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AGS Events: Minutes of AGS committees.

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Started by: Shelagh Smethurst

A motion passed at last year's AGM regarding publication of minutes.

Go to latest contribution by David Nicholson, 03 November 2013, 19:14. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Shelagh Smethurst 15 October 2011, 15:33top / bottom of page

I know that at last year's AGM a motion was passed that required the minutes of AGS committees to be published on the web for members aroung the country to read. I can't find them, has anyone else had more luck?

Contribution from Cliff Booker 24 October 2011, 21:57top / bottom of page

Very interesting, Shelagh. I have also searched but to no avail.

Contribution from john dower 26 October 2011, 17:28top / bottom of page

Is it just me or is this thread being ignored from a very great height.

Come on guys - an answer is needed here!

Contribution from David Nicholson 27 October 2011, 12:11top / bottom of page

Maybe they haven't had a chance to read the minutes John. Or is that too tautological!

Contribution from Cliff Booker 28 October 2011, 07:06top / bottom of page

Should that be the fictional word 'nautological'? All at sea? LOL.

Only jesting folks, but a response from the admiralty would be greatly appreciated?

... And just a tiny adjunct to your opening enquiry, Shelagh ... this will be of great interest to members 'around the world', not just in this country.

Members who simply cannot attend the AGM and offer their ideas and opinions.

Contribution from David Nicholson 28 October 2011, 19:08top / bottom of page

In my view the lack of any response, even a holding one, to the quite legitimate query raised here is not only downright discourteous but flies against the Society's promotion of these pages as an effective means of communicating with members.

I, for one, will make no further postings on these pages, until a reply of whatever kind is made.

Contribution from Cliff Booker 29 October 2011, 08:34top / bottom of page

An admirable stand David. I was about to join you when I realised it would make it difficult for me to rail against further prolonged silence.

Someone must be monitoring this on-line discussion, we simply require a measured response please.

The 2011 AGM is fast approaching and questions will require an answer then.

Contribution from john dower 30 October 2011, 17:25top / bottom of page

The last two points - from David and Cliff - echo the sentiments of many in the society.

It is impossible to believe that the thread has not been read at Pershore and yet no response.

If the SRGC forum has become the main platform for members to communicate on things in general, with much justification, let us not overlook the fact that we need the AGS site for matters AGS. Unless the site responds to legitimate AGS comments and questions there will be no reason at all for it to continue in that vein.

Time to decide - credibility is in free fall and about to hit rock bottom.

Contribution from Rob Amos 30 October 2011, 20:04top / bottom of page

Although I agree that the minutes should have been made available and that some sort of reply, even if only a 'watch this space' one, should have been given, I do not think that using a public discussion forum is the right way to bring this to Pershore's attention. For 90% of the year the website is how the public will see the Society and we are not going to attract any new members if our own website criticises the AGS. Very few people join at the shows, but many take away leaflets and join via the web. Rather than clinch the deal, this thread will put them off. It is right and proper that we voice our concerns but I feel that points such as this should be taken up directly with Pershore, or perhaps in a 'members only' section of the website, rather than in full view of the public.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 31 October 2011, 10:28top / bottom of page

This is quite interesting because it is obvious that in the past there has been discussion by some members via the Bulletin (cf: the various excerpts I have drawn on elsewhere). This is probably still a good place for members to develop arguements because it can be done in a reasonable and measured way. On the other hand it is quite hard for many members to really contribute their ideas in this way (and of course the Bulletin only comes out every 3 months).

The website is more immediate and for this reason probably also more confrontational, though I am not sure this has to be the case if particular queries are identified individually and dealt with clearly. The biggest benefit is when enough people become involved that the discussion becomes clarified.

Thus a request for details of the minutes is a good one if it is directed at particular items or problems that need to be discussed. In my case this in particular concerns the way the AGS is advertised and the role of our gardens in attracting new members (both of which have been raised by letter earlier on too). The real value of comments made on the website is for those who are on the Committee running the AGS because it gives a sense of the groundswell of opinion, and keeps options open rather than closing them off.

Contribution from Shelagh Smethurst 31 October 2011, 11:00top / bottom of page

If this website is not the right place to raise the fact that something which ought to be on here isn't on here well I don't know where I should have raised it. It is obviously a waste of time expecting any response and it also shows that motions passed at an AGM are also held in contempt by the hierarchy. That being so what is the point of the website or the AGM?

Contribution from john dower 31 October 2011, 11:44top / bottom of page

I have some sympathy with Roberts view - but where is the members only area?

