May I start by hoping that you and your families are well and keeping safe.
The unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in has turned everybody’s lives upside down in a way nobody could have imagined only a few weeks ago. Clubs and Societies are not immune to this and, along with many other organisations, we are left in the position of not knowing what the future will bring or how it will impact on us.
The Angling Trust has been working tirelessly, with many other organisations and experts, to represent all anglers and associated businesses impacted by the current crisis. A case has been developed to encourage government to consider the possibility of angling being considered a permitted activity, subject to certain criteria being met, during the early stages of any relaxation of the lockdown. The document has been submitted to the government and is available to view on the Angling Trust website at https://joinanglingtrust.net/when-we-fish-again-latest/ along with a summary document entitled “When We Fish Again”. I would encourage you all to read this but also consider providing them support by joining the Angling Trust.
Obviously, with the requirement to socially distance, the committee are unable to hold their monthly meetings, so it has been agreed that a more limited virtual meeting is held with only the officers and the minute secretary participating. An agenda is provided to all committee members ahead of the meetings so that they can email any comments they wish to make, and the resulting minutes are circulated to them. The first of these meetings was held last week.
Whilst we await the outcome of this lobbying with much anticipation, our immediate focus is on the survival and security of our Society.
In times of such uncertainty it is not surprising that members are considering what to do for the best with regard renewing their subscriptions. Initial take up was worryingly slow although the volume of renewals has been steadily increasing of late. I would like to thank all members who have shown their continued support of the Society by having paid their subscriptions as well as those of you who have taken the opportunity to add donations to your payments. The loyalty of members is what will see us through this crisis and into the future and continues to provide re-assurance to the committee.
Having said that, it is obvious that some members will be in a really difficult financial position through no fault of their own, and it is understandable that paying the Society subscriptions might be well down the list of priorities if things are tight. There is also the uncertainty around when we will be able to open the waters, in whatever form that takes. Consequently, there has been agreement on the following two matters.
1. For the first time in the Societies history, the deadline for renewal of subscriptions will be extended from May 15th to midnight on June 15th . Please remember that should the government agree to fishing being opened up again, your existing Membership Book will expire on the 30th May 2020 and you will not be able to fish Society waters after that date until you receive your new Membership Book cover. Chairman - Mr B. Reid 24 Royal Avenue, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32 4HH Tel: 01502 518198
2. If you are not in a position to pay your subscription by the 15th June, then you can retain your place by paying a non-refundable £5.00 by the 15th June. Please remember that should the government agree to fishing being opened up again, your existing Membership Book will expire on the 30th May 2020. After that date, you will not be able to fish until you pay the balance and receive your new Membership Book cover. However, when you do pay, you will only have to pay the balance of the subscription and will not have to pay the £20 re-joining fee.
The committee very much hope that this will help some of our members at this difficult time but would ask that if you are able to pay by the normal deadline of the 15th May that you do so. As well as helping with our cashflow (rents and insurances still have to be paid even if we are closed) this will help us plan ahead, particularly as we need to consider if we should be applying for part of the twenty million pounds made available by Sports England for business continuity grants related to angling. This is another project being undertaken by the Angling Trust as they have been made the responsible body for managing the grants but will need a full breakdown of the impact on the Society as part of the application. It is expected that the grants will be over – subscribed so a successful application is by no means assured. Grants will be given to the neediest cases first. It would be fantastic to get to the position where we do not need to apply for such a grant but at this stage, we must plan for the worst but hope for the best.
In conclusion, please keep yourselves, your family and the key workers safe by following all government advice and, fingers crossed, we will all be back on the banks soon.
Barry Reid - Chairman.