Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held at Penrith Golf Club 22nd September 2022 at 8.30 p.m.
In attendance – 157 voting Members and 5 non-voting Members
Executive Committee attendees: John Sheffield, Joan Armstrong, Barry Rogers, Carol Slinger. Management Committee attendees: David Harding.
This EGM was held in response to a request from 122 members to consider the following proposition:-
“Penrith Golf Club members call for an Extraordinary General Meeting to vote on the fact that there is No Confidence in the current Management Committee.
Penrith Golf Club is committed to protecting and maintaining its reputation. The current Management Committee have conducted themselves in a way which is detrimental to the Club and likely to cause reputational damage. This has been carried out between January and April 2022 where members of the Management Committee have made defamatory, demeaning, offensive and unacceptable comments about Members of the Club generally and some members in quite specific terms by means of a WhatsApp group under the banner PGC Committee. This is clearly a breach our social media Policy.
There is also deep concern regarding the failure of the Management Committee to effectively manage complaints in strict adherence with the Disciplinary Policy adopted by the Club.
The vote of “No Confidence” will, if passed, require the Management Committee to resign with immediate effect. The current Executive Committee will then perform all duties of the Management Committee until a new Management Committee is appointed.”
Norman Wilson, the Proposer of the EGM request, opened the meeting and a proposal for Chairperson for the meeting was requested from the floor. John Taylor was proposed by Jim Young and seconded by Jennifer Jackson. There being no other proposals this was confirmed by a show of hands.
Mr. Wilson gave a precis of the 2 key issues for discussion which were: –
1. Failure of the Management Committee to effectively manage complaints in strict adherence with the Disciplinary Policy adopted by the club.
2. The current Management Committee conducting themselves in a way which is deemed to breach the Club’s social media Policy and likely to cause reputational damage.
Norman Wilson outlined the Disciplinary and Complaints Procedure adopted by the Club and reported that no Disciplinary Secretary had been appointed as required by the Policy. Currently 3 cases remained unresolved, one currently being in the hands of England Golf.
Question from the Floor
Peter Shearer raised a “Point of Order”, he asked if the meeting was valid because WhatsApp was not a social media platform, and the WhatsApp conversation was part of a private group and was therefore not covered by the PGC Social Media Policy.
A debate then took place which ended by the Chair pointing out that the list of social media platforms listed in the club policy was not exhaustive and that the policy confirms that other un- named platforms exist. In addition, once a WhatsApp communication is released by any of its users, WhatsApp have no further control over how that comes into the public domain. So, the Chair confirmed that the meeting was valid and would proceed.
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Management Committee conduct
Phil Murfitt presented examples of various WhatsApp messages sent by the Management Committee which were the conversations deemed to be contravening the Club’s Social Media Policy.
Request from the Floor
During what became a lengthy presentation Jim Young requested to the Chair that the presentation be brought to an end because the gist of the WhatsApp messages was clear to everyone.
The Chair agreed and asked Mr. Murfitt to end the presentation. Mr. Murfitt responded by saying that the full 95 pages of WhatsApp messages would be available for members to inspect if requested.
Response by the Management Committee
The Chair asked David Harding representing the Management Committee for his response.
Kathryn Bulman asked Mr. Harding where the other Management Committee members were and if there had been any apologies. Mr. Harding said he was not responsible for the actions of the other member on that committee.
Mr. Harding started by making a personal apology and explained the Management Committee’s role in working for the good of the Club. He pointed out that Phil Murfitt’s presentation had been very selective and did not do justice to, or even mention, many of the good points and decisions made in the WhatsApp communications, which had been used beneficially in the management of the Club. He continued by reading from a statement prepared by the Management Committee and ended by confirming the resignation of all of its current members.
He stated an email had been sent to all Members at 8.29 pm calling for an EGM on 13th October 2022 to elect a new Management Committee. The Chair pointed out that as the Management Committee had now resigned, it was no longer possible for that committee to organise an EGM and it would now not take place.
Following this resignation, the Chair indicated that the Executive Committee would, with immediate effect, be responsible for the duties of the Management Committee until such time as a new Committee of Management or some similar structure is put in place.
Question from the Floor
Steve Johnson said that the Management Committee had done a good job and in particular Dougie Parker should be thanked for his work in improving Club finances, and the assistance he had given to Dads’ Army. He went on to say he didn’t think that, under the rules of the Club, the Executive Committee could run the Club.
Question from the Floor
Les Balmer asked the Chair to confirm that the Management Committee had definitely resigned.
This was confirmed by the Chair and David Harding, with Mr. Harding confirming that the time of their resignation was 9.35pm.
Mr. Balmer said that in that case there was no option other than for the Executive Committee to take over the running of the Club from tomorrow morning.
Following a debate, the Chair said that the Club was in uncharted territory, and as such there was no option available other than for the Executive Committee to take over the running of the Club. As the Management Committee had all resigned there was no reason for a vote on the proposal put to the meeting. He was quite sure that John Sheffield (the Chair of the Executive Committee) would be asking the membership for assistance in charting the way forward and asked him to address the meeting.
John Sheffield confirmed that his committee would like help from the membership and asked those present to contact him if they would like to assist.
Request from the Floor
Raymond Dixon asked the Executive Committee to look towards changing the Club Constitution so that we go back to a single committee structure, and he also asked that the Club works towards employing a professional manager who would be at the club for five days each week.
Overwhelming support from the members present greeted this suggestion and John Sheffield confirmed that the Executive Committee would take this on board.
There being no further business The Chair closed the meeting.