December is upon us, the Club is humming, the Christmas lights are sparkling and the scent of good food pervades. Do try the Christmas menu before it’s time to go back to the (fantastic new) gym in January.

Your Club’s AGM took place on Sunday, November 26thand I’d like to say that it passed without incident, but it didn’t. Accordingly, for the benefit of those who weren’t there and indeed for those who were, let me ‘recap’ the key points.

The review of our Accounts and the attendant Resolutions were passed unanimously. Thanks were given to your serving Board of Directors, those who serve on formal and informal committees and the executive staff of our Club who serve us every day, in particular the many who go “the extra mile” for our benefit. Special mention was accorded to those members who “champion” interest groups and events at the Club. There are many and it is they in particular who make a strong contribution to making our Club more than just people enjoying superb facilities, but a veritable social community in itself.

The CEO outlined the future development plans of the Club for the next 18 months and the forecast costs which would entail new financial arrangements with the Bank(s). The plans were well received, although since the meeting a couple of members have suggested that, as well as institutions, might it not be possible to offer members the opportunity to make loans? We will follow this up. More on this from the CEO in due course, but, as of now, plans will be submitted to the Residents’ Association and to Elmbridge Borough Council for the necessary permissions.

As Chairman, I set out to reassure some members who were concerned that the Club’s growth was a “Gadarene like” headlong rush into uncharted waters. I indicated that membership size was approaching its maximum for our site and facilities and that specific plans were underway to address all current “pinch points” where demand has been shown to exceed supply.

Inevitably, there were many opinions voiced both for and against the new proposed “No Tipping” Policy with an annual adult member service charge which is advantageous to those who frequent the Club most often. Varied opinions prevail on the Board as well; it has been discussed for many years and the time has come to trial the new Policy which will create a pot for distribution to staff who might otherwise have had their income boosted by tips. In answer to those who noted that it was disadvantageous to infrequent visitors, it was pointed out that the staff are there to serve, whether they come or not. The staff fund will benefit this year from equivalent accruals with member contributions starting next April.

Members sought a number of clarifications from the interim report of the Membership Working Group who have recommended changes to our tariffs to ensure maximum simplicity, fairness and transparency. The biggest concern related to the Senior Discount (60 years of age plus 20 years membership) which will be re-introduced after a lapse of 20 years, but at a lower rate than the previous one. Work in this area has not been finalised and I promised that the due process of consultation would be followed before changes would be put into effect on April 1st 2018.

The final phase of the AGM concerned two Special Resolutions. The most important of these was to amend the Articles of the Club in two small sections attaching to the election of Directors. Your Board recommended the change primarily to keep the Club in line with Best Practice for non-Executive Directors (NEDs) following the Higgs Report and the UK Combined Code 2003. This specifically provides that all NEDs and Trustees across all sizes of Company or Charity should not serve more than 9 years. To follow Best Practice the proposed amendment to our Articles was quite simple and suited our model of 3 year serving cycles. It ensured that membership would have a simple election of candidates standing for first, second or third terms with the ability to choose, in each case, whether to elect a new candidate (fresh blood) or continue, but only up to a 3 term maximum, a re-standing candidate (experienced). The change would also have ensured the term of the Chairman would be in line with other Directors and not out of kilter as is the present case.

There was some confusion as to procedures for voting, but it was agreed to conduct the vote by ballot. As a result, the Resolution to amend the Articles to ensure these sorts of difficulties never happened again secured a majority and was announced as passed. Unfortunately, our legal advice was incomplete, as to pass such a Resolution required a 75% majority and this it did not secure, so the Resolution failed. The Board will discuss the actions it will take following this setback at the next meeting, but may well present the proposal to the Membership at a future date.

The Resolution to re-elect the Chairman and Vice-Chairman for a further year was passed with a massive majority as were the elections of the 2 standing candidates, Tricia Franklin-Bruce for a first term and Chris Jenkins for a second term. We welcome them to/back to your Board.

May I wish all members a very merry Christmas season both at the Club and with family at home.

Peter Jamieson