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Scottish Kennel Club President resigns his post


Iain Butchart (far left) - resigned

 

Another stormy Executive Council meeting on Wednesday December 17th resulted in a call from 80 SKC members for a Special General Meeting and the following day the resignation of its President and former Convener Mr Iain Butchart.

The press release issued by the SKC after the meeting was positive and upbeat and this was published in OUR DOGS of December 26th. but, said a member, it hid the acrimony and division that still exists in the 30 strong Executive Council.

It took the meeting an hour and forty minutes to agree the minutes of the previous meeting, a meeting to which the Secretary General was not invited. And OUR DOGS understands that Anna Fox who was taking the minutes of the meeting had to leave as she was unable to withstand the strain following the events of the last few months. She was unable to return to the office for the final week of her employment and was under doctor’s orders to remain at home.

OUR DOGS was unable to contact Mr Butchart last week to get a statement, largely because of the early deadlines imposed by its New Year issue.

So concerned was one member of the Council at the way matters had been handled that a vote of no confidence in the chairman Robert Crawford and vice chairman Mrs Eleanor Bothwell was proposed but the Chairman refused to accept it for discussion or vote as it was not part of the agenda.

Although the day to day matters were said to be being handled by members of the Council OUR DOGS has learned that the Special General Meeting notices to members were being prepared and dispatched by a fulfilment agency in Edinburgh. The meeting will take place at Ingram’s Hotel, Glasgow on Friday January 9th at 7.15pm.

Concern

But the greatest concern was said to be reserved for the absence of any apology to the staff at the SKC office for the way in which they had been treated despite this having been agreed at the late November meeting of the council.

In the space of three months the club has lost its Secretary General and four members of staff - one who has emigrated, three who have resigned, the last of which had been with the club for about 14 months.

The Scottish Kennel Club suffered a double blow with the resignation of its Secretary General Mr Allan Sim and his wife, Anna Fox who supervised the running of the office on a day to day basis. Mr Sim, a managing partner of Edinburgh based accountants johnston Smillie, had been with the Scottish Kennel Club for 26 years and Anna Fox has 23 years’ experience of canine matters north of the Border.

Mr Sim’s resignation followed that of Anna Fox who was surprised and upset to receive an e-mail last September 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 mid November 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.

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 122 years.

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

Secretary General Mr Allan Sim, who left the post last week, was involved in proposals on the future of the club. It is thought that some of these comments and suggestions were viewed seriously in Clarges Street and that these led to an uncomfortable meeting with The Kennel Club chairman Mr Ronnie Irving and Chief Executive Mrs rosemary Smart earlier this year.

The surprise move came 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. 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.

Staff matters

At the meeting of the council in Musselburgh on November 26th the question of ‘staff matters’ exercised the members present for some time with heated discussion at the way the whole matter had been handled or mishandled.

‘Only after a close vote on the principle of whether to move on to the rest of the agenda was any progress made’, said one council member.

But it was suggested that a last attempt was made to ask Allan Sim and Anna Fox to stay on to ensure a smooth transition into the New Year. That meeting took place last Friday between convener Robert Crawford and the then President Mr Iain Butchart but to no avail.

The SKC then advertised for an ‘Office Manager/Secretary’ at a salary of £16,000 to £20,000. The advertisement made no mention of involvement in the running of the SKC’s two championship shows. The same advert also sought ‘Customer Advisors’ at salaries of £12,000 to £16,000.

But these, too, were said to be unconstitutional as each advert suggested that the applicants would be responsible to the Convener and not the Secretary General as indicated in the club’s constitution.

To complicate matters further the threat of the closure of the SKC’s venue Ingliston venue, covered elsewhere in this issue, was announced last week.