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The future of the Rudge Whitworth Marque. URGENT
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The future of the RW Marque
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TOPIC: The future of the Rudge Whitworth Marque. URGENT
Re: The future of the Rudge Whitworth Marque. URGENT 2 Months, 2 Weeks ago  
Hi, the notice of the REC open meeting was not the only contribution 'left out' of the latest Radial. Unfortunately, the REC editor 'didn't have room' for this contribution either:

An old member stands on a slow burning deck;
With concerns not for just his old Rudge.

It's the way that the club and the new spares are run;
No surprise then he's feeling a grudge.

He's not an on-liner and won't bother friends;
So now can't buy spares mate so his membership ends.

But thanks for the last 34 years!

Ex REC member
Colin Chapple
Posts: 1214
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Re: The future of the Rudge Whitworth Marque. URGENT 1 Month, 1 Week ago  
24 February 2018 – National Motorcycle Museum
Compiled from the meeting notes and additional written submissions

40+ members, including 5 committee members, gathered in Birmingham to contribute to the discussions which were informed by 35 written & verbal submissions and forum threads. Over 65 members have in some way set out their considered views on matters that caused them some dismay on various aspects of the Club and its services.

Ken Ashton took the chair and Mike Wild took notes. We began at 11:00 and ended at 15:15. Although there were a few occasions of heated passion, everyone conducted themselves in a disciplined and open manner allowing each the opportunity to express their diverse opinion on the subjects discussed. For this I am very grateful. Not everyone concurred, but debate began to generate alignments and pragmatism informed views as the pros and cons were aired. At lunch time and on completion, folk offered to me the opinion that this type of meeting where members had the opportunity to contribute to the evolving topics of interest could be a very valuable annual feature. It would provide the committee with digested guidance that will inform their work and carry the prior consent of membership; an improvement to the current situation.

We did not cover the whole of the published agenda as I judged it better to let people talk than to compress discussion. There is always another day. Members contributed raffle prizes and the raffle by and large raised sufficient funds to cover the hire of the room which was underwritten by Mike Griffiths, Mike Wild, Tony Couling and I.

It was generally, but not exclusively, felt that New Spares were a major component in the reason members joined the Club. No Spares might equal No Club. The idea of selling the stock to a retailer was raised but no appetite was displayed for this radical approach. It appeared that all felt that faulty precision parts caused more grief than relief.

The meeting acknowledged that the Club’s distribution service should begin with an order, prepaid and entered on to the Club’s shop system. Logs of parts required that were out of stock was deemed necessary to control stocks and procurement. The meeting also acknowledged that not all members are able or willing to use computers. More difficult was the problem of members who can use computers but did not have the knowledge of the parts being ordered.

Written orders were of low frequency and though difficult for those affected, buddy systems were working in a lot of cases, so were solutions where relatives used the shop-system on member’s behalf. Membership can help with log-on details when requested. No further action was deemed necessary except the publication of these possibilities to new and infrequent users. Initial enquiries for help could be made direct to New Spares officers.

Users who could use computers but did not know what to order brought forward the desire to complete the photographing of parts for use on the shop. Phil Rudge has photographed hundreds of parts and a backlog exists. Phil generously devotes spare time to this excellent endeavour as do the volunteers who add the photos to the web database – Richard Gardiner offered to help. Some comments about the “difficulty” of using our web were expressed by one or two folk. It was felt that unfamiliarity will reduce as use increases.

Even after all these things are done, we are still left with the members who need help. We discussed the merit of education and noted that part of the joy of mending a Rudge was in the intellectual journey of discovery. Although some ordering advice is present in RADIAL, an article explaining members’ need to help themselves was discussed. Douglas Lambourne volunteered an article for RADIAL.

Members can help themselves by
• Properly identifying their machine, especially where the components are from different model years, [machine register search],
• Obtaining a parts list [printed from library or by download from website]
• Using the late John Clayton’s General Arrangement drawings and specific parts drawings which are available on the website. We owe a debt of gratitude to John for these excellent drawings and for the volunteers who put them there.
• Researching the technical documents which are also on the website. These are available for a fee, printed, from the library.
• The role of Machine Specialists in providing help to members was acknowledged and appreciated. This service is advertised in RADIAL.
• The use of parts lists and numbering was included in this discussion and the need for education in their arrangements and use was reinforced.
• Find a buddy to input your properly numbered order for you.

