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Chairperson's report 2020 and Proposed New Club Rules can be found on the Minutes Page

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Minutes
Addition to the Chairperson's report 2020

The situation with Covid is still very unclear. The Community Centre has a phased reopening which they have advertised on Crowborough Life, but not formally to us. At present only the Hall is available for limited bookings. There are plans to extend this to the lower floor at some stage.

As was mentioned at the start of the AGM none of the comments expressed in this additional report indicate any element of judgement on members’ choices.

In June we, along with all their other users, were sent an email by the Community Centre asking us for the conditions that would need to be in place before we could return to playing, and when we envisaged being able to do so. In a recent informal conversation I asked what kind of response their email had achieved and I received the surprising information that they had had 43 replies so far. This led me to reflect that we must be very careful not to overestimate the importance of our bookings to the Community Centre. When we first moved in we were among a select few. That is no longer the case.

The Community Centre is a commercial enterprise. They can give us notice to quit at any time if they achieve a better commercial result in doing so. As long as we continue to use them we are unlikely to be given that notice. If we cannot meet our commitment in our various sessions we may well be put in a position where we have to pay a retainer, or to pay for sessions we are not using, both of which will eat into our reserves, and could ultimately lead to us folding. If we do neither then the Community Centre would be perfectly reasonable in allotting our sessions to other users. They have no obligation to support us however much we support them. The club has no other option than the Community Centre in Crowborough, and would have to move into one of the outlying villages or to fold.

I believe that we face the very real prospect that the Club will fold and I view it imperative, therefore, that as many of us as possible return to playing as soon as we are given the go ahead. Unless we can achieve that we face the prospect of the club becoming unviable. Again, no judgement is intended, every member will make their own decisions with regard to what risks they are prepared to take, but they need to be aware of the possible consequences of their decision.

A recent EBU communication suggested that clubs couldn’t return to face2face playing with our card tables. The distance between opponents would be too small. They advised against it. However we have worked out that if we make table tops that fit over our tables that are slightly larger we will be able to achieve 1+m  distancing. We are making 8 tops and can make more. We have 2000 nitrile gloves, and huge quantities of refill for sanitisers. If we designate bidding boxes to a particular session they won’t be used other than once a week which is considered long enough for any virus particles to die. The boards will face even bigger gaps between usage. Everyone entering puts on gloves, plays, tidies away, removes the gloves and throws them away, and then washes their hands. If you want to have any refreshments during a session you bring a mug with you. The Community Centre is quite clear that masks must be worn in communal areas and if social distancing of 2m is not achievable. Anyone returning to playing will therefore be required to wear a mask. You arrive wearing one and leave wearing one. Members will be required to abide by the government instructions with regard to isolation after return from certain holiday destinations, but the club will impose no further restrictions. It will be up to individual members to decide whether or not they are prepared to play under those conditions.

For those of our members who are at the “ I must remain in isolation “ end of the risk spectrum we are suggesting that we set up social bridge ‘bubbles’ of like-minded souls who could play together as often as they choose.

Since I view the return to face2face to be so imperative I will not be suggesting that we set up our own club playing online. Cross In Hand have given us the opportunity to join them. Tunbridge Wells also run online sessions.

We will send a copy of this to every member not present this evening, and as soon as the Community Centre indicates how they want their users to return we will contact members to find out who are prepared to return to face2face and to which sessions, and who wishes us to set up a ‘bubble’ for them.

I regret that this should be such a negative communication, but feel members must be made aware of how precarious our current position is in order that they have the information needed to make their choices.

Linda Reed     27  July 2020

Chairperson's Report 2020

Chairperson’s Report 2020

I think most members will agree with me that this last year has presented incredible challenges. For that reason this Chairperson’s report comes out in a slightly different format than usual.

