RPRA Losses Follow Up

Brian Woodhouse writes…
Following on from my last article I have received many calls and messages from fanciers who after reading the article told me they were unaware of what had been going on regarding the RPRA.
As stated according to the 2019 Profit and Loss account the RPRA showed a LOSS of £130,212. Included within the accounts I assume are the Development Officers salary and expenses of up to £60,000 and Insurance for which we paid £2 per RPRA member of £35,669, both of which in my opinion and everyone I have spoken to, we do not need. RPRA members this is nearly one hundred thousand pounds of your money.
With the decline year on year of the membership the prospect of encouraging enough new young members to help cover the cost of the Development Officer by the RPRA is simply unattainable. Also having seen a copy of the insurance policy we are being charged for, I cannot see how this is of any benefit whatsoever to me or you the average fancier. Most clubs have their own insurance policies via the premises they are using and individual members their own insurances. I believe all claims have a £250 excess and I have included a copy of the insurance policy. Please could the CEO clarify if this is correct.
In 2019 the insurance costs were £42,104 paid to Hiscox. I phoned the RPRA and was told that only one claim was submitted from Northern Ireland for a clock which was rejected by the insurers as there is £250 excess on the claim. The letter printed in the 24th January issue of the BHW from Mr & Mrs G Blake of Wibsey, Graham I make you so right. The members have paid out £42,104 to the insurers for what quite clearly is of no benefit. I think the response from the CEO to your letter saying the insurance is good for the members is in my opinion bad judgement and a waste of RPRA monies.
Why are the RPRA spending money they do not have?
The following is the letter that was sent by Mr Brian Newson ex-Editor of the British Homing World and Secretary of the Confederation to all members of RPRA Council circa 2015/2016 raising his concerns, printed with his permission.

2015/2016
Dear Councillors
At the AGM of the RPRA Council in February the accounts for both the organisations were passed without comment. However following the meeting queries were raised regarding the sum of £395,936 thousand pounds and which was owed by the RPRA to the British Homing World. Conversely the BHW Accounts and entered under ’Debtors’ the RPRA is listed as owing that amount of money to the BHW. These figures were not shown on the balance sheet as published in the fancy press. Questions are now being asked throughout the sport and concern expressed that someone within the sport can authorise such borrowings without one word of explanation.
During the investigations one important fact that has come to light is that both the entire financial affairs of both the RPRA and the BHW are now governed by just one individual member of staff, there is no control whatsoever from within the RPRA. Whoever signed the appropriate mandates had a great deal of explaining to do. Further explanation is required how such enormous amounts for Debtors and Creditors can be passed without comment or query. That being so a thorough independent enquiry should be initiated to ascertain the reasons and therefore I submit the following for consideration.

  1. An independent audit must be initiated as soon as possible and a thorough report issued on the findings.
  2. Who authorised the removal of RPRA participation in the control of the accounts, more importantly who signed the necessary bank mandate.
  3. Should an investigation be inauguerated then the General Manager should be suspended from duty pending the
    findings of the report.
  4. The amount of £395,936 thousand pounds owing by the RPRA has occurred over a number of years though regrettably this has been overlooked by members of Council.

It is also more than likely that intense remedial action will be required and that it is for the RPRA Council to investigate. However it should be noted from the outset that to meet this debt to the BHW a levy of £21 would have to be imposed on every member. I doubt the membership would agree. It must be realised that come what may the RPRA must meet the debt to the BHW, there is no alternative. With that in mind it is further suggested that immediate steps are taken to curtail future expenditure, for example:

  1. The General Manager’s Credit Card be removed with immediate effect.
  2. All trips to the Continent be no longer funded by the RPRA.
  3. The RPRA not to meet the cost of expenses incurred at the Blackpool Show other than those employed there and also the Continental guests.
  4. Other cutbacks as appropriate, the above will give some idea.
    One past president has even suggested that as the RPRA owns the BHW the debt could be written off. In other words the RPRA would get off without paying one penny of the debt whereas the innocent party (the BHW) would have to stand the entire amount. Those that got us into this mess must therefore also get us out

One past president has even suggested that as the RPRA owns the BHW the debt could be written off. In other words the RPRA would get off without paying one penny of the debt whereas the innocent party (the BHW) would have to stand the entire amount. Those that got us into this mess must therefore also get us out.

BRIAN NEWSON

The letter written by Mr Brian Newson clearly shows that for some time profits of the the RPRA has been reliant on the British Homing World. With reduced newspaper sales and revenue, surely this is unsustainable? Can the CEO please confirm if £395,936 thousand pounds is indeed owed as suggested in Mr Newson’s letter.
We need an independent pigeon paper like The Racing Pigeon to inform fanciers about their sport, uncensorship and transparency are paramount. I hope all organisations continue to support both papers with their adverts and results as they both rely on this revenue.
I noticed on reading the London Region report the liberation site for the Wanstead Flats has been withdrawn. This site is a short distance from my house and I should think it must be one of the best in the UK with it being very open, water standpipe and public toilet available.
I have just started pairing up the birds and they are looking good so I hope the weather is kind to us for the next couple of weeks.
That’s all for this week.

