MINUTES OF SKAT EGM
 
HELD IN TIGH NA SGIRE, PORTREE ON SAT. 28TH AUG. 1999 6.p.m.

CHAIR: Ron Shapland

GENERAL SECRETARY: Peter O'Donnghaile
PRESS SECRETARY: Myrna Scott Moncrieff MINUTES: Milly Simonini
TREASURER: Andy Anderson

MEETING OPENED AT 6.10 p.m. TOTAL MEMBERS PRESENT 70 OBSERVERS 2

APOLOGIES Apologies, with expressions of full support, came from 36 members.

THE CONSTITUTION: The Chairman opened the meeting by saying he had been asked to explain the necessity for tonight's EGM. SKAT had a developed a Constitution (copies of which had been given to members on entry to the meeting) which had been approved by the Group on Jan. 18th 1997. He said there had recently been a challenge to that Constitution and to its inherent democratic principles. A majority of those members who regularly attended weekly meetings had become increasingly concerned at the erosion of democracy, also at attempts to conceal financial information. He gave a brief outline of the kind of problems we had had.

1. For instance - the membership of a delegation to meet MSPs in Edinburgh during June was changed contrary to the wishes of the membership. Members were also instructed to cease weekly meetings one week after voting to continue regular weekly meetings. The Chairman also agreed to report back to a meeting on the status and intentions of a particular member but failed to do so.

2. There had been attempts to withhold financial information in that at the AGM in Dec. 98 no accounts had been produced despite these being promised. Further, no relevant books or ledgers have ever been handed over and the current cheque book and a statement for one of the accounts for Jan. 99 was finally handed over on 3rd March.

Chairman Ron Shapland said it had always been SKAT's democratic principle that members should be fully informed, allowed opportunities to question and discuss matters and make democratic decisions on SKAT's policy and activities. He then went on to read the proposed motion in favour of maintaining our Constitution which stated "Yes, I agree that SKAT is a democratically accountable organisation that is governed by the rules laid out in the constitution adopted at the meeting of 18th January 1997 and circulated to all present tonight. I propose that we retain the constitution as the rules by which we govern ourselves." The negative version of the proposal was also available and both, printed on slips of paper, had been given to each member present on entry for the purpose of secret ballot.

The Chairman then opened the meeting for questions and discussions from the floor. A member who had raised considerable funds for SKAT said Drew had assured him SKAT was being run according to its Constitution. Responding to a question whether, without our Constitution, we would have had no licence from Highland Council for fundraising, Ron and Brian Forehand, as Treasurer at the time the Constitution was formed and lodged with HC, confirmed this. A point was made from the floor regarding expenses to Robbie the Pict for 4,026.79 in the year ending Nov. 97 which "seemed excessive". The Treasurer said that in that year there had been considerable "legal" activity. He was unable to comment on similar expenses to end of 1998 since we haven't yet received the accounts. One member commented that Robbie the Pict seemed happy to accept payment of expenses from SKAT functioning under the terms of the Constitution. Question - was the Constitution lodged with the Bank for purposes of Account? Treasurer: "The Constitution is lodged with Highland Council as basis for fundraising. The Bank also has a copy of the Constitution but authorisation for the Bank Account is based on the Bank's own specific requirements, i.e. Bank of Scotland form 128 which has been duly completed and registered with them". Question - is it correct that we refused to pay RTP wages and he received only expenses?

John Campbell: "A SKAT sub-committee of Brian Forehand, Adam Gilmour & Hugh MacKenzie, sanctioned by SKAT membership, had agreed SKAT could not afford to pay wages but would pay expenses only, on production of appropriate receipts and documents, this included Robbie the Pict". John Campbell referred to the splinter group's "Articles of Association" saying he had never seen nor heard of these until very recently nor knew of anyone who had. Cllr.Gavin Scott Moncrieff stated that he had never seen the "Articles of Association" nor was present when these had been drawn up. He said Drew admitted to him that the section of "Articles of Association" allowing expulsion by the three office bearers had been added at a later date. Myrna said that the claim of a meeting in her home on 12th Oct. 1995 agreeing to "Articles of Association" was false.

