14th November 2017 Annual General Meeting Minutes
Held at WFC Staff Room, Vicarage Road Stadium - Kick Off 7.30pm.
David Butler Chairman
Philip Nightingale Vice Chairman
Philip Linnegar Secretary
David Messenger – WFC Support Liaison Officer
Andy Jenkins – WFC Operations Manager
Matters arising from previous minutes - 22nd June 2017
1) Credit balance £800 still outstanding – Action - Phil and David (chair) to visit to resolve.
2) Identifying disabled supporters stewards. Andy explained they are looking for the right individuals. A steward had been identified for the LGT, but all stewards are trained in disability role. The intention is where ever possible to have continuity in each sector. Action: Andy
3) Queue control. Refreshment kiosks, particularly UGT. Members discussed the situation. Andy explained that moveable barriers might be the solution. Action: Andy
Minutes were accepted.
Overall since last AGM we have had a very challenging and exciting year - and I think a successful one.
Accessible Stadia Guidelines – WFC should be proud to have have met and exceeded all guidelines with the exception of wheelchair numbers which the guidelines dictate at 150 plus assistants.
Wheelchair provision now stands at 110. David asked the meeting to note that the maximum ever to attend a match last season was 57 and this season, with the away end provision completed, the number rose to 74 for the Liverpool game.
Flexibility has been achieved in LGT to convert unused wheelchair spaces to ambulant seating.
Enables agrees with the WFC position that these changes amount to a “reasonable adjustment”.
Ambulant guidelines required 150, the provision is now for 178. WFC agreed that all ambulant seating would go beyond “easy access” requirements in that in addition to extra leg room there would be enough space to pass without the disabled person standing up or having to move.
When the current work plan is implemented our stadium will meet all the Guidelines.
We have had very good response to the new provisions.
Membership - 140 last year 161 now plus 42 Assistants together over 200 (as many as Arsenal!)
Future – Equality and Human Rights Commission have our club as one of four Premier League Clubs being monitored – however we are monitoring ourselves and Dave Messenger and I update the utilisation of our disabled resources after each home game.
We do not have a waiting list currently and it is WFC’s intention never to have one.
Continual Promotion of Enables Membership
Big screen adverts and Programme entries
The more members there are, the stronger WFCE voice, we are looking for 100% of disabled supporters.
Level Playing Field - Regrettably this organisation is still extremely critical of WFC regarding the wheelchair numbers but at their Regional Forum Last Wednesday at the Emirate’s Stadium we were supported by many other DSA’s on the issue of meeting and exceeding demand.
At that meeting our Roadies were praised by the other DSAs for their helpfulness in making the away visits very enjoyable. They have a very high reputation which I hope the club recognises.
David Butler has been asked to create and Chair the Premier League Advisory Group for Disability and Accessibility.
Election of Officers
Chairman - David Butler
Vice Chair - Phil Nightingale
Treasurer - Iain Lamb
Secretary - Phil Linnegar
Social Secretary - Gary Armstrong
Fundraising Officer - Vacant
Membership Secretary - Dave Messenger
WFC - Dave Messenger - Supporter Liaison Officer
WFC - Joanne Simonds - Disabled Liaison Officer
WFC - Andy Jenkins - Operations Manager
Election of Officers - all to agree to continue to serve and were elect by the meeting en bloc.
Election of Independent Examination. WFC Finance Director, Katie Wareham, signed the accounts for 2016/17 and continues as our Independent Examiner.
Feedback on Exercise Heron. Andy reported that many stakeholders were involved including police, fire, hospital and ambulance services. Over 200 supporters turned up on the day, including Enables members. The exercise was staged with a start, middle and end, each segment planned to test different aspects. Debrief is later this week, and practical lessons will be recorded and shared.
Andy intends to investigate smaller exercises following up previous discussions related to the specific needs of disabled supporters given different emergency scenarios.
New Policy Announcement
Sadly two ambulant season ticket holders have passed away since the start of the season which prompted the need for a seating change policy.
Dave and David asked for feedback on the new WFC approved policy below:
“Policy - Accessible Seating: Mid-Season Seating changes
Watford FC acknowledge that should a disabled supporter pass away or no longer be able to attend, their personal assistant or other family members/friends seated in areas designated for disabled supporters would no longer require accessible seating.
