Members Evening - Q&A email

Posted on 21st May 2022


[Copy of email sent to all current members]


As outlined in the newsletter of 7th May, I am updating all members on the outcome of the member’s evening which was held on Thursday 28th April.

The meeting was very beneficial and attended by over 200 members. The evening was chaired by Professor Chris Brady, who is a Board member, and presentations were made by James White (Acting Director of Tennis) and myself. In addition, Neil Cook, a partner from Ellis Jones Solicitors, presented on the Club premises and the structure of the Club.
The members who attended the evening represent less than 10% of the adult membership so, for the benefit of the wider membership, I will attempt to provide an overview fof the evening and list the key questions and answers which were discussed.


• I gave an historical account of when the Club was formed in 1926 to 2022. This covered the LTAs involvement who rescued the Club in the 1990’s and the covid years which, like many businesses, were challenging. The current membership stands at around 95% of pre covid levels and is continually growing.

• The current composition of the Club reflects that it is now more multi-sport, with family memberships and junior activity being a major contributor.

• James White gave a comprehensive overview of the tennis activity which covered the junior programme, adult programme, member opportunities and our performance programme i.e., status as an LTA Regional Performance Centre.

• Neil Cook, who is a partner at Ellis Jones Solicitors, gave an informative presentation explaining the Club structure. He explained that The West Hants Club is owned by The West Hants Lawn Tennis Company (Bournemouth) Limited and has been since 24th December 1925. He summarised that there are 11 shares in issue: 9 ordinary shares held by 6 Directors and 1 special share owned by the LTA which has 2 nominated Directors. This means the Club is a proprietary club (owned by the shareholders) and not a members’ Club where each member owns a stake in the Club.

• Neil Cook then explained that, in 1994, the LTA bought the freehold and granted the Club a 99-year lease. The Club entered into an agreement for the repurchase of the freehold. The LTA placed a condition on a loan that the Club has to remain as a tennis venue for the foreseeable future i.e., 2064. 

• Neil Cook also clarified that the company is run as a non-profit making basis. In line with the Club’s governing documents, no Directors can profit from their position as Shareholders and Directors and all surplus income is reinvested in the Club. Furthermore, on a winding- up of the Club, any surplus assets available would be applied for approved sporting or charitable purposes so that assets are given to another CASC and/or charity and/or the LTA.

The Key Questions Raised

• Why is the Club changing from a CASC to charitable status?
The Club obtained CASC status in 2004 which has financial benefits. The Club has taken legal advice from a leading law firm (Bates Wells), and we have been advised that, if we are not fully compliant with CASC requirements, the best option is to convert to a charity which will ensure the financial benefits are retained. This proposed conversion from a CASC to a charity has not yet been completed. However, we have informed HMRC of the proposed conversion and the reasons for the change and we have not received any objection.

• How would a member become a Board member?
This is yet to be finalised and confirmed. However, the Board is carrying out a skills audit to clearly set out the Boards current mix of skills, diversity and experience and to identify any gaps that should be prioritised for new appointments. This will assist with succession planning and preparing for the future.
The results of the audit will be used to create role descriptions to encourage members with the skills and characteristics identified as being needed on the Board to apply for a position. A new portal will be set up on the Club website where members will be able to review the role descriptions and complete an application form. These applications will be reviewed by the Board for a collective discussion and confirmation of appointment.

• What are the timelines for a Board executive and when will the clock start?
Currently there is no time limit/rotation for serving on the Board. The term and rotation of appointments is being considered, including when the clock starts in relation to time served, to ensure the Board is reviewed and refreshed appropriately in line with the skills matrix at the relevant time. As we have a long-standing director shortly retiring and the 2 LTA directors are stepping down, I anticipate there will be an initial staggering of rotation to ensure continuity and to retain experiential value.
Under the new Articles of Association there will be a timeline of Board placements.

• How will the Board improve transparency and become a more diverse Board?
With 3 directors shortly stepping down this provides a great opportunity to make improvements in line with the outcomes of the skills audit. The Board members will continue to be featured on the website, and it has been agreed that the members’ communication evening will become an annual event.

• How can a bad Board be replaced and why do directors receive free membership?
Both the LTA and I are extremely appreciative of the time, commitment, and expertise which the directors have provided for over 20 years. Throughout this period the LTA and Club have worked closely to enhance the facilities to ensure the Club thrives. A complimentary membership is regarded as a fair way of saying thank you for providing such a service. If the Club does convert to a charity this benefit will be removed.  If the Club does become a charity, then there are stricter rules around governance and any complaints can be sent to the Charity Commission.

Tennis specific matters, i.e., disruption on adjacent courts/online bookings

• The issue of large groups of children disturbing adjacent courts was raised and I accept the frustration and will review the bookings to see if they can be moved to the outside bubble courts.

• The Club has online bookings for activities such as squash, fitness, park courts and we are hoping to have a solution by the Autumn for online tennis court bookings.

I would summarise by thanking all members for raising some interesting questions, I hope you feel it was a worthwhile evening and you have a better understanding of how the Club works. If you have any further questions, please speak directly to myself to avoid any misinformation from a third party.

On a completely separate issue I would like to take this opportunity to remind all members of the following:

• Number of times you can play padel

The busy season of padel is upon us therefore, we are implementing a 3 times a week rule for playing padel at the Club which includes coaching and Club night (Monday to Friday). As padel is in such demand we need to make it fair for all full members to get a chance to play on the court. The rule does not include weekends as they are not so busy. Filling in for a game when someone is short of a player will not be a valid excuse. We hope you understand why we need to implement this and that you will be considerate to other members.

Yours sincerely

Peter D Elviss

Chief Executive


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