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Vauxhall CLP branch AGM guidance

This is the guidance I've sent branch secretaries for holding AGMs this year (2012), with a few changes to include up to date information (eg on dates).

We have AGMs so we can review the year (including finances), and elect officers to run the branch for the next year.  Branches also have a part to play in the constituency AGM.  Holding an AGM can seem a bit daunting at first but it’s pretty straightforward.  The key is to work out beforehand how the agenda will work and how to run elections for different positions.  An important point is to remember that AGMs are a means to an end – a thriving and successful local Labour branch.  I’ve written some notes below to help – I’ve tried to think of everything so though it looks like a lot you will probably be familiar with most or all of the information.

When to hold a branch AGM
Delegates to the constituency AGM (in December) need seven days notice of the agenda (delegates are elected by branches – see below).  Ideally you should aim to hold your AGM before the CLP Executive Committee meeting on 22 November as that meeting will discuss the AGM agenda.

Branch members need a minimum of seven days notice of their AGM.  You will need to post or hand deliver agendas to members without email addresses or where you are not confident their email addresses work.  It’s worth having a copy of the membership list with you on the night in case there are any queries about a person’s membership status.  Please get in touch if you have any questions about this.

What a branch agenda looks like
You can use an AGM to discuss all sorts of things but the basic agenda is as follows:
1. Apologies for absence
2. Minutes of last AGM
3. Reports from officers (helps if these are written but do take time over the Treasurer’s Report)
4. Election of officers
5. Election of two auditors
6. Election of constituency General Committee delegates
7. Nominations to the constituency AGM
8. The Constituency Development Plan (which will be updated if necessary at the AGM)
9. Any other business (you could discuss ideas and plans for the year ahead here)

Electing branch officers
Officers are the people tasked with organising the branch throughout the year.  The two most important are the Secretary and the Treasurer.  The Labour Party requires us to elect four officers in turn in the following order:

Vice Chair

At least two must be women.  If, after electing both the Secretary and Treasurer both positions are held by men, the Chair and Vice Chair positions must be held by women.  The aim is to ensure a gender balance.  Sometimes branches find they cannot find women to fill these roles.  If that happens, the branch needs to elect a temporary chair (male or female) for each meeting until the posts are filled – it cannot elect men to those positions.  This can seem bureaucratic but the aim is to encourage us to encourage more women to be involved.  A branch can also elect people to hold other positions.  These include Campaigns Officer and Membership Secretary.

Elections are conducted according to a secret paper eliminating ballot for each position.  Do get in touch with any questions.

A brief word about branch officer positions.
Here’s my summary on what these roles entail:

The Secretary organises meeting venues and sends out notices of meetings.  At meetings which require it, he/she takes minutes.  The branch Secretary has an ex officio position on the constituency General Committee and is a member of the constituency executive committee.

Keeps the branch accounts (usually very simple) and reports large donations to the constituency treasurer.

Chairs branch meetings (Vice Chair steps in when Chair is not present)

Campaigns officer Works with councillors/candidates on local campaigns, encouraging members to be involved.

Membership Secretary Receives membership reports from the constituency and organises contacts with new members.

Electing constituency General Committee delegates
Each branch elects GC delegates.  The General Committee is the overall governing body of the Constituency Labour Party (CLP).  It consists of representatives from branches and also union, Coop, and socialist society branches which are affiliated to the CLP.

The number of constituency delegates a branch can elect depends on the number of members in a branch.  Each branch gets 2 delegates for the first 50 members not more than a year in arrears as at 31 Dec 2011 (or part thereof) and then 1 delegate for every subsequent 25 members (or part thereof).  The Secretary is not included in these calculations as he/she is an ex officio member.

You also need to ensure that there is gender balance in your GC delegation (not including the Secretary).  The Labour Party states that a minimum of half of branch GC delegates must be women (rounding down when there is an odd number of positions – eg of 5 positions at least 2 must be filled by women).  Where there are insufficient women, positions must remain vacant (eg if out of 6 positions you only have one female candidate, she is elected and two positions must remain vacant until more female candidates can be found).

Where there are three or more members under the age of 26, the branch may appoint one of them as an additional Young Labour delegate to the CLP’s General Committee.  However the delegate must be 26 or under to become the delegate (the cut off used to be 23 years).

Elections are conducted by secret paper eliminating ballot.  Where positions are contested, it may make sense to hold a ballot for the women only positions first.  After that a second ballot for the remaining positions (to be filled by men or women) can be held.

Nominations to the Constituency AGM
The Constituency AGM is a larger scale version of the branch AGMs.  To be able to stand for a constituency executive officer position, a person usually needs a branch nomination.  They will also need to be a GC delegate (from their own branch or affiliate).  Please see the Code of Conduct for CLP elections.

Your branch can nominate people (from anywhere in Vauxhall Constituency Labour Party) to any of the following executive officer positions: Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, VC Membership, VC Campaigns, Women's Officer. The positions of Ethnic Minority Officer and Youth Officer are not now executive officer positions because Coordinator positions have been created under the new Refounding Labour rules (any of which we can convert to Executive Officer positions if we have central Party approval).  The Coordinator positions can include: “community involvement, trade union liaison, membership recruitment and retention, diversity (CLPs may consider splitting this responsibility between two or more people – e.g. BAME, Women, Disability, Youth), fundraising, political education, information technology etc. These coordinators shall be encouraged to attend Executive Committee Meetings to report on their work and share expertise with colleagues but shall not be voting members unless elected to the Executive Committee as individuals.” (Rule Book 2012).

People requesting nominations are able to contact branch secretaries to ask for their name to be considered.  No campaign statements or other materials are permitted.  People do not need to have contacted branch secretaries to be nominated.  Branch members only choose which person to nominate from names proposed by branch members at the branch AGM.

Stephen Beer, 10/11/2012
Dermot Rathbone (Guest) 03/06/2015 14:20
Fantastic, really helpful
Tanzey King (Guest) 08/02/2016 11:51
Thanks for this, Stephen; I am a new Branch Chair (Dawlish) and this is really useful for me to share.

I was on the shortlist for the Vauxhall selection. However I was not successful. I wish Florence Eshalomi all the best - she will be an excellent candidate and MP for Vauxhall.
Letter I drafted to Labour's NEC from the Oval Branch of Vauxhall Constituency Labour Party.
My final report as Vauxhall CLP Chair. I'm standing down after 11 years in the post. This report contains some reflections about the CLP, the role, and what we need to focus on in future.
I am stepping down from being Constituency Chair.
A big thank you to the many members who put in so much hard work.