Ooh, the beautiful irony of Friends of The Level meetings taking place in the Phoenix Community Centre (see post)! Once again the old bird lies gasping and then staggers, squawking, back to some semblance of life! But is it truly alive this time – or is it one ashen birth too many? Because this meeting, held on 3 March, was meant to be the Annual General Meeting, but by no stretch of the imagination could it be counted as such – the meeting was anything but. Indeed, reading the “Aims of the Meeting” it can be seen that nothing could’ve been further from the organisers’ minds – the aims and objectives were merely a regurgitation of tired and well-worn council-PC-speak – a lot of hot air signifying nothing but allegiance to the council in all its guises.
It appeared to this seasoned observer that the committee had reverted to the bad old, sad old days of the Gang of Two, when the whim of the officers ruled with not even a token whiff of a constitution or proper procedure. The end result was an AGM that totally missed the point: that an AGM’s main objective is to choose a new committee and officers for the coming year (FoTL constitution 2011 sec. 7.3). As it was, this was treated almost as an afterthought, being only ranked at, coincidentally, No. 7 on the agenda: “Re-election of Officers and the appointment of new committee members.” And never was a Freudian slip more accurately made! For that is exactly what happened – well, the first part anyway. The officers were all duly re-elected. No nominations for the committee were first sought (and a new committee formed), rather the three officers presented themselves as incumbents and were duly voted in – bit of a lack of choice, really. We then had the rather odd decision by the Secretary to record that all three had received 15 votes, despite one of them having only received 14! [That’s surely just nit-picking. Ed.] The matter of having a new committee was dispensed with altogether, as was the need to ensure that all those voting for the “re-election” of the officers were in fact members of Friends of The Level. When it was pointed out that very few of those present were in fact members (FoTL constitution 2011, sec. 4 ), it was promptly ruled that everyone present was a member by dint of filling in the attendance sheet! Did everyone fill it in? No one checked… One “new member” quite rightly pointed out that she was unaware that she was joining FoTL by adding her name to the list. But hey, minor detail!
But if no new committee, then what, you cry! Well, instead we were treated to one of the two main points of this “general meeting”: to describe the social events that were put on over the past year and to discuss up-coming ones – all of which were lavishly documented in the fulsome handout. A casual observer could’ve been excused for thinking that many of those present had been encouraged to come along for just such a discussion. (Considering over 450 emails had gone out to try to arouse some interest in the proceedings, the turnout was pretty abismal, with less that a couple of dozen present.) [Hmm, should’ve put those posters up round The Level as required by the Constitution sec. 8.5 . Ed.] The other highlight was to have been an update from the Parks Project team on its Despoliation of The Level, but this never materialised – a case, undoubtedly, of cold, clammy feet. Still, we all had a generous copy of the latest propaganda to hand (see also: fulsome handout).
An important item that was missing from the “AGM agenda” was the annual Treasurer’s report. It was relegated instead to a “Statement of Financial Accounts… to 29 Feb. 2012” stapled to the back of page after page of PPT waffle and “Events news”. No mention was made of it at the meeting and so there was no opportunity to question the “officers” over the apparent hemorrhaging of FoTL funds into the “events” of the last quarter of 2011. [Hmm… Ed.] The meeting fizzled out, with no date set for any future meeting.
So where does that leave Friends of The Level – dead or alive? The verdict has to be: dead!