Message to South East Members of the CTC

Posted on April 14th, 2010

The message below and attached is to all CTC members in the South East of England, sent by CTC National Office on behalf of John Meudell, one of the Council members representing South East England.  The letter represents the personal views of this member of Council and members should be aware is contrary to the resolution approved by Council as a whole.

CTC Charitable Status – The Case Against

 

You will now have read, in the latest edition of Cycle, the proposals to turn CTC into a charity.  The CTC case for unification centres on a number of internal and external reports which, far from building an overwhelming case for unifying CTC into a single charitable organization, avoid addressing key implications of such a change in status.

Within a charity trustees are obliged to act in the best interests of its charitable aims and, as a consequence, the interests of its members become secondary.  Furthermore tax rules limit the value of benefits, both direct (services) and indirect (discounts etc.) that a charity can provide to members.  The recent report on tax implications, by Sayer Vincent, provided additional insight and, unless CTC can negotiate successfully on many of the membership benefits, or they can be kept within the value limit imposed by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), it is likely members will lose some benefits.  In reality, therefore, it is the HMRC (along with the Charities Commission and future government policy) that will determine benefits, not CTC members.

That said, aside from taxation, there are two principal issues; one the desire of CTC to not only undertake charitable projects but to do so from within a monolithic charitable trust, the other the continued lack of improvement in core functions and services to members and volunteers in recent years.

Despite the best efforts of councillors a catalogue of problems persist in the membership system, along with slow progress on improvements both to support for local campaigners and in addressing the alienation of a significant proportion of local group members through CTC’s handling of the revised policies for local groups.  These problems are consistent with loss of customer focus in an organization trying to expand to cope with a trebling of funding to cater for projects significantly larger than any it has handled before.

Couple those issues with potential conflicts between representational and charitable activities and many of the perceived broader benefits of a unified charity also disappear.  The conflicts; financial, organizational or motivational; are just too great.

CTC is a complex organization, in my view unnecessarily so, and combining charitable and club functions into a single charity is not the answer.  The breadth of CTC’s activities means it is simply not possible to manage either or both effectively under the current proposals.

Splitting the current, highly unsatisfactory, semi-unified arrangement into two more clearly focussed, funded and separately regulated organizations, one a club and the other a charity, each distinct and separately controlled (albeit still linked) will support and protect everyone’s interest, and do so in a much more transparent, effective and efficient manner.

 

Current and future issues can then be more easily, more effectively and more quickly addressed and resolved.   And CTC National Council, management and staff will no longer have their freedom of action limited by considerations elsewhere in a large monolithic organization or through having to negotiate with government regulators.

Hence I would urge you to vote against the proposals to convert CTC into a charity and merge with the Charitable Trust.  Vote “No” to motions 8, 9 and 10.

John Meudell, CTC Councillor for the South East, April 2010

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