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Important notice to all ABSW members

Important notice to all ABSW members

Friday, 21st January 2011

We have finally succeeded in establishing a new company called ABSW Ltd alongside the old ABSW, which as you may recall is an unincorporated body without limited liability, as instructed by the 2010 AGM. Now we come to the tricky bit.

The old ABSW has a constitution about members, officers etc which has been refined over the years. But the articles of association of the new firm are a standard piece of boilerplate about directors’ duties, quorum for the meetings, etc. They make no reference to the members or the executive and put all power in the hands of the directors, Connie and Natasha.

The new company is limited by guarantee so it cannot distribute any profits. We may choose to reform it as a Community Interest Company, but rest assured that the final structure will definitely be some form of non-profit setup in which all our money is used to develop science journalism.

I have agreed to think about how we get the new company into the shape it needs to be in to meet our needs, and I need your help. I don’t (at the moment) want any detailed legal or constitutional advice, although I would be glad to hear from anyone who is an aficionado in this area. Instead, I want to know what you want from the new-style ABSW.

At the moment we have a distinguished president (Colin Blakemore), a committee, some statutory officers such as the chair, vice chair and treasurer, and whatever ad hoc posts (events, student liaison) we feel like. We have an AGM and about half a dozen executive meetings per year. It is tempting to replicate this setup in the new structure, but is it what we want? Our aim is to advance science journalism, for the benefit of the profession and of the public. We now do this in a very different way from in the past, for example via the UKCSJ and online and via social media. We are more of a network organisation: how should our structure reflect this? What about our membership categories (full, student, associate etc)?

So – how much of our past way of doing things meets our needs and should be kept, and how much innovation is needed? Most importantly for me, how do the members get to be involved and feel part of everything?

I need your input on this and would be grateful for any thoughts, to the list or to me as below.

We need to crack on with this as I am going to report to the Executive on January 31. Let me have your ideas this month please. My replies may be a little slow as I shall be on jury service, so be sure not to commit any crime in South London for a few weeks.



Martin Ince, Committee, ABSW

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