As Secretary for SKAT for a considerable time since the beginning and dealing with all correspondence and SKAT documents, she had never seen nor heard of the "A of A". She said that Robbie the Pict was simply attempting to build a stated case on a part of a statement by Drew Millar of 3rd July 1999. There were questions from the floor about the so-called "founder members" and whether these were not simply the Millarite oligarchy who had later tried to take control. Myrna said she had documents of the first Press Conference on 15th Oct. 1995 in Tongadale Hotel and there was no record of "founder members". A mission statement had been formed by Gavin Scott Moncrieff at that time and we worked with this until it was incorporated into the democratically accepted Constitution of 18th Jan 1997. However, the SKAT Constitution encapsulated the aims & structure of the group at the time and had not been misrepresented by us. The Chairman then moved to the vote on retention of the Constitution. This was carried out by secret ballot and tellers Dr. Toms and Brian Forehand collected votes and counted these always in full view of members present. The result was 67 votes in favour and 1 against. Abstentions were not counted.

 

ELECTION OF OFFICE BEARERS:

John Campbell then proposed the following motion.

That SKAT has no confidence in its Chairman, Andrew Millar, and that he be replaced by a SKAT member prepared to act within the rules of the constitution.
That SKAT has no confidence in its Vice Chairman, Moira Macdonald, and that she be replaced by a SKAT member prepared to act within the rules of the constitution.

He said he did this with a very heavy heart since these Office Bearers had in the past given much time and effort to the SKAT cause.

Point from the floor - "we are as bad as the other lot if we're expelling people". The Chairman explained this was NOT expulsion but simply a vote of no confidence in two particular Office Bearers.

The motion was seconded by Freida Murray. Vote by show of hands was counted by tellers Dr. Toms and Brian Forehand.

Result 54 in favour, 1 against, 5 abstentions.

This left the office of Chairman vacant and Myrna proposed Ron Shapland. At this point the Chair was taken temporarily by Peter O'Donnghaile. The proposal was seconded by Liz McIntyre and carried unanimously. Ron Shapland resumed the Chair and moved to proposals for Vice Chairman. Liz McIntyre proposed John Campbell, seconded by Jo Scott Moncrieff.

The vote was carried by 62 votes in favour, none against. The Chairman acknowledged the terrific amount of work John had done over the past 3 years in various ways and hoped he would continue to do so. The Chairman then asked that the remaining Office Bearers be confirmed in their posts, i.e. Peter O'Donnhgaile as General Secretary and Andy Anderson as Treasurer. This was proposed by John Campbell, seconded by Robert Stewart and passed by 60 votes in favour, nem con. These Office Bearers remain in post till the next AGM in Dec. 1999.

 

ACCOUNTS:

The Treasurer then gave a report on the accounts. At this point a member, who had to leave early, asked to speak and informed the meeting that she had won 3rd prize in the 999 club draw but when she presented her cheque, signed by Drew & Annabelle, it had bounced. She had 'phoned Drew Millar who "couldn't understand it" and he promised to phone her back. He had not done so and she had contacted Annabelle. Annabelle had later phoned back to say that their group had suspended the account with Bank of Scotland and would open a new account with Royal Bank of Scotland and this would rectify the matter.

Andy quoted from Annabelle's letter which she had read out at Kyleakin meeting giving her resignation. He said Drew & Robbie the Pict knew both accounts had been frozen and therefore cheques would bounce, which was "extremely naughty", but he felt Annabelle had probably been misinformed but had acted with the best of intentions. Drew had made allegations to Bank of Scotland that Ron was not a signatory. This was untrue. A member in the audience then claimed she had copy of the current mandate and it did not have Ron's signature as account signatory. She presented this to Andy for inspection and the document was found to be incomplete, showing only parts 1 and 4 with the section with Ron's signature missing. Ron assured the members he had definitely signed the mandate and had indeed been signing cheques since its effective date. All of these cheques had been honoured without question. She then went on to claim the 999 club had been started purely for legal funds only.

