Having retired from the SCU Presidency at the end of 1992 my cycling career as an official was coming to an end. I still represented the SCU as a delegate to the BCF Annual Meeting which led me to being involved in the moves that were to culminate in the birth of British Cycling as we know it now.

The following are my memories of the various meetings – they are not a ‘minute’ just my recollections and may contain some inaccuracies.

It was in 1994 that Tony Doyle (former World Champion) was surprisingly elected to the BCF Presidency. I say surprisingly because hitherto the President had been chosen from the existing National Committees. Tony defeated the incumbent President Ian Emmerson in a straight vote. This upset not a few committee members who felt that Tony didn’t have enough experience in the field of officialdom having just ended his extremely successful professional racing career. When Tony assumed office he had difficulty in getting co-operation from the sitting committee members and an internal ‘war’ developed. About three months after his election Tony called for an EGM to discuss the situation facing the BCF. It was then that I received a personal call from Tony asking me if I would take the Chair of the meeting due to his personal involvement in the problem. I said I would if the members elected me – which the subsequently did. This meeting was held in Manchester. There ensued a lively debate from the floor which, after a while was solving nothing. I called a recess and had a private discussion with the President and his committee to try and find a solution. It would be wrong of me to disclose the nature of the discussion – suffice to say no understanding was achieved. The EGM ended in stalemate.

Later in 1995 I again received a call from the BCF asking me to again Chair a meeting, this time it was the BCF’s AGM to be held in Rotherham. I was made aware that this was going to be a contentious meeting with motions on the table to remove the sitting National committees. I therefore took great care to study meeting procedures and guidance to ensure I was prepared for any eventuality. One of the motions, calling for the immediate removal of the National Committee, had, according to the Secretary, Jim Hendry, not followed due process but his note on the AGM papers said ‘I’ll leave it to the Chair to decide (thanks Jim!).

The meeting was clearly ‘fired up’ and when we came to the contentious motion I declared it to be ‘out of order ‘ and invalid. That infuriated the dissenters who demanded the motion was heard. This caused me to take an action I had previously decided to take if this situation arrived. I stood down from the Chair and asked the Secretary to read a motion ‘that this meeting confirms the decision of the Chair’. This was approved by a majority and I resumed the Chair. Had the members rejected the motion I would have resumed the Chair and proceeded with the motion. This procedure was detailed in the guidance I read which said that if the meeting did not support the Chair it should not be taken as ‘a lack of confidence in the Chair’ and should return to the Chair. I was then asked from the floor who gave me the right to make this decision and I quoted AGM rules which said the Chairman’s decision was final.

The result of all the activity over those past two or three years led to the formation of the ‘new’ Federation now well known as ‘British Cycling’.

One cannot but acknowledge the work of Brian Cookson and Peter King and their colleagues has led to a much higher profile for our sport in the UK. They recognised very quickly the way all sport was heading and that government aid was required to achieve this. They were skilled at presenting a case to the Sports Council that was to lead to the tremendous sporting achievements over the last decade or so.

However, I feel that we have lost much of the camaraderie that previously existed where everyone was ‘amateur’ and those of us in official positions gave of our time freely creating an organisation, though not free of faults, was run by the members for the members.

The current organisation is a now a professional service organisation driven by Sports Council policies and delivering a service to any who wish to purchase these services. Measured in sheer numbers this policy is clearly a success but like all government bodies there is a tendency to become distant from the actual members who now have little say in what pertains. Only time will tell but I suspect that what we now have will become the accepted practice – where we are governed by the few and not the many.

Footnote March 2017

I write this at a time when British Cycling is going through troubled times. The organisation has delivered what the Sports Council/Government wanted i.e. Olympic Medals. Unfortunately not enough attention was paid to ‘protocols’ as required by Government and now all the ‘PC’ boxes have to be ticked – I guess medals will be less plentiful now. Another problem is the relationship with BC and the Sky Professional Team. The Sky Company was sponsor of both BC and the Professional Team so problems were bound to arise - and they have. When the matter was being discussed by BC’s Director’s I advised the then Scottish member director that they were on dangerous ground in respect of ‘overlaps’ and suggested they be very careful. I was later assured that all was OK as they had legal documents setting out the arrangement. Regrettably I now appear to have been proved correct.

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