Momentum Integritatem  2010-2013 and even into 2015/2016

Make up your own mind

The June 2013 issue of the BSS Bulletin included a piece of paper (see summary text in panel) which refers to comments made at the Edinburgh Conference where, without any disclosure let alone any consideration of the background or any facts, reference was made to a letter that referred to a lack of integrity in the running of the Society.  Neither those present at the meeting nor those who have since received this insert with their copy of the June Bulletin, have as yet received from the Council, any information about the reasons behind such criticism - and there are several - and to compound that BSS members attending the Edinburgh Conference were asked to make a decision without being in possession of sufficient facts on which to make up their own mind!   A quick vote was even taken - which vote is now apparently being used as if it were a representation of the views of the entire membership, when of course the vote was not constitutionally set up for that.  A non-representative vote taken without disclosure of the facts.

Several persons have already asked for the facts and have subsequently concluded that they too share the many concerns of others at what really lies behind concerns over 'integrity' and about the way in which this Council moves to hide from the membership its several mistakes and blunders.  There is no 'concerted campaign' by this website to denigrate the society or its management but when blunders are made in issues where the membership are being informed or where the membership are being polled, then something needs to be said.  When there is a lot to be said then sadly it simply reflects the extraordinary number of such events.  These same facts will be made available shortly so that you, the visitor to this web site, will be able to make up your own mind on them and indeed make up your own mind on the extent to which the so called 'adverse comments' referred to in the paper might actually prove not to be 'adverse' after all. You might then join with many others to agree that rather too many council actions and proposals have perhaps been formulated without sufficient attention to detail.  My thanks to those members who share these concerns about the governance of the society and who are keeping me informed me of such.

In a paper inserted with the June BSS Bulletin and entitled “A problem”  the BSS Chairman reported what he called ‘a concerted campaign’ by a BSS member. He went on to assert that while criticism is healthy and welcome it could not be pursued in a manner prejudicial to the Society's interests and reputation.  Without revealing any of the concerns that lie behind the so called 'campaign' – let alone any acknowledgement of their validity - he said it was sufficient to say that the member had asserted that there is 'an unwholesome lack of integrity in the present running of the Society.  It wasn’t 'sufficient' of course, since none of the reasons for such assertions were revealed to the membership.  However he went on to say that the member had made adverse comment on almost every action and initiative taken by Council in the past 18 months – as if that in itself must be wrong even though almost all of the council’s recently publicised initiatives have been worryingly faulted in one way or another. He then complained that all these complaints were visible to everyone, even to some who might be put off joining the society.


The note went on to say that at a discussion forum in Edinburgh – and again without any of the underlying concerns being disclosed, let alone discussed- the Secretary proposed, and the Forum went on to approve, two resolutions:


1. Expressing full and complete confidence in Council.

2. Expecting (a) members to conduct all their public communications in all media in a manner that does not bring the Society into disrepute; and, (b) Council to employ all necessary means to protect the Society's reputation.


In yet another aspect of concern about the current management of BSS, it appears that this vote may have been assumed then and later used as if it was somehow representative of the society membership as a whole. Yet, for it to be regarded as that, it should have been properly conducted under the constitution and it was not.  Worse, the Council did not even appear to be aware of that at the time and the President of the society himself had apparently to make that clear.


In a postscript to the document the Chairman went on to say that subsequent support had been received from individual members and that a 'lengthy letter' had also been received from the concerned member.  In fact (though oddly the membership has not been told this) this two-sided letter was actually a reply to a letter from the Society's Chairman and it simply summarised a few of the reasons for concern about the present management of the society  - none of which the Council has disclosed to the membership or been able to refute. This letter will be published here shortly.  After receipt of this reply the Society could only say that they '...will not engage with any such correspondence'. 


You bet they won’t!  Odd that they started that particular correspondence in the first place....


In order to be able to provide fair and independent, comment on the management of the society from here on, without any of the constraints now being imposed on BSS members, the concerned member has chosen to resign his membership of BSS.

