The Future of ANLHS: A Letter from the Chairman and Executive
There will be one item on the agenda and this is the future of ANLHS.
We have reached the position where, regretfully, the current Executive Committee cannot continue and will be standing down at the AGM in November 2016.
The reality is that we have not been able to form a full active committee for some time. One member of the committee is currently doing three jobs! We have no Secretary and ideally we should have a Programme Secretary as well as a Minutes Secretary and Publicity Officer. According to the Constitution (amended November 2012) we should have a committee of 6 officers (chairman, vice-chairman, secretary, treasurer, editor of T&T and editor of website) as well up to 7 additional members. Currently we have 9 committee members, some with health problems and Michael Thompson and Jane Bowen gave notice of their retirements long before the last AGM.
We have put out several appeals for people to join the ANLHS Executive committee over the last three years but without success. In addition, specific invitations have been sent to likely individuals (9 in total) all with an interest in local history or North East history, inviting them to join the ANLHS Executive. Although a couple initially expressed some interest, none have actually volunteered to join the committee. Recent experience also tells us that there is very limited interest in participating in ANLHS business meetings. Some previous Members’ Meetings have been reasonably well attended but many people have left after the Speaker’s presentation. Attendance at recent AGMs has been very poor with well below 50% of member societies being represented (out of around 50 member societies, 17 attended at the 2014 AGM and 16 at the 2015 AGM).
In addition, our membership is diminishing. Four fewer LHSs renewed their membership of ANLHS this year. The (very) few larger LHSs function independently but many smaller LHSs are struggling to survive. Over the last few years at least one has closed each year. The problems of many local societies are mainly due to demography with membership becoming increasingly elderly but with young people not getting involved. They are not interested in talks in village halls or in local history journals. ANLHS came into existence in 1966 with the objective of encouraging the growth of the study of local history within the county. At that time, hardly any local history societies existed – now there are about 50. It could be argued therefore that ANLHS has done its job. Although it is a cliché, times are changing dramatically and, as an organisation, we cannot go on as in the middle of the last century.
The current Executive committee is therefore of the view that, despite their best efforts in recent years, ANLHS cannot continue beyond 2016. Accordingly, an Extraordinary General Meeting will be arranged at Stannington village hall for Saturday 30th April where a motion to close ANLHS will be put and where decisions about an orderly closure of the Association will be taken.
The Members’ Meeting following the ‘History Wardrobe’ presentation on 27th February is intended to provide members with the opportunity to express their views on this situation. If members are not attending this event we would welcome written observations and comment to the above address or email address by February 24th 2016.