Last Thursday, I received an e-mail from Mark Lloyd, CEO of the AT. He contacted me because of a comment I made that was an attack on the AT, regarding the bass bag limit debacle mainly, that I posted on his blog.
He suggested that we meet for a chat over a pint or a coffee and see if we could iron out our differences.
I agreed and, we met this last thursday, 26th March at The Grape Vaults public house in Broad Street Leominster. This is about 500 yards from my house and about 100 yards from AT HQ....and, coincidentally, my local....he suggested the rendezvous.
We met at 17:30 and shook hands and, after the usual social preliminaries (disclaimer for humorous comments arising from that last phrase), we discussed the issues and, the point that I had been anti AT since they formed.
Anyway, we discussed the AT and RSA in particular and the crux of it all was, Mark Lloyd admitted that mistakes had been made and, he admitted that the lack of communication was the biggest problem.
He proposed a free "membership" grade, whereby RSA, on receipt of there e-mail/postal address would receive all info that paying members receive. No insurance or fish legal benefits and no say on Trust committee affairs etc.
I suggested that such contacts would then allow the Trust to consult directly with RSA in the event of any legislation changes. He agreed that it sounded acceptable.
Since then I have bounced the idea off a few people, some are for, some are most definitely not...no surprises there then.
This afternoon I penned a quick draft of what I would like to see (in an ideal world) for this new "member" grade.....it is below, please, please comment to your heart's content but, I would be very grateful if you could try and stick to the topic (I can hear the guffaws from here) and, if possible, try not to dwell too deeply on their massive failings...I'm trying to be positive and He made the first move!
I have named the new "grade" Recreational Sea Angler Stakeholder (RSAS).
RSA stakeholder: a consultant individual regarding sea angling in the UK
1. RSA stakeholders (RSAS) will not pay any membership fee and will not be classed as Trust members and will not be included in any Angling Trust (AT) membership figures.
2. RSAS will receive all angling related information that is sent to all grades of paying member of the AT.
3. RSAS will be consulted by the AT on all policy relating to any and all decisions, discussions, proposals etc. that will or might possibly have the potential to affect in anyway whatsoever the right or freedom for any UK citizen to fish as a recreational angler in any UK territorial water or to use any extractive method that aids the purpose thereof (bait digging etc.).
4. Any statements made by the AT regarding any and all consultations with RSAS will include the number, n (where n= total number of RSAS replies) and percentage of n that were for/against any such consultation.
5. RSAS as individuals or as groups will not be restricted from joining or forming any group, organisation or other body that may be in competition with the AT.
6. The collective RSAS comments, whether for or against any AT proposals will be made public in press releases and any Governmental (at UK or EU level) discussions or written briefs.
Discussion with other groups has led to the new status name as "correspondents" rather than stakeholders, I quite like that.
Obviously, Game and coarse anglers must also have the same courtesy shown them, as must paying members......