WEA in Leicestershire

A site for members and volunteers, by volunteers

Regional AGM 2013

AGMs come around thick and fast at this time of year, it seems. It is hardly ant time since I returned from National Conference, and many branches favour this time of year for their own AGMs too. Last Saturday was our East Midlands Regional AGM, at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham. (I like this location, easy to find, easy to get to by public transport and easy to park too!) John Swinfield-Wells was in the chair and Mike Griffiths and I were also there from the Leicestershire committee.

This year all the main officers of the Regional Committee had  completed the maximum five year term (with no time off for good behaviour!) and so there is a new line-up. there were no additional nominations so the members were elected unopposed. I have listed the main changes for the coming year below:-

Chair: Robin Cook
Vice Chairs: Mandy Grocott and Marguerite Stephenson
WEA Council Representative: John Swinfield-Wells
Treasurer: Clare Caves

The rest of the volunteer members on the  committee are the 5 County Representatives, a Priority Learners Representative, and 3 other Branch members representing Cultural Studies.

The County Representatives each gave a short report about WEA in their county in the previous year. You can read my report to the meeting on Leicestershire matters on the Leicestershire Reports Page of this blog. Do excuse me if you think I have left out anything vital; each county rep only has a 5 minute slot.

The outgoing Regional Treasurer Gill Aldridge presented a summary of the financial status of the region, and the estimates for the coming year were also examined. Regional Director Mike Attwell pointed out that we were running at a deficit, and though we had done well with producing sufficient hours of teaching, the class numbers in the branches were too low to be economic. In response to a question from the floor, Mike emphasized that to have an average attendance of 12 in our classes is not sufficient; 12 must be thought of as the minimum, but the average needs to be more. Later he also discussed the new fee banding system that is being phased in. This will mean that to get maximum income from the available funding, course hours may need to change; a 21 hour course will get twice as much funding as a 20 hour course. Mike also gave a brief summary of regional and national matters, including the problems that face us in looking for additional funding from project work – this is getting harder to find.

Rick Marshall reported on Branch communications. He spoke about the access to the WEA intranet for volunteers, the regional website and the various blogs that are now flourishing in the region and the newsletter Branching Out.

After a coffee break, three members spoke on aspects of the recent National Biennial Conference; Steve Stocks reported on Social Purpose, Clare Caves on the Women’s Workshop and Charles Gladwin reported on the various motions discussed, and the membership issue.

With business completed, we then had a most enjoyable illustrated talk from Charlotte Barratt, Leicester University’s Richard III Outreach Officer, on – what else – “The King under the Car Park”. There were lots of illustrations, including quite a few I had not seen in the many TV programmes, and it was a fascinating insight into the investigation from the university’s perspective.

Mandy Grocott


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