11 September 2008

Apathy at the KBSA

Two months ago, the outgoing management of the KBSA was put in the embarrassing position of holding an Annual General Meeting that could not approve new officers or vote on new membership fees because it was one short of a quorum.

Antiquated Terms and Conditions was blamed for this failure, but in truth it was because only 24 voting members could be bothered to turn up to vote for their Association’s AGM. Following this, the KBSA went all out to get members to turn up for a General Meeting on 9 September.

Nothing was left to chance. New officers to replace the hard-working partnership of Nicholas Anthony and Barbara Leech were voted in at an earlier meeting in Wigmore Street, and sufficient proxy votes were gathered in advance of the meeting on 9 September to make sure that all proposals would be passed as well.

Graham Ball, speaking to Essential KBB said: ‘We do need you to be at the meeting’, but his plea was only partially successful. Just 31 voting members bothered to show up, but at least 27 others bothered to vote by proxy.

The KBSA says, with some justification that all associations suffer from a lack of attendance at AGM’s but this fact is in danger of disguising how apathetic the majority of KBSA members are about their association. When 82% of the membership declares in a survey that it can’t be arsed to go to the AGM, that association has a problem.

Frankly, some of the members do not deserve their association, and equally frankly, the KBSA has got to sharpen up its presentation skills too, if they want to overcome the apathy that stalks the KBSA.

I understand that AGM’s, and General Meetings too come to that, have to have a formal element but the meeting on 9 September was not the Association’s best advertisement.

I sat in a warm, windowless, bunker-like room and tried to stay awake while CEO Graham Ball and Stuart Carter of Trustmark both went through presentations they had gone through on 10 July. Neither presentation gained anything in their repeating. After this, I would have voted for just about anything if it would mean I could see daylight again.

It’s hardly the best way to run an association. But if the KBSA wants to progress – and for all its critics the retail section of the KBB industry would be poorer without the Association – it has to develop a structure that takes into account most of its members do not give a toss about attending important meetings.

If not I fear the apathy of the Association’s membership will be its downfall.

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