Liz McIntyre wished it to be Minuted that that information was incorrect. Andy went on to say that he was puzzled as to why the other group thought they could go ahead with 999 draw when they MUST have known the Bank Account was frozen and, in discussion, the Manager of Bank of Scotland, Portree, had agreed with Andy. He said Annabelle's circular letter re 999 had been misleading in that it implied 999 club account was open to them for transactions. This was not true. After tonight, when we had completed the necessary procedures and documentation, the 999 account would be open to us and to no other group. He felt sorry for members who had paid into 999 in good faith. He agreed with members that we had a moral obligation to ensure winners were paid what they were due and, as soon as accounts are cleared, it was hoped in about a week's time, we would make such payments if that had not already been done.

It was suggested we could include this in our advert. Andy needed and asked for members support for this. In answer to a question, Andy said we would certainly not accept Bank charges for bounced cheques which had been issued by the splinter group, now calling themselves "SKAT Legal Group". Another member, who had collected dues for the 999 club, said he was disgusted that cheques issued under SKAT's name would bounce. He had told her to confirm the account was not frozen but believed Annabelle might not have been aware of the true situation. It was suggested we publicly dissociate ourselves from the splinter group and their bounced cheques, The Chairman advised members who had paid up till Feb. 2000 that they could, if they wished, ask for their money back. The legality of the splinter group running 999 club without a registered constitution was questionable.

Andy then proposed we move to the Resolutions on Finance and the following was read out to members.

 

RESOLUTIONS ON FINANCE FOR EGM

1. That this EGM resolves: that the current SKAT mandate lodged with the Bank of Scotland, Portree, for Account Number 00859102 be altered in the following respects:

There shall be 4 signatories to the account, any two of which are required to sign a cheque.

It is resolved that the undernoted are elected to the offices designated, and that the Bank is directed, effective from the receipt by the Bank of this resolution, to honour their signatures as such in accordance with SKAT's present or future Mandate with the Bank.

All instructions and signatories previously given to the Bank by SKAT for this account in any previous mandate are no longer valid from the notification of this new mandate.

2.  An identical Resolution for account no. 00839830 was presented.

Robert Stewart proposed the acceptance of these Resolutions and this was seconded by Gavin Scot Moncrieff. By a show of hands these Resolutions were passed unanimously.

The Treasurer then presented the Accounts for 16.12.96 to 3.11.97 and for 1.1.99 to 31.7.99, detailed monthly accounts and bank statements for this latter period were, as at every weekly meeting, available for inspection by members. He explained that we had no accounts for year ending 1998 as these had not been handed over. Alasdair MacLean, Dunvegan, by profession an accountant, had offered to check the accounts and is still doing so. He had reported that he had all Bank statements but was experiencing difficulties in obtaining from Drew Millar detailed information on the Post Office Account and how and when the money had been transferred from it to the Bank of Scotland Account as this had not been recorded in the books. The accounts were therefore incomplete. Alasdair felt there were no major problems with the accounts apart from this.

One member expressed dismay that, having been told that accounts would be presented at last year's AGM, we still did not have them. Andy said he trusted and respected Alasdair MacLean who was genuinely trying to help SKAT. Dan Simonini then proposed we set a deadline of 2 weeks from tonight for Alasdair to hand over the accounts, whether they were complete to Alasdair's satisfaction or not. The proposal was seconded by Freida Murray and members voted unanimously to accept this. It was further agreed that ultimately the accounts would be audited by a completely independent and uninterested professional accountant outwith the SKAT group and that, if problems of lack of information on the Post Office Account remained, we should pursue this matter through the Post Office Bank at a higher level.

The Chairman then announced that Andy Anderson's case in Europe would be heard in October, as would Hugh McIntyre's at a later date. John Campbell was in contact with Jim Wallace regarding the 3 "stated cases" to go to appeal in Edinburgh and which had been long delayed and was pursuing this vigorously. The Chairman, himself, had circulated his paper on the economic case for a Government buy-out of the Bridge Toll concession and had already had many replies from MSPs who were very interested. We would be discussing demonstrations for the near future at our next meeting and it was hoped to "get some fun back into the SKAT campaign"

In drawing the meeting to a conclusion, the Chairman thanked all who had given up a Saturday night and taken the trouble to attend and show clear and decisive support for our democratic constitution. We could now go forward confidently and get on with fighting to remove the tolls.

The meeting closed at 8 p.m.


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Copyright Ray Shields, 1999.

Most recent revision, 09 October 1999