Idea

APT&GW is converting to a 'Not for profit company, limited by guarantee'. To help this process this forum is for exchanging ideas and knowledge on this matter.

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Idea

Postby Tony Newby » Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:47 pm

Thanks to Hugh for doing this.

My idea was to have a section where people interested in the background work of APT could ask questions of the committee, voice ideas and make comments.

The change in APT coming makes it rather more relevant that we listen to all the people involved before we draw up the papers ready for the next AGM where the proposal will be effected if agreed by the members.

Apart from that it would be good to hear from anyone on the things they like or dislike about the way things are done.

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Idea

Postby Robin Fawcett » Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:23 pm

I think it's an excellent idea Tony.

Perhaps a lot of people who use this forum are not aware that there is "a committee" behind all this and that Tony is the new Chairman.
The change in APT coming . . . possibly a new server ?

Only a couple of committee members make posts on the forum - we could do with some more getting involved.
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Postby Bob_Fleet » Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:19 pm

It sounds like an excellent idea.

One reservation though and I have the same problem with our Community Woodland e-newsletter.
It will only involve people on the net and who regularly contribute to the forum.
Maybe a summary of the subjects which look like consensus could be published in the gazettes.


I've just crunched some of the numbers from the membership table
Total e-members = 185
Total posts = 1953
Average = 10.6

But this is not a true picture as the figures show - the distribution is far from even.

Posts......Count......% of members
0...............83........... 44.9%
1...............28...........15.1%
2...............16.............8.6%
3.................9.............4.9%
4.................8.............4.3%
5.................3.............1.6%
6.................4.............2.2%
7.................2.............1.1%
8.................1.............0.5%
10...............2.............1.1%
12...............2.............1.1%
13...............1.............0.5%
15...............1.............0.5%
16...............1.............0.5%
17...............2.............1.1%
19...............1.............0.5%
20.............. 1.............0.5%
22.............. 1.............0.5%
24.............. 2.............1.1%
26.............. 2.............1.1%
28.............. 1.............0.5%
30.............. 2.............1.1%
31.............. 1.............0.5%
39.............. 1.............0.5%
44.............. 1.............0.5%
48.............. 1.............0.5%
75.............. 1.............0.5%
81.............. 1.............0.5%
89.............. 1.............0.5%
97.............. 1.............0.5%
107............ 1.............0.5%
207............ 1.............0.5%
286.............1.............0.5%
298............ 1.............0.5%
...............185.........100.0%

A few observations and remember this is only for individuals who have signed up to the forum. Some of them won't be members of the APT so I'll call them e-members.
These figures were accurate on 30 June 2008

45% of e-members have not posted yet.
80% of e-members have made 4 posts or less.

51% of posts have been made by 5 e-members.

So much for an average of 10.6 meaning anything, only 16% of e-members have posted more than 10 posts.

Hopefully more of our 'guests' will register and all of our registerd members will contribute more.
That only leaves those who don't use the web to become part of the consultation.

Ah, that's what committees are for.
Over to you folks.

I still think it's a good idea though.
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Postby Tony Newby » Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:06 am

I had a shrewd idea of the limited number of members who access the forum, thanks for the analysis.

I just thought here was bunch of people who are talking, I wonder if they had anything to say to us?

The committee only bit was to encourage us to talk and think between meetings so we could get through the work needed in this year.
I would hope to put all the interesting stuff on this section so we got the benefit of everyones opinion (who uses the forum).

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Postby robin wood » Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:25 am

fleetpeople wrote:45% of e-members have not posted yet.
80% of e-members have made 4 posts or less.

51% of posts have been made by 5 e-members.

So much for an average of 10.6 meaning anything, only 16% of e-members have posted more than 10 posts.

Hopefully more of our 'guests' will register and all of our registerd members will contribute more.


Interesting stats.

I suspect this is a similar distribution to most forums and indeed not much different to the 500 members of the APT compared to a dozen or so that speak at the AGM and half a dozen committee members doing the bulk of the work.

As a regular poster I am quite happy with the situation. It is better for me to answer questions here where the information remains in the public domain than to deal with emails where I have to answer the same query again and again. I think there is a great value in the information that we are gathering here both as a resource and as inspiration. I have learned a lot from Peter Folansby's excellent historical posts and been inspired today by David Fisher's hewn bowls...I may even go out and make one soon. As with most of these groups whether local craft group, tennis club or whatever we all put in what we want and I reckon you tend to get back in equal measure.

I think it would be great to see more committee involvement on here, perhaps post copies of the minutes? Having said that I believe this forum has the potential to grow far bigger than the UK APT. I think there is potential for it to become a world wide focus for greenwoodworking in fact it is already well on the way.
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Postby Bob_Fleet » Tue Jul 01, 2008 11:31 am

I agree with Robin
Having said that I believe this forum has the potential to grow far bigger than the UK APT. I think there is potential for it to become a world wide focus for greenwoodworking in fact it is already well on the way.
that this forum is a great resource.

A repository for the minutes would be a good idea too.
We've started attaching them in a forum for our Community Woodland
http://wooplaw.org.uk/forum/forums/forum-view.asp?fid=34
but that depend on what the forum allows. Teckie questions here.

I quite often go back looking for thing which I know are somewhere in the forum and last weekend we made Romanian joints and twig whistles.
I knew Robin was the guru on the joints but it was Gavin who posted the video of Will Wall making one.
The twig whistles were Robin Fawcett.
Easy to find if you remember that.
I'm definitely not offering to do the job but to be an effective resource we could do with an index or make the forum searchable.

