U3A THAMES VALLEY NETWORK
Representatives’ meeting held at the Sports Hall, Watlington, courtesy of Ridgeway U3A,
on Wednesday 29th August 2012
Present: Pam Jones – Chairman (Witney) Trustee South East Region, Agnes Budagowska Treasurer (Swindon), Mike Price Vice-chairman (Greater Thame), Len Smith (Wokingham), Martin McBride (Carterton), Anne Marie Lord Secretary (Chinnor & District), Susie Berry (Ridgeway), Ann Mary Ware (Marlow), Avis Furness (Reading), June Morris, Anne Gould and Pauline Nuttall (Abingdon), Christine Cox (Bicester), Tony Fulford and Theresa Doherty (Bracknell Forest), Ian Wright and Josephine Wright (Carterton), Allan Ferrier (Chiltern), George Hunter, Dorrie Oliver and Alison Hood (Chinnor & District), Roy Coates (Chipping Norton), Kath Wallace and Sylvia Bowley (Faringdon), Frank Metcalf (Greater Thame), John Brandis (Haddenham), Barbel Cheesewright and Nadia Ellis (High Wycombe), Jenny Cooper, Joy Lamont and Harry Burnham (Maidenhead), Mike Davies(Marlow), Malcolm Barker (Princes Risborough), Jacky Wagstaff, Pat Fewell, Angela Jacob (Ridgeway), Jeanie Dickie (Swindon), Derek Randall and Peggy Miles (Thame and District), Neil Kelly (Thameside), Margaret Edmondson (Wallingford), Clare Balme (West Oxford), Valerie Palmer and Janet Lord (Witney), Patsy Thornton and Edward Miles (Wokingham)
1.0 Apologies: Geoff Young and Shirley Stokes(Aylesbury Vale), Ruth Waddle (Headington), Fadela Bird (Reading),
Margaret Sherington (West Oxford).
Chipping Norton has now joined the Thames Valley Network and Roy Coates was warmly welcomed as representative. There are now 37 U3as in the Network.
2.0 Minutes of 20/04/12
These Minutes were approved and signed.
2.1 Matters Arising There were no matters arising.
2.2 Any other matters arising under 9.2 a query was raised over the wording “The AGM could be held..” and “could be incorporated in a Reps meeting.” This will be discussed at the next Committee meeting and brought to the next Reps’ Meeting.
3.0 Network Committee Reports
3.1 Chairman (summary)
Pam welcomed Chipping Norton U3A to the Thames Valley Network, there are now 37 member U3As.
The last committee meeting had decided that less popular subjects should be encouraged at Study Days and she encouraged members to let the Events Team know what is wanted.
The conference at Abingdon had been very good with interesting speakers and their hard work had resulted in it running smoothly. Two U3As have approached Pam about hosting a Conference but both have now withdrawn. Only 70 people from a membership of 13000 attend these Conferences and Pam felt a line should be drawn on conference.
The Groups Workshop in August was also a success with members learning a great deal. The committee have agreed to reduce the extra charge to non TVN members attending study days from £5 to £2.
Carterton U3A ran an entertaining quiz night involving 4 U3As, interchange between U3As is recommended.
Charity Registration for the Network was discussed again. Extract from Chairman’s Report - “Subsequently, I have spoken to Lin Jonas on the subject and the situation is as follows. Networks are considered by the Charity Commission to be “collaborative working”, which means that there is collaboration between groups of educational charities. There is neither an advantage nor a legal requirement for us to apply for our own charitable status. There is a leaflet on the Charity Commission website called “collaborative working” should anyone wish to read it. The matter is now closed.” (It was requested and deemed appropriate that this part of the Chairman’s Report be recorded in the Minutes.)
The committee also discussed “problem” members and U3As were encouraged to discuss difficult situations with the committee.
Finally, an apology as the date for the last meeting was not put on the agenda.
3.1i It was suggested that the section of the report quoted above be added to the Constitution. It was agreed that it should be included in these Minutes. Pam urged all U3As to keep a notebook of decisions taken at committee meetings recording the topic discussed, the date and the solution, as this provides easier access than searching through Minutes.
