BC consultation

Inland paddling
Chris Bolton
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Re: BC consultation

Post by Chris Bolton »

As such, one would expect that its central aim, and perhaps its sole aim, is to make money.
I don't think that's the case. It's a "company limited by guarantee" and is non-profit making - the shareholders are the members, and (if I remember correctly) they are each liable for £1 towards its debts if it goes insolvent.
What actual authority does BC have to "govern" canoe clubs?
I don't think it has any authority over clubs. As National Governing Body is has authority (from UK Sport, I think, and ultimately from Government) to manage UK representation in International competition. So far as clubs are concerned it offers them affiliation, which includes insurance, and a qualification scheme. There's no compulsion on a club to affiliate to BC, or to use BC qualifications.

What I would like BC to do (and they have improved at this in recent years) is to use their authority as NGB in representing paddlers and paddlesport to others, to improve paddling opportunities for their members and potential members. Access is one example. Where they fall down (and I've made this comment in the individual member survey) is in failing to understand the difference between (A) running an organisation that spends public money and has professional staff, ie, the international competition, grant funded side, (B) running a training organisation for professional coaches and centre employees and (C) running a membership organisation which is almost entirely club and volunteer based. (A) and (B) need a very rigorous level of process; (C) is unworkable (in my opinion) without a lot of flexibility and judgement. That also requires clarity throughout that that's the way it is run; people shouldn't expect the same duty of care from a club volunteer as they do from a professional instructor - if they do, they should be prepared to pay the same fees.

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Re: BC consultation

Post by Franky »

(C) running a membership organisation which is almost entirely club and volunteer based.

[...]

(C) is unworkable (in my opinion) without a lot of flexibility and judgement
Hm. If you're right, that falsifies my suggestion that the BCU's origins were in the grass roots of the canoeing community.

While taking your point Chris, I don't see why the need for "a lot of flexibility and judgment" should equate to something being unworkable. But it probably *is* unworkable given the other functions BC performs, or claims to perform, in today's world. The BC of 2020 is evidently a very different beast from the BCU that was formed in 1936.

A charitable argument is that BC is suffering from serving too many masters - the government that gives it money to win medals, the profit-making organisations that want a central body to qualify their staff, and the clubs that want it for what it was originally set up to do - provide a committed but semi-informal hub for recreational paddlers and clubs.
people shouldn't expect the same duty of care from a club volunteer as they do from a professional instructor - if they do, they should be prepared to pay the same fees.
I don't think anyone would expect the same legal duty of care. But ironically, the more concerned instructors get about covering their asses if anything goes wrong, the more removed they become from the notion of ensuring nothing goes wrong because that's the right thing to do.

I was taught to paddle by BCU-qualified club coaches, and a few unqualified helpers. When I joined my club, I had no idea what the BCU was, or the extent of my instructors' duty of care. I just made the (naive?) assumption that they were people who had sufficient skill to teach beginners, and sufficient judgment and decency not to put them in danger.

But then again... when I pay for coaching, I don't pay for extra duty of care - I pay for extra expertise. There are paddlers I'd implicitly trust to judge whether I was competent to run a particular river and whether they would have the skills to rescue me if anything went wrong. I wouldn't be reassured by any official duty of care they were covered for for their own sakes.

[Edit] ... Now I think about it, duty of care isn't something you can pay for anyway - it is legally implicit. A professional qualification can say, "We think this person has the skills to fulfill his or her duty of care", but that doesn't exempt somebody without that piece of paper from exactly the same duty of care.

Chris Bolton
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Re: BC consultation

Post by Chris Bolton »

