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  1. #1
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    Alcohol and Scouting Advice Updates

    At the risk of sounding like I'm moaning about our DC. I'm not, I just wanted to put the below to Escout's combined wisdom and experience.

    I also realise that this could quickly descend into a full debate around alcohol being consumed in front of young people, so I want to make it clear from the outset that I agree with POR; in that "Adults must not consume alcohol when they are directly responsible for young people on a Scouting activity and must not permit young people (aged under 18 years) to consume alcohol on Scouting activities."

    So enough waffle, my point relates to recent events:

    Having received the shiny new Green Card with my scouting magazine earlier this week, our DC announced last night that there would be a blanket ban on all alcohol at all scouting events and on scouting premises within the district (even outside of scouting activities).
    The alcohol on premises ban does not affect groups who do not own their own premises but is expected to affect those who share their premises with another organisation .As we do, a 50/50 split in management responsibilities with Guiding. We (The Scout Group) own the land and the hut, but there exists a constitution which lays out joint management responsibility, with three votes to each organisation and no tie-breaker ("if a vote stalemates then Status Quo stands" - apparently that doesn't mean we get a band in to run the hall, which I thought would be fun!).
    It was also made clear that this is a "done deal" and would not be open to discussion, it was admitted that joint management situations where not considered prior to the introduction of the rule. (What happens if our partners don't agree with us?)

    Thinking this through as leaders, we have so far spotted these restrictions to our current activities:
    • Rent out our Hall to parties where alcohol will be present and are being instructed to change our booking conditions to include a clause to that effect (this clause will be written by our district team) - fewer bookings/income
    • Hold raffles where some of the prizes are alcohol. (Not entirely true, we have been told that the alcohol must arrive with the raffle on the day it is drawn and must be removed as soon as the raffle is completed. So donations must be brought on the day and unclaimed prizes must be removed immediately and stored elsewhere) - Would you but a raffle ticket for 2 if there was no alcohol?
    • No mulled wine or similar after the carol service - Would attendance drop?
    • The Church can no longer hold their "get together", usually a small party to thank their staff and helpers for their hard work, involving a glass of wine.
    • Does limiting the usage of the hall impact our relationship with our neighbors?


    In short what we can see happening, is a rather substantial blow to our community events and engagement and also to our income.
    If our income goes down, more of our subs is diverted to hall upkeep so we have less money to spend on "Scouting". Or we devote more time to fundraising and have less time to spend on "Scouting".


    Has anybody got any experience of anything similar being implemented? Got any thoughts they would like to contribute? or would like tell me I'm overreacting?

    p.s. the above wasn't helped by our DC saying, halfway through his explanation, that he doesn't like "Local rules" and that POR was paramount.

  2. #2
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    Mmm...

    Can a DC dictate how a group operates its own property?

    It wouldn't work where we are, even if we had a DC. No DC would try it anyway, I wouldn't have thought. It seems a bit OTT.

    (I don't think you are overreacting, I think the DC got there first...)

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    I suspect this is the same posting as on 1FB...and no, I'm not sure the DC can do a blanket ban on premises. The basis of local rules is POR 9.1, and that basically gives him refusal over Scout activities only.

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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    I suspect this is the same posting as on 1FB...and no, I'm not sure the DC can do a blanket ban on premises. The basis of local rules is POR 9.1, and that basically gives him refusal over Scout activities only.
    Thanks Neil, yes we are from the same district,
    I hadn't looked on 1st Facebook.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    I haven't taken the time to read the green card yet.

    A member of our local primary's PTA basically dedicated that after adults won bottles of wine and sat on the field in the sun drinking them a few years ago, they shouldn't provide alcohol at the summer fair. My view is that kids who see alcohol being consumed responsibly are likely to take their cues from that. Kids for whom alcohol is entirely hidden aren't going to know what to expect and are more likely to get into trouble. Of course, we are 1) in a position of responsibility and 2) Not the right people to make that decision about other people's kids. So I both see where the official policy comes from, and agree with it. But I think this DC is going *way* over the top.

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  9. #6
    Senior Member CambridgeSkip's Avatar
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    It sounds like someone on a power trip. I wonder what he makes of the white house bar at Gilwell?

    In terms of what you can do the first thing to ask is whether this is a hill you want to die on? If yes then go ahead and ignore his diktat in so far as non scouting activities are involved at your HQ and see what happens.

    If no (as I suspect it is) then I think you need to get organised and invite the DC to an exec meeting, which includes the Guides, and get him engaged in the subject, talk, discuss, put POR under his nose. If necessary escalate to the CC. I wouldn't let it drop though.

