The British Rowing Council met on Saturday 22 February at Hammersmith HQ to discuss various issues including the 2014/15 budget, membership fees, funding and the Competition Review.
British Rowing Chairman Annamarie Phelps welcomed the Regional representatives and Executive Board members to the meeting, including new Council members Laura Lion for Thames and Andrew Blit for the Eastern Region. She introduced Neil Chugani, whose appointment as interim CEO was ratified by Council, following Kate Burt’s resignation as CEO in January.
Annamarie expressed gratitude for the hard work that Kate had done in developing the 2020 Vision for the sport and thanked everyone for their support in keeping the ship stable during the change in personnel.
Opening the financial report, Honorary Treasurer Oliver Kimberley said that it was the first time that membership fees had been set in conjunction with the budget.
At November’s Council meeting, Oliver had signposted the need to raise membership fees in order to finance the core business, stressing that it would take a significant cost-cutting exercise and an increase in fees to balance the books.
Oliver said, “We have looked long and hard at what could be done to reduce costs without reducing our service to the members.”
Approving the 2014/15 budget, members also agreed to an increase in membership fees which are detailed here.
Emphasising that the new fees still represent good value, Oliver added, “I hope that all of you will take the message out to the country and to see what you can do to keep the membership numbers up.”
National Manager Rosemary Napp updated members on the Whole Sport Plan and funding for the national sport.
“Sport England are extremely keen to support sports where they see the potential for substantial increases in participation so we are looking to see where we can have an influence on increasing our numbers – and indoor rowing is a key market. We are now making excellent progress in developing business and implementation plans for the project.”
Rosemary said, “We will be presenting plans to Sport England in March and funding implications will be known after then.”
With the recent bad weather in mind, she added, “Adverse weather is becoming the norm rather than the exception and rowing has to be viewed as a more seasonal sport. We have to make sure that clubs are used more in the summer when people can get out onto the water.
“With substantial investment in buildings in recent years, we have to make them work. How can clubs make the most of their facilities, aiming for 7/12 usage to drive up participation and create a viable economic future, in terms of membership and revenue?”
Matt Stallard, Chairman of the Sport Committee, reported on matters relating to the development of rowing with Andy Crawford, the Committee’s Deputy Chairman, updating Council on the ongoing Competition Review.
Andy reported, “Five workshops have been held across the country with attendance ranging from about 15 to about 50 in Worcester. It’s clear that each area has different regional priorities.
“There is a real recognition that the current points system isn’t working and that people are dropping out of traditional competition.”
Keen that everybody should have a chance to provide feedback into the review, Andy urged regional chairman to encourage input before the next Council meeting in June.
Other areas of discussion included the Rules of British Rowing, testing of umpires, club membership registrations and appointments.
Council approved the appointment of CEO Neil Chugani as a director while he is an interim CEO. Mike Williams was also elected chairman of the Finance Committee.
The appointment of an Honorary Rowing Safety Advisor was postponed until the next Council meeting.
Finally, the British Rowing policy on supplements was amended to include a paragraph stating that junior rowers should not be using any supplement without medical advice.
The next Council meeting is at British Rowing headquarters on 18 June.