Minutes of the 2001 (24th) Annual General Meeting
of Esperanto-Asocio de Britio,

2001 March 31st (Saturday) 13:15 - 15:15 at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, London.

Before approximately 45 members were Edmund Grimley-Evans (EGE, President and meeting chair), David Kelso (DK, Director of Development), Joyce Bunting (JB, Honorary Treasurer) and Bill Walker (BW, Minutes Secretary).

The annual report and agenda had been distributed beforehand; the detailed agenda, summary accounts and minutes of the previous meeting were distributed at the meeting. Before starting the meeting we remembered those members who had passed away during the past year with one minute's silence.

0. Apologies had been received from Management Committee Members Eric Walker (Honorary Secretary) and Fennel Waters.

1. The minutes of the 2000 (23rd) Annual General Meeting were distributed. Corrections were noted to the name "Gillian Cartledge" and the sequence number (23rd AGM). With those amendments, the minutes were accepted by a majority with no objections and one abstention.

2 & 3. The annual report had been distributed beforehand, a corrected version of the summarised accounts was distributed. JB explained the accounts and their highlights:

Following that summary, members present discussed and expressed their views on 'ethical' investments'.

JB explained that she had been working to separate the management role of the Honorary Treasurer from the administrative role, so that the latter could be executed by a bookkeeper, and declared her intention to stand down from the post of Honorary Treasurer next year, once the new office in Barlaston had been set up.

The meeting accepted the Trustees' Report and Summary Accounts by a majority, with no objections and one abstention.

4. Having reviewed the subscription rates, the management committee proposed that they remain unchanged for the following financial year. This was approved by a majority, with no objections and two abstentions. A member asked that we consider stimulating membership by reducing the subscription rates, subsidising them from our capital. This will be considered by the Finance sub-committee (and possibly the Director of Development in his review of Membership Strategy).

5. The nominations for the management committee were: David Bisset, Joyce Bunting, Edmund Grimley Evans, Paul Hewitt, Grazyna Mitchener, Frank Spilsbury, Derek Tatton, Bill Walker, Eric Walker, Fennel Waters. The meeting chose to elect the nominated committee as a group; the election was approved by a majority with no objections and one abstention.

BW explained that Eric Walker had chosen to stand down as Honorary Secretary and, as there were no volunteers for this post, it would become vacant, with its duties carried out by some of the other committee members.

Stephen Thompson thanked the committee for their work over the last year.

The members present discussed the election process for the committee; Terry Page welcomed the publication of statements by each of the nominees in EAB Update. Peter Miles felt that each nominee should make a declaration of belief about the importance of Esperanto; this can be debated in the letters page of EAB Update and (because it would affect the constitution) will be considered by the Constitution Review Subcommittee.

6. Terry Page explained that he had been asked by the Management Committee to consider our future strategy for British Congresses, and to serve as Congress Liaison. He had surveyed the management committee and those federations secretaries that he could trace, and had prepared an interim report which will be developed with further input and feedback, for publication in EAB Update. To date, no local groups have offered to host a British Congress in 2002.

7. David Bisset presented a summary of the Publicity sub-committee's activities, which had been impacted by the delay in moving to Barlaston causing mundane problems like printing addresses and telephone numbers on publicity material. But a tremendous amount of work had been done on the website [postscript: now at www.esperanto.org.uk] which contains weekly updates of news and information; he encouraged members to refer to the site regularly, and to direct enquirers towards the site too. Other activities included a number of test campaigns in periodicals (with mixed and surprising results), the production of greetings cards, and the preparation of poster material. The appointment of a Director of Development will also provide a spur for publicity initiatives.

8. JB explained that a formal annual audit is still required, and proposed that we retain the existing auditors Kingston Smith. This proposal was accepted by a majority, with no objections and three abstentions.

9. At the previous AGM we had reported the decision to relocate the office and library to Wedgwood Memorial College at Barlaston; following that the solicitors started drawing up the legal paperwork. BW explained that he had taken on the role of solicitor liaison, following the untimely death of Fraser Dunbar. Negotiations between the solicitors had been far more protracted than expected, but BW was pleased to report that just a few days before this AGM they had finally agreed the wording of the final drafts. The agreement contains everything previously discussed with the college; EAB will pay the cost (£171,579 excluding VAT) of converting the existing coach-house to an office, a purpose-built library room extension and (because planning regulations require a pitched roof) three attic bedrooms. In exchange for this and a ground rent of £1000 (index linked) per year, Stoke on Trent will grant us a 99 year lease on the property. The college will have use of the bedrooms and daytime use of the library room (although EAB may book that with advance notice), and in exchange they will carry the repair and maintenance burden of the entire building, and will give Esperantists a 10% discount on the college Bed and Breakfast service. Not only does this arrangement relieve EAB of the financial and administrative burdens of property management, it means that the college will regularly fill the library room with adults who spend time and money learning as a leisure activity; an ideal target (and 'captive') audience for our Esperanto promotion.

BW explained that the next step was for the Management Committee to consider the solicitor's report and the legal documents before making a formal decision whether to proceed; if so, construction could be expected to start in late-spring or early-summer 2001. Our plans for the building are that the library will continue to be named after Montague Butler, while the bedrooms will be named in honour of:

Derek Tatton, principal of Wedgwood Memorial College, explained that David Kelso (our Director of Development) will appear on the college management structure, making EAB a partner in the college and giving us access to a network of Adult Education providers. The college is exploiting a government initiative to support people over 50 volunteering for community service, which will funds the expenses for Esperantist Ellen Rooney to work as a part-time volunteer at the college and EAB office. The college is expanding its own promotion of Esperanto, through new Esperanto courses, the college website, publicity and college postcards. The college has agreed to provide some temporary accommodation to EAB free of charge, while the building work proceeds, so that we can start to transfer the EAB office functions to Barlaston this summer.

10. David Kelso introduced himself as the recently-appointed EAB Director of Development. He explained that his job is to advise and propose ideas to the Management Committee, and then to carry them out. His initial ideas are to:

11. The meeting ended with an open discussion where members gave suggestions and comments, for consideration by the Management Committee.

EGE closed the Annual General Meeting at 15:15.

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