Shelagh is absolutely right, if the website cannot elicit a simple response from Pershore, or any committee member, it loses all credibility as a force for the members.

Contacting Pershore as individuals is unlikely to have the same impact as voicing the problem in public and so that is how it must be.

Contribution from Cliff Booker 31 October 2011, 12:11top / bottom of page

This topic is attracting input and opinions because no response from Officers or Committee has been forthcoming. The title of this 'area' is Members' On-Line Discussion - are we contravening or debasing this area by requesting an answer - I think not?

Contribution from Rob Amos 31 October 2011, 16:00top / bottom of page

The website loses its credibility as a force for the members because it is not used by the members. There are twenty main topics, but almost half of these have not been contributed to in the past month. Even more telling is that out of the thousands of AGS members, only fifteen have made a contribution since the start of October. Compare this with the SRGC forum, where 132 members had logged in today alone. The point of the website is to (a) promote the website to the public and provide easy access to information about who we are, what we do and how to join and (b) act as forum for members to share their news, events and plants. (a) has been achieved but we are failing on (b) because the membership does not take advantage of what is and what could be made available.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 31 October 2011, 17:36top / bottom of page

Part of the reason the SRGC website attracts members so much must be down to the remarkable people who have set it up and moderate it, and perhaps the rather independant spirit of the Scots! Once members get involved it is quite exciting to share one's experiences of gardening. The AGS site has not somehow taken off in this way and this must be due in a degree to the strong emphasis of the AGS on exhibiting; one is shy to show ignorance amongst such illustrious company! And in addition the exhibiting fraternity is quite a close knit one (and I mean no hint of criticism by that, just that it is a fact).

The website itself seems easy to use and the fact that it is different is in some ways refreshing. A friend who understands the setting up of websites better than I has said that the Local Group Websites are very user friendly for those who run them, so the mechanisms are there for more effective use of the website.

However, does the website really appeal at first glance to many prospective new members? Shouldn't there be a range of pictures to show the diversity of the AGS as Cliff has illustrated on his posters? Could we have a member's garden shown at regular intervals as I have suggested? How is a balance achieved between catering to present members and attracting new members? (which may in time take the Society in slightly new directions). These are all ongoing questions which don't require specific answers but some sort of discussion about how the Society can be improved and made even more exciting for gardeners. This way more people are likely to be attracted to run different aspects of the Society and a new influx of members might stir us up a little!

Contribution from Chris McGregor 01 November 2011, 13:33top / bottom of page

I must admit that I have been extremely busy in the last week or two as it is our end of year audit and had not picked up on this latest thread. I can report that there have been ongoing discussions regarding the publishing of Main Committee minutes. A members' only area is being set up on the site and it is intended to publish information very shortly.

Contribution from Shelagh Smethurst 01 November 2011, 13:52top / bottom of page


Contribution from Tim Ingram 02 November 2011, 22:57top / bottom of page

One has to get the feeling that by comparison with the SRGC and NARGS, the AGS is a rather hierarchical organisation, perhaps to some extent paternalistic. This may be satisfactory for many but makes it extremely hard to introduce alternative ideas and viewpoints, even if one essentially finds the Society rather wonderful. Certainly I have found this personally and it seems to have taken enormous effort to get this far. So I do hope for positive discussions at the AGM and a wider outlook of the AGS in the future.

Contribution from Shelagh Smethurst 03 November 2011, 08:46top / bottom of page

Here here Tim, I quite agree but not only discussion action on motions passed at the AGM.

Contribution from David Nicholson 03 November 2011, 15:30top / bottom of page

Just following on from comments made so far here. Sorry this is a bit of a tome and it may take me so long to type it that I'm "timed out" so apologies if it turns out to be "bitty".

Though I can accept that it would be inappropriate for AGS business to be available to non-members why should it take so long to sort out a method of implementing a decision made by members nearly 12 months ago? If what members were requesting created a number of administrative problems why were these not highlighted and clarified at the time? Members would have least been aware that things would not happen overnight.

I do find it odd too that in the best communication tool (with members) the Society has that no-one appears to be charged with looking at the Online Discussion threads on a daily basis (given normal usage it would take about 20 seconds a day!) in order for the Society to be able to respond within a satisfactory period of time. More contact-less angst!

Contribution from David Nicholson 03 November 2011, 15:45top / bottom of page

In respect of Robert's comment ".... because the membership does not take advantage of what is, and what could be available....."

