I was amused to receive a letter today, out of the blue, from the Institute of Advanced Motorists Regional Group Co-ordinator sent to everyone at Glasgow North Group. He's been asked by IAM in London to investigate dissention in the ranks relating to the destinations chosen by the committee, for the Wednesday evening observed motorcycle runs.
It used to be that we'd meet in Glasgow and you'd be told where to head for, perhaps Largs, Loch Lomond, Arrochar, Lanarkshire, and you'd take whatever route suited you and more importantly your associate (i.e. "trainee") to take in appropriate roads for what they were looking for.
The final destination was often a pub, cafe, hotel or fast food restaurant who'd have been told you were all coming and who'd lay on cups of tea, chips, sandwiches or whatever. After the debrief over refreshments everyone would head home under their own steam, on their own or in groups of riders.
This was fun.
Last year it all changed and the new committee (well, it had new members in key roles anyway) decided for some reason that we'd only have four specified destinations, all in Glasgow, and all fast food places, so you could still take whatever route you wanted but you'd end up back at a McDonalds somewhere much nearer to the city so that on the run home no one would feel intimidated by a longer ride on perhaps unfamiliar roads.
Hang on a minute, I immediately thought, aren't we all, Advanced riders and those training to be such, grown ups who should be able to ride safely on any roads?
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I didn't enjoy last year's observing, not only was it boring but they had more Qualified Observers than Associates so half the time I'd turn up and end up going for a ride with other surplus observers, so I haven't been back this year, although I have paid my £5 annual subscription for the Glasgow North Group as well as about £30 for membership with IAM London.
I get cheap bike and car insurance via IAM London and it's a requirement to keep up my membership, but it isn't a requirement to be a member of a local group, so a while ago I decided that this'll probably be my last year with Glasgow North Group, for various reasons.
Anyway, on reading the letter this evening, it seems it isn't just me who's disenchanted by Glasgow North Group, and generally it isn't a happy camp at the moment but the Extraordinary General Meeting called for by "some Observers" has been knocked back by the powers that be (i.e. the Regional Group Co-ordinator who sent the letter) on the basis that the committee are "acting in the best interests of the members", and the disputed decision "is within their remit". Interestingly, and perhaps controversially, the letter states that any Observer who cannot comply with the committee's requirements is "at liberty to leave the group". This appears to me to be overly confrontational, but then again I don't know what verbal exchanges have taken place up to now.
I genuinely make no comment on the fact that the Regional Group Co-ordinator also happens to be a member of Glasgow North Group, and while I believe he used to be on the committee, I have no idea if he still is, although he's listed on this year's membership card as the group's Chief Motorcycle Observer. I don't know the man very well, although he certainly comes across as being a good bloke, and it's for others in a better position of knowledge to comment on his impartiality.
I wasn't aware of this brewing, not having been there at all this year and although I'd already pretty much decided to quit Glasgow North Group after this year I'll hold off telling them for the moment lest it be thought I'm flouncing off in a huff because of this issue.
I have concerns regarding the group but they're personal ones (a bit of a clash of personalities perhaps), and while possibly linked to the root of the problem alluded to in the letter (or one of the roots) I'll keep my concerns to myself for the time being.