The CSP's annual general meeting (AGM) at Congress in Birmingham was followed by a special general meeting in which delegates voted on bye-laws covering two different areas.
At the AGM, the Society's members approved the adoption of last year's annual report, the balance sheet and accounts for the year ending December 31, 2003 and the appointment of Baker Tilly as this year's auditors. Following the AGM, a special general meeting on two separate issues took place. These concerned changes to, respectively, the CSP's borrowing powers and the voting rights of the Society's associate and student members. The proposed change to the CSP's bye-laws regarding borrowing powers was agreed. It means that the Society's management group, appointed by Council, can negotiate and agree terms with banks or other lenders for overdrafts, loans, mortgages or other forms of borrowing on behalf of the CSP. The finance director made it clear that the Society does not need to borrow at present but had been advised by its bank to clarify this aspect of the bye-laws. Members next voted not to accept Council's proposal that associate members and students should have voting rights at the AGM in order to have a decision-making role on issues such as their subscription fees. A lively debate took place with members in favour of the change saying that not allowing members to vote at AGMs was an 'anomaly' and 'undemocratic'. The main argument of those who were opposed to a change in the bye-laws was that, since new categories of associate members could be created in future, more consultation needed to take place before voting rights were extended to associate members and students. Following the vote, CSP chair of Council Grahame Pope said: 'The CSP is a democratic organisation and we are rightly run by our members. 'The proposal to make these bye-law changes came from Council, the leadership of the CSP, and I was happy to propose the amendments as I consider that they would have represented the right direction for the Society.' He continued, 'Students and associate members of the Society will continue to receive their current rights, incuding the right to representation in the workplace, professional and clinical advice and support, access to educational support and continuing professional development.'They will also continue to receive the 'wide range of information' that they receive as a 'valued and important group within the Society', added Mr Pope.
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