Association Rules Change

The Association Rules Change was completed on the 7th May 2011


The Association’s proposals for rule changes are linked to the increasing importance of the position of Trustees and the authoritative source for information about trusteeship is the Charity Commission’s web site:

Charity Commission

One particularly useful link is the publication “The Essential Trustee” which contains full details about the role and responsibilities of today’s trustees:

The essential trustee: what you need to know

The publication’s foreword points out that “The trustees have the ultimate responsibility for running a charity”, and its contents will be helpful to anyone considering the role.   The office is no longer just an honorary position.

The Association’s Trustees

In total the Association has twelve elected trustees:

  • Eight Trustees of the Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers Charity
  • Two Trustee of the Bell Restoration Fund
  • Two Trustees of the Nolan Golden Education Fund

In addition to the elected Trustees, the annually elected President, General Secretary and Treasurer are Trustees of all three charities, ex officio.

The Work of the Trustees

In practical terms, all Trustees are members of the Standing Committee, which has regular meetings twice a year, normally on the first Saturdays in February and October.

Other meetings of Trustees are likely to be held in conjunction with those dates, or at other times, as required.

Trustees of the Bell Restoration Fund are also members of the Belfry Advisory Committee which meets twice a year, in advance of the Standing Committee meetings, to review bell restoration and maintenance in the Diocese and to give preliminary technical consideration to any applications for grants from the Fund.   These applications are ultimately decided by the Bell Restoration Fund Trustees, following recommendations by the Standing Committee.

The Trustees of the Nolan Golden Education Fund are responsible for the assets of the Fund and, in conjunction with the Standing Committee, would consider any major decisions relating to its use.

Changing the Rules

Members will be aware that, for some time, the Standing Committee has been wrestling with major changes to the Association Rules.   This began with a review of the Association’s role in bell restoration which has now been considered, at length, by both the Belfry Advisory Committee and the Standing Committee, and from which, happily, a solution has now emerged.

Belfry Advisory Committee

The Association now has a reinvigorated Belfry Advisory Committee.   It is presided over from the elected office of Chairman of the Belfry Advisory Committee, supported by Branch Technical Advisers elected by each Branch, assisted by the participation of members who have accumulated a wealth of practical experience in bell maintenance and restoration, and backed up by the presence of the elected Trustees of the Bell Restoration Fund.

Charity Obligations

Meanwhile, nationally, charities are facing increasing obligations through the regulation of their activities by the Charity Commission.   The Association has charitable status (and actually operates more than one charity), from which it derives important financial benefits, notably relating to tax and gift aid.   In turn, it must formally recognise the increased role and responsibilities of those members who serve as Trustees and this has significantly affected the revision of the Rules.

The Rule Changes

Up to now, the Association’s Rules have provided a structure through which, subject to the overall authority of its General Meetings, the Association has been governed by the Standing Committee, with support from the specialist work of the Belfry Advisory Committee.   This has to change to reflect the responsibility for the Association as a charity, which is placed on the Trustees.

Because it was not considered realistic or practical for the entire membership of the Standing Committee to become Trustees, the Standing Committee has settled on the alternative of increasing the number of elected Association Trustees from two to eight.   At the same time, the revision of the Rules aims to keep a balance between the Trustees and the Standing Committee, so that it can continue to act as the essential link with the membership at large.

Association Charities

The Association is responsible for the following charities:

  • The Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers Charity
  • The Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers Bell Restoration Fund
  • The Northrepps Bell Maintenance Fund
  • The Nolan Golden Education Fund

The Northrepps Bell Maintenance Fund functions through a Deed of Gift which makes it subject to the Rules of the Bell Restoration Fund and to regulation by that Fund’s Trustees.

The Nolan Golden Education Fund was set up by the Charity Commission as a subsidiary of the main Association Charity and, while it has its own Trustees, does not require separate regulation.

The Association’s responsibilities are therefore concentrated on the two main charities, the Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers Charity and the Bell Restoration Fund.

The President’s Sub-Committee

Because of the elaborate structure of the Association’s charities, the Standing Committee decided to refer consideration of the rule changes to a sub-committee to be convened by the President.   The Sub-Committee met in December, 2009 and its deliberations were reported in full to the Standing Committee in January 2010 (copies of the minutes in electronic format are obtainable from the General Secretary or the Branch Secretaries).

At the January meeting, the Standing Committee approved the Sub-Committee’s recommendation that there was no need to amalgamate the existing charities.   There were no high risks in managing separate funds and, as they had clearly defined separate objectives, it was concluded that the continuation of separate charities, with separate trustees, would enable the Association to draw on a wider range of appropriate expertise.

The Rule Changes – Summary

Keeping the charities separate has therefore meant that two sets of rules are required, for the Association Charity and for the Bell Restoration Fund.  Draft proposals first reported to the Standing Committee in 2009 have been used, with adjustments to create the two separate sets of rules.

The Charity Commission model constitution has been used to regulate the conduct of the Trustees, with more detail in the case of the Bell Restoration Fund Trustees because of their financial responsibilities.   The Rules have also been re-ordered and the only significant new proposals are the modernisation of the expenses provisions for Central Council representatives and a simplification of the rules relating to the termination of membership.

In summary, the majority of the functions of the Association will continue to be covered by its Rules, while the Bell Restoration Fund Rules will regulate the specific responsibilities of the BRF Trustees in the financial management of the Fund.

Taking the Changes Forward

At the January meeting, the Standing Committee approved the work of the President’s Sub-committee and agreed that it should meet again to consider the completed draft rules, with a view to presenting the proposals to the AGM in May.   This enables a whole year of debate on the rule changes to take place at Branch level and by the Standing Committee and the Trustees, before formal consideration at the Annual General Meeting in May 2011.