In such cases, personal assistants and family members/friends will have the following options;
Amenity/Easy Access areas
Personal Assistants or family members/friends will be able to remain in their seating positions for the rest of the season. When seat movement windows open for the following season, they will be offered the most well-matched general access seats available.
Should remaining in the existing seat cause undue distress, Watford FC will make every effort to offer alternative seating for the rest of the season. In this instance, no additional ticket costs will be charged should higher priced seats be found, but supporters will be required to pay the appropriate price for subsequent seasons.
Refunds of season tickets can be arranged, should the personal assistants or family members/friends not wish to continue attending.
Personal assistants will be offered an alternative seat, so that the wheelchair position can be utilised. In this instance, no additional ticket costs will be charged should higher priced seats be found, but supporters will be required to pay the appropriate price for subsequent seasons.
Refunds of season tickets can be arranged, should the personal assistant not wish to continue attending.”
Any Other Business
1) Dave is arranging an Equality Advisory Group, which is part of the Premier League's encouragement for all clubs to engage with members of the local communities and groups. Please let Dave M know if you would like to volunteer as the Enables representative.
2) International Day of People with Disability Saturday 2nd December 2017. Six organisations will have stands at the Tottenham game, the Enables stand will be in UGT.
3) Ponchos. David is negotiating a sponsorship deal to provide re-useable Ponchos for any disabled supporters who are in the open areas. Action : David
From the floor: Could the Club consider some children in wheelchairs being mascots. Dave to consider.
From the floor: Could WFCE investigate some pens or giveaways for the promotional days.
Written concern - Chelsea. Gary Armstrong had to be pushed a long way to get to his seat. Explanation was coach was 2 minutes late, and police had closed the road to allow pedestrian access.
From the floor: At the last game, lift was used by people who appeared to be able bodied. It was felt steward guidance and training would solve this problem – Action: Andy.
From the floor: Vicarage Road is now being closed too early, which has a knock on effect with public transport before the game. Action: Andy
From the floor: There was a discussion about the traffic management arrangements after the game and releasing cars early into the crowds using the road to exit. This did not happen when police controlled the traffic – could instructions be checked. Dave would raise this issue with Andy.
Phil – Supporters with hearing difficulties –
Action - Phil to meet Dave to discuss additional concourse and VR loop systems
From the floor: A Member - thanked WFC and WFCE for their support . Would really appreciate Family Days for wheelchair child + more than 1 family member. Dave said any requests would be considered.
A member said that bringing his son to a match has been brilliant, his son uses a wheelchair.
Dave reported that at the Stoke game some tickets are given to local schools, when possible
David and Dave working with the WFC CSE to identify those organisations who may enjoy our improved access.
From the floor: A question about how disabled seating guidelines are arrived at. David explained it is based on the capacity of a ground, a ratio of 1:15. Clubs operating in older stadiums face challenges beyond those starting with new stadia builds.
From the floor: Being comfortable, safe, getting in and out of the ground, is so important. There are still areas to address, such as waiting before leaving the ground.
Dave agreed that the encouragement of people with disabilities to come to games needs to continue.
David thanked everyone for attending and the meeting closed at 21.00 hrs
Please note that this year's AGM will be held on 14th November in the WFC Staff Room at the Vicarage Road Stadium - Kick Off 7.30pm.
The Agenda will be as follows and I would be happy to add any additional AOB items if offered prior to the meeting.
1. Welcome and introductions
2. Minutes of the last meeting
3. Matters arising
4. Chairman's report
5. Secretary's report
6. Treasurer's report, Annual Accounts, Year to September 2017
7. Election of Officers
All Officers shall be elected/re-elected annually at the AGM.
Representatives from Watford FC and Watford FC Supporters Trust are nominated.
8. Election of Independent Examiner
9. Watford FC Report
10. Any Other Notified Business
9.1 Update on WFC Accessible Stadia Project
9.2 Feedback on “Exercise Heron”
9.3 December 2nd is WFC International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD).
9.4 Any other business items
11. Thanks and Close