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KC keeps Blackpool under microscope

As widely predicted in these pages and in the world of dogs at large, the antics of some of the officers at the Blackpool championship show AGM in early November have come to the attention of the Kennel Club General Committee.

Members of the KC committee, many of whom are club officers themselves, were apprised of the situation at last week’s meeting and as a result they have issued a firm warning as to the way in which the show conducts its business in the future. It also calls for membership details and other information relevant to the co-option of new committee members.

The KC press release issued last Monday said:

At its recent meeting the General Committee discussed the status of Blackpool and District Canine Society. The following directives were issued:

a. That the Society secretary is required to submit committee meeting minutes until further notice.

b. That the Society secretary is required to submit a list of the show management personnel, highlighting any changes since 2001.

c. That the Society secretary is required to submit a list of committee members with details as to their date of election to membership and to the committee and the date on which their term of office expires. The list should also detail co-opted members, with dates of co-option and dates of admission to membership.

d. That the Society committee is required to examine its membership process and submit proposals to ensure that new and existing members are made fully aware of the process for applications, subscription payments, renewal deadline dates and methods of payment available. Such proposals to be submitted to the Kennel Club by 1 February 2006 for approval, and appropriate amendments to the constitution of the society to be presented to the next AGM.

e. That the Society committee should consider applications to rejoin the society by lapsed members in a positive light.

f. That the outcome of the AGM is accepted, although the Kennel Club did not advise the amending of the agenda as regards the election of the President, or to include additional agenda items, but only to clarify the committee election.

g. That the Society committee is requested to present written confirmation that these directives have been fully complied with.

h. That the Society is informed of the General Committee’s great concern that the Society has again put itself in a precarious position as a result of internal disagreements due to unclear administrative procedures and a poorly worded constitution. The proper democratic management of registered societies is fundamental to the successful organisation of the world of dogs and particularly the organisation of dog shows. For one of the Kennel Club’s senior societies allocated Championship status to be the subject of controversial constitutional issues again within a short period of time is unacceptable. In view of this there will be a further review of the Society’s status in February 2006.

i. That a press release detailing the above is issued.

j. That a Field Officer attends the 2006 Championship show.

Blackpool championship show and its committee was once again at the centre of controversy following a series of bizarre events last month when it appeared to hold not one, but two AGM’s.

Additionally chairman Mrs Hilda Parkinson was voted off the committee soon after at the second meeting, chaired by new President Mavis Wright. The second meeting then approved the minutes, the committee report, and the accounts. The new Chairman Mrs Stephanie Bentham was voted in at a later committee meeting.

OUR DOGS also reported that the names of four people who had been nominated for the committee did not appear on the second agenda those of Mrs Jill Peak, William Parkinson, Mrs Florence Bennett and Catherine Hoyle.

Despite the fact that these nominations had all been received within the correct time period, the secretary and committee disallowed these as if the secretary was not in possession of their written permission for their names to go forward, despite that being completely against normal custom and practice of previous Blackpool AGMs.

It would appear that through Item f of the Kennel Club edict, all the ‘elections’ which took place after many members walked out have now been allowed to stand.

When people arrived for the AGM, they were presented with a completely different agenda bearing key changes. Mrs Parkinson therefore opened the meeting but closed it immediately saying it was ‘unconstitutional to carry on’, apologising to people who had travelled to the hotel in Bamber Bridge. Mrs Parkinson then left the room along with many other members who agreed with her that any other meeting would be null and void. Apparently not, according to the Kennel Club’s press release.

Many members will be amazed that such activities have now been apparently condoned by the KC, which apparently puts great store in ‘custom and practice’, and throws into question any future disputes at AGM’s when agendas are changed at the last minute. Item F of the release appears to show a ‘washing of hands’ by the KC when it states that it didn’t advise the amending of the agenda, showing a side step neat enough to be applauded on Come Dancing, but only to clarify the committee election.

One Blackpool member, who did not want to be named, said, ‘ it would appear that the new committee has got everything it wanted, just for the price of a bit of paperwork. I cannot believe that they didn’t order a fresh AGM with an independent Chairman’.

OUR DOGS also contacted the now ex Chairman of Blackpool, Mrs Hilda Parkinson, who had been contacted by many people that had been unhappy at their treatment at the hands of Blackpool.

She said, ‘I have always done my best for Blackpool and it’s a great shame that things have come to this. I would like to thank the many members who have offered their support and also to the people who did contact me prior to the AGM.’

Sensationally Mrs Parkinson also revealed that on her return from overseas on Monday that she had received a solicitor’s letter from Dent, Raven and Marsden of Leyland in Preston, the new solicitors acting for Blackpool. The letter requests copies of letters of complaint from Trade Stand holders to be sent to them or to the Secretary Mr Steve Hall.

Mrs Parkinson said, ‘These letters were sent to me in confidence as many of the people concerned had already made feelings known at the show over the last few years and have got nowhere. They fear retribution and I don’t blame them. All the letters have been sent to the Kennel Club’.

The letter from the solicitors was signed by Mr Christopher Raven who is believed to be the son of the former Chairman of Blackpool Dr Ben Raven. The new Chairman of the Society is now Mrs Stephanie Bentham, the daughter of Dr Ben Raven.

OUR DOGS tried to contact the Society for its comments but at the time of going to press, there had been no response.

The society appears again to have got itself embroiled in controversy, reminiscent of the situation some years ago when the Kennel Club came very close to removing its championship status.
Then, five members of the committee resigned and the then Chairman Mr Mark Hamer, launched an unsuccessful legal claim against the then secretary Mr Jack Bennett. The society at that time had to attend a meeting at Clarges Street to explain its position and submit to a five-year plan, which was monitored by the Kennel Club.

OUR DOGS understood and reported that a number of committee members had also resigned during the year (2004/5) leaving the committee very short on properly elected committee members; consequently several people were co-opted to make up the numbers and had voting rights on the committee. All of these were due to stand down at the AGM.

Members of the society also questioned the length of time that some of these people had been members of the society as the one of their rules states, “No individual who has been a member for less than 3 years may be elected onto the committee at the AGM”. The co-options seemed to have ignored that rule.

In the meantime the society status will be reviewed in February 2006, less than one month before it normally issues its mid-summer show schedules.

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