BRIAN WOODHOUSE

IAN EVANS RESPONSE TO WOODO’S ARTICLE

Dear Editor, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reply and hopefully put in perspective some of the statements included in your correspondents article.

Firstly I can confirm that the Developments Officers Salary and associated project costs are included in the RPRA consolidated Financial Statements. However, the content may lead members to conclude that this project and the salary is being funded from RPRA membership fees, ring sales etc. Let me confirm that this is not the case. The project is funded from reserves generated by the RPRA One Loft race. A venture set up with the added aim to provide funds to invest in project for the ‘Future of the Sport’.

Do we need such a project? Surely it is the responsibility of the Governing body to invest in projects to at least try and secure a future for our great sport. Or we could just take a negative view, sit back and accept our fate. The very fact that our sport has and continues decline in participation justifies any such project.

I am glad the correspondent drew reference to the RPRA Insurance premium and the letter in last weeks BHW. So readers of the RP are aware of the facts and positions associated with the scheme I have copied my full reply below. Also in this respect your correspondents statement that the claim was refused by the Insurer is incorrect.

CEOs reply to letter in last weeks BHW
As previously publicised (see below) the Club Insurance Scheme does not just cover Employers Liability – this is just a small part of the cover. The policy includes Public Liability Insurance for £5 million (any club or Federation operating without such cover is at risk) and also Equipment Insurance which covers all Club/Federation equipment such as baskets/crates and clocks. Excess on equipment claims £100. Also there is Duty Of Care – we cannot over stress this aspect.

Why Is Public Liability Important and do Pigeon Clubs needs it?
Public Liability Insurance is an important cover for clubs, as it protects you if someone gets injured or suffers a loss. For example, if one of your members or a member of the public gets hurt as a result of any action associated with the operating of your Club/Federation then, Public Liability Insurance covers the resulting claim. The absence of the insurance means the members (you) are liable. If your club doesn’t have Public Liability Insurance it’s a safe bet your Federation does and I am confident in saying that it will cost more than £2 per member. Therefore, the RPRA policy aims to save members money in the long run by providing more value for money.

Previously publicised article that appeared in the November 15th 2019 issue of the BHW:
With ever increasing legislation, members are at risk of claims for situations including health and safety. As an unincorporated organisation it would be the members who would be held liable for any claim. To mitigate this risk a number of clubs (approx 300) had taken out policies through the RPRA insurance broker. The actual number of clubs with such cover would be far greater. The annual cost of such policies was anything between £200 to £400 and in some cases even greater.

In 2018/19 the RPRA was approached by a number of clubs requesting help with sourcing Public Liability Insurance. These requests were as a direct result of venues/headquarters stipulating such cover was required to use the services and facilities. In today’s culture of blame and claim this requirement is only likely to increase.

In 2019 the RPRA Council were presented with an insurance policy proposal that would provide all its affiliated clubs and organisations with Public Liability, Employers Liability Insurance and cover for equipment owned by affiliated clubs and organisations at a cost of £2 per member. After careful consideration the RPRA Council took the decision to procure the policy and fund it from existing financial reserves.

At October’s meeting the renewal of the policy (due March 2020) was discussed. Taking into consideration the risk and liability to members, along with the value for money of a ‘block policy’ when compared to individual club polices it was agreed that the policy should be renewed.

Funding the policy from existing financial reserves was not viable and so it was the majority decision of the Council that members should pay a £2 insurance premium in 2020 to finance the policy. In this day and age, it may be considered irresponsible for clubs to operate without such cover. Therefore I hope members can see the benefits and reasoning behind the decision of Council. This difficult decision was taken in the best interests of the members.

As previously reported the insurance policy will cover the following: Public Liability Insurance for £5 million; Employers Liability Insurance for £10 million; Property cover for items such as but not limited to clocks, computers, baskets and trophies.

Some additional notes:
The Association like any organisation has a ‘Duty of Care’ relating to individual wellbeing , welfare, compliance and good practice . . . However we should all acknowledge that the Organisation and its rules are made by the membership and therefore it is the individual member who also has the responsibility in relation to Duty of Care and would, as previously mentioned be liable.

Member to member liability insurance is an extension available on a liability insurance policy that enables the members of a club or association to be treated as if they were a third party. (Included in the RPRA policy).

Insurance can be purchased (Included in the RPRA policy) for an organisation for their volunteers. It will cover a volunteer, should, whilst performing their duties, accidental injury or death occur.

Equipment cover is £15,000 and includes timing clocks owned by the Clubs.

RPRA/BHW Recharge
I think it is important to clarify the BHW is owned by the RPRA and therefore its cash assets belong to the RPRA. Historically there has always been movement amongst RPRA and BHW accounts.

Wanstead Flats
In 2019 just one organisation used the liberation site. This organisation was approached prior to Octobers meeting of the RPRA Council to establish is they intend to use it in 2020. The answer was No. Taking this into consideration and the fact that HQ were informed that the site falls within the new cleaner emission zones that requires vehicles to meet certain standards and also that a license fee may be required the decision was taken to remove the liberation site. I am sure your correspondents and readers can see and agree with the reasoning.

Thank you for the opportunity to address some of the points raised within your correspondents article.