We started out the year worried about member numbers which had dropped below 80. By the Autumn we had advertised ourselves across Facebook, Nextdoor, and Crowborough Life. We had held a ‘Harvest Evening’ with wine and cake. We had started up a teaching programme on a Tuesday evening to enable participants who were working to attend, and which gathered increasing numbers as we went into our second set of 8 lessons in January. We held a ’Chocolate evening’ just prior to Lent. Numbers started to climb.

Following some extremely poor table numbers on a Friday evening, in January, having decided that we, as a Committee, had done all we possibly could to increase numbers on a Friday evening, the problem was handed to the Friday night players themselves. For a period up to the end of June they should achieve 4+ tables on a regular basis, and nothing below 3. Friday afternoons would be trialled at the same time since another group had vacated that slot. A decision whether or not to continue with either would be put to the vote at the AGM.

But everything has been overtaken by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our membership sits fair and square within the most vulnerable demographic, and social distancing measures have forced suspension of all sessions.  Devastation !

The Committee has met and we have discussed how we might return to playing. Our biggest problem has been the social distancing aspect. However, when this is reduced to 1m, if we hand out a bidding box to each member as they play, which then becomes theirs for the duration and which they bring to each session, and if we have nitrile gloves for everyone which they wear for a session and which are then discarded on leaving, and everyone uses either our hand gel or washes their hands, we have taken as many precautions as possible and we can recommence ! The boards will be redealt after at least a week’s gap to ensure that any contamination has been eliminated. Our current thinking is that we may be able to restart in August or September depending on Government regulations.

The Community Centre has been in touch and asked us what our plans for resumption might be, and we have detailed the above. We have asked to hold an AGM in the main Hall, which would allow for current 2m distancing requirements, on Monday 27 July at 7pm. Whilst this is currently not agreed, time marches on and, if we are able to hold the AGM then, we must put in motion a number of steps for proper consultation.

So our first request is that you pencil 27 July in your diaries.

It is unanimous within the Committee that, notwithstanding being unable to complete the six months, we should still put to the Club a decision on the future of Friday night sessions. During the time before lockdown 4 tables were only achieved 3 times other than for Team events, and the session had to be abandoned on one occasion. The scoring under those circumstances is punitive. Table money is not an issue, even if we can’t transfer to the smaller room M2. We ask you to support our recommendation to close the session. It is our feeling that we should recognise that the pattern of participation in the sessions has changed over the years and that history does not necessarily dictate the future.

We are also asking you to support our recommendation that Friday afternoons do not continue.

Among other items on the Agenda will be the election of a Treasurer and another committee member. Richard Penticost and Steve Dennison are both willing to stand again and need nomination, but any other nominations should reach a Committee member by 2 July.

Any items that members wish to include under AOB should also reach a Committee member by 2 July, so they can be aired for discussion.

With this report comes a copy of our Club’s rules which have been revised, and which will need approval at the AGM.

We will be proposing that membership subscriptions should be reduced for this next year to reflect the amount of time we have not been able to play. We will be suggesting £20, but that table money and guest fees remain the same. You will receive a copy of this last year’s audited accounts shortly.

Chris Sandford has been working on updating member details so that we can get information to everyone.  We are working on the assumption that not all members will wish to attend the AGM, but they may well have views they wish to communicate. The proposal to close Friday night sessions is the most major decision the Club has made for some considerable time, and it is vitally important to us that the views of all members should be communicated to the whole membership to allow an informed discussion and choice to be made. On the website, in the member’s area, there is a section for posting messages. It is private to the membership. If you already login you will have your own password, but if you haven’t done so before Chris has set up a password for you – AGM followed by your membership number with 3 digits. So for member 63 you would login as AGM063, and for member 329 you would login as AGM329. Please post any comments and views about either closure of Friday nights or afternoons so that everyone can read them. Anyone unable to use the internet should contact a Committee member to dictate what they wish posted.

Proxy and postal votes will be sent out during the week of 6 July, after the closure date for nominations and AOB, with the Agenda, and when completed should reach a member of the Committee by Monday 20 July. If you choose a proxy then the member you choose to present your vote must attend the AGM and bring it with them.

