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CLUB LAW & MANAGEMENT

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

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

I am in a slight quandary. we have a suspended member, who has, as our rules state, put his cards in for renewal and paid his subscription for the next year. My question is; do I give him back his card or hold it until his suspension from the club has run its course?

In my opinion, you should give the member in question his membership card since he has paid his subscription as required by the Rules. lf the suspended member has also requested an I.A. Ticket then you should hold onto this until he returns to the facilities of membership since the privilege of an I.A. Ticket is a facility of membership to which he is not yet entitled. Giving the suspended member his Club Membership card would give him no right of access to the Club until his suspension had expired or to any other club.

 

The brewery which supplies our Club has wri ten to me asking for a draft letter to be retyped on the Club’s letter heading and sent to our local Member of Parliament. I am not sure whether we should send this letter which asks the MP to challenge the government on matters relating to beer duty increases. What is your advice?

lf you wish to send this letter on behalf of the Club then please do so. Obviously, you will need to amend the letter changing references from pub to club. This type of letter can sometimes assist the lobbying work which we are doing as part of CORCA (Committee of Registered Clubs Associations). lf the Club feels strongly about this matter then an individual letter about your own Club and the problems which you are experiencing would be more powerful.

l hope this does not sound negative but frankly, if anyone thinks the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to make a U- turn on a beer duty increase which he has only recently introduced, then they have little knowledge of the type of government which has been in power since 1997.

lf your brewery and others had given even a fraction of the discounts to clubs and pubs which they have given to supermarkets and pub chains then the entire pub and club industry would be in a stronger position to cope with the challenges now being faced.

I can assure you that the ACC is doing as much as it can with those MPs of all political parties who are willing to recognise the importance of clubs in our communities.

 

I have been asked to write to a member and ask him to attend the next Committee Meeting concerning his conduct in the Club. The Committee have asked me to include in the letter that he will not be allowed to use the club until he has appeared before the Committee. I would be grateful if you could advise me whether this is correct.

I confirm that it is in order for you to request the member in question to "withdraw from the facilities of membership" until such time as he appears before the Committee. lt is very important not to use the word "suspend” in this notice since suspension can only take place following the disciplinary hearing as one of the options which may be available in the event of the Committee deciding the complaint regarding his conduct warrants either a reprimand, suspension (for a hxed period) or expulsion.

I trust this information is of assistance to you. I would recommend that you carefully examine your Club’s Rules in respect of the procedure and that the Club considers purchasing a copy of the ACC’s Club Law & Management book.

 

I am writing on behalf of my Club to enquire whether there are any grants available to help with the cost of installing a lift for our older members and also to offer disabled access.

Our club is situated on the first floor and is only accessible to members by a very wide imposing staircase, and for some of our older members it is sometimes quite difficult to climb.

We have looked at the possibilities of a stairlift but by the very nature of the building, this would not be feasible. However, I did call in a company who came and measured the area we are considering and gave us a quote for a platform lift. At the present time there is no way we can offer disabled access and obviously we would very much like to be able to do this.

Would there be any grants, lottery money etc. available for this type of thing?

I am not aware of any club which has been successful in obtaining either government or lottery grants in order to install disability access improvements. The simple fact is that Private Members’ Clubs are not public facilities and therefore do not attract public money.

l do understand why the Club would like to install this lift even though it is not a legal requirement to do so. The only thing l can suggest is that the Club starts to carry out fundraising activities specifically for the purpose of contributing towards the lift installation.

 

Our Club recently held a ticket-only cabaret night at which members and guests were charged different prices. I have been told that we have to charge I.A. Ticket holders as members and not as guests, is this correct?

The advice you have received regarding this matter is correct. LA. ticket holders must be treated in the same way as members.

 

We have been asked by a member if he were to hire out our hall for a private function whether the Club could increase the drink prices for that function and for that increase to go to the member hiring out the hall. My first reaction is no, but I would appreciate any comments you may have.

You are absolutely right to say no. The Club would be in breach of the Licensing Act 2003 if it pennitted a member to benefit personally from the supply of alcohol. Such benehts may only be received by the Club.

I think the member in question will need to find a different method of creating income for himself There is, however, nothing to prevent the Club from charging higher prices for drinks at a private function, many Clubs have different prices for drinks in function rooms compared with normal bars.

 

Our Chairman will be absent from our next meeting and wishes to rescind a motion passed two or three meetings ago. The Chairman has asked whether he will be allowed a proxy vote in his absence on this point.

I confirm that proxy voting is not permitted under the terms of your Club Rules. l hope the Chairman will appreciate that such a form of voting cannot be introduced by the Committee or by the Chairman. By the law of averages for every person who cannot make a meeting with one view there will normally be another who cannot make the same meeting who holds an alternative view and therefore matters usually equal out in the end.

 

We have received a great deal of conflicting advice from the Club’s Licensing Authority, legal advisors and the Police on the question of whether door supervisors need to be SIA registered. We have ordered and received your Club Law & Management book and have noted the reference that SIA registration is not a legal requirement. Could you please confirm the authority on which this advice is given?

Please see the following extract taken from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s website. The DCMS is the government department responsible for all licensing issues.

You may be interested to know that my publication, Guidance for Registered Private Members’ Clubs on the Licensing Act 2003, published in January 2005, was used extensively by local authorities and the DCMS. Much of the language, therefore, will appear familiar.

“Do door supervisors have to be licensed by the Security lndustry Authority?

No. If a qualifying club under the authorisation of a club premises certificate decides to have door supervisors for a particular event there is no mandatory condition in the Licensing Act 2003 that states they will have to be licensed by the Security lndustry Authority."

 

We have had considerable problems with our elecricity bills dating back several years to when Powergen (now E.ON) took over from Economy Power who were our suppliers. Powergen switched us to their billing system and since then we have had a succession of incorrect bills and we feel sure that we have overpaid several thousand pounds. Our complaints are met with politeness and the writing-back of the offending bill, but unfortunately that is then replaced with another which is just as bad, or worse.

I’m still hoping that E.ON will sort this out, but I’m not very optimistic so I’m looking at the possibility of a formal complaint to the Energy Ombudsman. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions I’d be grateful.

The problem which you have aised is not uncommon. Sadly, I have no magic wand solution but I would advise you to contact Energy Helpline who advertise in our magazine. They have helped a ntunber of clubs. Their telephone number is 0800 970 2626. Be armed with your account number and other documents. They will try their best to assist you.

 

Could you please let me know whether it is legal for ingo to be played in the Club and what rules apply to our type of club. We have several members who play bingo in a local Bingo Hall and others who play bingo online. I am receiving a great deal of conflicting opinion.

Under the Gambling Act 2005, clubs do not require a licence to hold bingo as an activity. Bingo continues to be a popular game and online bingo has certainly had a major effect on those companies which manage licensed bingo clubs. Please see below an extract from my Club Law & Management book which I trust will be of assistance.