Minutes from board meeting – 10th February 2021

Date of meeting: Zoom meeting Wednesday 10th February 2021 6pm

Present: Nicky Bailey, Pat Bray, Fiona Eccleston, Beth Hollihead, Caroline Hudson, Donald McQueen, Katy Sneyd

Apologies: Stu Hollihead

Chair: Beth Hollihead

Minutes: Pat Bray

Declarations of interest: None

Referenceto agendaMinuteAction

1Minutes of the previous meeting:
Draft minutes from the board meeting of 1st February 2021 were approved. 

2Formal Approval of Chair:
BH left the meeting temporarily and after a short discussion her role as board chair was formally approved by unanimous vote.

3Action plan from Wigan Council:
BH outlined that we had been given some draft policy documents by Wigan Council as part of an ongoing audit started under the previous board conducted by XX. As part of this process a strategic-level action plan has been developed to help us to strengthen areas that required improvement. This includes support with understanding the roles of directors, improving the induction process for new directors and developing a code of conduct for employees directors and volunteers. DM explained that these documents have been developed by Wigan Council after consultation with many other community groups, including community benefit societies that have worked with Wigan Council. They were derived from the best operating practices and ideas that were observed and should be regarded as an ideal template for use by others.  DM pointed out that we also have the comprehensive policy documents from Cooperatives UK available. KS stated that it was common practice for these documents to form the basis for policy when new societies are starting out. In our case, we should use the documents as a template but we should tailor them to suit our own requirements as laid out under the founding values and principles of our society. BH pointed out that the templates are more comprehensive than our own documents and perhaps the best way would be to start with the new templates and add any items from our own policy documents as appropriate to our particular aims and needs.A sub-group was set up to deal with policy documents. BH to deal with the recruitment and equality monitoring form and the declaration of interest form. NB FE to work on the code of conduct and induction pack, with DM to coordinate and delegate work on the documents. DM advised that there was a final draft version of the code of conduct, which he will circulate. The strategic plan document will be formulated later, after consultation and discussion are complete.   


4The 2021 AGM:
BH pointed out that we normally hold the AGM at the end of March and that we have experience of using Zoom for our previous AGM in September. It was agreed that we hold our 2021 AGM by Zoom or another suitable online platform. There was some concern about having sufficient bandwidth for a large meeting. DM pointed out that we used Zoom-pro for the previous AGM. BH to investigate bandwidth issues and select a suitable online platform. BH pointed out that we have been provided with new documents covering board nominations. This year we will be asking nominees to fill in a form rather than submitting a pen portrait.The issue of voting was discussed and whilst there are big benefits to using an online voting system, this would have to be backed up by a postal ballot because some of our members are unable to access online platforms and we are bound by our rules to provide a voting system which is accessible to every member.  PB questioned whether the 2019-2020 accounts would be ready for presentation to the membership in March. FE advised that a meeting had been set up for the following Monday 15th February for both treasurers and the incoming and outgoing bookkeepers to consult with the accountants on this issue and that we would soon be in a position to clarify exactly when the draft accounts will be ready to present to the membership.The possibility of delaying the AGM by a month was discussed but we are bound by our rules to hold the AGM before the end of March so we decided that unless the legislation changes or the accounts are not ready, the AGM will go ahead as usual before the end of March (possibly 28th or 29th March). BH to review the nominations document and to try to find the best way to hold the ballot.FE to review the last treasurer’s report. 




5Compassionate leadership:
BH suggested that we postpone this issue for a later meeting and the board agreed. DM asked what was meant by compassionate leadership. BH clarified that there was limited scope to alter the staff handbook but suggested that we could look primarily at procedural documents such as our complaints procedure where we could perhaps extend the available options to try to resolve disputes early by means of mediation and informal discussion before initiating the formal disciplinary process. BH suggested we could roll this in with our ongoing policy review at the appropriate point.  

6Complaints etc:

7Strategic plan:
BH outlined that we had attempted to host a members meeting in January to launch the strategic planning process by discussing alternative business models for the Strawbale. This issue is subject to stringent time constraints and is also the strategic area which has taken up the majority of board time since the Strawbale facility opened in 2017. We were unable to hold the members meeting but did hold a smaller meeting with the staff in January, during which some strategic aspects were discussed. The strategic review should encompass governance and operational models and should consider our society founding principles and values. There was some discussion of the issue of café management. In summary, there are at least three possible options. Firstly, continuing with the existing model in which the board take responsibility for finances and staffing contracts relating to the café and shop. Day to day running would be the responsibility of the staff. Secondly, we could ask the staff if they would consider forming either a workers cooperative or a CIC and taking full responsibility for the café and shop activities as a separate organisation. This option would operate on a rental basis and require a change to our lease. The third option, also requiring a change to our lease, is to put the café and shop operation out to open tender and if we do receive a plan from the staff then we should consider making that part of the open tender process so we can compare their plan with others from outside. The board felt that all these options should be on the table but that they should be dealt with after we first ask the staff without prejudice, whether they would be interested in submitting a plan. If they respond positively then we will discuss all the issues that have come up and come to a decision on how to proceed. There was general agreement on this approach.
8Any Other Business:
Maternity issues:NB has come up with some options for improving on statutory maternity entitlement. To be discussed in detail at a future meeting. Dealing with agenda items we haven’t had time to consider:BH suggested we try and improve efficiency by using board meetings to allocate tasks rather than discussion, which could take place by email or other means if necessary. Other options were suggested such as Doodle Poll decision making after email discussion. Microsoft Teams also has polling and has options for organising information flow for busy board members. We agreed to try out some of these options. 


9Date and time of next meeting:6.00 p.m. Wednesday 24th February 2021, by Zoom.
%d bloggers like this: