A Message to WPA Members

Some members have asked for information about what is currently happening within the WPA, and I hope this message may assist them. I regret I have very limited access to the WPA website, and this article may end up in a place difficult to reach but keep looking. For the same reason, and lack of access to the official forms of communication, I may have to contact members directly by email. If I do, it may have to be from my office or work address because it may be the only way to ensure that it reaches members.   

I have been approached by Mr. Dan Caunt, a friend of Andrew Howard and member of the same Club as Mr. Howard. He has drafted a letter which he intends to send out to members and wants it to be under the joint signatures of Mr. Howard and myself.

Mr. Caunt has been candid and has written that it is his intention to send out his letter whether or not I agree with its contents, and, as he tells me, if I do not sign it members can draw their own conclusions.

Whilst I am invited to make “some” changes to the letter, the final editor of what I might wish to say to our members would be Mr. Caunt. Members may know he has publicly and privately expressed his support for Mr. Howard, in particular in calling a meeting of the WPA in circumstances which are outside of our constitution. I do not see how Mr. Caunt can really be regarded as being independent in this matter.

I am willing to respond to his request, by providing my own message to members, without his editorial assistance. Please read on.

At present the WPA Committee has only two members, myself and Mr. Andrew Howard. We need to elect another three members to fill vacancies. That I believe ought to be our first priority. Fortunately, for the WPA this is the quietest time of the year, with no WPA events, or any other business to be done. Renewals of membership start in a month, and that can easily be done.   

Mr. Howard could support my calling of an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on 27 November 2017 for the purpose of filling such vacancies, but he has declined. The date has now been fixed and notices published. Nominations have now been received for all the vacant positions. The meeting will be held and the only business to be done is that of electing these officers. I believe that that meeting is the official WPA EGM, and I urge all members to attend it.

Mr. Howard supports another “EGM” called by a group of members who they say represent nine or so of our clubs. They intend to hold a meeting in which the first resolution would be a vote of no confidence in myself as President. If it were to be passed, then they intend to, in their own words, “hereby “ remove the President from office, that of course means immediately. 

I gather they will take a nomination for President from the floor of the meeting, though I imagine a volunteer is ready and waiting to be called upon. 

I believe that such a resolution is invalid because there is no power in our constitution to remove a Committee Member who’s term has not expired. So the purpose of the meeting is improper, as would be elections in those circumstances.

If carried through we would also end up with two committees, one elected one day and another later, with two presidents, thus splitting the WPA.

For these reasons I believe Mr. Howard’s “EGM” should not go ahead, it will further damage the WPA.

So what is all this talk about constitutions? The constitution is really just an agreement in writing between all the members which sets out the rules of conduct both among members and between members and their Committee.

It is openly proposed by those supporting Mr. Howard that his meeting can simply choose to ignore an inconvenient rule in our constitution, which was put there for a good reason. On this occasion the “obstacle” in their way happens to be Dan Murphy, but next time it could be someone else, or some club that offends them or some other group or club. 

These rules are intended to protect all of us.

I mentioned how Mr. Howard’s meeting came about. A number of members signed up to a request for such an “EGM”. They were listed as representing nine of our clubs.  One of the duties of the President at meetings is to chair meetings, decide if resolutions or motions are valid, and also if requests like this one are properly, that is correctly made within the constitution.

Does a proposed resolution deal with something that the WPA can actually do? Or is it just going to take up time talking about something it can’t do?

Besides that, can the WPA be reasonably satisfied that the request is in fact supported by the requisite number of clubs on who’s behalf it was signed by a single official?

A previous request failed the very first test. A second request also failed the first test, by proposing to do something not allowed by our constitution, but those supporting it went ahead and called their own “EGM”, what I refer to as Mr. Howard’s meeting.

I have spoken to many members about what is happening, and I am told that there are some members who would like to see a completely new Committee. But the vast majority I have met are not asking me to resign, but to complete my term of office.

At least four of the clubs to which I have spoken so far say that their members were not consulted by their own committees about signing either the first or the second request. At least one of the signatory clubs has since publicly backed the official WPA EGM. Another club “signatory” is also considering doing the same.  One of the Arbitrators who’s name was included on these requests was not consulted about it. He has resigned as a result. 

My conclusion is that members should come to the EGM on 27 November and vote to fill the Committee vacancies. When that is done and the WPA Committee is stable again we can address any other concerns that members have, especially about the future direction of our sport.

I have seen Mr. Howard’s long postings on the website about me. He has omitted important information. I have refrained from responding so far, but members should be aware that they have so far seen only one side of the story.   

I have been blamed by some members for all the failings of the WPA Committee over a period of years, even though I have only served since 2015. None of these alleged failings, which are also said to be my fault alone, despite being just one member of a five person committee, are actually identified to me, but are described in only the most general, vague way. I can’t really respond to it. But I could, and may yet, give in reply, examples of the failings of some of my colleagues and former colleagues. That serves no useful purpose, unless I have to do it just to defend myself.

None of this is edifying and certain postings on social media are especially damaging the WPA, no matter who it comes from – so I ask those on social media to consider what they are doing to the WPA they say they care so much about.

I want to see the sport we all love being fun and enjoyable again, and being open to everyone at every level of interest and ability. I want to see our clubs grow and prosper. I want people to feel they can support and sponsor our sport. I want to see good coaching, readily available to everyone who wants it. I want space for both those aspiring to the top level, and also for social players. I don’t want us to be exclusively focussed on the top dozen players. I really would like to see us having juniors and espoirs in our sport, and playing in a safe environment; and the WPA doing every thing it can to make the sport attractive to them, not just giving up on them because it’s difficult.

We need to reorganise our sport, but also to re-energise it. That was what I was trying to do on our Committee, and what I would like to see us do in the future.

Please come and vote on 27 November 2017.

Dan Murphy

President WPA