About General Council

Our annual general meeting is commonly referred to as General Council. 

Each Ramblers Area, and each national organisation affiliated to us, is entitled to appoint members of General Council.  Whilst our Groups and individual members are not directly represented, they can influence the policy of the Ramblers via their Area's Council members. Trustees, our president, vice presidents and members of the Motions Review Committee are also members of General Council.

General Council elects the board of trustees which runs the organisation on behalf of members and for the public benefit. Council considers the annual report and accounts and provides guidance on policy by debating policy motions. It also approves changes to our constitution.

Ramblers is a company limited by guarantee, and General Council is the body of people who are defined as company members for Companies Act and other legal purposes.  Members of General Council are entitled to attend the annual general meeting, but remain company members at other times.

Motions papers for AGM

Annual report and accounts for the year ended 30 September

NB Both versions have exactly the same content.

Update on plans for General Council (1 July 2020)

The following message is being sent to all Area chairs and secretaries, and General Council members 

Update on plans for General Council this year
Since the decision was made to cancel the General Council gathering in Bristol, the board of trustees has taken time to consider carefully how the formal business of the AGM might be managed. The board has been guided by general advice that Companies House and the Charity Commission have given to the charity and voluntary sector, but also specific professional advice from our lawyers.  
The proposal which the board has agreed has been developed with the intention of ensuring that Council members are able to exercise their legal rights as company members, the organisation is compliant with charity and company law, and trustees can be satisfied that the arrangements are a proportionate and sensible approach in the best interests of the organisation at this tricky time. 
Further details will be announced in due course but the AGM will take place ‘virtually’ by video conference and Council members will not be able to attend in person. However, all Council members, regardless of their ability to join the AGM, will have the opportunity to participate by casting their votes on AGM business in advance. We shall be using a third-party company to manage this process independently and confidentially. Council members will also have the opportunity to submit questions to the board of trustees in advance. The election of three ordinary member trustees will take place as normal although without hustings. Motion debates traditionally form a substantial part of the AGM; unfortunately this is not a process we believe can be replicated by videoconference. Therefore, the board of trustees has decided that all nine motions submitted for debate this year should be remitted to the board. The board will prepare a response to each which will be published later in the year. The board will also look at other opportunities for online discussion of motions with Council members. Areas will then be free to decide if they wish to resubmit a motion for discussion in 2021.
The date and time will be confirmed, but is likely to be in late August / early September. We are now working to finalise these plans and will share further information as soon as possible.
Plans for General Council in 2021
As you would expect, the board also has been keeping plans for General Council for next year under review. In particular there is some concern about proceeding as originally planned with a traditional weekend conference when there is still uncertainty about the effect and impact of coronavirus into 2021. Even if it were possible to proceed with a residential conference, the board’s primary concern is obviously the health, safety and concerns of members, volunteers and staff attending such an event, especially those who are in at-risk categories or who live with or care for people in those categories. There is also a risk that we start to plan an event which has to be cancelled again at late notice.
As a result, the board has decided not to proceed with the usual full-weekend residential conference in 2021. Instead, the intention is to hold a shorter one-day AGM in a venue with an auditorium and refreshment areas larger than required for our numbers to allow more spacing; and as central as possible and easily accessible by public transport or private vehicle. We are now working to finalise these plans and will share further information about the venue and date as soon as these are confirmed.
The board will then start to think about plans for 2022 in early 2021 when we hope that the current crisis has settled down, or at least the future is a little clearer.

In the meantime, I sincerely hope that you stay safe and well.

Kate Ashbrook, chair, board of trustees