Let this be clear, this SunInfo webpage is VERY supportive of the British Sundial Society and it applauds the Society's outstanding success in its formative years under the chairmanships of Dr Andrew Somerville and Christopher Daniel MBE. It encourages those with an interest in dialling to take out membership of BSS and it stresses many reasons why anyone with an interest in dialling should do just that.  It also encourages existing members to seek to join the Council and take part in the governance of the Society and from time to time it recognises the very many major contributions made by the society's unsung heroes - most recently mentioned being Ian Wootton and Peter Ransom.  It also advertises and promotes Society events as well as bringing together news about dials and dialling generally.  However, since Christopher Daniel's time (and for the first time EVER in the history of the Society) two trustees have resigned before the end of their elected term and two more have declined to be put forward for re-election.  You might like to know why and understand how it is not the society that is somehow a problem but its management.

This site deals in facts - things that some might say have been in short supply in what the Council has had to say to Members on this topic so far.  Members are still submitting data now. You are invited to wait a little for the details before you make up your mind. 


A Disquieting Anniversary?

18.11.13, 06.07.14

Long standing BSS Members have for some time now been expressing considerable disquiet about a number of aspects of today's management of the Charity. One aspect which has given rise to concern is that on the 18th November 2012, the Society website first advertised on the home page (of its old website), a sundial beer glass as a possible Christmas gift for anyone interested in sundials.  No problem in that you might say but what was, and is still, not disclosed is the fact that the advertisement invited those who read it to contract with and hand over payment to, someone who was and still is, a trustee of the Society.  Using a charity, of which one is a trustee, for personal gain potentially creates a Conflict of Interest which in serious cases may even be unlawful.  Sometimes however these situations can arise out of necessity and therefore be quite proper.  In most, if not all cases it is important for them to be formally recorded by the Council, be the subject of a written contractual agreement between the trustee and the charity and not just be casually mentioned in the minutes. Of course the details of any and all such arrangements, including  why they are lawful, should then be freely publicised to the membership and be included in the Annual Report to the Commission.  The sales page of the web site should also inform all purchasers.

It is hard to believe that advertising a beer glass might correctly be classed as a 'necessity' and the Society was alerted to this possible conflict almost immediately after the advertisement first appeared.  Yet for more than eighteen months, nothing changed.  The beer glass advertisement was still in place and the advertised product was supplied by a trustee of BSS without disclosure of the arrangement either on the website or in the Society's most recent Annual Report.  Only with the introduction of the new BSS web site has this disappeared and we do not know if it will reappear.  Now, in fairness, the sums involved may well be such as to lie below any 'requirement threshold' imposed by the Charity Commission on such things - though whether that is the case or not is also apparently being kept hidden from the Membership.  Even if the sums involved are so small that they do not need to be specifically disclosed in the accounts, the agreement should surely be reported on the website and in the Annual Report?  Without that, BSS Members cannot reasonably be blamed for suspecting that this appears to be an example of Society governance being conducted on the basis that 'no one will find out' rather than on the normal basis of 'adhering always to best practice and doing what is right'.  If that proves to be the case then it has to be said that the present approach is one that would never have been adopted when Christopher Daniel was Chairman.  The right thing for the BSS Council to do is for it at all times properly to adhere to best practice.  See the Daily Mail's mention of this sundial beer glass.


And now a Disquieting Delay....

IEL Ltd (Independent Examiners Ltd) is the company which currently provides BSS with independent examination of its accounts.  It also provides advice and guidance to the charitable sector. Way back in November 2012 it promoted a recommendation by AFVS (Alliance For the Voluntary Sector Ltd) that charities insist on their trustees adhering to a Code of Conduct. This initiative was brought to the attention of the BSS Council immediately yet, now over a year and a half later, there still has been no announcement to the membership that all BSS trustees have signed up to it.  It must be presumed that they have not.  The BSS Membership is surely entitled to ask Why?




And finally...

Quotes of the Year
Taken from the
Charity Bulletin No 122, May 2013 published by IEL - BSS's appointed Independent Accounts Examiners:

There's no better test of a person's integrity than their behaviour when they are wrong. (Marvin Williams).
Don't confuse poor decision-making with destiny. Own your mistakes. It's ok; we all make them. Learn from them and move on. (Steve Maraboli)

Quotes from Brian Sewell's Obituary September 2015:
Nothing matters more than intellectual probity, and on that altar the critic must sacrifice even his closest friends (Brian Sewell)
Hiding the truth:
Sewell reflected that the effort made to suppress his own writing “suggests a measure of insecurity that I find quite heartening.”  SunInfo rather feels the same!

****Momentum Integritatem: "The Importance of Integrity"***


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