We will keep you updated as to the confirmed date of the AGM.

We have asked the Community Centre if it would be possible to run a Tuesday afternoon, so that we can still run 3/4 sessions a week.

Although I haven’t explicitly written, I would still like to express sincere gratitude for all the members of the club who share in the workload and volunteer to score, direct, collect money, arrange catering, order stationery, tidy up after sessions, help with the lessons………It is truly appreciated.

Linda Reed, Chairperson .  

June 2020.

Proposed New Club Rules

CROWBOROUGH BRIDGE CLUB RULES

(Revised    July 2020                )

1. The Club shall be known as the Crowborough Bridge Club.

2. The Bridge Club shall exist to organise and promote Duplicate Bridge for the enjoyment of its members.

3. The Bridge Club shall be registered with and affiliated to, the Sussex County  Contract Bridge Association and the English Bridge Union.

4. The Officers of the Bridge Club shall be a Chairman, a Treasurer, and up to five other Committee members. A quorum for committee meetings shall be four members.  The Committee shall be responsible for the affairs of the Bridge Club and its day to day activities.

5. The Chairman, Treasurer of the Bridge Club and up to five Committee members shall he elected annually at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) by simple majority vote, in a secret ballot. Each member of the Bridge Club shall be free to exercise one vote in respect of each appointment. Nominations shall be duly proposed and seconded by members of the Club and must reach the Secretary at least fourteen days before the advertised date of the meeting. The Secretary will post all nominations on the Club notice board at least one week before the advertised date of the meeting. If insufficient nominations have been received in advance of the Annual General     Meeting, nominations may be accepted at the meeting.

6. The Committee Members, elected as above, shall remain in office for a period of 3 years, unless they wish to resign. During the initial 3 year period 1/3 shall seek re-election after the first year, another 1/3 after the second year and the remaining 1/3 after the third year, thereby all Officers and Committee members shall have sought re-election after a maximum period of three years. Any new member elected after the first year may serve for 3 years before seeking re-election. The Committee shall elect one of its members to act as Secretary. The Committee may, if it thinks fit, at any time co-opt a Member on to the Committee, either to serve as an additional member of the Committee (provided the total membership of the Committee shall not then exceed 8), if it feels that this   would be to the benefit of the Club, or to fill a vacancy among the elected members. Such co-opted member shall serve for a period up to the following AGM and be eligible for re-election. A Member may not be co-opted on to the Committee on more than one occasion in two consecutive years.

7. At each election, the retiring Officers and Committee Members may offer themselves for re-election.

8. All members shall pay an Annual Subscription, the amount to be determined by the Committee, from time to time, and approved by an Annual General Meeting, or an Extraordinary General Meeting (called for the purpose). The Committee is  empowered to award, long serving or other deserving Members, free Life Membership at its discretion. The Committee may, at its discretion, agree a reduced subscription for any  Member if it considers such would be fair, e.g. by reason of youth, ill-health or adversity. Annual Subscriptions shall normally be effective as from 1 June each year and payable within one month of the AGM following.  Any Member failing to pay within one month of the due date shall be given notice of such default and, if not paid within eight weeks of the due date, membership shall lapse unless otherwise resolved by the Committee.  New Members joining during the year may be allowed to pay a reduced pro-rata fee at the discretion of the Committee.

9. Two members shall sponsor an applicant for membership, who must first have played in at least two bridge sessions at the club. The application shall be displayed on the notice board for two weeks prior to consideration by the Committee. During this period members may make representations, in writing, to the Secretary, for the applicant to be accepted or rejected. The Committee shall decide, by simple majority vote, whether to accept. Applicants shall be informed of the Committee's decision not more than 30 days after the decision has been made.

10. The Club year shall be the period 1st June to 31st May.

11. An Annual General Meeting of the Bridge Club shall be convened within eight weeks of the end of the Club year. Notice of the meeting shall be given at least 21 days in advance on the Club notice board.

