Conservative Weekly Draw Banner Image

Club Law and Management

by Philip Smith, Secretary of the A.C.C.

Questions and Answers

 

Q. We have a Member who has been nominated for the Committee. We are also aware that he is on the Committee of another local community Club. Is he able to be elected to our Club’s Committee if he is already a Committee Member of another Club?

A. There is no legislation or Club Rules which would prevent a Committee Member holding a position of authority within another local Club and we have found that this is an increasingly common situation as people become Members of different Clubs and fewer people are interested in active Club management. As a result, those who are interested find themselves involved in more than one Club’s management. All Committee Members are expected to observe confidentiality regarding Committee Meetings and information. If it is found that a Committee person is passing confidential information to the other Club of which they are also a Member then they should be disciplined accordingly. In fairness, though, there is likely to be little information which is going to be particularly sensitive if the other Club learns of it. I do, however, suggest that this opportunity is used to remind all Committee Members of the confidential nature of Committee Meetings and information particularly if such information would be of interest to a competing Club in the area. If a conflict of interest does arise then the Committee Member with the conflict of interest should excuse themselves from the meeting whilst the item is discussed. The Members are ultimately responsible for the election of Committee Members, assuming there are sufficient candidates to create an election. The Members can then decide themselves if this is a person they wish to elect to the Club’s Committee and they can also remove any person should they choose to do so.

Q. We would like to increase our subscription rate although our Chairman is not sure about the procedure which is required. Would we need to call a Special General Meeting to approve the subscription increase or can we deal with this during the Annual General Meeting?
A. This matter is usually dealt with within the Club’s Rules and the vast majority of ACC Clubs have the following Rule in place: “The ordinary subscription shall be of such sum per annum as shall from time to time be determined by the members at a General Meeting”. Therefore should the Members wish to increase the Club’s subscription rate then this decision can be taken at either an Annual or Special General Meeting. The motion will pass on a simple majority vote. Should you wish the Club to discuss this matter, and vote on this matter, at an Annual General Meeting then the Club is able to do so. Other Clubs may have Rules which have either a fixed sum or a maximum rate. In either case, to increase the fixed sum or the maximum amount a change of Rule is required under the Club’s Amendment of Rules provisions. This is a rather outdated method of determining subscriptions and would denote a Rule Book which requires updating. 
 
 
 

Q. We have a nearby resident who is a very frequent visitor of our Club using his IA Ticket. We have no problems with this person but consider that if he is frequently visiting our Club then he should become a Member of the Club. Do you have any thoughts on this?

A.I confirm that the admission of an IA ticket holder is a courtesy given by each Club which can be withdrawn at any time. It would therefore be perfectly in order for you to ask this particular person if he would like to apply for membership of the Club in view of his very frequent use. I hope that the person will accept that the IA ticket scheme is not designed to enable a Member of one Club to visit another on a daily basis and that the correct way in which to use your Club to this extent would be to apply for membership. If however this person, for whatever reason, decides not to apply for membership of the Club then it would be in order for the Club to either place restrictions on the admission of this person or to request that he no longer uses the Club at all. If the Committee do need to refuse the admission of this IA ticket holder, which I hope is not the case, then I think it would be sensible for you to have a quick word with the Secretary of this person’s home Club in order to explain that your Club’s decision is in no way a reflection of any particular policy towards their Club and that other Members continue to be welcome to visit.

 

Q. We are planning to carry out some refurbishment work inside the Club and possibly a small extension to the Club. Do we need to let our licensing officer know about these changes?

 A. There is not any absolute correct method or system of involving the licensing department when applying for planning consent to either structurally adapt or extend a Club property. However, I would always advise a Club to notify the local licensing department of the intention to make such an application when the application is being made. I think it is sensible to include the licensing officer within this process since it demonstrates a degree of professionalism and indeed an acknowledgement of their ultimate involvement in any change to the plan of the Club under which the Club’s CPC has been granted. In short, if you get the licensing officer on side from the start this can only be beneficial. Hopefully the refurbishment work which you have in mind will involve only a minor variation of the Club’s CPC.
Q. Our Club has a pull tab lottery machine which is very popular and delivers a healthy profit to the Club. We are also looking into installing a B3A gaming machine inside the Club as they are also free from taxation and we think such a machine could prove to be popular amongst our Members. There is some concern though that a B3A machine may cannibalise the sales of the pull tab lottery machine and simply split the revenue received and increase our costs. Do you know if this is ever the case?
A. Whilst I do not have any statistical evidence regarding the change of usage of pull tab machines following the introduction of a B3A, I can safely say that I have rarely been into a Club with a B3A machine which does not also have a familiar pull tab ticket vending machine in some other part of the Club. I do think that the pull tab tickets have a following from part of the membership which is not particularly interested in playing any form of gaming machine even though I accept that the B3A machine is a very simple one to use compared with the more complex B4 machine features.