Much was said but it was acknowledged that the problem of defective parts was not a new problem. What was new was the lack of a competent person occupying the full role of a New Spares Officer; a person who had the responsibility to control a team for managing procurement, inspection and stock levels. Existing procedures devised by Mervyn Stratford and colleagues should be followed. A Technical Officer and team members are required. The role should be advertised in RADIAL by the committee. Paul Horton’s expertise in checking orders received and correcting mistakes, quietly given, is missed by members.

Precision parts seem to cause the most quality problems; uncertainty of original specification, non-conformity to supplied specification, risk of failure and financial waste. Acceptance inspection, regardless of the highest qualifications of the supplier, is potentially expensive. Instances of members receiving faulty parts and then making them for themselves are well documented on the forum. Given the modern, small run production environment that we now enjoy, precision parts should, where possible in future, be procured as a crowd pre-funding exercise [thus establishing the quantity, demand & price]. Each project controlled by the technical officer [managing a constant supply of current and rolling updated technical information, drawings and technical tips] but involving the crowd as customers and finally asking the crowd to install the new part and testing it. They will have a vested interest in success and drive to complete the project. Following a successful acceptance, decisions could be made for a second order for Club stocks. It should always be remembered that the demand for precision parts will reduce over the next 25 years as fewer bikes are used and mended, discovered and restored so stock levels should be conservative. Out of stock precision parts can be left on the stock list and the production information retained for later demand.

The example of 1926 dummy belt/brake rims sponsored by a member, produced in association with technical information from the Club was thought a good example of the way forward. The technical information can now be preserved and should there be future demand, made available. More examples exist – Multi dust covers.

The meeting agreed, after claim and counter claim, that it wanted to encourage external suppliers rather than compete with them. Members want parts; the Club should help with the introductions and not compete.

The meeting saw the need to co-ordinate range and stocking with external suppliers – we don’t want duplicate suppliers for Rudge specific parts, we would rather have a bigger range of parts available to purchase from what-ever source. External suppliers generally have a preferred sphere of operation and we should engage with this rather than reinvent the wheel. We need parts made up to a quality and not down to a price. Price is less important than availability. The meeting was comfortable with the idea of advertising via the shop to external suppliers, and putting notes on part numbers that they may be found at “Paul Horton, for example”. The meeting was not interested in developing an order routing system to external suppliers or for stocking external supplier’s parts directly, for a kick-back to funds. Making information available to the members was considered most important.

It was quickly established that New Spares from the Club and others would be desirable at Club events and would make the events more popular to members.
New Spares from the Club at events would need the creation of the facilities – volunteers to build the demountable displays, the funding of transport by the Club, volunteers to stock, sell and restock the displays and the proper accounting would be required. For this exercise to become a reality, the co-operation of New Spares service and Treasurer would be needed, plus the volunteers to run it. An advert should be placed by committee in RADIAL for a team to create and assist.

New Spares from external suppliers at events [Rally, AGM, Area events] should be encouraged. An advert and specific invitations should be placed.

The meeting sought to clarify the Club’s support of shows, rally and area events.
Recent difficulties over 2017 Stafford, 2018 Bristol and 2018 Stafford shows were aired and whilst possible here, I do not think it practical to go over contentious, recorded history but to concentrate on the current situation and the way forward to a resumption of show activity. Douglas confirmed the committee’s support for shows and the need for the expenditure to be controlled.

The Treasurer has now dedicated financial budgets for certain events and requires that there is a committee member made responsible for the money expended. No expectation of prize money is budgeted.

Stafford 2018 has a budget but not an offer of a free pitch in the main hall or a show project leader to undertake it. The main hall free pitch invitation from Morton Media offer is held, as in previous years, by Mike Griffiths and at this late stage, not transferable from Mike to Club. Many misconceptions as to the costs and rewards of the Stafford show are evident but it must be understood that a free place in the main arena is by invitation only, earned by past performance. Mike has recently been discharged from his official post representing the Club by decision of the committee. Following on from the Open Meeting, Mike G considered the future of his involvement in shows and has decided to take a year off and not to put on a personal show at Stafford in 2018. Mike has informed Morton Media accordingly. Committee now need to appoint a financial controller for show, rally and area expenditure before any budgets may be used.
Mike Griffiths is open to approaches by the committee for some future shows and will operate within the financial controls devised by Treasurer.

