Last update 23th. May 2004
Readers may be interested to know about a meeting I had at CIPPH London Area Office on May 20th. I had instigated the meeting in a letter with comments about 'Welcome Day 2' (am I the only person who hate euphemisms?) which I had attended on April 17th.
Between my original letter and May 20th, several other events had occurred, and our agenda was extended. That was the also day of John Reid's announcement.
I am happy to report that my remarks were taken quite remarkably well. Some points about training were defended, I acknowledged freely that my attention might have slipped and some important matters might have got past me. These should have been picked up in the evaluation which was supposed to take place at the end of the day but did not. We concluded that the conversation had been useful and constructive. Apparently 'Welcome Day 2' is likely to be discontinued. I suggested that different Forums might have different needs, and some sort of questionnaire listing possibilities (e.g. how to deal with lack of co-operation from Trusts; how to manage public meetings etc etc) could be useful; he promised to consider that. We moved to other matters.
Apparently anyone employed in any capacity or a partner/first degree relative of such a person, by a Trust or the FSO for that Forum, cannot join. However, people employed in other Trusts or FSO's etc are eligible. I can see the merits of an 'insider view', but others may feel differently.
The matter of unmet commitments was raised: one of our Forum members had drafted some publicity material, Toby Smithson had offered to improve it 'within a week', but he has now left CIPPH, and his duties have been taken over by (Mr) Kunle Thomas. So we must forget publicity material from the Commission for a while. We are working on our own for our Public Meeting on June 9th, but this should have been avoided. We have a list of others.
Another issue was feedback, which at present is non-existent. And that there is a huge amount of experience and expertise available amongst Forum members, this is an untapped resource.
Talking about budgets, I was told that training costs do not come out of 'our' budget, but are part of the Commission's start-up costs.
Another topic was the facilities available to us (which are non-existent in Camden). I believe that there are many sound people in CPPIH, but they appear so overloaded with crisis management, that it is very difficult for them to stand back and see the whole situation.
Another staff member then took over to answer questions about funding that had been raised in a previous email message. In fact, with our report to end March '04 drafted and almost agreed, I had not looked closely at the template that had been sent out. Mea Culpa! It includes, on the last page, the statement about a 'nil return' that Laura McMurtrie referred to at our SHA meeting on May 6th. (The fact that the template was sent out after the original date for submission of the report is unremarkable). It is OK to present it in any form we choose, as long as we cover the matters in the template, preferably in the given order. That will be very easy to do. The report must be signed by the Chair at a Public Meeting. The Commission needs a hard copy by June 14th. In response to questions about the current year: the major part of the budget is for our FSO to spend on our behalf; it is not clear how accountable they are to us for it, so we will have to check on this. Details are on the CIPPH website under "Scope of Works". In addition we will have a relatively small amount to use in effect as petty cash; this has to be discussed at national level, and how much and how it is to be administered has yet to be determined, but it will be within this financial year. Some people have been waiting for months for expenses to be paid, which could cause real hardship for some people on low incomes.
Regarding co-opting people: we cannot co-opt to the Forum, although we can invite observers who may speak but not vote if decisions are needed. However, we can set up joint sub-committees involving outsiders but at least two Forum members must involved. These can be set up by cooperating Forums.
In all, I felt that the time had been well spent.
Janet Albu 23rd May 2004