At its third meeting of 2023, the Board of Bowls England continued its discussion and analysis of progress and plans, in line with the organisation’s Fit for the Future strategy.
As we look to a key time of the year with Aviva National Finals, Bowls’ Big Weekend and the recent Under 18s event all high priorities, Chief Executive Jon Cockcroft first began by providing an update on day-to-day business. The team is now fully staffed after a period of recruitment.
Bowls’ Big Weekend
Ahead of the Bowls’ Big Weekend event, a discussion took place regarding the number of clubs signed up, the involvement of new partners Aviva and the importance of BE board members, staff and athletes visiting clubs across the weekend. It was agreed to further analyse data once the event has taken place, and examine how to encourage clubs to offer casual bowling as a viable route into the sport. BE also pledged to work with Counties to engage clubs, particularly where participation is not increasing.
Member Services and Development
Regarding working relationships with key stakeholders, BE is in agreement that close collaboration with Bowls Development Alliance and other codes is essential. It was also noted that relations with Sport England have improved since CWG2022 and the work of the BE staff team has been very important to this.
Championships and Competitions
Following positive feedback for the U18 event at Oxford, it was resolved that the event be repeated in 2024. A further discussion will take place with regard to introducing regional events, gender representation, pricing and other amendments.
Aviva National Finals
A discussion took place regarding volunteers at the Aviva National Finals, with an emphasis on making clear to volunteers that the opportunities are flexible, and utilising volunteer data from CWG2022. The discussion also included potential VIP invitations. In light of current discussions with Warwick District Council, Chair David Tucker stressed the importance of the Aviva National Finals engaging with the local community.
The Chief Executive informed the Board on the recent notification from UK Anti-Doping, with Bowls England gaining the assurance framework pass. Credit was given to Alistair Hollis for his commitment in getting all the documents and policies up to date and ensuring compliance.
The Board noted that two young players had been successful in receiving a grant from Sport Aid. Jack Pullen from DBE and Nicole Rogers had been the successful applicants.
In light of recent correspondence from Worcestershire Bowls Association, it was suggested that when the rules and regulation review takes place, an appendix is included which includes the procedures for companies meeting. BE should provide guidance on motions, debates and processes to aid clubs and counties gain an understanding about how companies operate.
The Board had received information on recent safeguarding pressures and a discussion took place on assessing the resources going into these cases. It was noted that British Gymnastics recently called for a safeguarding regulator to be set up to take the pressures away from National Governing Bodies.
It was resolved that BE would develop a clearer range of sanctions for clubs who breach their membership obligations. It was also resolved that a standalone complaints policy should be developed in line with code of conducts and volunteer policies through the Disciplinary Working Party.
Affiliation figures are starting to be received, with a slight increase showing so far. Subject to receipt of Sport England money and achieving target on the National Finals ticket income, Bowls England look in a good position against budget.
It was recommended that an independent audit of Coach Bowls takes place, assessing expenditure against the original agreement.
With more in-person meetings now taking place, next year’s budget for board expenses will be rectified accordingly.
Risk Register and ICC
The Board noted that three risks had changed in status. The miscalculation to loans identified in the last meeting had been rectified and the status downgraded accordingly. Legal and compliance in regards to legal action and safeguarding had seen the risk increase and had moved into the top five risks.
It was noted that the Sport England Funding figure needs to be reviewed following mitigation and an action was noted to amend before the next meeting.
Each Working Party Chair provided an update on the work undertaken since the last Board Meeting. It was identified that now the bowls season had started, it was difficult to hold meetings where the full Competitions Working Party could attend. It was acknowledged that there is concern about the emerging scale of the work and meeting the original timescales.
A full Board discussion took place on the logistics, viability and parameters of the market research that would need to be conducted for the various working parties. It was resolved that two separate surveys would be required – one covering affiliation with a nod to governance and disciplinary and the other covering the competitions review.
Board Members were asked to think how they could use the Aviva National Finals for County Consultations for the benefit of all working parties.
External Board Evaluation
The Chair and Chief Executive presented a proposal from an external company called Governance United to conduct a Board Evaluation. The full Board indicated that they were happy to participate, and agreed for Governance United to attend the next meeting of the Board in an observational capacity.
The full minutes can be seen by clicking here.