Saturday 23 August 2008

Boris,dogs and libraries

I am sitting in the library again. In Charlbury . The great British institution of the public library is a real treasure . The one in Charlbury is small , and just 2 computers that you need to book ; but there is a marvellous and dedicated County Librarian and you can order what you want from the vast resources of the Oxford shire County Council. There will be a new library here soon . We are fundraising for a new Community centre which will also house a new library with many more terminals for inveterate bloggers like yours truly . There would have been more money for this if it were not for bad governance of the local charity , The Gifford Trust , where poor decisions by trustees led to assets that should have been a real source of funds not materialising. And I'm afraid there is much local criticism of the slowness of the Charity Commission in sorting the problem out .

It is crucial that our sector continues to focus on improving governance. I was criticised once for saying the sector was complacent on governance . But I'm afraid it is all too often true . We need more attention to good governance ; promoting trustee training , appraisal , codes of performance and standards and also different governance structures .In some cases trustees should be paid. In some cases the board may need to be composed of non execs and execs , along the commercial or public sector model . It has always puzzled me why people think in a vast and diverse sector like ours we can only have one model of governance; that of the wholly unpaid volunteer trustee. We aim to set an example in Futurebuilders and the Adventure Capital Fund , which I chair and I am currently reviewing a Board handbook which will set out clearly the duties and responsibilities of all the board members. We will be conducting an appraisal of the ACF board in the autumn . That will include an appraisal of me by by fellow trustees. We must encourage a more professional approach to Governance , And that is the key role for a Chair and Chief Executive.

And talking of poor governance I should resist the temptation to return to the Shaw Trust and their shocking treatment of their successful CEO.Would you believe that they gave Ian a whopping great performance pay bonus in July ( over the last year I believe it amounted to 25% but I'd have to check ) and told him to go in August ! Does that tell you something ? But I am relying on the Charity Commission to be fair and speedy in their current investigation . So we shall see .And I promise not to be too boring on this subject over the coming month!

I have discovered that owning a dog for the very first time has admitted me to one of the country's largest clubs. It's amazing the number of people I now speak to on my frequent walks out to exercise Sparkles.She is becoming quite the Belle of the Ball around here. However I can't admit to very edifying conversations ; matters as weighty as toilet habits and biting are not exactly post Socratic.

But talking of orators I must admit to a growing liking for Boris Johnston .I know him slightly through an old Oxford friend and never took the rather silly view he was just a clown . I was listening to him on "Today " this morning and it was a pleasure . Such a contrast to the wooden and somewhat grumpy performance by Tom McNally ( though admittedly he did have a somewhat sticky wicket ; come on Gordon , drop ID cards or another disaster beckons ). I heard him last month at a charity reception and he talks really well , the cadences and the metaphors , the allusions and the occasional Latin make him a class performer. I must get him to do something for acevo . We must wish Tessa Jowell and Boris well in running a great Olympics in 2012. Acevo has a wide range of sporting organisations amongst its membership.We must remember that the third sector plays an enormous role in promoting and encouraging sport and that the majority of our sports men and women are given the help and encouragement they need through the thousands of sports bodies around the country.

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