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ECF AGM 2021: Report from Silver Members representative John Reyes

Posted by ian on September 30, 2021 at 11:00 AM

ECF AGM 2021: Report from Silver Members representative John Reyes

 

I have had the honour to be your ECF silver members’ rep for 5 years now. The role of direct members’ reps in my view is to represent their members (that means you!) in Council and hold the Board to account, not to nominate or campaign for their own friends. Clearly, some other recently elected direct members' reps have a different view. In these circumstances, I feel it's necessary for me to send my own message to you.

 

As your representative, I want to hear your views as to how to cast your votes, so please let me know your thoughts. You'll see that Tim and I have very different views, which is why (unusually) we're writing separately to you, but please reply to both of us together, we don't need separate replies, we both want to hear your views.

 

At the AGM on 16 October there will be two contested elections for Chief Executive and Chair of Governance, between the incumbents (Mike Truran and Robert Stern) and challengers (Malcolm Pein and Chris Fegan). Malcolm Pein has also tabled three motions about use of money which is now in the BCF Permanent Invested Fund (“PIF”) and in a BCF subsidiary, the Chess Centre Ltd. As your representative, I want to hear your views as to how to cast your votes, so please let me know your thoughts.

 

I think the ECF led by Mike Truran have done a great job over the last few years to improve things for English chess, and have successfully got us through the Covid crisis under impossible circumstances. I am happy to further support those who steered us through this time and so I would suggest the incumbent CEO and Governance Chairman should be re-elected. But it is down to you on how you tell me to vote.

 

I am surprised that Robert Stern, with his governance experience, is even facing a challenge. Reading the report of the NEDs and Governance Committee alongside Chris Fegan's election address, I get the impression that the NEDs have criticised Chris Fegan's behaviour, and he has responded by attacking all six of the NEDs and Governance Committee. Everything I have seen reinforces my support for Robert Stern.

 

Malcolm Pein's address says that the ECF needs a change of direction from the strategy currently agreed by Council. If I understand right, he wants the ECF to do more itself, using funds which are now in the PIF and Chess Centre. He wants to stop any of this money going across to the Chess Trust.

 

Malcolm's only firm proposal is for regional development officers, paid by the ECF to somehow assist clubs and leagues. Myself I don't see that is needed. It's the people who run the clubs and leagues who do the work, and they can talk to each other for free to share ideas (that’s what we do in Manchester anyway).

 

On where the money is held, I like the Chess Trust. It's an independent charity, not controlled by anyone on the ECF, with the CEO and Finance Director of the ECF (whoever they are) just two of many trustees. As a charity it gets tax advantages. As an independent body, it only pays out money if it's given good reasons. So, there are safeguards against unwise spending.

 

Council has been told before about problems in tax and trust law from moving funds from the PIF and Chess Centre directly to the ECF. I don't believe that these problems have magically disappeared, but it seems we may have to wait until the AGM to really get the facts. As things stand, I'm all for tidying up the PIF and Chess Centre, but only if it doesn't involve a big tax bill and if the money goes across to the Chess Trust, as the BCF Council has already agreed.

 

Please let me know your views on all these issues. You can be sure I will listen to them. You can read the AGM papers at https://www.englishchess.org.uk/about/ecf-council-and-board/

 

John Reyes, Silver Members’ Rep, 29 September 2021

 

 

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