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2020 Chairperson's Report
2020 Chairperson's Report

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
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
Linda Reed, Chairperson .
June 2020.

Addition to Chairperson's Report

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