We have, of course, discussed the developments of the Society's Web Site a number of times in these pages. Usage has not improved much, or indeed at all since the last discussion. Earlier today I looked at the thread "Problems With Cultivation and Identification" and it really surprised me how many posts to the thread receive no reply. The last post by Geoffrey Alderton on 1 November is fairly typical. Had Geoffrey posted instead on the SRGC or NARGS Forums he would have had a reply, if not in minutes then in the same day.

I have said before that given those Forum development another similar Forum is perhaps more than the market can take. So, what off the AGS Site? I can see need, and a vital one, for member-member communication and Society-member communication. I can see a need also for Show information, Show pictures but in my view the Society should be doing much more to publicise it's collective skills and knowledge about the hobby we all love.

I still think there is room for an Alpine Plant/Bulb Wiki, along the lines of the Pacific Bulb Society Wiki with a wide range of pictures and cultivation information submitted by members and non-members for the benefit of all. I accept that Wiki's are not every ones cup of tea and they take a little work to learn how to use them and how to submit information. There is no such Wiki out there at the moment and it is a chance, in my view, for the Society to use the technology as a handrail to the future rather than a staple to the past.

Contribution from Julie Slimm 03 November 2011, 16:12top / bottom of page

If David Nicholson is so concerned about someone being charged to check daily threads on this website, naybe he should volunteer to do so.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 03 November 2011, 16:35top / bottom of page

The essence of this is trying to define changes in the Society that might be of benefit to all, and I think specifically of attracting new gardeners to join the Society and bring their ideas and enthusiasms. Such debate is not simple but can take this form when it becomes personalised. I would say it is unfair to criticise David in this way as he has been one of the few who has entered into debate on the website and initiated ideas. It is very true that it can be easy to ask for change but not actually get involved in doing very much to help but I think that is for each individual to square with themselves, and those of us who do use the website in general do quite a lot to run the Groups and Shows and thus have quite a vested interest in the Society.

Contribution from Rob Amos 03 November 2011, 16:53top / bottom of page

It is these kinds of issues that I want to try and tackle in my new role as Local Group Correspondent' i.e. promoting greater interaction within and between the Society and its membership. I have worked on a couple of schemes with this in mind, namely the Group Secretary section of the website and the AGS Facebook page. Unfortunately this term at university has been extremely busy so I have not been able to work as hard on these as I would have liked. In the New Year, however, things will be more settled and I will have more time to devote to the task. Although I do not want to take any discussions away from the forum, if anyone has any ideas about how this might be achieved, or how the website might be used to better promote our activities, please feel free to email me at and I will be more than happy to discuss them with you.

Contribution from David Nicholson 03 November 2011, 19:20top / bottom of page

Julie Slimm wrote:-

Well, as I've shown it wouldn't be particularly onerous would it?

The point I made was in respect of Society to member and member to Society contact a matter on which I would expect the Society to be keen. I can easily communicate with the Societ through these pages, if someone representing the Society actuall reads them. I don't particularly need to communicate with myself! Seemple

Sorry missed the quote out in the above.

Contribution from David Nicholson 03 November 2011, 19:45top / bottom of page

Robert wrote:-

From acorns Robert!

Just had another look at the Group Secretary's pages(and obviously I am one as otherwise I wouldn't have been able to look) and it looks as if you're doing a lot of talking to yourself at the moment. No matter, it might take off and I'm guilty as charged. I will try to put something on there. Facebook is a step too far for me though and, I suspect, many others too. The member "in the street" hasn't a good track record at harnessing technology as viewing figures would prove! after spending a great deal of time last year getting our Group Web Site up and running I found that the regular readers of it were me, and er me! and lost interest. Having now got the Group's Newsletter written (well mostly), printed and distributed I may now have another stab at generating some interest from me in the Web Site and then hopefully some Group members in reading it.

Quote gone missing again. I selected the text of Robert's post and copied it and thought, well more than thought I did paste into my post. It was there as I was typing but missing prsumeably after I'd pressed "Submit"

Am I doing something wrong??

Contribution from Tim Ingram 04 November 2011, 13:00top / bottom of page
'Up for Discussion'

If anyone reading this looks back to the thread started by Cliff, 'Up for Discussion', they will see many things revisited and much useful discussion. There seems to be something of the element of climbing a scree about all this, one step forward, two steps back, ie: progress is not made! But there we are, who knows how things might change in the future? It seems likely they won't change much but then I don't suppose many really want them to.

Contribution from Rob Amos 04 November 2011, 17:35top / bottom of page

Many thanks for your comments David and for contributing to the Group Secretary site. Although I've been keen to get things moving there I have made a conscious effort not to put too much up ? I really want that area to be driven by what the local group secretaries want.