If you're right, that falsifies my suggestion that the BCU's origins were in the grass roots of the canoeing community.
Not at all. A grassroots based organisation would have been focussed on doing what it thought was necessary, and would have not been constrained by rules, only by doing the right thing. Rules often go far beyond that, and sometimes against it (I remember being reprimanded at work for suggesting that, in the hypothetical case that I needed to use it to save a life, I would use a ladder that was past its certified date provided that in my judgement as an engineer it was safe to use). What I'm trying to say is that if you want to run things with too many formal rules, it's expensive and so doesn't fit into a volunteer framework.
The BC of 2020 is evidently a very different beast from the BCU that was formed in 1936
Agreed. In addition, the whole risk appetite of society is different.
But ironically, the more concerned instructors get about covering their asses if anything goes wrong, the more removed they become from the notion of ensuring nothing goes wrong because that's the right thing to do.
Agreed. Clubs should be run on the basis of the right thing to do.
A professional qualification can say, "We think this person has the skills to fulfill his or her duty of care", but that doesn't exempt somebody without that piece of paper from exactly the same duty of care.
Anyone paid to do a task is subject to the Health and Safety at Work (etc) Act. A volunteer generally isn't. That probably has more effect on liability than differences in duty of care.

My fundamental point is that I don't think a club instructor is in the same position as a professional instructor. I think BC should recognise that, but in fact they are pushing them closer together.

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Re: BC consultation

Post by Chalky723 »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 8:15 pm
Anyone paid to do a task is subject to the Health and Safety at Work (etc) Act. A volunteer generally isn't. That probably has more effect on liability than differences in duty of care.
I'd disagree with this - it's not kayaking, but I'm a volunteer leader & supervisor with the DofE & I can assure you that I'm just as liable as a paid provider with regards to health & safety and duty of care for our participants.

I think you'd find that anyone who pays a fee to be in a club would have the full backing of the law regarding that club's instructors providing an assessed and safe service...

Personally, I prefer to paddle with peers where the lines are so blurry as to be incomprehensible ;-)

D
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Chris Bolton
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Re: BC consultation

Post by Chris Bolton »

I can assure you that I'm just as liable as a paid provider with regards to health & safety and duty of care for our participants.
I'm not a lawyer. If you're right, are BC (or their insurer) right to ask for compulsory qualifications for club leaders at the same standard as commercial centres?
Personally, I prefer to paddle with peers where the lines are so blurry as to be incomprehensible ;-)
Indeed, as do I. If a group of paddlers who do peer paddles decide to form a club, and wish to affiliate to BC, do they need some of their members to become qualified?

I don't know the answers, but I think clubs have a problem if the new BC approach is implemented, and I'm asking questions to see if a solution appears.

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Robert Craig
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Re: BC consultation

Post by Robert Craig »

If a group of paddlers who do peer paddles decide to form a club, and wish to affiliate to BC, do they need some of their members to become qualified?
I don't think any qualifications are required for affiliation. The issue is whther qualifications will be required to get the benefit of the negligence insurance.

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Re: BC consultation

Post by Chris Bolton »

I don't think any qualifications are required for affiliation. The issue is whether qualifications will be required to get the benefit of the negligence insurance
I had read it as as a requirement for affiliation, but you may be right. It's not specific, but if you assume proposal 9 applies to 'club activities'
Whilst the majority of coaches are qualified, our regulations allow for some individuals to lead and coach paddling activities on the basis of an assessment of their competence made by club committee members. It is proposed to change this so that all coaches, leaders and instructors will be required to hold a certified British Canoeing qualification and be currently qualified with all necessary updates undertaken.
and then look at proposal 3 for the definition of 'club activities'
It should be noted that “peer paddles”, independent paddling and competitive paddling are not included. Individuals taking part in these activities are recommended to join as full members of British Canoeing or seek alternative insurance arrangements.
So if you're peer paddling (even if you arranged the peer paddle through a club), and an individual member, you're insured should it be found that you were negligent towards your peers - I think? Irrespective of whether you have BC qualifications, and (following from that) whether within the remit of those qualifications?

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Re: BC consultation

Post by DaveB »

BC expects to have considered the responses to the consultation document and to be in touch with clubs again in about a week .

If the upshot is that the scope of the BC cover for "Club Activities" is so restricted that Clubs look elsewhere for their 3rd part liability insurance the main reason for such clubs to stay in BC would seem to be the licence for club members to paddle on the canals, Thames, Norfolk Broads etc plus whatever benefits there are for entering into competetive disciplines.

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Re: BC consultation

Post by Franky »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 11:13 am
I can assure you that I'm just as liable as a paid provider with regards to health & safety and duty of care for our participants.
I'm not a lawyer. If you're right, are BC (or their insurer) right to ask for compulsory qualifications for club leaders at the same standard as commercial centres?
Surely it's not a question of whether they're right or not. If you want affiliation and insurance, you get your club leaders qualified to whatever standard they demand.

Their argument could be that since it's them underwriting club liability, they expect proof, in the form of qualifications, that club leaders are competent enough to minimise the risk of claims being made. (I presume that the insurance is actually supplied by a third party, but if the cost of claims goes up, so does the cost of BC's premium to that third party.)

In itself, this seems reasonable to me. What I don't find reasonable is the trickling down of "liability" to every single individual helping out on courses. The competence of the qualified leaders and coaches should be considered sufficient to vouch for their choice of competent helpers, whether those helpers are qualified or not.

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Re: BC consultation

Post by Chris Bolton »

Their argument could be that since it's them underwriting club liability, they expect proof, in the form of qualifications, that club leaders are competent enough to minimise the risk of claims being made.
I expect that is what the insurers have said. I'd expect BC to understand the impact on club finances (and hence viability) of asking for all club instructors to be qualified to the same level as commercial providers, and find out what the insurance premium would be if they carried on, as now, accepting an assessment by the club officers. Would the extra premium be as much as the cost of getting everybody qualified? I doubt it. Whichever way it was, I'd expect BC to explain the options to the clubs. 30 years ago, when I was BCU Regional Chair, we were in contact with clubs (as I think is still the case) and the Regional Chair had a seat on BCU Council, so we could affect decisions - although it wasn't easy. Now, the RDT Chairs are part of the English Forum, which has no decision making role, so it doesn't surprise me if BC don't understand what clubs do.
What I don't find reasonable is the trickling down of "liability" to every single individual helping out on courses.
I didn't know that was the proposal, I assumed that if you had qualified people in control that was the requirement. But given that a Moderate Water Sea Kayak Leader can lead a group of four, you're going to need a few for a typical club meet, so maybe in effect you do need all the helpers qualified.

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Re: BC consultation

Post by Jim »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 5:36 pm
I expect that is what the insurers have said.
There seems to be a rumour going around that this is not being driven by the insurers.

I do understand that a couple of years ago the insurers did ask BC how they are ensuring that events run by clubs under BC insurance are not exposing the insurer to unnecessary risks, as a result of which BC came up with the event safety qualification and mandated that all clubs running events (other than for club members) must appoint a safety officer who has done that course.

Quite possibly now as then BC are adding extra requirements so that they can show the insurer that they are taking due diligence, even if it is over and above what the insurer may actually be looking for.

Most of the event safety course / requirement I actually think is a good thing, although there are some specific niggles with the way it is implemented in some areas, and it does seem that my risk assessment grows unnecessarily each year...

I have also come around to the idea that improvements in the coaching scheme are worthwhile and do seem to reflect changing trends particularly amongst the paddling public that does not really bother with clubs, BUT these proposals are just far too much, those qualifications are more and more professional and less and less of use to occasional paddlers who help out at clubs.
If BC want to insist that all clubs have some coaches who are effectively professionally qualified volunteers, they need to be providing those qualifications for volunteer cost, if not free, certainly heavily discounted (I don't know the details but SCA have sometimes subsidised course fees to support club volunteers to get qualified, I think particularly in FSRT?). And not just the initial qualification, but all the updates and add on modules they are going to force on club coaches over time. Of course we know there is no money for that since the government is only interested in funding olympic potential in blissful ignorance that if they let the grass roots die there won't be future olympic potential...
BC need to understand that people running clubs work full time and give up their evenings/weekends/annual holiday to support the club at their own expense, and that forcing them to give up more leave (or weekends) and incur more expense just isn't right.

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Re: BC consultation

Post by GregS »

A week or so ago, Clubs in the Yorkshire & Humberside Region (and one or two from further afield) came together to discuss all of the questions raised in a Conference Call. One request was that the Region responded in ways which reflected concerns raised across the Region.

We've entitled this "Beyond Question 9" because in truth, view on that question have been heard loud and clear in Head Office. Our response is more on the other questions and on broader concerns.