Beginners corner now has 89 threads and several of the others are expanding rapidly.
Maybe we could think about rationalising some of the topics when they reach over 50 or similar. (Sorry Hugh)

Alternatively, some of the "replies" could be gathered into a 'library' to make it easy to find reference items.

Keep posting

Bob
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Postby Nicola Wood » Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:56 pm

I think indexing would be too complex. All you need to do is use the 'search facility. Look up top underneath where it says "Qestions, answers on Green woodworking Home" - you've "FAQ" then "Search".
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Postby Bob_Fleet » Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:46 pm

Brilliant, thanks Nicola.
I 'couldn't see it for looking' earlier but thought there ought to be a search.

Cheers Bob
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Postby HughSpencer » Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:41 am

Thanks to Tony for kicking this off.

Forums are a wierd phenomenon, the number of guests looking at them has a bearing as well as the number of folks posting.

I think giving members every chance to understand what we are about as we convert from an association to a company limited by guarantee, is the right thing to do. This is simply one of the ways to reach people. It has the benefit of rapid and asynchronous dialogue.

For my part, I work for a company limited by guarantee, it provides many benefits beyond an association and that of a standard private limited company. The model that LINX follows has been copied across Europe and beyond.

    Limited liability
    No corporation tax on services to members
    Cannot be taken over by purchase of shares
    Can set its own rules of operation
    Precursor to charitable status if desirable

And so on. Of course, our (APT) main interest is the limitation on liability for the members and committee. Things like corporation tax and so forth scarcely come into the equation.

There needs to be careful consideration of what goes into the memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and it needs reviewing in case it gets out of date. for example; Nominet needs a 75% vote in favour of changing what it is allowed to do with its revenue. Since its membership is now vast, it has vast reserves and the business has grown beyond expectation. Getting 75% of the membership to even understand the consequences, let alone vote for a change in rules so they can spend the money is impossible.
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Postby Mark Allery » Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:10 pm

Sorry for the late contribution to this - not sure why I missed it, a combination of hols, shows and the server being out have kept me off the bb for a while.

I think its a good idea to have an area where more formal issues of the APT&GW can be aired, if only to remind us that these issues are still there behind the scenes.


For what its worth here are my experiences on the issue of conversion to company limited by guarantee.

A local conservation group of which I am a member recently went through the conversion to a company limited by guarantee (although in this case it was already a charity to confuse the issue). I used to be a director/trustee of the company/charity but because I now do occasional paid work for the group in managing the 350acres of mixed heathland and woodland it owns , I stepped down. Now I just do the work - perfect :-)

In this case the vast majority of the membership are entirely unaffected by the changes.

Frankly most did not care and did not understand why the change was happening. But change is always resisted by some, and there were a few who felt that 'becoming a company' would be the beginning of the end. That has not been borne out by events and after a couple of years its all settled down.

The sole reason for converting to company status was to provide limited liability given the nature of the assets (the land, trees and associated equipment).

Even the committee meetings are essentially unaffected (I still sit in but as an invited attendee) and so the majority of the committee see little effect, except the overhead of signing forms to become directors/trustees.

Behind the scenes the financial administration has become more complicated, resulting in increased expenditure. It has probably also resulted in improved financial rigour - no bad thing in many ways. Perhaps I should be clear here - I am not saying that the treasurer had been sloppy in any way, quite the reverse, but the committee and the members now seem to take finance and budgeting more seriously than they used to do.

The two areas where we had trouble, and probably most groups do, was in adopting the correct articles of association and understanding what is required by companies house. In hindsight the financial and reporting is not too difficult, the key here was to focus upon the reports needed by companies house and do this in the simplest way possible rather than trying to fit the existing format somehow.

The articles of association are probably more difficult in that most of the committee had little experience of running boards and knowing what would be difficult - as a result the processes for electing directors etc, the business of the company and processes meetings, AGM's, minutes atc and for complaints etc are standard ones adopted in a complex legalistic format rather than the simplest possible. The need to be compliant with both companies house and the charities commission probably makes this more difficult than will be the case for the APT&GW. It turned out that none of the committee had really read and understood the fine print of the articles. Because these differ quite singificantly from the previous constution its not uncommon to discover a mis-match between the way the group actually runs and the way that the articles call for it to be run. Mostly this has only needed small changes to the way that the committee meetings and the AGM are run - but there can be frustrating limitations which are quite unnecessary, if carefully thought through in advance, and we have been lucky that none have proved to be a major obstacle.

The articles of association can always be changed - but as Hugh so well points out - it's sometimes much more difficult than intended! The APT&GW would do well to put some thought into making sure that the articles are broad enough to reflect both the existing published aims as well as what we currently do - and with the benefit of our crystal ball - everything we might aim to do in the future!

I am sure that the change for the APT&GW will be even smoother than it was in this case - and nothing I have heard leads me to believe that there will be a problem,

good luck - and sorry it took me so long to notice this thread,

cheers

Mark
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Postby HughSpencer » Sun Aug 24, 2008 10:03 pm

Thanks for your contribution to the debate Mark, it certainly isn't too late to contribute thoughts on this matter as we have to adopt the various legal bits at the next AGM - assuming the membership goes with the plans as laid out by the committee nearer the time. So if anyone wants to have their say feel free to stick your oar in :-)


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