 

12. At each Annual General Meeting members shall; -  subject to Rules 5 and 6, elect Officers and Committee Members receive and approve the Treasurer's Report and balance sheet agree table money and any other items of a financial nature for the coming year deal with any special matter which the Committee desires to bring before the membership and receive suggestions for consideration by the Committee.

13. The Secretary, or appointed deputy, shall convene an Extraordinary General Meeting on the Instructions of the Chairman, or at the request, in writing, of any six members of the Bridge Club. Three weeks notice shall be posted on the notice board stating the purpose of the meeting specified.

14. The quorum for the conduct of business at a General Meeting shall be ten members present and voting.

15. Voting shall be by a show of hands or by a ballot as directed by the Chairman, or as required by the rules of the Club. The Chairman shall be permitted to exercise a casting vote. Postal votes will be accepted. Proxy votes will  be accepted providing they specify who or what the proxy must vote for. In the event that a candidate, duly proposed and seconded, subsequently withdraws their nomination, holders of proxy votes for that candidate may transfer them to an alternative candidate. Both postal and proxy votes must be cast on the appropriate forms provided by the Secretary, and signed by the member.

16. Members shall conform to the rules, proprieties and ethics laid down in the "Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge". Bidding systems and conventions shall be restricted to those licensed by the English Bridge Union.  Members of the Club are (subject to the EBU;s right of refusal or expulsion pursuant to its Bye Laws) automatically enrolled as members of the English Bridge Union and shall abide by its Bye Laws.

17. Visitors or guests may play at Bridge sessions of the Club at the discretion of the Committee, paying the appropriate table money for visitors.   A guest may be introduced by a Member by whom he or she must be accompanied whilst at the Club.  All expenses, other than table money, incurred on behalf of a guest must be paid by the Member and not by the guest.  The same person may not be introduced as a guest more than 4 times in any 12-month period unless otherwise agreed by the Committee.

18.

a)   In organised competition under the control of an appointed Director all irregularities and disputes shall be settled by the Director. The Director's decision shall be final.

b)   The Director shall report behaviour prejudicial to the good name and well- being of the Club, to the Committee.

c)   Members may lodge a written appeal with the Committee in any eventuality.

d)   The Committee shall be empowered to convene an Ethics sub-committee to determine any issue under this Rule or under Rule 16(above). Such sub-committee shall consist of at least 3 Members, at least one of which shall not be a serving  member of the Main Committee.

  1. If the conduct of any Member of the Club shall, in the opinion of the Committee, be such as to be prejudicial to the reputation, welfare, or good order of the Club, the Committee shall be empowered to call that Member before a meeting of a Sub-Committee specially appointed and convened.  The Member shall be given 14 days written notice of the meeting and of the nature of the complaint against his conduct, and he may be accompanied by one other person at such meeting and may speak in rebuttal.  If after such meeting, the Sub-Committee shall take the view that the allegations are made out, it shall within 7 days of the meeting inform the Member accordingly.  The Member shall within 14 days thereafter appeal in writing against that decision to a meeting of the Committee, but if he does not, or if the appeal is rejected at that meeting (at which the member may be present and make representations), the Committee may suspend that Member for such period (not exceeding 3 months) as it shall think fit, or recommend that he shall resign.  Should the Member not resign within 7 days after the Committee shall have sent him notice in writing of such recommendation the Committee may resolve that the Member be expelled from the Club and give him notice accordingly whereupon the Member shall forthwith cease to be a Member of the Club and the unexpired portion of that Member's subscription for the current year shall be refunded.

20. Any person, whether or not a Member, who is subject to refusal or expulsion by the EBU as a player shall be automatically deemed expelled or refusal by Crowborough Bridge Club.  

21. Upon becoming a member of the Club, each Member is deemed to give his consent to use of his details and e-mail address for the purposes of Club business and in accordance with current data protection law.

22. The Committee is empowered to approve reimbursements to any Member for legitimate expenses incurred on Club business.

