Posted by: GW7AAV | May 30, 2011

RSGB – Tower of Steel Feet of Clay

When a UK radio amateur decides he wants to put up a mast the first thing they do is some homework. They ask themselves “Will my neighbours object?” and “Am I likely to get planning permission?” They approach other hams and ask what problems they encountered in getting the necessary plans passed. If they are a member of the Radio Society of Great Britain there is a fine service http://www.rsgb.org/committees/pac/ offered by them that can help to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible and give them the best chance of getting the essential piece of paper.

What a UK radio amateur does not do is rush out and order the biggest tower he can afford and then learn like the Radio Society of Great Britain did that they cannot erect the tower at Bletchley Park, home of the National Radio Centre because it is a ‘Heritage Site’. Where was the fine advice? Where was the forward planning?

The society now has to sell off their fine tower at a discounted price (http://www.rsgb.org/lusotower/) to cut their losses and when those losses are added to those already incurred by the ‘Green Shed Fiasco’ and being ripped off by the legal vultures for advice that amounted to,”Don’t bother!” over the PLT/ Spectrum Defence action, it puts the society in a very fragile state. That fragile state involves not only bleeding funds like a stuck pig, but bleeding angry members too. Some of those members are already very upset at what has allegedly gone on with the former General Manager and the limited facts that have emerged, due to the threat or potential threat of legal action for libel/slander that hangs like the sword of Damocles over the board members.

From the ranting in the forums it is clear that a great number of both members and ‘would not be members if you paid thems’ are wishing that there was indeed a huge sword hanging above the heads of the RSGB’s board and that they could be brought to task for their mismanagement. Unfortunately RSGB is a limited company and there is very little that can be done. If RSGB were a charity for example then each board member would be personally responsible both legally and financially for their actions. Even school governors can be fired, fined and even imprisoned for mismanagement, even if it was the Headmaster was the one who ran up debts the budget could not meet and they had no knowledge of it (and it has happened).  

The questions keep mounting up about what on earth is happening at RSGB and the answers when they do come seem to always be far from satisfying. Over the years ex-members have left the society both money and equipment. Last year it was the turn of a museum full of radio heritage that was sold by the society on eBay and now we hear that one old timer’s donation of several thousand pounds is to be used to employ a fund raiser rather than being fed in to some practical project like keeping GB4FUN on the road. Where will the funds be raised from I wonder? Oh that is right from us members.

I would hate to see the society fold and it’s hundreds of volunteers do a fine job, but I feel that as a member it is just like the management has steered us all down some blind alley and got us all mugged, I just want to punch somebody but there is no one to hit. None of us has personally lost a large amount of money but it is the principle of the thing. Collectively we all want justice, but personally I would settle on revenge. I just can’t see there being any satisfaction either way. I just hope the society can pick itself up and be stronger as a result. The key would be tightening the rules so these things cannot occur again. Maybe this is just what happens when things are run be well meaning amateurs?

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