This is our submission.

https://spark.adobe.com/page/VEfETqWF13FXs/

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Jim
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Re: BC consultation

Post by Jim »

Interestingly there is absolutely no check on whether a person submitting a response is a member of an English club or even BC.

I would encourage SCA, CW and CANI members who have views, particularly concerns that the bad aspects of this might be rolled out to them later (SCA already has some of it) to submit a response.

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Re: BC consultation

Post by kgb397 »

It's good for clubs to feel part of a wider paddling community, and I think BC do play an important role in sharing info and guidance around latest best practice.

I have a big problem with this change though. The fact is there are a lot of experienced kayakers who give a lot of their time helping out at clubs, teaching people to paddle, for free, for the love of the sport. Most of them won't want to commit XXX time and XXX money to getting a BC qualification just so they can carry on doing something they've been doing for years.

This is such a destructive change. It makes it harder for experienced paddlers to volunteer with clubs. Clubs will be able to take on fewer new paddlers, and run fewer trips. Fewer people coming into the sport, fewer opportunities to paddle. Higher costs for everyone (new paddlers have to pay for professional coaching, experienced paddlers have to pay for courses they don't need to do). It is completely opposed to all BC's stated objectives.

If BC think this will improve safety, they haven't given any evidence for it. I would expect the opposite - if clubs don't have a 'qualified leader' to run trips, they will be pushed to run trips as peer paddles instead which does nothing to promote a positive safety culture.

As to what ties clubs to BC - as I say I think it's great to be part of a community but the real crux of it for most clubs will be the insurance and the river access. For individual clubs to organise that themselves will be really challenging. But then, somehow getting all their experienced qualified is pretty challenging too so it's a pretty impossible situation. I do think a lot of clubs will consider de-affiliation rather than accept this change.

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Re: BC consultation

Post by gp.girl »

kgb397 wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:07 pm
It's good for clubs to feel part of a wider paddling community, and I think BC do play an important role in sharing info and guidance around latest best practice.

I have a big problem with this change though. The fact is there are a lot of experienced kayakers who give a lot of their time helping out at clubs, teaching people to paddle, for free, for the love of the sport. Most of them won't want to commit XXX time and XXX money to getting a BC qualification just so they can carry on doing something they've been doing for years.

This is such a destructive change. It makes it harder for experienced paddlers to volunteer with clubs. Clubs will be able to take on fewer new paddlers, and run fewer trips. Fewer people coming into the sport, fewer opportunities to paddle. Higher costs for everyone (new paddlers have to pay for professional coaching, experienced paddlers have to pay for courses they don't need to do). It is completely opposed to all BC's stated objectives.

If BC think this will improve safety, they haven't given any evidence for it. I would expect the opposite - if clubs don't have a 'qualified leader' to run trips, they will be pushed to run trips as peer paddles instead which does nothing to promote a positive safety culture.

As to what ties clubs to BC - as I say I think it's great to be part of a community but the real crux of it for most clubs will be the insurance and the river access. For individual clubs to organise that themselves will be really challenging. But then, somehow getting all their experienced qualified is pretty challenging too so it's a pretty impossible situation. I do think a lot of clubs will consider de-affiliation rather than accept this change.
Totally right - the club would be replaced by a peer paddle only group - you could be a BC member of you wanted too but no restrictions. There might be spare kit to borrow but probably not. The only areas that would suffer badly are pool sessions and introducing new members as without a group willing to take a financial risk on booking a pool and keeping spare kit everything else would work. Trips might be a bit dodgy with prebooking bunkhouses but as long as everyone plays nicely it would be fine.

Finding enough people willing to get leadership and instructers qualifications would be possible but whitewater especially harder stuff will be almost impossible to provide within the club.
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Re: BC consultation

Post by twopigs »

I hear that there has been a very strong kick back from clubs - not just those of you contributing here. Let's hope that BC take notice of their members!!
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Re: BC consultation

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twopigs
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Re: BC consultation

Post by twopigs »

Apart from the postponing of the round of Regional meetings that was available of the Stronger Clubs meeting in Nottingham on March 14.
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