This is the newsletter published by and for members of the RSPCA. Because of the deep discontent that it shows within the membership we feel that it should have wider publicity than it currently receives. We have maintained the content accurately, but have lost some of the formatting. Past editions will be added as time permits. We hope that publishing this will do some good and lead to a much needed reform of the society. contains links that might be of further interest.
NEWSLETTER NUMBER 2
There can be little doubt about the effectiveness of the RSPCA MEMBERS’ WATCHDOG when the Chairman of the RSPCA Council is alarmed enough to write to every member of the Society about it. What was the cost of this exercise? When branches are being closed down because they have given priority to the needs of animals over the payment of quota to Headquarters, is it not irresponsible to spend thousands of pounds circulating an unnecessary letter?
Would Mrs Felthouse like to tell all RSPCA members why she considers it was right for her to support an Extraordinary General Meeting in 1980 in order, as she said, "TO GET RID OF THE COUNCIL" and wrong for other members to call for an EGM in 1988 merely to get the four Council officers, Mrs Felthouse, Mrs Smith, Mr Hart and Mr Stones to resign their offices. For in 1979 and 1980, Mrs Felthouse went further than signing a requisition form for an EGN. She was appointed a co-ordinator between branches to ensure maximum attendance of her supporters.
Minutes of a Regional Meeting held in 1979 state:
"Mrs Felthouse emphasised that it would be up to Branch Secretaries to ensure that the maximum number of branch members attended the EGM even to the extent of hiring coaches and shepherding them on and off."
Were these coaches paid for with charitable funds? Funds given for the care of animals? If so, it would not be the first time that charitable funds had been used to pay the fares of those attending a General Meeting. And what sort of image do the words "shepherding them on and off" bring to mind? Contempt for members’ ability to think for themselves?
Mrs Felthouse has hinted at but not promised radical reforms in regional organisation and quota. BUT NINE YEARS AGO, Mr Hopkins, the then Executive Director, proposed that:
"It is necessary for the Society to review the system by which Regional Representatives are elected and the Society’s Rules should be amended so as to ensure that those who are elected as Regional Representatives have a proper mandate based on a fully comprehensive and democratic system."
Surely this was a radical and necessary reform. So why was nothing done about it? As for the quota, the Council will be forced to reduce or abolish the quota or soon there will be no branches left able to pay it.
For years now, Mrs Felthouse and her associates have forecast tiresome warnings of doom and destruction if their chosen candidates are not elected to Council.
Further details of Mrs Felthouse’s past ’activities’ will be brought to you in our next newsletter. For the moment, she is claiming that Watchdog is undermining "exciting plans for the future"! It would certainly be exciting to see a wind of change blow through the Council.
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MEETS THE NEW ED
On January 11th, Margaret and Joan had an informal meeting with the RSPCA Executive Director, Mr Andrew Richmond. He was accompanied by the Assistant Executive Director Mr Sayce and the Director of Branches Mr Howarth. Margaret and Joan spoke about the misrepresentaiion of members and of members views, the manipulation of elections and the use of charitable funds for this purpose, the unacceptable treatment of voluntary workers and Inspectors and of the way that this has brought the Society into disrepute and seriously hampered the work of promoting kindness to animals. A protest was made about the lack of democracy in the running of the Annual General Meeting and the unfairness of the quota debt system. A request was made for an internal inquiry into the Branches Department and for files kept on members to be open to inspect:ion. The problems of branches in relation to animal welfare and fundraising and the inadequacies of the rehoming system were also mentioned. A protest was made about the indiscriminate killing of healthy animals for whom homes could ultimately be found.
Our request for an inquiry into the Branches Department at Headquarters was rejected. This is a pity because such an inquiry is badly needed because without it the problems which have affected so many members will continue to fester.
We deplore the way that the "disciplinary" affairs of the Society are conducted. The resolution passed by the members asking for ihe rules of natural justice to be applied appear to us to have been ignored. In the absence of any detailed explanation from Headquarters, we understood from our meeting with Mr Richmond that Regional Organisers’ reports on branches are still heard in secret. Worse still, the new Inquiry Committee hears the complainants and the accused separately so that neither has heard what the other has said. Is this fair or just? It was difficult to find out which Council Members sit on the "Inquiry Committee". We think it is quite wrong for any co-opted Council Member or indeed any Council Member who has, in the past, been content to come to a decision on the basis of verbal complaints made in the absence of the accused to be allowed to sit in judgement on members. Natural justice is NOT obtained by these methods and an appeal to the full Council is no appeal at all since most of the Council Members sit on the Branches Committee to which the complaint is sent in the first place.
We were surprised to learn that there were no files to be found in the Branches Department. Whatever happened to them? Were they stolen? Were they shredded’?
From our discussion it was apparent that all the problems have been and are being caused by the actions of the present Council Members. We think that the present Council Members have had ample opportunities to set the Society on the right road. We believe that they have failed and should be replaced.
This year’s Council Elections are fast approaching and experience has shown that a short-list of only four concerned canditates avoids splitting the vote. The following four individuals have indicated their intention to contest the Elections:
FOR AN EMERGENCY GENERAL MEETING
Further reguisition forms are available. Please try and get completed forms to Watchdog by 10th February so that we may see how close we are to the necessary 500 signatures.
The Steering Group greatly appreciates the many letters of support and ’phone calls it has received from concerned members of the Society. We especially wish to thank those members who have sent donations which have enabled us to produce a second newsletter.
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ARE YOU SURE THAT YOU
ARE AN RSPCA MEMBER?
If in doubt please contact RSPCA HQ to seek confirmation. We have received reports that if you pay your sub by standing order and it is less than the current membership fee, then the Society treats it as a donation!
RICHARD FARHALL MARGARET HOUSE JOAN WATSON
ANGELA WALDER DAVE WETTON
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