GBGB PRESS STATEMENT: RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GREYHOUND TRUST...
Commenting on the ongoing situation between the GBGB and BGRF and The Greyhound Trust, GBGB Managing Director Mark Bird has issued the following statement:
“We have today written to the branches of The Greyhound Trust to reiterate our support for the excellent work they do and our commitment to work alongside them now and in the future. We have been clear to the Trustees of The Greyhound Trust that we have lost any confidence in its current CEO and Chair and have unfortunately had to formally raise our concerns with the Charity Commission.
“We have received significant support and positive feedback from Greyhound Trust branches which, if anything, has strengthened our resolve to support each branch, irrespective of the breakdown of the relationship with the charity’s current central leadership. At present, the Trustees of The Greyhound Trust continue to express their full confidence in their CEO and Chair. This makes any ongoing relationship with the Trust at a national level untenable. There is nothing to be gained from any further discussion with them whilst the current leadership remains in post.
“We will be working over the coming weeks to finalise a means for paying branches directly in future rather than through the national charity.”
Gerry Barton, a branch volunteer, has forwarded a copy of the letter
he has submitted today to Greyhound Trust CEO Lisa Morris.
4 May 2020
Lisa Morris Chief Executive,
The Greyhound Trust
As you know, I’ve owned a rehomed hound and been a volunteer since 2008 and having read GBGB’s letter to the Trustees, the Trusts’ communications of 21, 24 April and 1 May, together with comment and opinions elsewhere, I felt compelled to write. I must stress that the following are entirely my own opinions and not those of the Branch although I am in no doubt there are many people in my Branch and elsewhere who hold similar views.
Regrettably, I cannot see anything in the responses from the Trustees that directly address the main concerns raised by GBGB. So, is there an imminent danger of insolvency and if not, what are the current balances and projected income and expenditure calculations that rebut the charge?
Is their analysis of the reductions in reserves correct and if not, what are the correct figures and, how did GBGB come to make a mistake?
Presumably, it is true to say a £400K loan was taken out during 2019, but why was that necessary and are they correct in saying another one is being negotiated? If so, for how much and why?
Every year the Accounts confirm the Trust’s policy of having reserves equivalent to six months operating costs and the 2018 Accounts show the figure for 2019 to be £1.63 million which was met on 31 December 2018. What is that figure now please?
These are key facts that everyone needs so they can assess the situation and determine a likely prognosis for the future. In my view your responses are very inadequate and unworthy of the Board of a National Charity. For example, when the issue is potential insolvency, to tell us GBGB “fail to recognise” the £3 million of gifted time from volunteers is to insult the intelligence of hard-working Branch members. Statements like that suggest it is the Trust and not GBGB that fails to understand the severity of the situation and for it to appear in the name of the entire Board is frightening.
On a freezing cold afternoon in Cannock, introducing these beautiful dogs to potential owners, we know the value of that time and the donations given to us whilst standing there. The issue is what the Trust has done with the donations and goodwill that such efforts have generated. Quoting what has been achieved in the past is the equivalent of looking the other way in this present crisis and the implication of GBGB’s letter seems to be that much of what is being boasted about has been squandered.
One of the puzzles for many of us is why the Trust seems so determined to be at odds with the industry and to want to diminish GBGB’s role as our largest single donor. The Trust exists to handle an issue that is part of the industry. If you believe the industry has some unpalatable issues, maybe you shouldn’t be involved with the Trust. But those of us that are accept not everything might be squeaky clean, but there is a vital job to be done to help improve things and particularly find good homes for some amazing animals who become brilliant pets. So, to appear reluctant to work closely with the GBGB seems myopic. Much as we are all grateful for independent donations, looking at the facts again shows they cannot possible replace GBGB in the short and medium term, so why not acknowledge this? In this context, are GBGB correct to say you refused to let Auditors talk to each other and if so why? Can you imagine Unilever treating a major customer like Tesco in this way?