The committee will consider this at the next committee meeting.
3.1ii It was felt that the phrase “… we should draw a line on conferences” would preclude any conferences in the future. During discussion views were expressed that the ethos of U3A is to move forward, some of the Study days offer what has been a part of previous conferences, any U3A would be welcome to offer to arrange a conference in the future. To be financed by the Third Age Trust it would need to have speakers from the Trust and run U3A related workshops.
There was also the option of arranging for a Speaker and workshops/groups in the afternoon following the AGM.
3.1iii It was pointed out that the National Conference is also struggling to attract delegates. Some U3As pay for a member to attend.
3.2 Treasurer’s report
Agnes circulated copies of the TVN Account Summary as at 29/07/2012. The large sum under Events Income relates to the Opera Study day. The balance is £4708.85. As there is still a surplus the affiliation fees have been waived for the current year. The following Events showed a surplus: Open Day £516.23, Thames Barrier cream tea £17.32,
English Social History Study day £121.22. The Conference was subsidised by £488.39. All surplus monies from Events/study days are held in the TVN account. £2000 is retained as a contingency fund.
4.0 Network Activities
4.1 Avis reported that the Jazz study day planned for September had been cancelled due to lack of numbers. She and Bob Jones would welcome feedback as Bob is keen to arrange another Jazz day in 2013.
4.2 Patsy Thornton reported on the Historic Pathways project: there will be an initial meeting with the Berkshire Records Office but numbers are limited (possibly to one member per U3A depending on interest). This will be followed by a Seminar on 8th October for those interested. 19 members from Wokingham and representatives from 16 other U3As have expressed an interest to date. A follow-up day is planned for the 2nd or 3rd week in March 2013 at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley. (The date will be available shortly.) There are contact details for other Record Offices and it is anticipated that Oxfordshire will offer a similar project.
4.3 Dates and proposed calendar for Study days;
19th October - Staying Healthy Benson Village hall.
20th November - Understanding Opera through the operas of Mozart study day.
13th April - photography at Cressex Community school arranged by Ann Mary Ware
28th May - Book readers’study day arranged by Patsy Thornton
June - Chess Valley U3A are considering holding an activities day
July - Jazz – this will depend on feedback
End - August/September History of High Wycombe activity day….. venue currently being sought.
4.4 Please let Avis know of any venues that may be suitable for study days/events.
4.5 Abingdon thanked the Committee for supporting the Conference financially. Around 80 delegates had attended and, responding to comments regarding days on which conferences are held, a Saturday had been chosen due to Jubilee celebrations at that time and the need to use a school venue. It was not thought that a weekday or weekend day made a significant difference to numbers attending.
5 Regional/National matters – Discussion
5.1 Several Reps are going to the National AGM at Cirencester. The NEC is the body that makes decisions regarding the Third Age Trust and this year of the 12 Trustees eight will be newly appointed and there will be a new Chairman and two new Vice-Chairmen. Fortunately the permanent staff at the National office are very knowledgeable regarding management of the Third Age Trust.
5.2 Pam reported that many questions arose during the Group co-ordinators Workshop on 14th August. The following issues are particularly important:
i Groups should not have paid tutors. Very short courses of a few weeks using a paid tutor are possible.
Paid speakers at Main meetings are allowed.
ii Insurance matters:
Visitors are able to go on a trip/outing once or twice but would need to become members in order to take part in further trips. It is up to the Committee of each U3A to determine how many outings would be acceptable and to have this recorded as a policy.
Trips using private cars are still covered even if payment is made.
An Interest Group cannot meet in a non-member’s house.
iii When organising an outing a list of all those taking part should be left with another member in case of an emergency/accident. This is the responsibility of the Trustees.
iv From 31/07/12 the National executive is no longer paying for the photocopying licence due to rising cost. (Sheet music has never been covered in this). Lin Jonas has been trying to negotiate insurance cover for individual U3As.
Pam will ask whether the internet is included.
5.3 Following discussion it was stressed that U3As are operationally independent but are subject to the “Objects and principles” of the Third Age Trust and to the rules of the Charity Commission.
