The Proxy Voting Form for the 2018 AGM of VMCC Ltd has been distributed but Members have not yet been informed of the details of the candidates for election and may be unaware of the merits and aspirations of those putting themselves forward. Much of the information to make an informed decision is available on the VMCC Forum, but this is not widely accessed by the Membership and needs wider circulation. We would be grateful if you would bring the contents of this circular to the attention of your Section Members
The current Board of Directors, under the chairmanship of Rob Reaney, are intent on changing the VMCC from being an enthusiasts club, with modest business activities, to become a classic bike sales organisation with a club attached. Rob Reaney is a second hand bike dealer and during his term of office has continually pushed the Club to move in this direction. To this end he has twice attempted to rush into the purchase of new Club premises, which would have provided space for showrooms and bike storage. On both occasions he did so without informing the Membership, without proper surveys being carried out and without the production of a business case or financial risk assessment. Fortunately both purchases were prevented at the last minute, as otherwise the Club could now be facing a financial millstone.
If re-elected Rob has announced his intention of acquiring new Club premises in the spring. The questionnaire, distributed with the December Journal made no mention of this intention and did not seek Members’ views. Rob appears to have his own agenda and is intent on moving the Club towards the buying and selling of bikes whatever the wishes of the membership. This is a high risk strategy and could seriously damage the viability of the Club. That this is the case was aptly illustrated in December when Rob purchased for the Club a number of bikes and sidecars to be sold on the eBay auction site over the Christmas period. Clearly Rob was expecting to achieve a quick profit and to demonstrate the potential value to the Club of such a business venture. However, the plan backfired and has become a fiasco. Rather than make money, the Club will be lucky to break even. If the full costs of acquiring the bikes, transportation, storage, insurance, auction preparation, auction commission, etc are properly allocated we will have made a thumping loss and that is before adding a contingency to cover misrepresentation.
The Directors are the agents of the Membership and jointly responsible for the management of the Club’s business. The expectation is that they will do so having regard to the wishes of the Membership. The Chairman is chosen by the Directors from amongst their number to chair their meetings, but is not given autocratic power to run the Club. Regrettably our current Chairman, Rob Reaney, believes he has the right to make dictatorial decisions without consulting his fellow Directors, let alone the Membership. It was his decision, and his decision alone, to purchase the bikes to be auctioned on eBay over Christmas; he had no mandate to make that decision.
The Wessex Veteran and Vintage Section, supported by the Dorset Section, put forward resolutions to be tabled at the AGM. These were aimed towards introducing better business practices and greater transparency in the management of the Club. Specifically they would have prevented the Directors spending more than £50,000 of capital expenditure without consulting the Membership; such restrictions are common in the business world and essential in the club environment. These properly presented resolutions were rejected by the Directors on the grounds that they would restrict their freedom to make decisions. The proper course of action would have been to allow the resolutions to go forward and to argue the case for their rejection before allowing the Membership to decide at the AGM. When taken to task they argued it was their right to decide which resolutions would go forward, which it is not, before falling back on the Companies Act to legitimise the rejection. Companies Act formally requires a 5% support before a resolution can be accepted, but does allow for an agreed lesser level of support. In past years resolutions put forward with a majority support from a Section were accepted, the current Board now reject this.
The requirement for 5% support for the submission of a resolution is acceptable in the corporate world with a few large shareholders; it is not acceptable in the Club environment where 5% represents over 700 signatures. The clause formally stating that Sections should be allowed to submit resolutions to the AGM was inadvertently omitted from the revised Bye-laws. The Directors are aware of this and decided not to amend the Bye-laws to reinsert it, which they can easily do. They preferred not to allow membership interference in their autocratic management of the Club.
Under Rob Reaney’s chairmanship the management of the Club is in shambles. He is desperate to spend the Joyce Cobbing legacy and is rushing to buy a new headquarters building to fulfil his ambition for the Club to buy and sell bikes, whilst neglecting his responsibilities to the Club. The General Manager has been involved in futile searches for new headquarters buildings and has not been fully available to do the job for which he is paid; namely the efficient management of Headquarters and the promotion of the Club aimed at increasing membership numbers. The financial management over the past year has been a disgrace and the profit or loss figures have varied by the day, or should that be hour. Does anyone believe the final figures? The strategic business plan for the next 3 years, required, according to Bye-law 3.5, should have been produced and agreed by the Directors before the end of the last financial year. They should have been available three months ago for review by the Membership. They do not exist as Rob does not want to be bothered with financial planning provided he is free to spend the Club’s money.
The future of the Club is being dictated by a handful of people without consultation with the Membership and whose business skills are entirely lacking. These people represent a major liability for the future survival of the VMCC. If you wish to prevent this happening you should cast your vote against Rob Reaney and, his right-hand man, Vice-chairman Brian Southam in the Election of Directors, Items 14.2 and 14.3 of the AGM Proxy form.