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  11. #7
    Senior Member dragonhhjh's Avatar
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    My understanding of POR is that management of the assets of the scout group and the policies relating to them (in line with the law, POR, insurance requirements etc) is solely down to the group's executive committee.

    Of course the DC (along with the District Chairman) is an ex-officio member of each executive committee of the groups in their district. In reality I don't know of any DC who plays an active part of every committee of which they are an ex-officio member. Either way they do not have the authority to overrule an executive committee (who may very well decide their own, less draconian, alcohol policy) when it comes to policies of this nature.

    As Neil says, DC's local rule powers come from this line in POR:

    Quote Originally Posted by POR 9.1b
    The District Commissioner is responsible for approving all activities for Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts.
    This rule comes under the heading of "Activity Rules Application". I simply cannot see how a policy which relates to the consumption (or even storage) of alcohol on group premises, especially when being hired by third parties, falls under the umbrella of "activities for Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts".

    The only thing that the DC has the authority to do is issue their own "advice" stating their views on the matter. Whether of course the advice is listened to is irrelevant.
    James

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  13. #8
    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben14KL View Post
    At the risk of sounding like I'm moaning about our DC. I'm not, I just wanted to put the below to Escout's combined wisdom and experience.
    moaning about the behaviour of some DCs is something I like doing!

    I also realise that this could quickly descend into a full debate around alcohol being consumed in front of young people, so I want to make it clear from the outset that I agree with POR; in that "Adults must not consume alcohol when they are directly responsible for young people on a Scouting activity and must not permit young people (aged under 18 years) to consume alcohol on Scouting activities."
    whether one agrees or not that is the rule! many groups/leaders effectively ban alcohol because it can be hard to find occasions on scouting activities when adult are not directly responsible for young people.
    So enough waffle, my point relates to recent events:
    okay

    Having received the shiny new Green Card with my scouting magazine earlier this week, our DC announced last night that there would be a blanket ban on all alcohol at all scouting events and on scouting premises within the district (even outside of scouting activities).
    while he can certainly 'ban' the consumption of alcohol on scouting activities - effectively remove his/her approval for the activity - the DC can't impose such a ban on scouting premises which are the responsibility of other trustees. if they are your premises then what you can or cannot do is down to the law, what POR says, and what the trustees (GEC) say.

    consumption of alcohol on district-owned/operated premises is not the responsibility of the DC but is that of the DEC.

    the DC can only enforce a 'ban' of sorts on scouting activities by effectively withdrawing his/her approval for the activity.

    The alcohol on premises ban does not affect groups who do not own their own premises but is expected to affect those who share their premises with another organisation
    this is immaterial. the DC cannot usurp the responsibilities of the trustees of the premises.

    As we do, a 50/50 split in management responsibilities with Guiding. We (The Scout Group) own the land and the hut, but there exists a constitution which lays out joint management responsibility, with three votes to each organisation and no tie-breaker ("if a vote stalemates then Status Quo stands" - apparently that doesn't mean we get a band in to run the hall, which I thought would be fun!).
    rather depends on the constitution. if the guides have joint trustee status then the DC has no authority to over rule. all management decisions relating to the premises are the responsibility of the trustees. the DC can go fiddle with his ban! the 'ban' only comes into force when scouting 'activities' take place. that could affect the consumption of alcohol on a family quiz night run by the scouts but not a similar event run by the guides. if it was a joint event then it will only affect the scouting members taking part.

    It was also made clear that this is a "done deal" and would not be open to discussion, it was admitted that joint management situations where not considered prior to the introduction of the rule. (What happens if our partners don't agree with us?)
    your GEC should tell the DC to mind his own business. politely!

    Thinking this through as leaders,
    have your GEC think it through!

    we have so far spotted these restrictions to our current activities:
    • Rent out our Hall to parties where alcohol will be present and are being instructed to change our booking conditions to include a clause to that effect (this clause will be written by our district team) - fewer bookings/income
    (never 'rent' out your HQ!)

    your booking policy is set by the GEC. the DC has no input/responsibility. you do not have to change your booking conditions. his blanket ban policy only applies to scouting activities.

    • Hold raffles where some of the prizes are alcohol. (Not entirely true, we have been told that the alcohol must arrive with the raffle on the day it is drawn and must be removed as soon as the raffle is completed. So donations must be brought on the day and unclaimed prizes must be removed immediately and stored elsewhere) - Would you but a raffle ticket for £2 if there was no alcohol?
    • hmmm...if this is a scout group raffle then it is a scouting activity and the DC can withhold his approval. but this would be seen to be OTT. provided you stick within the Law and alcohol isn't consumed on the premises at the event then I fail to see where there's an issue.

      would I buy a ticket? depends! are you offering a two-week holiday in doncaster as the first prize?

