepared to adapt with the times without compromising on animal welfare and be respectful of traditions and inherited values.

KC accounts – revenue down

The Kennel Club accounts now published show a final surplus for the year to December 2019 of £1.7 million as against a surplus of £250 K in 2018. This large improvement is of course caused mainly by a very large swing in the gains in the value of the KC’s investment portfolio. The Directors say that they expect many of these gains to be reversed in the first quarter of 2020, consistent with the movements in global investment markets. 

The more relevant measure of the KC’s financial operating performance is its Operating Surplus which rose from £464 K in 2018 to £519 K in 2019. This increase of £55 K was however mainly because the KC itself made no contributions whatsoever to its associated charities (namely the KC Charitable Trust, the KC Educational Trust and the KC Arts Foundation) whereas in 2018 it had contributed £747K to these charities. If the KC had made similar donations to the KC’s charities in 2019 as it did in 2018, its underlying operating surplus would have fallen by some £692 K.
Part of this decline was caused by a reduction of revenue from Registration Activities which were down by £452 K from £11.4 M to £10.9 M. This was predicted as registration numbers fell in the year by 7.8% and transfers reduced by 6.7%.
The KC Charitable Trust did however, despite receiving nil subsidy from the KC during the year, approve more than £1.4 million of grants to various canine causes.

KC Members have recently been asking just how much has been spent in the last few years on legal fees and on leaving payments to departing senior executives. It is not clear from the accounts how much these items have cost. It is however noted that despite a reduction in staff numbers of around 7%, salary costs have reduced by only 1.5%. In addition, despite the considerable reduction in registration volumes, administrative operating costs have risen by some £700 K. 

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