With regards to the Facebook page, it is another and different platform on which we can advertise the AGS. For me, it is also another step towards a far more ambitious and long term goal of attracting younger members. There are a few of us around (most of the students who help Kit Strange with the Early Spring Show are members), but I see no reason why there should not be more. I joined the AGS in my early teens and although I think attracting thirteen/fourteen year olds might be too much of a challenge, there is no reason why we should not be promoting ourselves to possibly sixteen+ year olds. After all, it is at that age when many young people go into horticultural courses at college.

Also thanks Tim for pointing out the 'Up for Discussion' thread. I've read through it and it has given me plenty of food for thought.

Contribution from David Nicholson 04 November 2011, 19:26top / bottom of page

Robert, well worth a try it's an admirable aim.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 06 November 2011, 16:48top / bottom of page

We have discussed between each other very much on this thread, with especial reference to the website, and perhaps much to the chagrin of some members. I also spend time on the NARGS and SRGC website forums comparing notes with different gardeners. However, it is rare for me to actually look at the initial website pages and certainly on both the above sites there are some very interesting items. Notably on the SRGC site there are a whole series of fascinating articles on all different aspects of alpine growing and gardens, and if they are valuable to me they must be equally so to any new members, or prospective members looking in. Local Group websites also have similar articles, though obviously not on the same scale, but I think this could be a valuable addition to the main AGS website too. In particular I think of practical articles, and even (or especially) for those of us who have grown alpines for many years it is very useful to refresh one's memory and compare notes with other good growers. It is another example of what Robert has pointed out and hopes for, the way in which the website can begin to share experiences between growers very much more than it does at present.

Contribution from Rob Amos 12 November 2011, 22:33top / bottom of page

A quick update with regards to some of the things discussed in the latter half of this thread. First of all a 'Garden of the Season' item is going to be created in the near future. (With this in mind could you drop me an email at please Tim?)

Also coming soon are two new diaries, both of which will be written by nurserymen. If these prove popular I am hoping to have a number of nurseries keeping a diary from around the country; sharing their experiences, successes, failures, problems and solutions.

Watch out for more developments to the website throughout the coming year!

Contribution from Tim Ingram 13 November 2011, 13:05top / bottom of page

Very many thanks Robert - have done so. A thought - if there are an increasing number of diaries on the website would it be more useful to have a general discussion section in response to them, rather than as at the moment individual discussion sections for each? This way more connected discussions might ensue between diarists and members? It will be really interesting to see how the website develops.

Contribution from Rob Amos 13 November 2011, 16:50top / bottom of page

Thanks Tim - I have sent a reply but I know that the university has had some trouble with emails recently so please let me know if it has not gone through.

Also I like your idea about a combined diary discussion. I shall talk to Jim about it and see what we can come up with.

Contribution from Diane Clement 14 November 2011, 17:47top / bottom of page

I think it would be a good idea to ask the opinion of diarists on combining the discussion threads. I, for one would prefer the present structure of separate threads as the diaries are so different I think it could get confusing to combine them. I think they would just end up with lots of subthreads anyway for each topic. I always set up a discussion thread for each diary entry as a way of publicising that a new entry has been written. This works as the discussion thread shows a new entry and I then put in a hyperlink to the diary entry to enable easy clickable access. I'd be interested to hear the opinions of the other diarists.

And while I'm here, sorry I haven't done a diary for a time, but my life has been totally taken over by the seed exchange for the last couple of months. I'll get round to it one of these days ...

The picture shows my living room a few weeks ago, seed boxes ready to be filled with seed for packers.

Contribution from David Nicholson 14 November 2011, 18:29top / bottom of page

I think I would also prefer the present Diary structure

it seems to work very well indeed.

If nothing else Diane it must have cut down on the hoovering!!

As far as the Seed Ex is concerned, and to paraphrase a past Elder Statesman "Never have so few gained the anticipation and appreciation of so many"

Contribution from Tim Ingram 16 November 2011, 09:05top / bottom of page

Diane - I see what you mean. The established diaries already have a long presence and following so it would be best to keep the present format. My thought was really that having many more diaries could become confusing if they were all separate and had separate response threads. In a way this is already happening to a limited extent because relatively few members tend to put a significant series of items on the website. It would certainly be worth thinking through how this could be made as user friendly as possible.

I like the idea of a good mix of more extensive articles and shorter items because good variety is likely to encourage more people to get involved.

