The Group Constitution

The Constitution was ratified at the AGM on Tuesday 21st February 2017. The reasons behind the formal clauses in the constitution were explained: these best practice insights from experienced conservation groups (inc TCV) should enable us to avoid pitfalls as we start anew and banks, associations and supportive organisations require evidence of clear management.

Clausentum Fen Conservation Group Constitution

1. The group is called the 'Clausentum Fen Conservation Group'.
2. The main aims of the group are to:
  • Assist with the management of Clausentum Fen for the benefit of nature conservation and local people.
  • Encourage the goodwill and involvement of the local community and appreciation of Clausentum Fen.
  • Strengthen the community spirit in Clausentum Fen area which in turn can help to reduce the likelihood of local crime and/or anti-social behaviour.
3. To fulfil these aims the group will adopt a long-term conservation management plan and coordinate a programme of practical conservation tasks and activities on Clausentum Fen with prior consultation and permission from HCC Countryside Services.
4. To further these aims, the group will consult with local people, publicise the group and its activities, raise money to support these aims, apply for grants.

The Committee and membership

5. The group shall have a Committee (consisting of at least a Chairperson and a Treasurer) who can meet at any time to discuss the group's activities. These officers will be responsible for the administration of the group and for consulting with HCC and its agents. Communication with members will generally be by email but hard copies will be distributed to off-line members.
6. An AGM will be held at least once per calendar year with at least 28 days' notice. Motions will be carried with minimum 2/3 majority.
7. Membership will be open to anyone interested in taking an active part in the organisation and who is willing to adhere to the rules of the group as stated herein. Any person under 16 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when attending a practical task or activity.
8. The committee shall have the power to refuse/terminate the membership (at any time) of anyone whose membership is considered detrimental to the aims of the group or whose actions are unsafe, who causes gross offence to any other individual or who is otherwise not willing to adhere to safety instructions or repeated warnings about their behaviour.
9. All Committee members must be over 18 years old and they will be (re) elected at the Annual General Meeting (to which all members will be invited) for a period of up to one year at a time. Any committee member may resign from his/her position by providing the Chairperson with at least one month's written notice. A (temporary/permanent) replacement officer should then be identified, agreed by the officers and announced to the group as soon as possible.
10. Additional Officers may be appointed as required; these may include deputies to cover holidays and sickness and people specifically responsible for such areas as volunteer coordination, publicity & social media, fund-raising etc. They can be appointed with the Committee's approval.
11. Practical tasks will be led by a suitably trained person (see Health and Safety) until a suitable volunteer leader is identified and trained to the required standard.
12. The group is affiliated to HCC Countryside Services, The Conservation Volunteers and has the support of Hampshire County Council who lease the land. The group will communicate quarterly by email with HCC Countryside Services Ranger and meet at least once per year.

Health and Safety

13. Practical tasks will continue to be led by qualified staff for the foreseeable future, although if a suitable volunteer leader is identified and trained to the required standard there will be some straightforward tasks that could eventually be led within the Clausentum Fen Conservation Group.
14. All new volunteers on task days will be asked to declare on a simple form any pre-existing medical conditions which may affect their ability to carry out any practical conservation work. This is so that the task leader is aware of these conditions and can assess the suitability of the task for anyone with any medical conditions before work begins. This information will only be used on tasks by the group leaders and the information will be kept confidential.
15. Any existing volunteers with a new/recent medical condition that has not been declared before must inform the group leader before work begins.
16. Health and safety instruction for all volunteers/members on task days is the responsibility of the trained leader working with them. It is preferable to have at least one Emergency First Aid trained volunteer and a First Aid Kit present.
17. All volunteers will be automatically insured when working officially by The Conservation Volunteers Insurance policy when a TCV leader is present and leading them but they must abide by any directions given to them by the group leader throughout the course of the activity.
18. The Clausentum Fen Conservation Group will obtain its own insurance for working independently from The Conservation Volunteers.
19. Volunteers may only work in the fen when accompanied by another.
20. Power tools may not be used at all by volunteers in the fen.
21. A written Risk Assessment will be carried out before each practical task or activity, which will be given in verbal form to the group by the leader at the start of each task/activity (a copy of each Risk Assessment must be kept by the respective organization's task leaders for a period of 5 years afterwards).
22. Qualified staff who lead the group are responsible for identifying suitable volunteer tasks, liaising with the relevant landowners in advance to gain permission and must hold the relevant qualifications when using specialised equipment (e.g. chainsaws or herbicides) and a current First Aid at Work certificate.

Finance

23. There might be an annual subscription fee to help meet expenses. The rate will be fixed at the members' AGM.
24. There will be a bank account in the group's name. All donations, contributions, bequests, successful funding bids and any other income sources must be routed into this account and it will be the responsibility of the Treasurer to set up and manage. Expenditure may be authorised by any one of the bank account signatories (i.e. Chairperson or Treasurer).
25. The bank account operates on 'either / or' signatories but we require two committee member signatories to authorise any expenditure more than '100.
26. Accounts (income and expenditure) will be kept by the treasurer and approved at a members' meeting in advance. An annual financial report shall be presented to the AGM. The group's accounting year will be from 1st April to 31st March in line with most public bodies.

Alteration to the constitution or dissolution

27. This constitution should be reviewed at least every 3 years in accord with the duration of the conservation management plan for Clausentum Fen and can only be altered with the prior agreement of at least 2/3 of the members of the organisation.
28. Amendments to the constitution (or dissolution of the group) must be conveyed to the Chairperson in writing. A special meeting can then be arranged to discuss such proposals, giving members at least 28 days' notice.
29. The group may be dissolved if deemed necessary by the members in a majority vote at a special meeting. Any assets or remaining funds (after debts have been paid) shall be returned to their providers or transferred to local charities or similar groups at the discretion of the Committee.

This constitution was adopted at the AGM held at St Faith's Parish Hall on 21st February 2017:
Signed:Marcus Swalwell - Chairperson
Signed:Anna-Maria Holt - Treasurer