BECOMING A PRIVATE LIMITED COMPANY
As the Society grew in size and complexity, so it was necessary to keep the constitution and organisation in step with modem legislation. At the outset, a simple set of rules sufficed. However, by the mid 1980's it became apparent that this arrangement was no longer appropriate - particularly as valuable assets existed at Balleny Green. Thus, it was decided to alter the administrative structure of the Society to that of a private company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital. This, in effect, removed responsibility from a diminishing few trustees who were first appointed when the land at Little Hay was purchased, and creating an organisation where each member had a vote carrying with it collective responsibility for all the assets and actions of the Society. A shared authority and responsibility.
This process, which took some two years of steady work by R. J. Pearce and F. Whitehead, came to fruition in 1989. The Society then became a limited company who's assets could be assigned in perpetuity and where full legal arrangements existed to wind-up and dispose of assets should the need ever arise. Since that date, the Memorandum and Articles of Association have been reviewed and amended several times to keep them in step with changes to company law. Such is the value of this document, first conceived by Frank Whitehead when he was Chairman in the early 1980's that it has become a model for many other similar societies.
In the formative years of the Society a simple set of rules was the only guide members had as to their aims, objectives and conduct. However, once Balleny Green came into full operational use by about 1982 it became apparent that a code of conduct, safety by-laws and operating standards were necessary. Such a guide was finally produced and brought into use during 1992. Also, guide rules were produced for the running of large events, which had become a regular feature.
The Health and Safety Executive recommendations were also embodied into the running of the Society, as were the insurance regulations of the Southern Federation of Model Engineering Societies. From all this evolved a formal disciplined system, which permitted full enjoyment of the hobby by members whist they remained within a set of nationally agreed rules. Safety at all times became paramount, particularly when large numbers of the general public were admitted to the site during major events.
While it is always slow and tedious to achieve results in any voluntary organisation, as consensus is difficult, this has generally been achieved by the appointment of small subcommittees who are tasked with reporting back to the main committee and membership at large.
As the affairs of the Society gradually evolved and the membership rose during the period 1987 to 1995 to a now steady 140 to 150 persons, it became apparent that the original name of the Society no longer fully described its location and catchment area. Thus, on the 6th January 1994, it was renamed The Sutton Coldfield Model Engineering Society. This also made it quite distinguishable from its sister society located at Illshaw Heath, Birmingham. Many members still enjoy membership of both societies and a steady social interchange between the two has continued.
From the outset, there has always existed a boiler inspectorate, this has generally operated under the aegis of the Society's third party insurance cover, down through the years. Great continuity has existed, names which come to mind of those who have carried out this important task - and some are still currently active inspectors – include Chris Strong, Frank Shrieves, Stan Greenway, Fred Palmer, Pete McMillan and Ken Little. A full record is maintained of all certificates, relating to boiler inspections and testing approved within the Society. By this means, members are enabled to run their models at functions and events organised by other organisations and still carry the full insurance cover of the Society. Indeed, this is one of the important factors in being a member of a recognised society.
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