More than a month ago, I was censored by the Brockwell Swimmer on this Forum for asking questions about the swimming club called Brockwell Swimmers that he has invented. He took down my comment on his news story and prevented all further comment by anyone else on it. Frustrated by this censorship, I put up my own news item on the Forum, which has attracted its fair share of comment, positive and negative, none censored. But a month on and not one of the questions I asked then has been answered. They are important, serious questions for someone seeking the trust of the public by setting up an organisation.
Once again, here they are:
1 Was the AGM that, according to the website, approved the Brockwell Swimmers Constitution on 27 January, legally convened? To be specific, was the AGM widely advertised, first on the Brockwellswimmers.com website itself, on social media such as Twitter and Facebook and in local businesses, so all interested parties could attend? Was due notice of at least two weeks given? Was the purpose—to approve a constitution and elect officers—clearly stated in all the publicity?
This goes to the heart of the legitimacy of the founding of this club.
2 Where are the draft minutes of the annual general meeting of 27 January 2016? What was the numbers of members present and did they sign a register as proof of attendance? By what method was the constitution adopted and what discussion of it was there, including of the membership fee and the accepting of members under the age of 18?
3 What are the names of the elected officers and committee mentioned in the message to the Herne Hill Forum?
4 Is Brockwell Swimmers a bona fide, open organisation, owned by its members, like Brockwell Lido Users (BLU) (1500 members), or is it the private property of one person, Tim Sutton? The Terms and Conditions of the website—which all would-be members must agree to—seem to indicate the second is the case: “The term ‘BrockwellSwimmers.com’ or ‘us’ or ‘we’ refers to the owner of the website.”
If Brockwell Swimmers is the private property of one person, how can it be a democratic, open club?
5 Is there or is there not a fee for joining Brockwell Swimmers? Sections 3c, 4a and 4b of the Constitution, adopted on 27 January, all mention such a fee and Mr Sutton says he has set up a club bank account. But the recent publicity, including on the website and on the Forum, says it is free—which is presumably not constitutional. But if membership is actually free, what are the club’s sources of finance—Mr Sutton’s private funds?
It is all rather confusing, where financial probity and clarity are such important matters if you are seeking public trust. It is also vital we know the name and fitness for office of the treasurer.
6 As the Constitution clause 3c mentions taking memberships from people under the age of 18, is anyone in Brockwell Swimmers approved by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to be in charge of the club’s youth members, thus preventing unsuitable people from having access to vulnerable groups, including children?
7 How transparent and inclusive is the membership process? Section 3a says ‘Membership is limited to swimmers who regularly use the Brockwell Lido pool’, which is clear, but 3d says ‘the Committee may decide whether or not to reject an application for membership’.
Appeals against rejection are decided by … the Committee that rejected it in the first place (3e). Judge and jury in its own case, rather than an independent appeal process: that is not best practice in a democratic institution.
It was worrying when these questions were originally censored, because it made it appear as if Mr Sutton had no answers to them. Now, a month after they were first put, failure to answer them promptly and in full must surely lay open to serious doubt the legitimacy of Brockwell Swimmers as a trustworthy club.