RSPBA asks bands to pay to use renovated headquarters
Editor’s note: The worldwide COVID-19 crisis has inundated everyone with persistently unwelcome news. pipes|drums is as worn down by this as everyone else. We look for more positive articles, but we feel that it is our duty to inform pipers and drummers about our own small world, which is of huge importance to pipers and drummers whose hobby is an avocation, if not crucial to their livelihood. This is another important story that merits coverage.
On January 2nd, Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Chair John Hughes encouraged members to use their newly renovated headquarters in Glasgow:
“45 Washington Street is YOUR Headquarters, YOUR building and I’m sure you will be delighted with the work that has been done – and the fact that we have now established a world-class facility which will provide a legacy for our Association for many years to come.”
According to minutes from the association’s precis of its March 14th Board of Directors Meeting, any band or branch that wants to use the headquarters will have to pay £25 per hour, plus £10/hour for a caretaker. A full day’s use of the premises would be £125 plus a £60 caretaker’s fee.
Under the “Finance” section, the precis reads:
The committee has investigated the request from G&WS [the RSPBA’s Glasgow & West of Scotland Branch] with respect to the use of the Premises. The costs were looked at for a 2 hour meeting covering the hire of the main hall at £25 per hour with a caretaker cost of £10 per hour (with 30 minutes pre and post booking). The caretaker cost could be removed if the Branch were to provide a responsible person to open/close the building.
Similarly, as cost of £125 per day for booking the facility for Branch contest / training courses, with a surcharge of £60 if a caretaker was required were placed before the board for consideration.
It was suggested that access to the rooms by Branches for training would be progressed with the Pipe Band College to avoid clashes of use. We are at present not able to hire our space on an adhoc [sic] basis.
While the facility is located in Glasgow and may seem to be biased to that region, we need to use the premises while offering its general use on a similar footing. The directors were asked to consider the suggested fees while we continue to seek clarification on the VAT definition of a “Commercial Let” regarding our VAT position and a formal response is communicated to the G&WS Branch who have made the first request to use the Premises.
Apart from the payment structure for the use of the headquarters, there was no discussion about the possible six-figure debt that the association has incurred regarding cost overruns for the £1-million-plus renovation of the 45 Washington Street building.
In November, RSPBA Executive Officer Ian Embelton said that the association was expecting payments from the five major championships in 2020 to make up the deficit.
Because of the COVID-19 crisis, the first three championships have been outright cancelled. The association has not announced decisions on the remaining two events, the Scottish and World Championships, scheduled for later in the summer.
Despite requests, the association has not commented on whether it has a Plan B for its finances. According to the RSPBA’s 2019 Financial Report, there was £8,604 in cash resources. Until 2018, the RSPBA’s policy was to maintain a cash balance of at least £261,000 – the amount needed to keep the association and the competition season running.
The organization also published its “Guidance on using Social Media Responsibly,” which had been discussed in 2019 but apparently only published recently.
The piece educates members on what various social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are, and warns: “You should assume that all information posted online can be traced back to you. You are accountable for your actions both on and offline, including the information you post via your personal social media accounts.”
The RSPBA has in the past suspended members for comments on social media, as well as alleged behaviour by members both at and outside of RSPBA events.
The association postponed its annual general meeting, originally scheduled for March 16th. It has not announced a new date for an in-person or virtual meeting. It was widely expected that RSPBA officers would be met with questions from members about the headquarters renovations and finances.
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