Minutes from the BiCon Decision Making Plenary (DMP) 2008

University of Leicester, 30th August 2008


A. Welcome and Introduction
B. Proposed Guideline changes
C. Future BiCons
D. Finance
E. Any Other Business

A. Welcome and Introduction

Ian W welcomed everyone and explained the reason for the DMP and introduced the Chair David M (DM).

David summarised where the agenda had been displayed and that it had been in the latest BCN special.

B. Proposed Guideline changes

1) Change from 2007 DMP

David summarised the guidelines and history of changes to the BiCon guidelines. This included the fact that it takes two successive BiCons to make an amendment. This amendment was to add a footnote to a guideline which had passed at BiCon 2007.

Last year’s proposed guideline change. “Proposal: to add a footnote to Guideline B.4 as follows: ‘The intent is not that the Equality Fund be how unwaged people generally attend BiCon.’”

Natalya had researched the issue of Helping Hand Fund (HHF) payments and felt that the added footnote supported the spirit of this guideline. She explained that people don’t want charity. The prices this year took into account this guidance and the sliding scale was used to support low/unwaged people to attend BiCon.

Attendees had the opportunity to ask question/express concerns.

These were:
– For those travelling far, would it be possible to not only have a day rate but a night rate? Those travelling far for just one day find that local accommodation is almost as expensive as if they were booked for the whole event. It was agreed this issue would be looked at for future BiCons.
– Would the footnote mean that unemployed people could not be helped via the Helping Hand Fund (HHF)? It was clarified that the footnote is a guide for organisers to highlight the fact that unemployed people should not have to apply to HHF to be able to come to BiCon. Without this footnote, it was argued that, the BiCon organisers could set the con rates extremely high. With this amendment, the organising team would be persuaded to set the rates at a reasonable level so that people don’t have to apply for HHF. However, this does not exclude attendees from applying for HHF should it be necessary.
– It was agreed that the note is for the organisers however, it was suggested that when the team decide their sliding scale, they clarify that it has been designed to take into account that some attendees will be unemployed.
– A suggestion to further change the wording of the guideline/footnote to include “pricing should be set such as…” was directed to be put to the pre-decision making plenary next year, as appropriate.

A vote was taken and it was passed for the second year.

2) A change was proposed to guideline B10.

The current section reads: “All session rooms should be non- smoking and consideration should be given to allocating non-smoking social space.”

This was proposed to be changed to: “All indoor space at BiCon will be non-smoking, and consideration should be given to allocating non-smoking outdoor space.”

– It was explained this was an update to the original guideline to bring it in line with current smoking legislation. It was discussed at the pre-decision making plenary. This suggested change should allow the team to create outdoor smoke free areas whilst not constraining them. It was commented that the current legislation allows for smoke free areas around doorways and certain public outdoor spaces.
– It was suggested that the relevant legislation be referenced but was agreed that the guideline changes occur at a slower pace than that of the legislation changes.

A vote was taken and it was passed unanimously for the first year.

C. Future BiCons

1) 2009 team

The 2009 team introduced themselves and confirmed that BiCon 2009 would be in Worcester on the weekend of 20th August.

2)2010 team

The 2010 team introduced themselves and confirmed that BiCon 2010 would also be the International BiCon. It was hoped that by running an International BiCon, we would be able to demonstrate appropriate standards of best practice to other non-UK teams.

Questions were raised and answered:
– Will BiCon funds be used to pay for International attendees to come to BiCon? It was confirmed that 2010 would be a UK BiCon first and an International BiCon second in terms of keeping the finances separate. Sponsors will be approached to support the UK and International BiCon.
– Would the shape of BiCon be vastly different in terms of duration and dates? The team are looking at different options, one of which would allow for an overlap: Thursday to Saturday = International BiCon, Friday to Monday = UK BiCon. The venue has not yet been decided and the date is currently anticipated to be in August due to university campus venue restrictions. The suggestion of the use of holiday camps will be looked at by the team.
– It was not expected that holding the International BiCon in the UK would affect the mix of countries represented.
– There are currently no guidelines for an International BiCon team as there are for a UK BiCon team. Should the teams running future BiCons wish to have guidelines, it would be their responsibility to develop them. The 2010 BiCon will be run according to UK BiCon guidelines.

D. Finance

1) Funding of resources to support Pride and local Bi events

A request for a one off grant of £500 was put forwards to create a Bi Resource Network consisting of materials which could be used to enhance bisexual visibility and promote bisexual events (regional and national) such as Prides and Bifests.

The organisers of this will be seeking match funding for the £500. There will be a holding bank account set up for the funds. Voluntary donations were suggested to help this project obtain further funding in addition to the requested £500.

A vote was taken and it was passed by a large majority.

2) Funding to support the BiCon Survey

A request for an annual sum of £100 was put forwards to support the printing, collating and distribution of the Bi Survey which is carried out each BiCon. The breakdown of costs for the last survey was given as approximately £52 for printing, £15 for postage and £15 for folding.

The data needs to be analysed but will be available in an anonymous and publically available format once it is.

Previous analysis has been published in Bi Community News. This analysis could be used to support the bi community, further research and funding to undertake research.

A vote was taken and was passed unanimously.

3) Surplus

Questions were raised about the amount of funds available in surplus to be able to support small funded project such as the Bi Resource Network and the Bi Survey. Whilst no details were available yet, it was expected that there would be a surplus sufficient to cover the £600 requested at this decision making plenary.

4) BiCon Companies

The proposal put forwards was to support the creation of two BiCon organisations – Limited companies.

One of which would be for asset holding, the other for liabilities. Whilst these would be initially formed as Limited companies, it was proposed that one would apply for charity or not-for-profit status.

Reasons were given why this would be beneficial to BiCon and the bi community:
– Currently all BiCon monies are held by one or two people within the BiCon team. This would cause problems if (for example) the team died because all monies would be frozen as they would be seen as belonging to that person(s).
– If there were any problems with the BiCon accounts, the team would be personally responsible for any debts/problems.
– If any team members had credit problems, the BiCon monies could be seized to pay off any debts as it would be considered personal money of the individual team members.
– By having Limited companies, the individuals would not be personally liable for any monies.
– Directors would need to be appointed to the companies. A system which would allow for fairness and transparency would be set up to allow for regular retiring and voting in of new candidates for the director posts. Directors would be responsible to the members of the company and so would need to act in their interests. It is anticipated that 5 people would be appointed initially.
– It was suggested that people who have attended two BiCons will be eligible for membership of the companies. They would be able to ask questions and be informed about the companies.
– The accounts would be done by the person who proposed creation of these accounts and will be creating them.
– Various members of the audience offered support with this, tax and other aspects of Limited and Charity status issues.
– It was suggested that with charitable status, it would be possible to give donations/grants to relevant bi projects.
– It was clarified that future BiCon teams would not be obliged to use the companies but would have the option to do so.

A vote was taken and it was passed unanimously.

E. Any Other Business

1) A request that the opportunities for merchandise such as t-shirts to be created and sold at BiCons as these are often popular with attendees.

2) Thanks from attendees to David M for all his hard work and organising.

3) Thanks from attendees to Sanji for minuting.

The decision making plenary was then formally closed.