Motorcycle Action Group

North West Region Annual General Meeting

Blackpool Rugby Club, Bispham, 13 December 08




Alyson Ayrey, Rolf Wadsworth, Katy Sullivan, Tony & Wendy Arrandale, Tim Berryman, Eric Parascandola, Jason Webb, Phil Shuker, Tony Edmondson, Howard Jolly, Daz Busby (NW Webmaster), Bill Green (NW Political Officer), Tim Norris (NW Secretary), and Tony Cox (NW Regional Rep). Steve Wykes (MAG Scotland rep) had kindly agreed to attend as NC Observer.

Apologies: none received.


Tony opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and inviting Steve W to act as chair. Everyone was supplied with a copy of last year’s AGM minutes and asked if they had any comments. The minutes were accepted as a true account of the meeting.

Matters arising: it was noted that the Manchester Congestion Charge has been rejected in a referendum, the results of which were announced yesterday (12th Dec). Steve Wykes mentioned that a similar poll in Edinburgh also showed that drivers were not prepared to accept road charging.

The Manchester scheme has a tortured political history involving promises of Gov’t funding for public transport improvements and disputes between the various members of the AGMA (Association of Greater Manchester Authorities). Since it was to be the pilot for a nationwide scheme, MAG central have been in contact with the organisers, Manchester Future Transport, to ensure that bikes were granted exemption. (The charge proposed a 100% discount for bikes, taxis etc).


Regional Rep’s Report

Another busy year kicked off with the Manchester G-Mex (aka ‘Central’) bike show, on the first free weekend in January. This event is fairly low-key compared with the NEC and London bike shows, but we have a good relationship with the organisers and are able to have the stand there at minimal cost. We also make useful contacts with local bikers at the G-Mex, some of whom are highly informed about the background politics to the C-Charge campaign.

Tony has also made regular trips to attend the Board and NC meetings, and the Annual Group Conference.

In February we had the fourth Red Rose MAG Fred Hill Run in Blackburn; this event attracts a very good turnout, helped by the weather and Bill’s sterling organisational skills.

Also in February Tony went to a meeting of the RideSafe BackSafe forum. MAG has been involved with this project from an early stage, since it is felt that we can promote safety issues to a wider section of the biking public. The scheme appears to be working, since the number of accidents involving PTWs is going down in the NW region, a reduction not seen elsewhere.

During April, Tony took the MAG stall to both You’ve Been NABD and the Northwich Thundersprint event, which take place on the same weekend. We are invited to attend the Thundersprint for free, since we volunteer to marshal part of the event; and since MAG was instrumental in setting up NABD, they are keen to have us on site. (Our presence at NABD gets several new memberships and requests for tickets, whereas very few punters sign up at the Northwich weekend)

Also in April the MAG stall was present at the Fairhaven Lake bike event. Again, because we are a professional, safety-minded group, the organisers welcome us as non-paying exhibitors.

One of Tony’s main duties during the year is to take the MAG stall (on behalf of MAG UK, not just the NW region) over to the Isle of Man for TT week. This year we actually won an award for the best stand, and although there is no MAG branch operating on the IoM we get a good deal of positive feedback during the event.

Some members asked whether MAG still sponsored riders; it appears that Trevor Baird is still involved with MAG-sport but we don’t have a direct sponsorship deal with any racers.

At the end of June, Blackpool MAG held their traditional rally at the new site – this Rugby club – and it proved as popular as ever. The MAG stall actually served as the control tent; some members were aware of the problems with borrowing a stall from Central, and our constant use of the NW MAG stall demonstrates that it was a good idea to buy our own. The profits from the event were split between the local charity, Girls’ and Boys’ Club, and MAG Central fighting fund.

In Mid July we were asked by the Friends of Stanley Park to host a bike show as part of their family fun day. Joining forces with the Goldwing Owners, we used the event partly as a fundraiser for the Air Ambulance. The local police and the FOSP were both very impressed by how well organised our show was (sec’s note: why, what did they expect?).


In September, MAG was invited to help marshal the Goldwing Owners club run from their Pontins weekend, and Bill Green took the NW stall along to give us some more publicity. Meanwhile, in October, we had arranged to present a cheque to the Air Ambulance from our fundraising efforts. Their rep turned up early and departed, so we improvised a publicity shot and sent them the money, keeping everyone happy.

Also in October, Tony attended the Scotland MAG AGM as an NC observer.

November brought two major events: the NEC B’ham Bike Show, and the Manchester Salvation Army Toy Run. After missing out on one appearance at the NEC, we have managed to negotiate a less ruinous fee for appearance at this event. Grobo, one of our members, has an impressive Ducati Chop which he lent us for the show, and this attracted a great deal of admiring attention (rather too much, in the opinion of some other stallholders). See the front cover of BSH, issue 297 for a shot of this creation.

