Friday, 16 July 2021

NCMD Fracture Reported [Updated]

                  Geriatric isolationists              
 Readers of this blog will know there is no love lost between myself and the UK's National Council for Metal Detecting. The latter live in the past, cannot accept that detecting has moved on since the 1980s, and consistently block initiatives for co-operation with heritage professionals (like over the Code of Best Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting - Petulant NCMD Leaders Won't Follow the Code, "Unworkable" PACHI Monday, 20 April 2020; The NCMD and Institute of Detectorists : Responsible Metal Detecting a "Potential Threat"? PACHI Sunday, 9 August 2020). They constantly see themselves as beseiged by critics and ill-wishers, when in British archaeology nothing could be further from the truth. They seem to me to be just a complete load of wallies. 

Peter D. Spencer has been following some of the internal politics of this group of individuals and discovered some worrying things. He has produced an interesting account of what he has established so far (Is the NCMD falling apart? Detecting Finds blog July 16, 2021). This begins with presenting the rather cumbersome internal 1980s structure of the NCMD. The executive committee is composed of representatives of eight regions: Anglian, Scottish, Yorkshire, North West, Midlands, Western, North East, Southern, plus something called the Central Register. It seems, however, that members were not kept in touch with the split that has developed in this Executive Committee over the past year, apparently exacerbated by the Covid crisis and the necessity to adopt remote working rather than face-to-face meetings. Not only has there has been a significant difference of opinion on a number of points, but also questions of financial transparency. According to Spencer:
Four of the regions, Yorkshire (Syd Hallam), Western (David Rees), Midland (John Wells), Southern (Clive Sinclair), were unhappy with the way in which the NCMD seemed to be heading. They believe that decisions have been made that are outside the rules set down in the Constitution of the NCMD [...] One area that the four opposition regions are particularly concerned about is the finances of the NCMD. There are reports that the NCMD has cash deposits of between £300,000 – £500,000. The problem is, no one seems to know for certain. Members of the Executive Committee have asked several times to view the full NCMD accounts for the last five years. They have not been made available. Every member of the NCMD is entitled to see the accounts, let alone members of the Executive Committee.[...] They also fear that the NCMD could end up as a business run by directors, rather than a body run by experienced and dedicated volunteers.
I know some of these names from previous interactions with the detecting community. Anyway, things are now developing fast according to Mr Spencer:
Breaking News – Opposition region delegates expelled from NCMD Executive Committee
Last night, I was made aware of an Extraordinary Meeting of the NCMD which took place on 12 July 2021. At that meeting, it was decided that the majority of the Executive Committee will no longer recognise Brian Vaughan, David Rees, John Wells, Clive Sinclair, and Sydney Hallam as members of the Executive Committee. The meeting was arranged in haste, with the agenda only being circularised on 10 July 2021. It is not clear what the decision means in practice or whether such a course of action is possible within the constitution of the NCMD. I hope to bring you an update on this breaking news in next Friday’s update.
I note that there are some interesting deletions from the internet records referring to the NCMD that seem to have taken place. Is this material archived somewhere? Are we getting the full story? 

Mr Spencer himself is of the opinion that "metal detecting" is [somehow] "under threat", and "A united front is needed for the NCMD to continue to promote, protect and encourage the hobby of metal detecting". First of all, perhaps this debacle shows that this "body run by experienced and dedicated volunteers" really is unable to cope with actually representing anything. Secondly, with a hobby that has apparently exploded to some 27000 members in England and Wales alone, most of whom do NOT follow the Code of Best Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales, and most of whom do NOT report anything like the number of artefacts they hoik out of the archaeological record and walk off with, does this exploitive hobby need any more promotion, encouragement and protection? Does not "metal detecting" now need protecting against itself? Certainly the diminishing archaeological record of the British Isles needs protecting against IRRESPONSIBLE (ie not in alignment with the Code in any way) artefact hunting, precisely the type of artefact hunting promoted and encouraged by this NCMD. 

And where are the 300+ thousand quid and what are they being used for? Let us recall that a sum of 50000 quid was recently given from public funds to look into setting up an Institute of Detecting (run by detectorists for detectorists) when the NCMD seems from what is reported in Spencer's text to have had the funds to set it up themselves. Is that so? Take, take, take.

UPDATE (17.07.2021):
The NCMD has now issued a statement about these events and their background, which shows some of this in a somewhat different light. We note that though most of the western world has shifted to remote-working, the people recently expelled from the Executive Committee are reported to have had a long-term aversion to online meetings (by Zoom) during lockdown that affected their ability to function, the 330,000 quid "fighting fund" is explained. But I note 
Online banking – The NCMD Exec. Committee unanimously agreed to the Treasurer’s recommendation that we move to online banking at an Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) in February 2020. This allowed greater oversight of our finances and access to live banking activity, as a number of observers could now see all our bank accounts 24/7, minimising risks of irregularities going unnoticed. These 5 individuals objected to this 9 months later.

Could this just be that the Quartet simply distrust computers?
Audit – In January this year, the NCMD Officers proposed a full audit of NCMD accounts to check our accounts and to get expert advice on actions we should be doing to protect your money for the future. The 5 individuals blocked this.
Odd. The very same accounts they say they want to learn more about. There is perhaps more to all this than meets the eye. To be honest knowing the NCMD and the fractious type of people that it attracts and supports, it’s pretty amazing they’ve hung together so long, but this has been achieved mainly by inventing a “common enemy” that “has to be fought or we lose are ‘obby”.

1 comment:

Brian Mattick said...

One might hope that in the interests of openness, transcripts of their AGMs and EGMs could be published on the net for all to see. After all, they are primarily engaged in telling their members how to remove the public's resource so the public is entitled to know how and why.

Probably the most fascinating transcripts would be the heated discussions on how to explain to the public why they won't endorse the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales.

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