As agreed in May, the Central Council held a special meeting of its Administrative Committee at Southwark Cathedral on Sunday, 13th July to discuss strategic issues facing the Council in the context of both its future and that of the ringing Exercise. For those not familiar, the Administrative Committee comprises Council Officers, Chairmen of Committees and importantly members elected by and from the representatives of affiliated societies, thus providing a wider view.

The day consisted of presentations and discussion with group sessions to address and feedback views on specific subjects. Background was set by Elva Ainsworth with statistics on trends in ringing and statements from President, Chris Mew and Vice-President Christopher O’Mahony. The morning focused on a review of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the Council with groups reporting their own particular views on future solutions.

Resuming after a brief lunch break, more specific subjects covered included challenges for ringing, support for training and recruitment at local level, improving communications within and outside the ringing fraternity, use of modern technology and funding for future work. Improving the image of ringing, working together across ringing organisations and the size and structure of the Council were also considered.

The problems of maintaining a viable level of ringers with both competence and enthusiasm was seen as the key challenge at all levels of ringing. In this respect the ways in which the Council and its members could contribute to supporting ringers were paramount and to this end any improvement in the way which the Council functioned should be pursued.

The diversity and range of discussions echoed the views expressed by many ringers attending regional seminars over the past year and at the end of the day, the Committee agreed to take some key issues forward with a view to making sound recommendations at their October meeting.

The key actions tabled for immediate work, although not excluding later additions were as follows:

  1. Improve relationships with all ringers by better two-way communication. The possibility of a direct membership organisation to be examined.
  2. Review the way the Council deals with partnerships including affiliated bodies, Association of Ringing Teachers, Ringing Foundation and others.
  3. Develop a future strategy for the Council to meet the needs of ringing
  4. Review the forward planning of Committee work to meet future demands on the Council in its supporting role.
  5. Review the format of the Council meetings to ensure greater coverage of issues key to the future of ringing, achieve more participation through open meetings and reduce the burden on those hosting and attending the sessions.
  6. Review the way in which the Council and its Committees operate to achieve good governance and best use of resources.

All the above sounds like a rather managerial and bureaucratic approach but the consensus view was that the Council needs to change in order to best serve all ringers across the Exercise, including overseas, and the above actions have been remitted to appropriate members to take forward.

Anyone wishing to submit ideas which may be able to help with this process is welcome to make their views known through Council Officers or their own local society representatives. You may also eMail.

President, CCCBR

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers