Minutes of Annual General Meeting held at
The Crypt Room, St John's Church, Hampstead, on 22nd June 2017.

Present: Doug Daniels (President) and 31 members plus one visitor.

1. Minutes of A.G.M 23rd June 2016

These were signed by the President as a correct record. The secretary reported on the matters arising:

AGM2016/1a Council Council would look at a subscription increase in detail and make a proposal for the next AGM. See agenda item. Action complete.
AGM2016/1b Council Council will confirm with Martin Williams that he is willing to audit for the Society. They did and he is. Action complete.
AGM2016/2 Astronomy Section Treasurer Astronomy Section Treasurer to prepare the accounts in time for them to be published in the forthcoming newsletter. They were enclosed with the newsletter. Action complete.
AGM2016/3 Astronomy Section Secretary The Astronomy Section Secretary promised to circulate the outcome of the meeting with Thames Water in the next newsletter. The status was reported in the newsletter. Action complete.
AGM2016/4 Council Council will enquire about the health of Meteorological Section Secretary, Philip Eden, and about obtaining a report. They had, and the December newsletter had announced Philip Eden's severe illness and that he unable to continue as Meteorological Section Secretary or produce a Section report. Action complete.

2. President’s Remarks

The President remarked on yet another good year for the Society. Membership continued to remain constant, around the 100 mark and on at least two occasions, 60% of the membership turned up to enjoy talks on “Why planet Earth is habitable” and “Lost worlds of the Solar System”. Both meetings featured record attendances and must be viewed with considerable satisfaction by our Hon. Programme Secretary who always manages to put together a well-balanced lecture programme. The President noted that next year’s programme was now completed and he congratulated Jim Brightwell.

Looking back at last year’s report, accidents and illness seemed to be a feature of that session and unfortunately the trend continued this year, when our Vice President, Peter Wallis contracted a very nasty chest infection from which he has still had not fully recovered and presented his apology for absence. Just a year ago, Julia Daniels suffered a small stroke which has affected her walking and during the winter she suffered from number of chest infections as well. The President wished them both speedy recovery on behalf of the society. He supposed we must try to get used to such incidents as our membership ages but felt it was difficult to suffer the loss of long standing members such as Brian Bond who sadly passed away in April following a brief illness.

He also expressed sadness, for other reasons, to see the departure of Alexander Menegas, our youngest member of Council. Alex would depart these shores in August to study physics at Princeton (USA), and the President wished him every success in his studies and future career.

The major feature of the session was that the Observatory had been put out of action for a full year due to the work on the reservoir by Thames Water, more details of which will be in the Astro. Secretary’s. Report.

In conclusion the President thanked all members of Council for their continued help and all those members who assist at meetings with transporting chairs and tables etc. and for providing tonight’s refreshments.

3. Secretary’s Report

The Secretary reported another year of good lectures and reminded members of the topics. Jim Brightwell gave a taste of the lecture programme for next year. The Society had officially attended the British Science Association Branches Forum at the Science Festival in Swansea in September. The Secretary thanked members of Council for their contributions, Doug Daniels and Peter Wallis for the newsletter and its content, all those who help with coffee and chairs at meetings and those who provided food, wine and arrangements for the AGM.

4. Treasurer’s Report

The Treasurer, John Tennant began his report with expenditure. Bookings and expenses were down 9% from last year. The drop in the Observatory costs of 4.2% was due to a small reduction in insurance premium and cancellation of the telephone line. Administration was up 9.8% due to the bulk purchase of postage stamps before the price increase this year and an increase in printing costs. Refreshments total decreased by 11% this year. The annual cost of the website remained unchanged. With no miscellaneous expenditures this year, the resulting total expenditure was £30.67 (1.2%) up on last year.

On the income side, membership income decreased by 2.1% and Gift Aid recovery was not in by the end of this financial year. The donations were up by 30.5% from last year's level. No British Science Association grant was obtained this year. Sales income was down 47.5% from last year and interest on our savings account was further depressed last year and in the light of a reduction of the interest rate to 0.1% the account closed. Income overall was up by £25.63 (1.3%).

The outcome is we have a shortfall of income over expenditure of £624.32. The capital at year end 31/05/2017 is £22911.53.

The shortfall appears worse than it is as the gift aid for this year has not been claimed yet as it is earning interest. The overall loss is similar to last year's. In the light of this the Treasurer had recommended to Council and now to this meeting an increase to next year's subscriptions to be discussed under a separate agenda item.

Julie Atkinson proposed adoption of the report, and Doug Daniels seconded. The meeting agreed.

5. Election of Officers and Council

The Secretary announced that Council had elected Doug Daniels as President at the Council meeting on 6th April 2017.

Council had announced its nominations for officers in the April newsletter. As there were no further nominations, the following officers were declared as elected:

Hon. Secretary Julie Atkinson Hon. TreasurerJohn Tennant
Hon. Programme Secretary Jim Brightwell Hon. Membership SecretaryJohn Tennant

The constitution requires at least one ordinary Council member needs to resign at the AGM. The Secretary reported that this year, Alexander Menegas had volunteered to step down as he was moving to the USA to go to university. She thanked him for his support during the last two years and wished him well in his studies.

The following nominations were received for the 5 ordinary members of Council:

NomineeMartin WilliamsKevin DevineDavid MarkhamDavid BrandtAnne Watson
Nominated byCouncilCouncilCouncilCouncilCouncil

As there were no further nominations, these nominees were declared as elected to Council.

6. Election of Auditors

Julie Atkinson proposed Leo McLaughlin and Martin Williams as auditors, with Doug Daniels seconding. They were both willing to. The meeting elected them both.

7. Astronomy Section Report

The Astronomical Section Secretary, Doug Daniels, presented his report, summarised below.

He said that he had, in the past, been criticised for the length of his Section reports. This year is totally different.

Last year the Society was informed by Thames Water that they were renovating the reservoir and that the site would be closed from 17th July 2016 until about the end of March 2017. In the event, their estimate regarding completion was way out. In fact they were still working on it and expect to complete by the end of July. It had taken a full year to do the work and when we are allowed back on the site it will take us some time to re-site the Met. Instruments and restore the electricity supply and re-fit the telescope object glass currently in the care of Terry Pearce. We hope that we will be ready for the next session beginning in September. In conclusion: there were no public open nights during the 2016- 2017 session and no astronomical observations were made from the Observatory.

The Astronomy Section Treasurer, Julia Daniels, presented the Astronomy Section accounts.

She said it had been impossible to do anything at the observatory this year, because our landlord, Thames Water, had been doing major refurbishment to the site in order to protect the underground reservoir from the risk of contamination. The work started last autumn and was still in progress. Meanwhile we were unable to get access to the Observatory.

Before work started, we emptied the observatory fund box which contained public donations totalling £337. We also received £13.56 interest on our National Savings Investment Account. Our only expenditure was £4.50 (half price) on the BAA Handbook, which lists details of what can be observed during the year.

Our total income was therefore £350.56 (compared with £521.80 last year), and our total expenditure was £4.50 (compared with £36.15 last year). Our total income and expenditure appear again on the balance sheet at the bottom of the page, together with our opening balance of £19,476.92 and our closing balance of £19,822.98. This confirms our excess of income over expenditure of £346.06.

She thanked Leo McLaughlin for auditing the accounts.

Julie Atkinson proposed that the report and accounts be accepted. The meeting agreed.

8. Meteorological Section Report

The new Meteorological Section Secretary, Trevor Law, introduced himself, and reported that due to the works at the observatory site, the meteorological instruments had had to be removed, sadly breaking a record of more than 100 years of meteorological readings. Hence there was nothing further to report this year, except for an informal comment that this June was hot!

9. Proposal for Change to Subscription

The Treasurer reminded members of the loss of £300, as last year, and recommended an increase of next year's subscriptions to :

The reasoning for this recommendation is that inflation is increasing and expenditure is exceeding income consistently, the longer we leave the increase to balance them the greater the resulting increase will have to be.

Martin Williams suggested that if we invited donations instead, the Society might gain more. Doug Daniels pointed out that the Society already does invite donations. John Tennant pointed out that the Society could not rely on donations for basic expenses, which should be covered by basic subscriptions. We need to raise £300 400 to cover the loss and hopefully balance the books as long as membership doesn't decrease significantly.

The Treasurer explained that the current ordinary membership fee was £15 per year (£14 by standing order) and previously had been £10 (£9 by standing order). It was 5 years since the last rise. Then membership had dropped by 15%. This time the percentage increase in subscription is not so great.

It was suggested that £20 would be better than £19, as a round figure. £19 is not much compared to, e.g. a choral society which charges £100 per year.

Julie Atkinson proposed that the treasurer's proposal be amended by replacing the ordinary membership fee of £19 by £20. The meeting voted in favour.

Julie Atkinson proposed that the amended treasurer's proposal be accepted by the AGM. The meeting voted in favour.

10. AOB

Martin Williams announced that David Knight, the programme co-ordinator for the Richmond Scientific Society, had passed away unexpectedly a few days ago.

Jim Brightwell said that his latest balloon flight had recorded a trip over Hampstead, and there would be a link to it in the next newsletter.

David Markham announced that he had visited the Horniman Museum. The museum has been in Forest Hill for a hundred years or so, and is well known for its displays on natural history and evolution. The 'traditional' part of the Museum is free of entry, but small charges are made for modern additions or special exhibitions. In the modern lower level there is an Aquarium (entry by ticket), a Robot Zoo (until October, entry by ticket) and an impressive collection (free entry) of musical instruments including historic keyboard instruments and an assembly of string and wind instruments from Africa, Asia and elsewhere. In recent years the Museum has taken a strong 'ethnic' line, and there are frequent exhibitions and events featuring aspects of Asian, African and other cultures. The whole complex is welcoming to children. The gardens, being on a hill, afford clear views across central London. There is a café, as well as outdoor stalls in season, and (on Saturdays) a Farmers' Market.

David Markham had also tried to visit the Francis Crick Institute in St Pancras, but unfortunately it was not open at that time. It does, however, hold public activities, tours and exhibitions. Rob Grant said that he had visited on an open day and found the building itself quite astonishing.

Tim Bierman asked whether Gift Aid was no longer claimed if a member was no longer a tax payer. The Treasurer confirmed that any member who no longer pays tax should let him know so that he does not claim Gift Aid.

Martin Williams suggested the we need to publicise the Society better, and at the next session should ask members to distribute programme cards sensibly. He announced that

The Secretary announced that

The President announced the conclusion of the AGM, and since by then it was 9:45pm there was unfortunately no time for a scientific entertainment.

Julie Atkinson, Hon. Secretary, 0118 977 5192

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