      No mulled wine or similar after the carol service - Would attendance drop?

    no idea!

    further clarification would be needed but I suspect the ban covers this service if it's a scouting activity. if it's a church event which the young people attend in their capacity as parishioners and there's no scouting involved then the ban has no effect.

    The Church can no longer hold their "get together", usually a small party to thank their staff and helpers for their hard work, involving a glass of wine.
    well that's frankly ridiculous. the DC's reach does not extend this far. it's up to the GEC - the trustees - to lay down the rules on how visitors/licensees/hirers use the building. if it's not a scouting activity then the DC has no responsibility. period. it does matter if it's scouting premises. (unless of course it's district premises and he has the backing of the DEC.)

    • Does limiting the usage of the hall impact our relationship with our neighbors?
    no idea!

    the DC has absolutely no responsibility for the way you use your HQ. your GEC should politely tell him not to interfere in matters which are not his business.

    In short what we can see happening, is a rather substantial blow to our community events and engagement and also to our income.
    If our income goes down, more of our subs is diverted to hall upkeep so we have less money to spend on "Scouting". Or we devote more time to fundraising and have less time to spend on "Scouting".
    the effect should be minimal. it only affects those events/activities which are scouting activities.

    Has anybody got any experience of anything similar being implemented? Got any thoughts they would like to contribute? or would like tell me I'm overreacting?
    not experience but have heard of similar in my time.

    frankly your DC is over reacting and needs to explain his reasoning (to the GSLs) as well as knowing what are his limitations.

    p.s. the above wasn't helped by our DC saying, halfway through his explanation, that he doesn't like "Local rules" and that POR was paramount.
    DCs like to think of themselves being above POR.

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    Last edited by merryweather; 13-07-2017 at 02:06 PM.
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  15. #9
    Senior Member dragonhhjh's Avatar
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    I'm so pleased that just about everything I said has been backed up by merryweather

    The only bit I would disagree on is about the raffle. POR power trip rule specifically meantions activities for BS, CS, S and ES. I would argue a raffle is not an "activity" for those sections, merely a fundraising tool used by the group.
    James

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    Out of interest, if the OP's group chose to just ignore the DC in this, what sanctions could the DC put in place in any case - that would be a reasonable response?

    I sometimes think DC's might take the odd liberty because groups allow them to.

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  18. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Out of interest, if the OP's group chose to just ignore the DC in this, what sanctions could the DC put in place in any case - that would be a reasonable response?

    I sometimes think DC's might take the odd liberty because groups allow them to.
    It was made very clear that refusal was not an option, however no specific sanctions where give.
    Its one of the many questions we intend to raise with our DC when we can get hold of him to discuss.

  19. #12
    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dragonhhjh View Post
    Of course the DC (along with the District Chairman) is an ex-officio member of each executive committee of the groups in their district. In reality I don't know of any DC who plays an active part of every committee of which they are an ex-officio member. Either way they do not have the authority to overrule an executive committee (who may very well decide their own, less draconian, alcohol policy) when it comes to policies of this nature.
    sorry james but need to correct you here.

    the DC and district chair are NOT ex-officio members of GECs of groups in their district. they have a right of attendance at GEC meetings but they have no membership or voting rights. the right of attendance does not even extend to them having the right to address the GEC. that right can only be granted by the GEC. they act merely as observers.

    it is extremely rare for DCs and district chairs to turn up to GEC meetings.

    the DC and district chair are members of the group council which is the electoral body in the scout group. as members they have a vote at the AGM and thus on the constitution of the GEC (along with many others!)

    DCs and district chairs do generally turn up to meetings of the scout group council - i.e, the AGM.

    you are correct in saying that they do not have authority to over rule a GEC on such matters.

    of course one could always vote them in as members of the GEC at the AGM, but any group deciding to do this really needs a full frontal lobotomy!

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    Senior Member dragonhhjh's Avatar
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    Ah my mistake! I was getting my GEC and GC mixed up!
    James

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    Quote Originally Posted by merryweather View Post
    the DC and district chair are NOT ex-officio members of GECs of groups in their district. they have a right of attendance at GEC meetings but they have no membership or voting rights. the right of attendance does not even extend to them having the right to address the GEC. that right can only be granted by the GEC. they act merely as observers.
    So in theory the OP could ask the DC to attend the GEC to explain these new ideas. Then the GEC could vote to keep the current alcohol policy regardless while the DC watched on powerlessly?

    There is a devil in me that loves this idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by merryweather View Post
    it is extremely rare for DCs and district chairs to turn up to GEC meetings.
    To our DC's credit, we extended an invitation to all members of our district team to attend our AGM and the DC, DDC (General Duties), LTM and Appointment Secretary all turned up for a burger and the meeting.

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