The elephant in the room is of course Wings. GBGB refer to it as “increasingly somewhat as a vanity project”. Since these are personal views, I’ll restrict myself to three comments. First with 21 tracks and just over 600 trainers, but only two tracks and about 30 trainers within 50 miles of the centre, it didn’t seem very sensible to have kennels even if we did need a new Head Office. Second, like many others I’ve mentioned it to, I cannot believe we have agreed a site that has such draconian planning restrictions. If we no longer need it (or cannot afford to continue with it) is it really true we must restore the site to its former state? Where is the asset growth for the Trust in that? Finally, comparing the uplifting Strategic Objectives for 2015 in the 2014 Annual Review (also partly written by you) with “Plans for future periods” in the 2018 Accounts you get a very clear picture of the extent to which this project has consumed both time and energy, possibly to the detriment of the “day job” which is finding homes for hounds.
For those of us in the West Midlands, perhaps the most important issue is the vulnerability of the substantial funds we raised to replace our present kennel arrangements with Mr and Mrs Bandarak. I know these funds are “ring fenced”, but that is probably not the case in the event of insolvency and so the questions asked at the beginning of this letter need to be addressed in the clearest and most factual way As you know, we all hoped this project would be up and running by now and whereas there seemed to be some steam behind it a few years ago, the development of Wings seems to have diverted the effort to find a solution. You don’t need me to tell you that if these many thousands of pounds are at risk because of a lack of proper stewardship, those responsible will have betrayed the trust of a lot of very hard working volunteers, many of whom continue to help this enormously successful Branch.
For the last few years, many of us have been concerned about several aspects of Head Office management. Examples include high staff turnover, expensive and questionable re-branding exercise, high handed attitude to questions and criticism and significant turnover of Trustees. To a retired management consultant like me, they are symptoms of everything not being quite right and, possibly, the need for change.
This analysis seems to be confirmed by all the above and therefore I regret to say I share GBGB’s view that both you and Steve Dean should consider your positions and will be copying this letter to others to make them aware of my view.
...Date Set for Launch of the Greyhound Retirement Scheme...
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) has today announced that its long-awaited Greyhound Retirement Scheme (GRS) will begin on 1st September 2020. The ground-breaking scheme demonstrates the sport’s commitment to responsible greyhound ownership and racing greyhounds for their eventual retirement journey.
Under the GRS, owners of any greyhound being registered with GBGB from 1st September will need to pay a sum of £200. Upon the greyhound’s retirement, GBGB will match this payment and a bond of £400 will be passed to homing kennels, working with GBGB, to assist with the homing process. This bond means that a greyhound’s future retirement is safe and secure before they embark on their racing careers. Owners of all currently registered greyhounds will also be eligible to join the scheme at any point from 1st September, when they pay £200. This will again be matched by GBGB on the greyhound’s retirement.
Whilst many ex-racers do enter homing kennels in order to find their forever homes, there are a number of other options including owners keeping their greyhound as a pet. In this case, the original bond would be returned to the owner. GBGB will provide much more detail as to the workings of the scheme and will publish a series of Q&A’s ahead of September’s launch.
GBGB are in the final stages of appointing a Scheme co-ordinator who will work with homing centre partners, financially administer the scheme and provide advice and support to owners and homing centres.
Commenting on the launch, Mark Bird, Managing Director of GBGB, said:
“The Greyhound Retirement Scheme has been a long-term ambition for many owners and GBGB. We had originally planned to launch the scheme in May but, given the challenges presented by COVID-19, we decided to delay its launch. I am therefore very pleased that we are able to launch it by the end of the summer.
“The GRS is absolutely the right thing to be doing to support our racing greyhounds beyond their athletic careers. I firmly believe that it further endorses GBGB’s commitment to welfare and our owners’ commitment and responsibility to their greyhounds both on and off the track.”
Greyhound Ambassador Bob Boswell added:
“This is an exciting initiative which many greyhound owners have long called for. It secures registration to retirement and beyond support to ensure as many greyhounds as possible find forever homes. This scheme will not only benefit owners but will also support those very committed people working in organisations which care for retired greyhounds. GBGB has once again shown that the welfare of greyhounds is its top priority and it continues to lead and innovate on all issues relating to welfare.”