December 31, 2008

RSPBA executive proposing revamp of structure

Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Chairman Kevin Reilly has developed a “white paper” and, since May, 2008, has presented it to the various branches within the governing National Council of the organization in an apparent attempt to change substantially how the association is governed and managed.
pipes|drums has obtained the document through a source inside the organization who has shared the material on condition of anonymity.
The four-page document entitled “The Way Forward” refers to the reduction in representation of the bands within the RSPBA’s National Council with fewer National Council members representing larger, merged branches. Reilly’s proposal calls for a full-time Executive that operates much like a management team of Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer and other C-level posts that would typically be found within publicly traded or listed company.
The source wondered whether the reorganization proposal would mean less political representation from member bands. The RSPBA has been criticized for and perceived by some as an organization lacking transparency.
“I am concerned that the RSPBA has little or no oversight by the regulatory authorities within the UK,” the source said. “As such, this results in an organization with little transparency or requirement to demonstrate the unbiased acumen required to make sure that the organization succeeds rather than the inflation of certain individual’s egos.”
Reilly and RSPBA Executive Officer Ian Embelton did not respond to inquiries and invitations from pipes|drums to provide further insight on the matter.

The RSPBA’s current structure comprises 12 branches, each with proportional representation by elected National Council members, who, along with the Music Board, make up the rule-making body of the Association. The executive branch of the RSPBA consists of President George Ussher, Chairman Kevin Reilly, Vice-Chairman Gordon Hamill and Chief Executive Ian Embelton, who are responsible for the Association’s day-to-day operations.
Current RSPBA branches:
  • Ayr, Dumfries & Galloway (1 NC rep)
  • Dundee, Perth & Angus (1)
  • Fife (1)
  • Glasgow & West of Scotland (2)
  • London & South of England (2)
  • Lothian & Borders (2)
  • Midlands (1)
  • North of Scotland (2)
  • North East England (1)
  • North West England (1)
  • Northern Ireland (2)
  • Stirlingshire (1)
The document calls for the amalgamation of the existing branches to be reduced to five “regional centres,” each representing as many 101 member bands, as in the case of the proposed “Scotland West” local committee.
The proposal suggests that new membership levels would be created, with “local” paying members able to compete only in events run by the local committee and not allowed to have a voice or vote at the association level.
Also proposed is that the RSPBA “becomes a Company Limited by Guarantee. By doing this it will protect the people within the association it will make it easier to make changes to the ‘articles of memorandum.'”
The whitepaper goes on to state, “We should be locking [sic] several ‘venture’ companies that would allow us to make use any [sic] profits for the advantage of the parent company.”
Another insider, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said about the Way Forward proposal: “They can make the UK into one Branch with one representative on the National Council, [but] the organization can only be as efficient as its rules and procedures.”
In 1998 the RSPBA commissioned a “Millennium Group” that ultimately presented a similarly wide-reaching proposal entitled “The Millennium Report” that was rejected by the association’s membership in a snap vote at the organization’s 2001 annual general meeting.


  1. The way you report this makes it sound like a BIG DEAL. The RSPBA , like any forward looking enterprise, has realised that its structure is cumbersome, unwieldly, and possibly expensive to run in its current format. What Big Kev has done is to issue a set of proposals as a discussion document to be accepted, rejected or adapted to a workable solution so as to achieve the best possible solution given the resources available, I seem to remember that he freely admitted that this was not THE answer but a possible way forward and open to suggestion. Had you actually been at one of the presentations you would have seen and heard that rather than relying on ‘moles’ who don’t have the courage to stand up and be recognised, although this was hardly ever a big secret. Maybe this document is what the RSPBA needs to generate discussion about the future and to involve the rank and file who don’t usually get involved. Big Kev also said, that this document would be available for general consumption on the RSPBA website, which to date has not happened, so minus Brownie points there, Kev.

  2. The whole point of what Kevin Reilly is trying to achieve is the opposite of what pipes|drums is implying. The current structure is politically stifling and discourages individual participation. Almost any change would be an improvement. In the short term, getting rid of the branch structure would be a good idea…what is the point of it?

  3. The invitation to the RSPBA to provide its perspective on this story stands, but so far two messages have gone unanswered. If the Chairman or Chief Executive – or any official from the organization – wishes to provide their input, it will gladly be added. They can also post comments, if they prefer that method.

  4. I’ve re-read the article several times and cannot see anything in the body text that suggests the proposal is good or bad. There are quotes from sources who don’t like the idea, and the RSPBA has not responded to invitations to provide their perspective. As always, all supporters, detratactors and everyone in between are welcomed and encouraged to comment.

  5. As has been said before, the RSPBA dont seem to be hiding anything, in fact they are taking the idea on the road to all the Branches and asking for input and thoughts. I was at the L&B Branch meeting when Ian Embleton gave a very interesting and informative presentation, He took time out to say that this was an idea and they were looking for input from all RSPBA branches. They have their own magazine and i am sure when the time is correct perhaps they will put it to print there. No offence to this media outlet but i dont see why they should reply here!!! Whatever is said they have taken a new idea to the branches and cannot be blamed for people not attending these AGM,s and meetings to find out whats happening.

  6. Errm, actually, I do blame them for not being able to communicate. It is beyond rediculous that they cannot post a simple statement on their website. As for meeting attendance, we all know the reasons why that doesn’t happen. No point rehashing it yet again.

  7. well yeah the website is a waste of time , we all know that and i agree it probably should go up and ime sure will go up when things are nearer a proposal to members , but these are just ideas beeing banded about , Meeting attendance !! enlighten me why does that not happen ??



Forgotten Password?