At the last Coordination Team meeting, Minutes here, we carried on the discussion, touched on at the meeting before, concerning the new information we had discovered about Un-Incorporated Associations such as the VGS.
We had discovered the concerning fact that in a certain set of very unlikely circumstances each member of the VGS could be exposed to personal liability. This is not a worry at a time like this where nothing much is taking place but would be of great concern if we took on board some of the Council projects to emerge from the Neighbourhood Plan. We therefore wanted to address this at the earliest opportunity. There have been 5 of us involved so we hope we managed to cover everything!
We have spent the time since the last meeting going back to basics and rewriting the Constitution from scratch to give as much protection and clarity as possible. This means that we have ended up with a much larger document than before. We have condensed it and simplified it to the greatest extent we can without leaving areas unaddressed.
The most important parts are the bits that redefine the relationship between VGS and the people within it. Formerly everyone who had signed up to the newsletter was labelled a ‘member’ but ‘members’ can be held liable in rare circumstances; so now the default setting for being part of the VGS is clearly defined as someone who just receives the newsletter. If you only receive the newsletter you have no liability of any kind under any circumstances.
If a person chooses to become more active then their exposure to risk becomes greater, but we have tried hard to limit any possible financial risk to the Officers of the VGS only. We are not trying to centralise power but to limit any adverse effects of taking on responsibilities. We will be making sure we have in place an Insurance Policy which gives greater protection to the Officers when the current policy comes up for renewal. This will also cover people who head new projects if they chose to adopt the VGS Consitution as their own.
We did consider changing to an Incorporated Association but they are much less flexible, and we decided that careful wording in the Constitution could achieve waht was needed without the VGS having to become more formal.
We hope that the new Constitution is easy to understand and that it will be fit for purpose for many years to come.
If you have any questions about why things are written as they are then please ask, but perhaps first read the links at the end of the document which show some of the research we have done.
We very much hope to have approval for this Constitution at the upcoming AGM in June. The date for this meeting will be announced soon.