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is an informative, cynical and sometimes humorous look at what is happening in the world of amateur radio.

Monday, 30 May 2011

RSGB and the Tower of Shame

When a UK radio amateur decides he wants to put up a mast the first thing they do is some homework. They ask themselves “Will my neighbours object?” and “Am I likely to get planning permission?” They approach other hams and ask what problems they encountered in getting the necessary plans passed. If they are a member of the Radio Society of Great Britain there is a fine service http://www.rsgb.org/committees/pac/ offered by them that can help to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible and give them the best chance of getting the essential piece of paper.

What a UK radio amateur does not do is rush out and order the biggest tower he can afford and then learn like the Radio Society of Great Britain did that they cannot erect the tower at Bletchley Park, home of the National Radio Centre because it is a ‘Heritage Site’. Where was the fine advice? Where was the forward planning?

The society now has to sell off their fine tower at a discounted price (http://www.rsgb.org/lusotower/) to cut their losses and when those losses are added to those already incurred by the ‘Green Shed Fiasco’ and being ripped off by the legal vultures for advice that amounted to,”Don’t bother!” over the PLT/ Spectrum Defence action, it puts the society in a very fragile state. That fragile state involves not only bleeding funds like a stuck pig, but bleeding angry members too. Some of those members are already very upset at what has allegedly gone on with the former General Manager and the limited facts that have emerged, due to the threat or potential threat of legal action for libel/slander that hangs like the sword of Damocles over the board members.

From the ranting in the forums it is clear that a great number of both members and ‘would not be members if you paid thems’ are wishing that there was indeed a huge sword hanging above the heads of the RSGB’s board and that they could be brought to task for their mismanagement. Unfortunately RSGB is a limited company and there is very little that can be done. If RSGB were a charity for example then each board member would be personally responsible both legally and financially for their actions. Even school governors can be fired, fined and even imprisoned for mismanagement, even if it was the Headmaster was the one who ran up debts the budget could not meet and they had no knowledge of it (and it has happened).

The questions keep mounting up about what on earth is happening at RSGB and the answers when they do come seem to always be far from satisfying. Over the years ex-members have left the society both money and equipment. Last year it was the turn of a museum full of radio heritage that was sold by the society on eBay and now we hear that one old timer’s donation of several thousand pounds is to be used to employ a fund raiser rather than being fed in to some practical project like keeping GB4FUN on the road. Where will the funds be raised from I wonder? Oh that is right from us members.

I would hate to see the society fold and it’s hundreds of volunteers do a fine job, but I feel that as a member it is just like the management has steered us all down some blind alley and got us all mugged, I just want to punch somebody but there is no one to hit. None of us has personally lost a large amount of money but it is the principle of the thing. Collectively we all want justice, but personally I would settle on revenge. I just can’t see there being any satisfaction either way. I just hope the society can pick itself up and be stronger as a result. The key would be tightening the rules so these things cannot occur again. Maybe this is just what happens when things are run be well meaning amateurs?


  1. > to cut their losses

    How much are these losses? Do you know what they paid for this tower? I suspect you don't, and neither do I, but it was NOT the retail price that is being bandied about.

    The message filtering down is that the original purchase price of the tower made it a good risk. We've been told that if it's sold, there won't be a loss.

    I don't know who to believe, but let's not jump to conclusions without knowing the facts, eh?

    Martyn M1MAJ

  2. Well done mate words right out of my mouth. I have asked the prince of Darkness about the above but got no where. I only wish they have brought the police in on day one any other company would have!!!!!!

  3. It will be interesting to see how many members will not be renewing their membership this year

  4. >Do you know what they paid for this tower?

    Unconfirmed reports put the price at £13,500 or 56% of the normal retail price. I have not checked but this is what I have been told. If they can find someone with £13,500 to buy it then there may be no loss, but until it is sold. Well we will wait and see.

    Good risk or not it is still dumb to buy something without first checking if you can use it. A bit like them buying the Green Shed and then trying to haggle over the cost of the lease. Umm!

  5. I agree, Steve, but I'll still be renewing because at least RadCom is value for money. After all it's small beer compared to what I have to pay in taxes to an even more incompetent bunch of crooks and scoundrels that blow it on even more wasteful and unnecessary projects.

  6. The amount of money or how much it personally affects a memeber has got nothing to do with the gravity of any crime. Do not underestimate how insidious fraud is. Sloppy financial control encourages fraud. Even a volunteer working hours for free is guilty of fraud if he claims more expences greater than agreed by the terms under which he volunteers. This should all be writen down as part of the operations manual for the organisation and its oversite is the duty of the CEO and his responsibility.
    Nothing I have seen from the affairs at the RSGB make me feel my subs would be well spent. But I have met will a ferocious support for them every time I have brought the subject up. They (the members) seem to revel in the secrecy surrounding anything RSGB. The organisation as currently set up is selfserving for the few. It's wrong and supporting it only encourages potential corruption. They (RSGB)must have a root and branch audit by an external company who are totally independent. The results must be available to all not just members, thats not good enough, there many who would like to join but with whats been going on are dubious and rightly so. The RSGB is not cheap! Just remember "A fool and his money are soon parted" and how easy that seems to be.

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