We had a great deal of discussion of the NEC show – the importance of MAG’s presence at the show (it was noted that the BMF didn’t appear this year) and the fact that we sign up lots of new members. The B’ham event is bigger and better than the G-Mex show and we find it much easier to attract volunteers to work on the stall. It was also mentioned that Howard Cartledge (organiser of the G-Mex event) is a keen supporter of both MAG and BMF, and helps us to liaise with other event managers.

Tony related how he is regularly approached at the MAG stall by riders asking ‘What has MAG done for us, eh?’ when the individuals concerned have never actually been members.

Other Regional Issues: there is still ongoing debate about the proposed ‘multi-purpose test centres’, which will be the only authorised venues for bike tests. The actual centres are few and far between and (naturally) running behind schedule for their operation. One proposed centre is in Blackburn (near the m’way services at Junction 4) but this is not yet up and running. The Driving Standards Agency has invited MAG to get involved with the new test centres, advising on how accessible they will be to new riders.

We still have a problem with Liverpool City Council, who refuse to allow bikes to use parking bays (even when tickets are paid for). Bill Green has been round the city to identify the parking situation, and David Short has been discussing bike parking with the council.

And finally, some members in the Rossendale and Lancaster regions have asked about setting up local MAG groups.

After this hefty report we agreed that Tony deserved thanks for his hard work and we voted to accept the Regional reps’ report (prop Howard, sec Jay, carried U).


Regional Accounts report.

 As in previous years, the regional accounts carried very few entries; these were mainly connected to the Blackpool MAG rally and the regional AGM (again, there was much discussion about the need to formally notify all members in writing). Our Regional Treasurer, Lynda Pouncey has decided to stand down after several years in the post, and until a replacement officer is appointed, Tony has agreed to hold the fort. He has also kept costs down by carefully using private printing facilities rather than a commercial copy shop.

In the meantime, Jay has joined the committee as a signatory, and Justine (national Treasurer) will also be invited to join so that finances are correctly administered. It was noted that the proceeds from the Blackpool rally go straight to Central office instead of being paid into the regional account first, an arrangement which works well since the NW region has no need for a large balance.

The accounts were accepted (prop Bill G, sec TN, carried U).


Election of Regional Officers

There have been several changes since last year’s AGM; Mike Card had resigned (due to ill-health) as Deputy Regional Rep, Lynda Pouncey stood down as Regional Treasurer, and Tim Norris has decided to resign as Secretary because of work commitments. Tony explained to the meeting our system of having local reps’ meetings at Ormskirk, at which the decisions from NC meetings were channelled down to ordinary branch members. These meetings also included the regional committee members.

At present, we have the following Regional Officers:

Tony Cox, Regional Rep

Bill Green, Political Officer, and

Daz Busby, Webmaster.

Alyson has offered to take over as regional secretary, following Tim’s departure, and following Lynda’s departure, Wendy Arrandale has volunteered to stand for election as Treasurer. Since there were no other candidates for any of the committee posts, we invited the meeting to vote on the election of all officers together. A new Regional Secretary will be appointed in the near future.

There remains a need for more local groups, so that members can keep MAG central informed about issues in the NW region. It was suggested that an e-mail newsletter could be set up, inviting local members to organise their own meetings rather than waiting for instructions from the Regional Rep.

We discussed various methods for promoting MAG in the NW region; ask local members to tell us about biker-friendly venues, for instance. Steve Wykes mentioned that an item had been raised at the NC meeting by Nick, who wanted to increase local campaigning; he had suggested having brainstorming meetings to deal with local transport policy issues.

Jay enquired if our corporate members could help to increase interest in MAG, possibly by offering free membership with new bike purchases (apparently we’ve already explored this idea). There was also a lot of discussion of social networking sites such as Facebook, where owners’ clubs have their own dedicated pages. Could NW MAG set up our own page on these sites and target riders with a mixture of social events and political activism? We could also send requests to members of owners’ clubs asking for help with marshalling MAG events, or offering to take the MAG NW stall to their rallies.


Any Other Business

Rivington Barn: someone has heard rumours that the local council is planning to convert this huge venue (to which hundreds of bikers flock in summer) into a pay-and-display Car Park. Daryl Whitby (DNA MCC) may know more details, being fairly local to the area. Apparently all local Councils are under pressure to increase revenue from parking facilities, and many have made no provision for bikes (Steve W pointed out that local transport plans should normally try to encourage PTWs in order to reduce congestion).

Health and Safety: there are now many small firms offering ‘professional’ guidance on how to organise public events in order to comply with H & S regulations and so avoid ruinous injury claims from eager litigants. Some of these companies have been offering (at a price) to carry out risk assessment and safety training for bike rallies, using scare stories about problems caused by lack of first-aiders etc. MAG central already has support for local branches wishing to hold rallies – but it was suggested that we could issue a general H&S template document/checklist for bike clubs to use when planning events (which would bolster the idea of MAG as a safety awareness organisation).


Meeting ended about 19:10 to make way for the B’pool MAG Xmas party.