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Confusion reigns at Blackpool AGM

Blackpool Championship Show and its committee are once again at the centre of controversy following a series of bizarre events last Friday when it appeared to hold not one, but two AGM’s after the first was opened and closed by Chairman Hilda Parkinson as being ‘unconstitutional’.

In an additional twist, well known Gundog judge Mrs Parkinson was voted off the committee soon after during a second meeting opened by Vice Chairman Peter Bailey.

The day had started unusually with a committee meeting at 9am prior to the AGM at 10.30am. During that meeting, the Secretary Mr Steve Hall distributed a brand new agenda for the AGM, which was to replace the one issued by post to all members in the normal way, in line with the Constitution and custom and practice. One significant change was to move the approval of the new President from the latter half of the Agenda, to the very top, thus effectively preventing the Chairman, Mrs Parkinson from chairing the meeting.

Mrs Parkinson is thought to have been in possession of a number of alleged complaints from various sources about the running of the show and conduct of some of the committee.

In addition, OUR DOGS understands that the names of four people who had been nominated for the committee did not appear on the second agenda…. Mrs Jill Peak, William Parkinson, 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 it the secretary was not in possession of their written permission for their names to go forward. One observer remarked that ‘to their knowledge, that ‘rule’ had never been enforced in all previous AGMs and to start that now was very suspicious’…adding ‘why did the Secretary not let these people know prior to the meeting?’

Consequently, when people arrived for the AGM, they were presented with a completely different agenda bearing key changes. Mrs Parkinson then opened the meeting but closed it immediately as 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.

At that point a number of people voiced opinions, including ex Chairman Mr Mark Hamer. Following comments from the floor and by the representative from the Auditors (Robin Oatridge, of Preston) a vote was taken to see if they could hold another ‘AGM’. The depleted room voted to continue, and Mr Peter Bailey took the Chair, to be then replaced immediately by the incoming President Mrs Mavis Wright.

Mr Bailey then read last year’s minutes and the report of the committee as if it was a normal AGM although some of the remaining members appeared a little bemused at the goings on.

The meeting then approved the minutes, the committee report, and the accounts (which apparently showed a profit in excess of £30,000 for the year) and then contrary to normal practice at this club individually voted in Mrs Pat Hall, the wife of the Secretary, John Young, Mrs Peggy Bailey and Carol Harwood, but controversially rejected Mrs Parkinson. One member later told OUR DOGS, ‘It was like Casey's court if you ask me, no one appeared to know what was going on and those that did kept shtum!’

The validity of any of these actions are bound to be brought into question by the Kennel Club who are unlikely to be sympathetic to Blackpool so soon after the last set of arguments and internal wrangling.

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 to be monitored by the Kennel Club.

Mr Bennett was subsequently invited to become President at the AGM in 2004 but resigned just two weeks later, leaving the Society without a President for a complete year, apparently in contradiction of many of its own rules. During this year’s controversial ‘AGM’ the Society appointed Mrs Mavis Wright as President, just one year to the day after she had made an emotional speech prior to resigning her own position on the committee at last year’s AGM. (Nov 2004)

Many members have expressed surprise that Mrs Wright has accepted this invitation following her comments about the acrimonious events leading up to her resignation, and wonder what has brought about this apparent change of heart.

OUR DOGS understands that a number of committee members had also resigned during the year leaving the committee very short on properly elected committee members; consequently several people were co-opted to make up the numbers. All of these were due to stand down at the AGM; it is thought that even the Treasurer Mr Mike Hardman, from Preston, is a co opted member, although he was present at both ‘AGM’s’.

Some disgruntled members of the society have questioned the length of time that some of these people have been members of the Society as the rules state, “No individual who has been a member for less than 3 years may be elected onto the committee at the AGM”. It has been suggested that these co-options have sidestepped that rule.

A number of members also said privately that they have requested a complete list of members from the secretary, Steve Hall, as per the rules, but these have not been supplied.

One observer commented, ‘the whole thing reads like a plot from a soap opera, you really couldn’t write the script. Nobody seems to be thinking about the good of dogs or the Society in any of this.’

OUR DOGS has received a number of calls from upset society members who have labelled the whole proceedings as ‘deplorable’.

OUR DOGS contacted the Kennel Club who said it was too early for them to comment at this stage.