Revisions to Constitution 2016

Following a decision of the Executive in February 2016, a draft of a revised Constitution is being put forward for discussion.

The draft revision has not been formally approved by the Executive: it was thought better to put it up for discussion by both the Executive and the wider Membership. The Executive would then approve a final version taking into account any comments made: this in turn would probably go to a vote of the full membership, though if there are no comments that may not be necessary as the Constitution does not diminish the rights of Members and in fact strengthens them. Key points to note are:

  • There are many bits of tidying-up and all the democratic procedures have been tightened up and/made more explicit.
  • The most significant change is to omit the requirement for a Biennial General Meeting. General Meetings are now held as and when considered necessary. The threshold for Members to call a General Meeting has been reduced from 15% to 5%, so Members' rights are not only protected but strengthened.
  • The assumption is that the Executive would appoint the Officers rather  than them always being elected via what are currently two-yearly General Meetings. But Members retain the right to elect and deselect both Officers and normal Executive Members at a General Meeting should they consider this necessary and, where appointed by the wider Membership, such elected Officers and Members cannot then simply be removed by the Executive.

Most of our Executive Members are there by right as Forum Representatives, so it is very difficult for the Executive to fall into the hands of a self-perpetuating clique. The Forums have ultimate control of the majority of the Executive.

The proposed changes are listed at the end of the revised draft, and tracked changes are on if you want to see the full history. 

The drafts are downloadable from the Information Library here.


Other archived business

To comply with Coroporation Tax arrangements for Mutual Income, more detailed provisions have been introduced to govern the distribution of the net assets of the Network back to the members in the event of dissolution.

Similar procedures are specified for distribution of some of the accumulated surplus should the Executive decide this would be appropriate.

These changes can be found in Draft 5. The sections concerned are reproduced here for your convenience:

13.4 Any assets remaining after the payment of proper debts [=Net Assets] shall be returned to current and previous Full Members of the Network in accordance with the following rules which are intended to return the accumulated surplus of the Network in proportion to the contributions made:

a) The total contributions of Full Members over the five years preceding the date of the decision to dissolve the Network shall be calculated [=Amount A].

b) For each individual Full Member (whether current or past) that has made a contribution over the previous five years preceding the date of the decision to dissolve the Network the sum total of contributions made whilst a Full Member shall be calculated [=Amounts B].

c) Each Amount B shall each be calculated as a percentage of Amount A [=Percentage C].

d) For each Amount B, an Amount D shall be calculated by applying Percentage C to the Net Assets.

e) Each Amount D shall be remitted to the contributing Full Member less an appropriate fixed amount per transaction to cover the administration costs involved, the latter amount to be determined by the Executive.

f) For the purpose of this clause 13.4, a ‘contribution’ shall be any payment to the Network of a Membership Fee or a payment forattending a Conference or Training Event organised by the Network primarily to serve its Members.

g) In the event that a Full Member cannot be located, the amount due to them under 13.4(e) shall be paid to the Empty Homes Agency Ltd or failing that any charity or not-for-profit organisation with similar aims.

14. Distribution of Portions of Surplus

14.1The Executive may at its discretion distribute a portion of the accumulated surplus above £10,000 [=Portion of Surplus] to the Full Members in which case the distribution shall be effected as described at 13.4 save that in the calculations

a)Portion of Surplus shall be substituted for Net Assets

b)No administration costs shall be deducted from the amounts calculated.

These changes introduced some flexibility into the times allowed for voting on motions to occur. Procedures are also specified for "Procedural Motions" such as a motion to waive the rules of the meeting.  In summary:

  1. The times allowed for voting at Virtual Meetings may be reduced from 10 to 5 days, by agreement between the Chair and Secretary where there is no expressed opposition to a draft motion.
  2. The time allowed for voting at Virtual Meetings may be extended by up to a further 10 days by the Chair (e.g. where no quorum has been achieved).
  3. Resolutions to waive the rules applying to a meeting are defined as Procedural Resolutions and at the Chair’s discretion these may attract reduced times for debate and voting, down to a minimum of one and two working days respectively.