23. Allusions in these Rules to the male gender shall be construed as also comprehending the female gender, and these Rules shall be read accordingly.

24. These rules shall be altered only with the consent of a majority of Bridge members given at a General Meeting.

Committee Decisions Regarding Club Sessions

Crowborough Bridge Club

Committee Decisions Regarding Bridge Sessions – January 2020

Our membership is made up of groups of people with different outlooks regarding how they like to play bridge. The Committee’s aim is to try and ensure that as many members as possible can play as they wish within Club sessions. All decisions are taken with that guiding principle.

The recent questionnaire (results in item below) addressed two issues:- what members thought should happen to Friday evening sessions, and whether a second afternoon session would find support.

Following discussion of the results the Committee has made the following decisions which will be reviewed at the AGM

  • Given that 50+ % of our members would like a second afternoon session, Friday afternoons will commence from 7th February on the same lines as Thursday ( ie starting at 1.15pm ), for a trial period to the end of June. This is the only afternoon that the Community Centre has free for us, and that only because ‘Dementia’ left recently.
  • The criteria for the continuation of Friday evening sessions is that there are 4+ full tables regularly and not less than 3 full tables (other than exceptionally). The Committee feels that it has made every possible effort to increase Friday evening numbers, and that the future of the sessions should rest with the regular players themselves. It is incumbent on them to invite other partners and players to sessions. A final decision will be made at or after the AGM.

Below, is the background rationale for these decisions:

Friday evening session numbers have been under scrutiny for a number of years. We are not alone in the problem. Most of the clubs around us face similar issues. Firstly to list the steps the Committee have taken to try and improve Friday numbers

  • We have approached all the Halls and Clubhouses within the immediate area to see if they can accommodate us, hopefully at a lower rent.  Friday is a particular issue because Sports clubs and church halls use Fridays and do not want to consider a regular booking. Parking is an issue at many, as are facilities.
  • We instituted a Team Event once a month which was originally very successful, but of late has been less well supported.
  • We are advertising heavily on Facebook and local media.
  • We have held a Harvest evening to encourage visitors, which yielded some new members. They have however joined Monday and Thursday. There will be an ‘Everything Chocolate’ evening in February just before Lent for the same reason.
  • We took part in the Community Centre’s EXPO to advertise ourselves.
  • We have 13 students learning bridge from scratch, several of whom work and would join evening sessions if they joined the club. There are plans to integrate them when they have sufficient skill to be comfortable and to encourage them to join all sessions.

We cannot make anyone choose to play on a Friday.  Given the age profile of our membership, we face a steady attrition of numbers on a Monday as well , and we could have 2 evenings under threat in the near future.

The Committee also took note of other issues raised

  • Friday evenings have been associated with a more competitive approach. However the difference in the percentages between Monday and Friday is not statistically significant and increasingly Thursday does well. If the club is to keep its competitive edge more competitive skills need transferring to more of our members.
  • The 4th Friday Teams event is dominated by a few regular successful teams. Attendance is waning. This might be remedied by either drawing pairs to form teams or handicapping / seeding to form teams. Regular team players will be consulted and will need to implement the ongoing procedure.

Bridge Sessions Questionnaire results

 

Results are separated by whether or not a member is a regular player on a Friday evening. All members in the Club have been canvassed. Only one refused to complete with their preferences. There was some confusion from afternoon only members and many didn’t choose any of the options, and only indicated whether or not they would like a second afternoon session.

The Committee next meets on Friday 10 January when these results will be discussed. The Committee will then make suggestions for approval by members. It is not anticipated that there will be any immediate changes.

