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Scottish Kennel Club is rocked by resignations

May 2000 - four conveners 1972 - 2000, l to r, Mr J B (Iain) Butchart,
Mr Peter Mann, Dr Arthur Sneeden and Mr Robert Crawford

THE SCOTTISH Kennel Club has suffered a double blow with the resignation of its Secretary General Mr Allan Sim and his wife, Anna Fox who supervises the the running of the Edinburgh office on a day to day basis.

Mr Sim, a managing partner of johnston Smillie the Edinburgh based accountants, has been with the Scottish Kennel Club for 26 years and Anna Fox has 23 years experience of canine matters north of the Border.

Allan Sim, Secretary General ‘resigned’, but no comment

OUR DOGS understands that Mr Sim’s resignation followed that of Anna Fox who was surprised and upset to receive an e-mail at the SKC office from a group of Executive Council members questioning the attitude and unhelpful approach of staff in the SKC office.

Mr Sim’s letter of resignation was sent last week following a meeting of the Executive in Edinburgh on Saturday November 8th, a date set by the Convener and the same day as the Gundog Breeds Association of Scotland championship show which effectively prevented several members from attending.

Back in June 1977 Mr Sim was elected as his company’s representative and as secretary general and treasurer of the SKC, succeeding Mr WNKM (Bill) Crawford (no relation to Robert Crawford) who had been in the post since 1946. The club deemed it appropriate that a professional accountant looks after the club’s affairs many years ago and history records that the SKC has had only 13 secretaries in just over 122 years.

Mr Crawford, who became convener in April 2000 after the retirement of Dr Arthur Sneeden, is a former senior executive with the Royal Bank of Scotland and has been keen to stamp his style on all matters related to the SKC.

In April of this year in a press release issued after the club’s AGM he spoke of the need to modernise and look closely at the club’s income. Mr Crawford said, ‘The club is undoubtedly on a sound financial footing and our Balance Sheet shows a strong position. However, the Net Current position is less healthy. Whilst it has shown improvement from the prior year (2001), this is mainly as a result of realising some of our investments. Whilst not at all critical at present, this is a situation to which we will need to pay careful attention.

Robert Crawford, set to chair ‘crisis’ meeting

‘The Budget for this current year is no less challenging and I have asked for an interim review to take place before the half-year. The questions we must ask ourselves are:- are we making the most of our current income streams? are there new income streams that we should be exploring? are we receiving proper recompense for the work we carry out on behalf of The Kennel Club? are there any costs that we could take out?’

He balanced this by paying tribute to the successful shows and events held throughout the year 2002. OUR DOGS also understands that much of what was said was in concomitant with Mr Sim’s views, particularly with the need to adapt, modernise and relieve the sport of over-regulation.

Speaking of the future Mr Crawford commented:- ‘Clearly, there is a need to promote canine activities in order to retain our existing customers and attract new
ones. The Kennel Club has taken some much needed steps towards this and no doubt more initiatives will be forthcoming.

‘My own view is that a more fundamental review of the show scene is necessary to ensure its survival and its development. Nowadays, there are a multitude of activities competing for our attention. Activities that are simple to take part in and just as enjoyable as showing dogs. So, our competition is not amongst our own clubs and societies but is with those other activities.

‘I believe that we need to move from being a rule-bound, regulation-driven activity where people can be fined for inadvertently falling foul of an administrative requirement to being truly customer-focused.

‘So, whilst ensuring that we adhere to and apply current Rules and Policies, Scottish Kennel Club will also lobby to achieve change, where it is appropriate. There should be debate on such issues as benching at shows, fines for late licence applications, fines for administrative errors etc. We should be concentrating on how to make dog shows a fun place to be and come back to.’

It is thought that some of these comments were viewed seriously in Clarges Street and that these lead to an uncomfortable meeting with The Kennel Club chairman Mr Ronnie Irving and Chief Executive Mrs rosemary Smart.

The surprise move comes only a short time after the opening of the new SKC offices in Eskmills Park, Musselburgh east of Edinburgh after they sought temporary accommodation there. Over Christmas and the New Year holiday in 1999 the city centre based office in Brunswick Road, a former bank building, suffered serious and extensive flooding after the flat above had a pipe burst. The office was purchased by the club in 1988 and had been its administrative base for 12 years.

In March 2002 members were asked to vote on an amendment to the club’s constitution which allowed the executive to spend over £237,000 on the Eskmills Park premises.

The May 2002 show was the first ever general championship show to accept entries on-line and this led the way for many others - including Crufts - to take advantage of the new system.

The loss of a secretary General at this time and also several members of the office staff in Edinburgh comes at time when the club was hoping to move forward into this century and maintain its relative independence from Clarges Street.

It also robs the SKC of a hard working member of its show team who was responsible for liaising with the Royal Highland Showground authorities and then being involved in the show planning from year to year.

Mr Sim also advised the Executive Council on financial matters and was involved in the implementation of complex Health and Safety Regulations which shows now have to acknowledge as part of their duty of care to exhibitors and third party insurance liabilities.

A member of the Kennel Club since 1979 Mr Sim is Vice Chairman of the KC Show Executive, representing the KCLC Shows Council and has just been re-elected to the Council for a further three year term.'.

Speaking to OUR DOGS last Monday Mr Sim said, ‘I am not in a position to comment at this time’. OUR DOGS understands that a meeting of the SKC Executive Council is to be held next Wednesday November 26th

Mr Robert Crawford, SKC Convener, commented 'At the AGM in March this year I asked for an interim report on the club's finances and operating costs which has been taking over the last few months. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment. I also cannot comment on rumours, matters concerning staff or staff confidentiality'