There has been some disparity in the past but all new U3As are being set up using the same guidelines.
5.4 Members should not use their personal credit cards to pay for theatre tickets or to book holidays as they will be liable should the companies default/close etc.
5.5 Holidays are not included under Third Age Trust insurance, holiday organisers are advised to use a holiday company who will be covered by insurance.
5.5 To comply with Data protection details of members should be held only by essential Trustees.
5.6 For information/guidance on paid speakers see Information for Treasurers booklet p 13
For Insurance see p 10
For photocopying, recorded music, DVDs and videos see Advice sheet 10 of 04/01/12
For Data Protection see Advice sheet 5 of 22/02/11
6.0 Network Information
6.1 Contacts List
Mike asked for any amendments to be recorded on the attendance register that was passed around.
6.2 Speaker’s Database
Martin explained that he had contacted all Speakers to check availability and had amended the list accordingly. He would welcome feedback and will follow up any adverse comments if he receives 2 such comments. He hopes to send out an up-dated list shortly and this will be re-issued following each Reps. meeting.
There were 213 hits in July but the website is not as well used as last year. The popularity of the Riverside Project in 2011 may account for some of this. It was agreed that the website was invaluable for sharing and passing on information. Len said that Agendas and the Minutes are always put on the website. www.u3atvnetwork.org.uk
Patsy said that she has spoken with the East Sussex Network about the Riverside project and they are now planning to set up a similar project on the South Downs. She said they were interested in how TVN publicised the Riverside project.
i Advice was sought regarding obituaries for members. Generally it was agreed these were not publicised although relevant Groups would be made aware. Some U3As include a note or short piece in their newsletter and some did include this at a meeting. It was felt that communication was important with a card being sent to the family/partner and particular attention should be paid to ensuring that any future mailings are no longer sent.
ii Chinnor U3A thanked all those who had sent their Newsletters.
iii Avis Furness offered copies of plays suitable for group use to any U3A that could use them.
iv Haddenham welcomed the opportunity to join in discussion through the open forum and AOB agenda items. The U3A in Haddenham is involved in a community project to maintain the village library.
v Pam Jones has received a request from Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre for volunteers.
vi Having agreed that the venue at Watlington was acceptable representatives were asked whether microphones would be helpful at these meetings. It was decided to do without at present.
vii Martin reminded the meeting about the calendar that Carterton photography group produce and offered to do a TVN calendar. It was agreed in principle that he produced one for 2014. Martin will bring examples to the next meeting for approval.
viii Members were reminded that they should have the permission of photographers if they are going to use copies of any photos.
ix High Wycombe asked for permission to take photos of the meeting for use in their U3A newsletter. This was agreed.
8.0 Stonor House Sue Gill, who is responsible for group visits at the house, gave a short talk in which she presented guidelines for anyone organising an outing/visit to a house, particularly private houses that open especially for groups. She recommended:
· when making an initial enquiry, check days when visits are welcome especially if using guides.
· check minimum and maximum numbers
· whether a group visit is available on a normal open day
· what refreshments can be offered.
· get back with a couple of dates and be prepared to be flexible
· be aware that smaller venues may have few facilities
· members on outings usually welcome a coffee/tea on arrival especially after a coach journey
· lunches can be limited and tickets indicating what has been ordered can help with organisation
· dietary requirements must be arranged in advance
· if tea is arranged in the afternoon and cake is offered have one ticket price to cover it and show clearly what is included
· it is recommended that the organiser visits the property, let the House know that this is intended, a special time may then be arranged
· check suitability for those with disabilities, the pre-visit could be helpful. Take guidance from the house.
· ensure all administration is in writing and check/ confirm the booking early with the numbers. Large numbers may require an extra guide
· pass all information on if some else takes over
· when travelling use a mobile phone to let the House know if you are likely to arrive early or late
Sue was thanked for giving the presentation which those present agreed was informative and helpful.
9 Date of next meeting …Friday 30th November 2012 at 10am for 10.30am at the Sports Hall, Watlington
date ……………. Chairman ……………… 03/09/12