Before voting, please read what we have to say in this letter and in the accompanying pages.
Like you, we are very busy Chartered Accountants and really have much better things to do with our time than requisition a special meeting of the whole membership. We write to explain this drastic action.
This communication may come as a surprise to you. Following a decision by the council of our institute last October, at great speed, fundamental changes are being made to the institute’s structure throughout the country. The result will be that all power and control over local independent district societies will vest with the executive of our institute. These changes have not been communicated to the membership for approval.
We are neither renegades nor troublemakers. We are individuals who believe passionately in the district society movement. We believe that the future of the district societies is too important a subject to be dealt with in any fashion other than by full and proper consultation with all the members and our efforts to persuade our institute to consult further have been to no avail. We believe that the Local Infrastructure Plan currently being implemented ultimately will result in the demise of the district societies as an effective movement.
The key features of the Local Infrastructure Plan (“Getting Closer to Members”)are:-
- Create ten regions over the district societies;
- Close practically all district societies’ offices;
- Reduce number of local staff;
- Most local staff to be home based/peripatetic;
- Produce a uniform newsletter;
- “User pays” for all events and meetings;
- Many meetings to be held in larger firms’ offices or Regus Business Centres
How does any of the above facilitate the institute getting closer to members?
We believe it will have precisely the opposite effect.
Why have district societies?
Our firm belief is that the district societies exist to interface between the institute and its members by providing local centres and local focuses for our members. They provide valuable communication in both directions. District societies are also partnerships between paid employees and volunteers to provide services and support to members -support that members demand. Furthermore, they can act as a check on our institute by ensuring wider debate and a sounding board when issues arise.
Are we against change?
We are not against change where change will improve what we currently have. We are not opposed to, and indeed welcome, the idea of a unified approach to many aspects of district societies’ work.
We do not believe for one moment that everything about the district societies is perfect. Nor do we believe that any one society has it totally right or, indeed, totally wrong. With a regional structure working alongside the present structure, networking of district societies can be encouraged, best practice can be shared and the district society movement can grow stronger and take its rightful place in the twenty-first century.
We see the role of the regional structure as being to promote the brand of “Chartered Accountant” and the qualification and to interface with regional agencies and government. However, we do understand that the importance of RDAs for the future is under review.
We do not see the regional structure either controlling or coordinating the work of the district societies. Coordination should be a function of the centre. Control is best achieved locally by local people responding to local members’ needs.
Regus Business Centres
Some district societies work from their own offices, others from a member’s office whilst others function with home-based staff. Some societies use their premises extensively for member and student meetings over the whole spectrum of specialisms that members have and need in their working lives. The proposed structure of linking many of the district societies to Regus Business Centres may rip the very heart and soul from these societies and further diminish our band of volunteers. It will remove any incentive or opportunity other societies may have to acquire their own premises as a focus for their activities.
You will hear much about costs in this debate. We are acutely conscious of the costs of a special meeting compared with taking our resolutions to the annual meeting. We have not spent your money lightly. If the resources made available for this restructuring by our institute had been made available to district societies, together with a cohesive programme of trouble shooting, mentoring and sharing best practice, you would not be considering this special meeting vote now.
What will we do if we win?
We seek to retain the existing system with some important improvements: –
- The new regions, now set up, to remain, for as long as necessary and practicable, to deliver their key objectives as identified above;
- Each district society to decide if it needs premises and whether an office based, member based or home working approach for staff is best appropriate for its needs;
- Local staff to be employed by the centre but to be responsible and report exclusively to the district society;
- A trouble shooting/mentoring service, where needed, to maintain/improve local service delivery by district societies to be provided by the institute;
- A system to share and review best practice on how to organise particular successful events is required. This should include instructions on planning, costing and implementation. We seem to reinvent the wheel every time a particular district society holds a successful event.
We are conscious that our institute has entered into contracts relating to some aspects of the regionalisation plans. We are not aware of the full extent of these contracts. In order to minimise costs, it may be necessary that some will have to remain in place and continue for a period until they can be terminated or varied. Until that time, members may have to suffer a poorer service than we all would wish.
Your views are essential. We would be grateful to hear from you as to what you really want from your local district society.
What should you do now?
We would ask you to consider carefully the submissions made by us in the attached documentation and our resolutions. We would ask you then to cast your vote to support (FOR) our proposals. Please bear in mind that all proxies given to the President will be cast against us. Do not waste your vote – use it and support us. Please vote FOR the resolution. Thank you.
Don Heady Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Noel Kelleway Email: email@example.com
46a Crossways, Shenfield, Brentwood, Essex, CM15 8QY
please vote FOR the resolution
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