So, much to the surprise and delight of at least some present in Cardiff's St David's Hall, this year's Napo AGM achieved quoracy at about 2.20, only 20 minutes beyond the advertised starting time and in very marked contrast to the fiasco at Eastbourne last year. It seems that the last time quoracy has been achieved this early in proceedings was three years ago, significantly when also held in Wales, so there's definitely some truth in the view that there's a 'Welsh effect' at work here.
I guess it's no surprise that the absolute shambles of a mostly inquorate AGM last year spawned a constitutional amendment this year, promoted by Napo Cymru, to amend Clause 13c and replace the requirement for quoracy to be 5% of the membership with just 150 full and Professional Associate members. Actually Clause 13c states that the 5% have to be "from at least 15 branches", but in a lively and at times passionate debate, this aspect was somewhat skirted-around by the proposers.
Of course issues to do with quoracy go to the absolute heart of any democratic union and it was embarrassing to say the least to learn that motions debated last year and that were subject to 'indicative' votes have yet to be ratified by the NEC some 13 months later. I have it on good authority that at least 3 NEC meetings this year were inquorate, with the most recent cancelled because it too was likely to be inquorate.
As was alluded to by those speaking to oppose the constitutional amendment, issues of engagement, motivation and possibly communication would do well to be addressed, rather than merely reducing once again the threshold of quoracy for the supreme governing body of the union, but the proposal was carried by a significant margin in any event. I guess I won't be the only member pondering on how the NEC will be shaken from its obvious dysfunctional and somnambulant state though.
The other highlight of this first day was Sonia Crozier, the new Director of Probation at NPS, standing in for Sam Gyimah, the Under Secretary for Prisons and Probation who was sadly unable to attend. And all credit to her for agreeing to field some extremely robust questions and points that had the hall echoing to cheers of agreement, especially when crap IT and dangerous prison conditions for staff were mentioned.
All would agree that appointing a probation professional to this key post is certainly 'a good thing', but what an impossible position it must place such an individual in, especially one that values integrity and professional principles? She was asked pointedly what, if any, influence she could have over the obvious failings of the CRC's and the answer to such an unfair question was lost on me to be honest, but what I was left with was the distinct impression that Sonia has got to be our best hope of trying to salvage something worthwhile from the utter crock of shite that we all know TR is.