CLUB LAW & MANAGEMENT
UPDATE OF THE YEAR'S EVENTS
The Update of the Year's Events has become a regular feature in the December edition of the Magazine. This article provides an opportunity to look back over the year and to remind ourselves of various subjects and new legislation which affect the management of our Clubs.
Last year I commented that club management faced an increasing mountain of red tape. I think we will all agree that this prediction has become a reality. Again, I hope the Magazine articles under the `Club Law and Management' section continue to assist Clubs and Officers with practical advice which cuts through some of this red tape and provides support and guidance.
I remain optimistic that A.C.C. Clubs will continue to provide their members, and communities, with safe social environments to be enjoyed by those who share the same values and outlook on life. This is what makes Conservative Clubs so special and long may this continue to be the case.
The following points which I have highlighted will provide a useful aide-memoire for various matters of particular interest. However, I would recommend that all Club Officers re-read other articles published during 2007. In particular, the `Questions and Answers' articles which remain a popular feature and appeared in the March, October and November editions.
The February edition included a repeat of an article concerning the LA. Scheme Rules and Regulations. September featured a useful employment law update and the October and November editions included articles concerning membership, recruitment and club/membership advertising, both of which should be raised at Committee meetings as important subjects for 2008.
If your Club would like any particular subject to be addressed in a future edition of the Magazine, then please let me know.
Since the introduction of the smoking ban, it is clear that most Clubs have experienced a reduction in income. Therefore, whilst the ban may have positive effects on our health, the effect on Club finances has been detrimental.
I do not believe there will be any real tangible evidence on this particular subject until twelve months have elapsed, as we will have to wait to examine a full year's accounts carefully!
The major breweries throughout the U.K. are in agreement that the poor summer weather was responsible for a higher loss in turnover than the ban, but there is no way of escaping the fact that the smoking ban has, in areas, had a dramatic effect.
My experience to date has shown that the impact of the ban differs greatly from region to region and even between Clubs located in close proximity. Time will provide figures giving an overall trend, but such national statistics can never completely explain particular experiences of individual Clubs.
It is clearly the case, however, that those Clubs which provide attractive sheltered outside accommodation for those members and guests who smoke have not suffered the same degree of financial loss, and, indeed in some cases, may have experienced an increase in turnover.
On a recent visit to Desborough Conservative Club in Northamptonshire I saw one of the most attractive and versatile outside shelters which had been built specifically to accommodate smokers and also, importantly, non-smokers who wished to sit outside. I would recommend that the article, which appeared in the April 2007 edition of the Magazine which provided information on the requirements of smoking shelters, is referred to by any Club embarking on such a project.
I am pleased to say that we have received no report of any Club receiving fines as a result of this new Regulation being breached.
Gambling Act 2005
The Gambling Act 2005 which came into force on lst September has not created any significant immediate effect on Clubs, but I confirm that it will when Clubs come to the expiry date of their old Part III Gaming Machine Registration Certificates. Clubs previously operating under Part III Registrations were automatically transferred to hold new Club Gaming Machine permits when the Act was introduced.
The new Club Gaming Machine Permits have the same expiry date as the previous Registration Certificates. Clubs will need to apply for the new Club Gaming Machine Permits from their local Licensing Authorities, at least two months prior to the renewal date. For most Clubs this `transfer' year will be 2010. Therefore, we have some time to prepare and to remind ourselves to carry out this important task.
Clubs continue to be able to operate up to three gaming machines, one of which may be a new category B3A Machine. The new category BBA Machine provides a maximum prize of£500 as opposed to the normal upper limit of £250 and replaces a Lottery style machine which was previously operated in Clubs offering a top prize of £2,000.
Unfortunately, as has already been reported in the Magazine, this machine now attracts both VA.T. and Amusement Machine Duty. The long-term benefit of this new category machine therefore, remains to be seen.
Pull Tab Ticket Lottery Dispensing Machines are not affected by the new Gambling Act and will continue to be free of V A.T. and Amusement Machine Licence Duty. The number of Clubs using these Pull Tab Lottery Machines has increased since the introduction of the new Gambling Act.
