Present: Vicky Seddon (Chair), Alan Debenham, Peter Hirst, Stephen Carter, Stuart Weir, Phil Starr, James Grindrod, Jack Maizels, Phillip Davis, Avtar Singh
Apologies: Danny Zinkus-Sutton, Owais Rajput, Andrew Blick, Finola Kelly, Mary Southcott
In Attendance: Alexandra Runswick (Director), Simon Howard
1 Apologies, Minutes and Matters Arising
V Seddon (VS) observed that there was a disappointing list of apologies and reminded Council that if 2 meetings are missed then that person is removed from Council. The Chair is to contact anyone after one absence. Stuart Weir (SW) pointed out that there were only 10 present at the last Council meeting.
The minutes of the Council meeting on 22nd February were approved
In respect of matters arising VS did not consider that the 1st Council meeting of the new Council was appropriate to discuss proxy votes. The last Council meeting was open to people to attend as an observer which Tim Knight did.
VS explained to Council that they had the management board (MB) minutes for information. Council will also note that there is a confidential minute. This relates to an individual member of staff and it is not appropriate for Council to receive this. In addition there are AGM minutes for information.
3 Rodell Properties
S Howard (SH) further to his paper updated Council on the current activities of Rodell regarding 37 Grays Inn Road and 6-9 Cynthia Street. James Grindrod (JG) considered it important to reinvest properly. Phil Starr (PS) commented that with 6% returns and an increase in capital changes the financing of UD to provide greater income and stability.
4 Election of Officers and Management Board discussion
A Runswick (AR) spoke to her paper. There was a brief discussion from which the consensus was to keep the status quo in relation to terms of office and officer structure, which was then put to the vote.
It was unanimously agreed to keep the existing structure.
AR then moved to the election of Chair. VS wished to stand again. Peter Hirst (PH) put his name forward to stand as well. Both PS as Vice Chair for Rodell and SW as Vice Chair for Policy wished to stand again. Owais Rajput wishes also to stand for Vice Chair for Policy. There will be contested elections for Chair and Vice Chair for Policy with PS elected unopposed as Vice Chair for Rodell.
AR further explained that officers when elected were automatically elected to the MB. Council were then advised that Mary Southcutt and Danny Zinkus Sutton both wished to stand for MB. Jack Maizels, Peter Davis, Simon Carter, JG, PH, SW and VS all put their names forward for election to the MB. AR also explained the rules governing Rodell directors and MB.
The elections for officers and the MB will take place at the same time and be conducted electronically. AR is to email those wishing to stand the details of the election.
5 Dates of future meetings
AR stated that the dates for 2014 had been previously agreed. Council started to look at the dates, however with some incorrect proposed dates SH was asked to redo the proposed dates. These will be recirculated.
AR explained to Council that the cashflow document is just for information. This is produced for staff and the MB. She further highlighted the difficulties of properly forecasting grant funding for budget purposes and the recent history of deficit budgets for UD. The budget currently has a very small surplus with UD having a strong record of controlling expenditure. Currently UD has also done well on grant funding.
Council then had a short discussion on grant funding.
Council approved the budget.
7 Review of UD’s recent internal elections
AR spoke to her paper, on vacancies on Council, highlighting 3 issues - the constitution is silent on the matter, does Council look to fill the seats and is it a problem. Council then discussed the review. 2 points came out of this the first being that it should be a major agenda item at the next Council meeting with the Returning Officer being asked to attend and second the gender imbalance needs to be addressed.
7 Director’s report and priorities discussion
AR informed Council that it had not been an easy year for UD following the changes in staffing structure but UD has a small, enthusiastic and dedicated team. There is change in the office administration as there had been 2 finance officers in a jobshare, one left earlier this year with the other retiring soon. UD is about to run a recruitment process with AR and SH taking on additional roles. UD will be moving offices September/October this year, due to the redevelopment of the Grays Inn Road building.
AR turned to UD’s campaigning work of the last year. The priority had been the Lobbying Act, where, whilst we failed to prevent it being carried, very useful alliances had been forged, and indications of future repeal were strong. There is still much work with Labour promising to scrap it and running a consultation process with organisations such as UD.
The current activity for the European Parliament elections has been funded by the EU. On this occasion it was a Europe wide project to match voters not just in their country but in other countries as well. However this did not work with the UK, because parties here had different agendas from those of other Euro countries. UD more than doubled the number of users to about 150,000. VM has been run for the London Mayoral elections as well as the general elections. UD intends to run it for the 2015 general elections, but funding is required.
‘Follow the Money project’
UD together with Spin Watch has funding from the JRRT for this project, about how parties and politicians are funded
Magna Carta Project
UD has funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This will be a major priority for us
Voter registration in the North East
Here funding is from Millfield House (who fund projects in the NE).
UD is also involved with Recall a subject on which UD has a policy. UD has not had the resources to take initiatives, but responds to events, for example it has been involved with select committee consultation and has been feeding into the current activity fronted by Zac Goldsmith and 38 Degrees. Recall, however is a divisive matter for some UD members.
VS asked Council to consider what are the right priorities for UD. A discussion followed with different council members putting forward their own priorities. The discussion ended and
Council agreed to endorse the priorities proposed by AR in her paper (with words ‘the media’ added to page 8).
Council had one further specific decision to make. Did they wish to have a representative on the VM Advisory Board. Chris Carrigan had previously been on it. SW volunteered to be Council’s representative. This was agreed
8 Honorary Officers discussion
AR explained to Council that this question is put to each new Council. To date no Council has sought to find people to take on HO roles. Council was open to the idea and has agreed to leave open the possibility.
9 A.O.B & Close
Alan Debenham asked if UD could advertise the Nationwide elections with a London meeting soon to happen. AR agreed that as previously it was something that could be put on UD’s Facebook page and Twitter. There was no further business and the meeting ended.
The next Council meeting is to be held on 6th September 2014.