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Club Law and Management

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

Q. At our Club's recent Anual General Meeting, some members asked why the item 'Any Other Business' was not on the agenda. Unfortunately, whilst I have never included this item, I was unable to give a reason which they found acceptable. What is your view?

A. The item ‘Any Other Business’ is totally out of place on the agenda of a General Meeting for the simple reason that it gives no information or notification to members of matters which may be brought up and dealt with. The sole purpose of an agenda is to inform members of what is to be discussed, thereby giving an opportunity to decide on whether to attend the meeting. ‘Any Other Business’ would permit any matter to be raised and voted on without proper notification. I often advise Clubs to conduct an ‘open forum’ after the meeting has closed since this provides an opportunity for members to raise matters with the committee, without the outcome of such discussion being binding upon the Club. Should any member have any particular matter of concern then he or she should raise it with the Secretary for inclusion on the agenda as a specific item in accordance with the procedure set out in the Club’s Rules.

 

Q. My Committee have been informed that if you put our Club's name into Google, the Club comes up as a party venue by several different websites. There are at least a page of websites promoting the Club that I have no knowledge of and they are promoting us as a Private Members' Club party venue. Is it usual for Conservative Clubs to be classed in this way?

A. I am aware of these types of websites and they will apply to almost any Club which you type into Google. Indeed, they apply to almost every shop, pub, restaurant, hotel etc. They are effectively local directories which make their money through advertising when they can ever get advertising placed. Most establishments, of course, would never have anything to do with this type of operation. Since the Club is listed as a Private Members Club and has function space available, these companies will display in their local directory that you, together with a number of other Clubs and establishments will have the ability to host a private party or event. Personally, I would prefer this type of blanket advertising not to happen without the specific consent of each establishment being obtained. Sadly, however, this is almost impossible to enforce. Therefore whilst I understand your annoyance and concern, I do not think you will ever be able to achieve a complete removal of the Club from this type of online directory. Since, ultimately, the Club is a private establishment and can choose who comes in and who does not, I would suggest that you do not spend too much time pursuing this as it is fairly easy for you to turn down any request for room hire etc if you have any concerns regarding the person making the request.

 
 
 

Q. We have a Member who has been proposed and seconded for election to the Committee but due to a previously booked holiday he will not be able to attend the Annual General Meeting. Will this prevent him from being elected onto the Committee?

A. A Member needs only to be proposed and seconded in order to be placed on the ballot for election to the Committee. Technically, once proposed and seconded a Member does not need to be present at any point during the Annual General Meeting, or the period leading up to the AGM, in order to be properly elected.

 

Q. We are still pursuing a claim for interest on the Club's Linneweber 1 repayment although we are not sure HMRC office is now dealing with this matter. We have received correspondence from several different HMRC offices. Do you know which HMRC office is best placed to deal with correspondence of this nature?

A. You have highlighted a very interesting point. I would suggest that your letter requesting payment of “official interest” is sent to your local HMRC ‘VAT Error Correction Team’. You should have already received correspondence from this team in relation to the confirmation of the Linneweber 1 repayment. There is no doubt that your claim has been travelling around the HMRC system. The official interest calculation should work out in the region of 36% of the refund which you have received and is therefore, as I have previously advised, worth claiming.

 
 
 
 

Q. We have IA Ticket Holders who are Members of a nearby Conservative Club increasingly frequenting our Club. This is not a problem but we are concerned that as the other Club's Membership Subsciption is cheaper than our own that we may lose Members to that Club even though they will continue to use our Club via an IA Ticket. Is it possible to restrict the amount of visits an IA Ticket Holder can make to a specific Club?

A. Whilst the majority of Clubs permit unlimited free access for visiting IA Ticket Holders, it is permissible within the Rules of the IA Ticket Scheme for Clubs to impose specific restrictions on either individuals or general restrictions on the number of visits an IA Ticket Holder can make to the Club.

It is also explicitly stated in the Rules of the IA Ticket Scheme that Clubs can refuse entry to any IA Ticket Holder who lives within a ten mile radius of the Club. In any areas which have a high number of Conservative Clubs such a Rule may be used to prevent Members in the area from all joining the Club with the lowest Membership Fees and then obtaining an IA Ticket to frequently visit another Club in the area which has higher Membership fees. However, I have always advised Clubs not to use this provision unless it is absolutely necessary since the problem of an IA Ticket being over used is normally in connection with either an individual or a small number of visitors. To apply a restriction to Members of all local Clubs is, in my view, usually a step too far. The Rules can be used to restrict the number of times the Members who are perhaps over using the scheme can be introduced thereby providing flexibility for other Members of local Clubs to enjoy the facility which the IA Ticket Scheme provides.