Friday, 29 July 2016 10:17

BMC to widen debate but questions remain

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After what even the BMC describe as "a rocky ride" following the announcement that the organisation is to rebrand the CEO, Dave Turnball, has announced plans for a wider debate.

 Saying that the BMC has "been listening" the proposal is:

•We remain firmly behind Climb Britain and believe it is the right choice for the future of the organisation; the BMC has to keep moving on and stay relevant to new people as times change.

•We accept the need for wider debate so we’re proposing a period of active engagement in which we will get people together to discuss the issues; this will be done via the next set of Area meetings together with some specific gatherings of groups such as clubs and the GB Climbing Team if there is interest or demand. I will personally attend as many of these as I can, alongside the President and/or other senior BMC officials as and when they’re available. 

•Climb Britain and the rebranding issue will then go back to the next National Council meeting (17 September) for further discussion and a decision on the way forward.

•In the meantime, we will keep the Climb Britain logo out there and will monitor feedback from members so that by September we should have a much better feel for how it's all working.

BMC rebrand

While the announcement that there will be a "wider debate" will be welcomed by many the proposal is somewhat lacking in detail and the fact that the announcement starts with a commitment to the rebrand and ends with the declaration that the rebranded logo will be kept "out there" does little to inspire confidence that the debate has any hope of making a difference.

Neither the North West or South West Area have published Area Meeting dates prior to the National Council meeting of 17th September and there is a lack of detail on what "some specific gatherings of groups such as clubs and the GB Climbing Team" means. Will the "specific groups" cover the full range of BMC member activities or will there be over representation by, for example, climbing clubs? Are the GB Climbing Team seriously likely to object to a rebrand to Climb Britain?

With the North East Area Meeting taking place on 1st September, and four more within the following 6 days, the timeframe for members to look at the issues is very short for such a major decision. This "wider debate" also depends on members knowing that the subject is to be discussed at area meetings, yet there's no mention of an email to all members informing them that their next area meeting will discuss such a controversial issue.

Only a tiny minority of members attend area meetings but there's a growing call that this is a decision that should have the widest possible consultation with members. While the announcement says that the rebranding will go back to the next National Council for further discussion and a decision, the impression given by the opening and closing remarks make it sound very much like a paper exercise. The BMC has constitutional instruments available to ask the whole membership what it thinks and to obtain a mandate if it can persuade members of its case. It took 9 months for the consultants to come up with the rebrand but the BMC want to push it through in little over a month - it seems an inordinate rush.

Time alone is not the answer either. The existing reasoning in the initial announcement and subsequent "the facts" has obviously not persuaded people in the way the BMC expected and the passage of a month isn't going to change that. What's needed is more evidence to support the foundations on which the rebranding decision was made. If the existing name is failing to attract new members show us the figures declining year on year. If young people aren't joining show us the statistics. If it's for economic reasons then be open about it. The Executive aren't stupid people and there must have been overwhelming arguments to persuade them to ditch 70 years of history and tradition, but it's patently obvious you've failed to communicate those reasons or there wouldn't be the level of opposition there is.