This is an evolving topic especially since the 1997 Articles of Association registered at Companies House at the Club’s inception have not been updated. This means that where these Articles differ to Club’s published rules, the Articles take precedence. The ramifications of this problem are going to require careful handling, in consultation with the membership. A process, agreed with the membership, to redress this situation is required.

There is also a growing worry that the committee is not acting in accordance with the law of the current Company Acts. Major concerns surround the conduct of meetings, validation and signing of previous minutes, paucity of presented minutes and the lack of minutes for some meetings. Adhoc email meetings on single Yes/No topics are not always recorded or presented for ratification at the next formal [phone] meeting. It was made clear by the meeting that every member is a shareholder of the Club and liable to a £5 guarantee, and as such entitled to see the minutes, properly recorded. It was also noted that the AGM minutes suffer from selective reporting of issues with some issues not reported. A return to transparency was expressed. Visibility of minutes, properly constructed and redacted where identification of a member is sensitively required [but not the issue] should be put into practice.

Further worries concerned the recent practice of creating a director without advertising or consultation was expressed. It was noted that the committee does have powers to create directors in certain circumstances but the recent acceleration of its use appears ill judged. The meeting felt that the occupation and maintenance of vacated jobs by the secretary and others, however well intentioned, meant that committee people were over-worked and it was not in the best interests of the Club. The meeting worries that the candidates are not properly prepared or interviewed. The committee should engage with the membership by appropriate means of communication about vacancies and candidates.

The meeting acknowledged that the membership does need to step forward and offer to take part in Club activities. The committee should advise the membership of the vacancies and suspend Club services until a suitable volunteer is found.

Members lamented the withdrawal of membership cards.

The role of moderator on the web was discussed and whilst everyone agreed with the need for a moderator, the current working practices are not fit for purpose and caused discontent. Many suggestions for improvement were made mostly based on communication with the author and a cessation of invisible deletions.

In summary, the committee needs to become more open and involve the membership in the running of the Club.

NOT DISCUSSED [to be continued at future meeting]
• Buying decisions – range and quantity
• New spares postal options
• Tooling funding
• Publication of design & specification information, plus batch procurement data
• Rolling knowledge base of technical information
• Parts library of original items
• Technical workshops and YouTube “how to” videos
• Used spares - cease involvement or
• Used spares – manage operations to reduce cherry picking
• Used spares – construct conflict of interest clauses
• Used spares – encourage member swap-meet events, national, regional and area
• Disposal of deceased or ailing member’s assets – protocol for all members
• Tenure of office, limit time in office to encourage committee turn-over
• Secretary responsibility restricted to protection of vacant offices and assets
• VAT review – necessary or not
• Non-member sales, taxation position
• Quorum numbers to be reviewed
• SGM reduction of call numbers to be reviewed
• Missing conflict of interest clauses for membership to be added
• Return AGM to March, before good weather activities begin

It was felt that this process of designating quality time for members to gather to discuss issues and agree policies to guide the committee would be a valuable addition to our enjoyment. All realised that the AGM has too little time to devote to this important topic. Perhaps a session at the rally or around the AGM might be considered.

Thanks are due to Chairman Douglas Lambourne travelling from Scotland and for his measured responses to some difficult questions. This allowed progress to be made, statements clarified and considered positions formed. Special thanks are due to Margaret Marsh who spoke with feeling about her dedication to the Club, a feeling felt, shared and appreciated by all present.

I offer a personal thank you to everyone who took part in this member sponsored meeting whether by letter, email, on the forum, verbally or personally at the meeting. I admit that I was worried about how to give everyone the room to voice their points whilst not becoming submerged in controversy. We did not finish the agenda but did enjoy a good debate on worrying issues. As it happened, everyone wanted improvement and was prepared to listen and speak up and the meeting progressed at a satisfactory pace. I hope that the membership becomes more engaged in Club life and that the committee engages with the membership.

Ken Ashton
6 March 2018
Colin Chapple
Posts: 1214
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