Contribution from Caroline Seymour 12 December 2011, 22:30top / bottom of page

Having decided to join a few of these discussion threads, I am delighted to hear that the Group Secretaries area is 'open for business'. My original suggestion was as a way for exchange of ideas, since talking to other Groups Secretaries I always find that there have been initiatives that might be trialled elsewhere. Unfortunately, I am no longer a Group Secretary, so do not have access.

I use the website as a reference mostly and seldom take an evening off to read everything. If there were a couple lines from a few of the latest posts on the home page, with a 'read more...', I might be intrigued to follow the link to the whole thread.

David mentioned a bulb wiki. Are you familiar with - Audrey Cain's collection?

Contribution from David Nicholson 17 October 2012, 20:19top / bottom of page

Do I take it that there have been no meetings of Committees since 3 December 2011?

Contribution from Chris McGregor 18 October 2012, 16:18top / bottom of page

Thank you David for highlighting this. There is one set of notes that should have been published and it is purely an omission on my part. I will rectify this and another set will be due to go up shortly after the next meeting.

Contribution from David Nicholson 18 October 2012, 19:49top / bottom of page

Thank you for your reply Christine.

Contribution from David Nicholson 19 October 2013, 18:52top / bottom of page

I make no apologies for reopening this thread but some time ago we had a wide ranging discussion which essentially was about Society to Member and Member to Society communication and a number a very valid points were made. This lead to a Member's Area being created on the Site where some digests of Committee minutes were published (after as lot of prompting!).

I looked for that Area today and couldn't find it. Now, I might have missed it but it looks as though it has been removed.

If it has been removed could I ask why please?

Contribution from Jon Evans 19 October 2013, 19:32top / bottom of page


Like you I have had trouble finding information on the new website layout. However, in this case I can solve your problem. If you are logged in as a member, you can still access the 'Members Area'. Go to Home on the top (black) menu bar, then 'Information...' from the subsidiary (blue on white) menu bar. You should get a second row with 'Members Area' on it - if you select this there are various items to access.

This will probably be a disappointment, since it looks as though noone has updated it in the last year, however, that is where to find it.

Contribution from Cliff Booker 20 October 2013, 11:53top / bottom of page

Many thanks for the information, Jon ... but, sadly, this will prove another pointless exercise if updates there are none. Like the many, we no longer hold our breath, hope expired eons ago.

Contribution from David Nicholson 20 October 2013, 12:34top / bottom of page

Thank you Jon, yes it took some finding. I'm glad to see it is still there though but disappointed that nothing has been posted since October 2012. This really is very poor communication and should be properly addressed. Effective communication with members should be at the forefront of any large organisations planning and especially so of one with a wide-spread membership throughout this country and the world. Yet again a pretty good example of an organisation forgetting that the members ARE the organisation!

Contribution from David Nicholson 02 November 2013, 20:01top / bottom of page

In spite of the comments made here I see that there has been no improvement and the last "digest" of Committee Minutes remains as October 2012. I see also that the last published (on this Site) Summarised Accounts was for 2010-2011. Again this further questions this Societies desire to communicate with the membership.


I just did a little calculation based on the 2010/11 accounts and the recorded income from Membership Subscriptions of £149,419. I can't remember what the subscription was that year but for the sake of the exercise let's say it was £28. That would project a "give or take" membership of around 5,500. Somewhat less than the 7,500 supposed membership I read somewhere!

Contribution from Martin Rogerson 03 November 2013, 12:35top / bottom of page

Ah yes but there are lots of joint members who, if using direct debit, are still only paying £33 for next year, add in a few junior members and the total number of members you calculate will increase significantly.


It sounds like your suspicious of something but the accounts are audited professionally.


I do agree that member confidence would be improved if the commitment to publish summary minutes of committee meetings were honoured. Mind you I can't think of any other organisation like this I belong to publishing committee minutes.

Contribution from David Nicholson 03 November 2013, 19:14top / bottom of page

Yes, I accept that Martin which is why I said "give or take" membership. It's a question that has been asked a number of times in these pages without any answer being given hence the need to guestimate.

No, I've no reason to distrust the Society's auditors, well no more than I distrust any accountant. After all none of them bathed in the glow of trust that shone from Enron; Northern Rock; Abbey National; RBS etc. etc. etc.!!! I do wonder though if a note to the accounts was appended in view of the massive loss at the Nottingham conference.

Your last paragraph hits the nail on the head, it's a question of "communication" and "confidence" and it doesn't really matter how many other organisations do, or don't publish committee minutes. The Members of this one agreed that it should and it isn't being done. It's as simple as that.

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