Option

Regular Friday

Non Friday

Keep status quo

10

6

Drop all Fridays except the Team Event

6

16

Drop Fridays altogether and move the Team Event to Monday

2

6

Drop all Fridays and additionally the Team Event

1

4

Regular Friday

Non Friday

I would like the opportunity to play on a second afternoon

9

37

I would  not like to opportunity to play on a second afternoon

3

12

If a second afternoon were planned I would prefer a Tuesday

2

13

I would prefer a Friday

5

11

I would be OK with either

2

13

                     

 

AGM minutes 2017

Crowborough Bridge Club - Annual General Meeting – 10th July 2017

Present:   Committee (Linda Reed, Richard Penticost, Adele Holder, Moira Taylor, Carol Forster) and 18 other members.

Apologies for absence:  Joy Byford, Daisy Collick, Sue Haslam, Marion Newman, Barbara Emberson, Sydney Moss, Adam Hardy, Joan Webber, Chris Bailey

Approval of the Minutes of the 2016 AGM:  approved without further comment.

Chairperson’s Report

Linda had circulated this to all members in advance in order to shorten proceedings.  She suggested that, as it was anticipated that Item 7 would take up some considerable time, it would not be necessary to go over it again.    All were in agreement and no queries or comments were raised.

Treasurer’s Report

A cash statement of Account for the year to 31st May 2017 was circulated.

In summary, a profit of over £1800 had been made in the past year; subscriptions remained about the same as the previous year, as did membership, but table money was up; unexpectedly expenditure had gone down by about £600. 

The rent for the hall will go up to £18.00/hour in 2018 and to £19.00/hour in 2019.

The committee recommended maintaining subscriptions and table money at the same level as the current year, and hope they can also be maintained at this level for the following year.

Richard thanked David Ball for auditing the accounts, Moira for collecting and dealing with subscriptions, and all those who collected table money.

It was proposed that the Accounts be approved and this was passed without dissent.

Election of Committee

Richard Penticost and Adele Holder had served their 3 years, but were prepared to stand for re-election.    There was one vacancy on the Committee and Steve Dennison had been nominated.    All three were re-elected/elected unopposed.

Issues for Members Votes

The Committee would like the ability to implement the following two proposals, and proxy vote forms had been issued for those unable to be present to voice their opinions:-

a)  Use of a timer:  the recommendation that the Director could at his/her discretion use a timer was approved unanimously

b)  Cutting for Position:  the recommendation that the Director could at his/her discretion cut for position was approved by the majority, with 9 members opposed to the idea.

Friday Evenings

The Committee are concerned regarding the drop in attendance on Fridays, and the consequent “loss” of income.     The club currently needs a minimum of 8 tables to break even.   On Fridays, apart from the monthly Team Evenings, this number is never achieved.    The problem is compounded by Monday numbers also dropping.

There was discussion as to the reasons –

  • beginning of the weekend, so people less keen to come out
  • the misconception that Fridays were not as friendly
  • older members do not like to come out at night;this applies equally to Mondays

It was pointed out that Friday numbers appear to be dropping at all bridge clubs; the problem is not specific to Crowborough.

Options:-

  • An alternative venue;this was thought problematic because of storage of tables/equipment
  • Friday players to pay more table money could be considered
  • All members should be actively encouraged to try Fridays

Many members felt that all possible should be done to retain Fridays –

  • it is a good day for those who still work
  • the standard of play is higher, as indicated by average percentage points achieved

Historically Fridays (when they were the busiest night) supported the other playing sessions.    In general it was felt that at the moment there was not a cash problem and Fridays should be maintained as they are, with everyone doing all possible to try to increase the numbers.

Annual Event

The questionnaire sent out earlier in the year revealed that there was support for an annual event; the Committee will look into possible options for an event towards the end of March 2018.   They will revert to the membership in the Autumn with their proposals.

Cups

It had been decided that these would be presented at the appropriate sessions.   

Winners:        Annual Master Points, Mondays:  Adele Holder

                         Annual Master Points, Thursdays:  Ian Carruthers

                         Annual Master Points, Fridays:  Chris Bailey

                         Dixon Cup:  Jean Smallwood

Trevor Cup:  Sylvia Hall, Richard Penticost, Ian and Margaret    Carruthers

AOB:   None