I recommend Officers to re-read the articles which were published in the July and November editions of the Magazine to remind themselves of other aspects of this new Act.
Foreign Satellite T.V
As a result of the cost of showing Sky, Clubs are increasingly cancelling their contracts with this company. In fact, the number of Clubs now showing Sky is very low.
Sadly, many Clubs have been tempted to use foreign decoder cards to show televised Premier Football matches. Companies offering this service are very plausible, offering attractive rates and, of course, `a legal protection clause'. Some Clubs have found it difficult to say"No", particularly when members are putting the Committee under pressure to provide televised football.
Whilst I am no supporter of the way in which BSkyB operate within the Club market, I repeat our advice that foreign sport satellite television cannot be legally shown in Clubs.
Please re-read the June 2007 article and refer to the information from the F.A. Premier League Media Protection Services, which was enclosed as a separate publication with that edition.
I continue to receive reports from Clubs concerning difficulties with Leasing Agreements which have been entered into for equipment such as CCTV, door entry and tills. It would seem that many Clubs have been talked into agreeing leases which ultimately have created crippling financial instalments over several years. Some leases even contain automatic renewable terms. Most leases do not provide the equipment with maintenance back- up or, alternatively, if maintenance is provided it is part of a separate contract.
We have examples of Clubs spending up to, in one case, £48,000 for what is a relatively simple, door entry system. I strongly advise Clubs not to enter into any leasing arrangements for equipment which could easily be purchased outright from a reputable supplier. Even taking out a bank loan to purchase would be better and at least at the end of the term the equipment will belong to the Club.
Do not enter lease arrangements and do not be talked into updating any existing lease arrangements.
There are no leasing companies which this Association recommends and Clubs may therefore view any company, by whatever name, offering equipment on a lease basis as being not recommended by this Association.
Club Officers should refer to articles in the May and June editions of the Magazine.
Please refer to the September edition of the Magazine in which I published an update on various changes to Holiday Entitlement Rules, the National Minimum Wage, Sick Pay and other matters. Clubs will be aware that employment issues are relatively complex. Clubs are already benefiting from the A.C.C.'s new Model Employment Contracts which contain new specific disciplinary and grievance procedures.
It will be no surprise to you, I am sure, to learn that the subject of employment will again be highlighted in articles to be published next year.
Discrimination Law Review The August edition of the Magazine included an article concerning the proposed review of current Discrimination Law. One of the proposals was to end the current long-standing practice carried out by some Clubs of permitting members of one sex to have voting rights whilst at the same time, denying voting rights to members of the opposite sex. Single sex Clubs are not affected. This subject is one which is known by all Clubs and the A.C.C.'s policy of recommending equality of membership is one which, I am pleased to say, the vast- majority of Clubs have now adopted.
Whilst this Discrimination Law Review was published relatively recently, it was not included within the Queen's Speech on 6th November, and it may therefore, be some time before this proposed legislation becomes law.
We shall update Clubs on this matter when further information is known
Index to MAGAZINE ARTICLES 2007
o Smoking Ban approaches
o Dates for your diary
o New fire regulations
o LA. Ticket scheme - rules and regulations
o Question and answers - Various
o Smoking Ban update
o Committee meetings / minutes confidential
o Say "No" to leasing
o Smoking Ban - further update
o Children's parties and CRB checks
o Warning to take care over foreign Satellite TV
o Smoking Ban - further update
o Gambling Act 2005
o Leasing update
o Smoking Ban / Implementation date
o Discrimination Law review
o New rules on lottery machines
o Gambling Act - Part III renewals
o Employment Law update - including:
+ Holiday entitlement - Bank and Public Holidays
+ Statutory sick pay
+ Smoking in the workplace
+ Notice of retirement
+ National minimum wage
o Beware of the till roll touts
o Charitable work of Clubs
o Questions and answers - various
o Membership recruitment
o Questions and answers - Gambling Act
o Club / membership advertising
o New tobacco law
o Update on the year's events