Q. We have a longstanding contract with PHS for waste removal which still has several years to run. However, the contract is very expensive and the local council will provide the same services for roughly half the cost. Do you have any suggestions regarding this contract?

A. I have been informed by a few Clubs that PHS has a new Managing Director and are in the process of reviewing existing contracts. I am aware of one Club, in a similar situation, which contacted PHS and managed to obtain a refund and a reduced cost of the contract going forward. It may therefore be worth contacting PHS to see if the current contract can be renegotiated. As a general point I do caution Clubs, and have done so for many years, against signing up to long term contracts as these can prove expensive over the duration and difficult to escape from. For the purchase of goods it is often preferable to purchase the goods outright, with the assistance of a loan if necessary, and with service contracts it is desirable to commit to as short a minimum contract as possible. Make sure all contracts are fully read and understood before being signed and if you have any questions regarding the terms and conditions, particularly about the cancellation provisions, make sure these are raised prior to the contract being signed. The ACC is always able to offer advice on these matters.

 

Q. A Member wishes to hold an event at the Club and invite a large number of guests. Can we class all of these guests as his personal guests or would a Temporary Event Notice need to be obtained for the event?

A. If it is a Club Member who is holding an event inside the Club and the persons attending are his personal guests then a Temporary Event Notice does not need to be obtained regardless of the number of guests he has invited. By reference to the Licensing Act, and the Club’s Rules, Members’ guests may purchase their own drinks. Should a non-member wish to hold an event at the Club and invite selected guests to attend then the Club may like to encourage the person holding the event to become a Member of the Club. This would avoid the need for a TEN to be sought as it would become a Member’s event. To satisfy the requirements of a Member’s event all the people attending must be known to the Member holding the event and must be signed in by the Member as their guests (this can be achieved by forwarding a list of invited persons to the Club in advance so the persons as they enter can simply sign by their names or be ticked off). If an event is being held in a Club’s function room by a nonmember, or if the event is to be open to the general public then the Club should obtain a Temporary Events Notice (TEN) for the duration of the event A TEN allows a Club to hold events, up to 72 hours in duration, whereby alcohol can be served to non-members. Typically a TEN would be used in the event of a Club ‘open day’ or when a nonmember wishes to hire the Club for an event (a wake for example). A TEN is not required if it is a Club Member holding the event or if no alcohol is to be served during the event. Clubs must apply for a TEN in advance and each Club can obtain 12 TENs per year.

Q. We are considering installing a CCTV system inside the Club. Would we need to place notices informing Members and guests of the CCTV system and do we need to register the CCTV system with a specific authority?
A. With any Club operating CCTV cameras either inside or outside the premises I would advise that notices are put up to make Members and visitors aware that their movements are being recorded. It is also possible that the Club will need to register its CCTV cameras with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and you may wish to contact the ICO to confirm if the Club’s system will require registration. Having said that, for the fee of £35 a year you may wish to register regardless. Technically, registration is required if you are to use the CCTV system to record the movements of a specific person, such as an employee or Member who you consider may be acting inappropriately. If you are not recording the movements of a specific person then registration is not strictly necessary but I am sure you can appreciate that there may well be a time when you will wish to use the CCTV system to record the movements of a specific person and therefore registration would be required. We do not have a recommended CCTV supplier although as a general rule of thumb we would strongly recommend that Clubs avoid equipment hire or lease arrangements and instead purchase a CCTV system outright. Equipment hire arrangements will typically work out to be far more expensive than simply purchasing a system and the equipment may not be maintained as part of the cost of the hire arrangement and the CCTV system may need to be returned at the end of the agreement and not become property of the Club.