Regency Society Troubles

As a paid-up life member of the Regency Society, I have been considerably worried by its recent well-publicised troubles. But as a committee member of six years, I have been actively involved.

In my own small way, I helped prepare the Society’s submission at the recent Marina Inquiry. Our official position was one of opposition to the developers’ plans so I was considerably put out when two of my fellow trustees, Audrey Simpson and Delia Forester, spoke independently at the Inquiry in support of the proposals.

Delia and Audrey have both been labelled in the past as ‘developers’ so some saw the episode as an opportunity to remove the two in order to restore the Society’s emphasis on conservation. I am personally keen to see the Society move back to its preservationist roots but see expelling trustees as a rotten means. We discussed the issue at committee extensively yet closure was not reached. An Emergency General Meeting (EGM) was called to remove Audrey and Delia. At that point I chose to heavily back the pair to remain on-board.

With emotions charged, the EGM was always going to be hard and an amendment to ‘censure’, not remove, the pair caused particular division. The amended resolution was eventually voted upon and passed with virtually unanimous support; Audrey and Delia even voted to censure themselves. Not everybody left happy though.

Nick Tyson gave the best speech of the evening; an eloquent description of the vote really being about an emphasis on conservation or development. I in fact think that the Society will emerge from this mess much stronger, with that renewed emphasis on conservation, with or without Audrey and Delia continuing as trustees.

I was particularly upset that party politics was brought into the affair by some. Delia and I stood for council against each other in Regency Ward in 2007; Delia for Labour, I for the Conservatives. We’ve always got on and the question of which teams we’re on has always seemed pretty irrelevant – especially bearing in mind our responsibilities as charity trustees.

I fundamentally believe that committees work best when people disagree and the mechanism to pick that committee is by vote at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting. The members of this great Society are, therefore, ultimately in charge. I’m sure that they will use their votes well to ensure that a new committee goes forward with that all-important fresh mandate.