Tuesday, 19 August 2008

In Hope Cove

I'm staying in Hope Cove, a tiny fishing hamlet on the Devon coast, near Salcombe. To those who love Devon the most glorious part of the Shire is South Hams, the southern most extremity between Dartmoor and the sea and Hope Cove is the jewel in the crown.

Just 5 minutes from the tiny cottage I'm staying in and you are out onto the cliffs -and I'm delighted to say they are protected forever in the care of the magnificent National Trust (CEO, Fiona Reynolds, is an acevo member).

I love the walk along to Bolt Tail, a brooding expanse of rock jutting out to sea. And an ever present hazard to the passing ships as a number of shipwrecks here testify.

I walk up there a lot, and not just for the view: its the only place you can get mobile reception!

My brother, 2 sisters, parents and assorted relations are all here too. Can you imagine a convention of Bubbs - trying to decide where and when to go to lunch or dinner - or the beach, or a walk. This is a lengthy process - and enough to drive you to drink (it does me!).

You may recall the name of this place - it hit the news recently as the volunteer coastguards did their job by rescuing someone, only to be told they were not allowed to use the Lifeboat and it has now been impounded. The volunteers face disciplinary action. A petition is already circulating in the village. And quite right too.

Another case of the over zealous bureaucrat was the sad example of the couple who have been successfully raising money for RNLI by selling home made cakes. They have been so successful they have been told by their Council they must be regarded as a
"business" and so get insurance, licences etc.

Silly examples of course, but on the other hand volunteering is a serious matter these days. Those of my members who have substantial bands of volunteers understand the need for a professional approach which provides support and training to volunteers and sets out the need for proper conduct. All of this costs - and Governments too easily forget the cost of volunteering and are too partial to new volunteering initiatives, forgetting that the charities that are supposed to provide these ever expanding volunteer opportunities need extra resources to manage them. That is not quite so exciting for Government so the money is lavished on campaigns to encourage us all to volunteer when actually it would be better spent on enabling the charities themselves to manage their existing commitments better. But it has never been fashionable to spend money on "administration" and yet that is what turns the wheels of the charities so they can then deliver.

The Shaw Trust scandal continues - more to be revealed soon. The Third Sector tomorrow should be interesting reading; it is good this matter is being exposed to the full glare of publicity. Trustees of charities need to understand that transparency is crucial to the trust and confidence people place in charities. You must expect scrutiny if you summarily remove a very successful CEO.

I am looking at the way in which Local Authorities handle the dismissal of a CEO. To protect Chief Executives from bad practice by Councillors any disputed case of a CEO dismissal has to be referred to an independent adjudicator. The law provides proper protection following a number of scandals of Councillors removing their CEOs for not bending to the latest political whim. My old boss, Sir Rodney Brooke, has handled many such. This provides proper protection for any CEO as Councillors know their actions will be scrutinised. Perhaps we can develop a similar system for charities? Perhaps a tribunal, established under the auspices of the Charity Commission, to review any dispute such as the recent tragic case of the Shaw Trust's treatment of Ian Charlesworth? This might give Charity Trustees pause for thought before summarily throwing out their CEO.

Good governance in our sector is dependent on effective CEOs. And acevo must be there to protect the reputation and integrity of its members. We shall.

1 comment:

Boni said...

Hi Stephen,

As ever you write well and pertinently. Your blog needs a higher profile, the issues and concerns you write about need to get outside the walled garden of the third sector into the public domaine too, after all it is tax payers money.

Lovely to picture you on holiday, and even there, functioning on all cylinders. The brain needs activity and comparing and contrasting all is fun.

Best
Boni Sones