A: one third.

So what are we talking about?

Each year, one third of the total of WSRA trustees must retire and then may stand for re-election. The actual wording of Article 14.7 follows:

“At every annual general meeting one-third of the Trustees who are subject to retirement by rotation (excluding Trustees appointed by the Trustees between annual general meetings who shall in any event retire), or if their number is not three or a multiple of three, the number nearest to one third, shall retire from office. If there is only one Trustee he or she must retire.”

and Article 14.8 explains which trustees must retire:

“The Trustees to retire by rotation shall be those who have been longest in office since their last appointment. If any Trustees became or were appointed Trustees on the same day, those to retire shall (unless they otherwise agree among themselves) be determined by lot.”

Now, in total the trustee board must consist of “neither less than six nor more than ten trustees” [part of Article 13.1] so our understanding is that at each annual general meeting (AGM) either two or three existing trustees must retire, the number depending on how many existing trustees are in post at the time.

At time of writing there are, we believe, nine trustees in post. That number does not agree with the current Journal (published in January 2015) which states there are eight, or with the current WSRA website which (checked again today) states there are ten. WSRA members may wonder why the two official references differ.

How do we get a total of nine then? We know that one of the trustees resigned in the autumn of 2014. His name is still listed on the official references because, as far as we know, his resignation has not been accepted or acknowledged. We are not sure why. WSRA members may be equally puzzled.

Anyway, using the one-third rule, whether it is eight, nine or ten, the number of retiring trustees is three. Even with our poor arithmetic.

Using all fingers and toes we believe there will at least four vacancies at this year’s WSRA elections – probably three re-electees (assuming those retiring wish to stand again) and one “vacant” seat (that vacated by the autumn 2014 resignee).

But that “vacant” seat may not necessarily be vacant by the time of the election if, as in 2014, the vacant trustee post is filled by co-option. And although a co-opted trustee must resign and stand at the very next AGM, the trend has been for co-optees to be voted in, usually by proxy votes. It seems members, especially remote members using proxy voting, tend to vote for incumbents. Even extremely new incumbents!

Proxy votes! We tried not to mention the words but we just had to, didn’t we! The key for any candidate to a successful election campaign is to gain the cross (or tick) from the remote members who rely on proxy voting. There are more proxy votes than attendees, you see. All candidates need an equal opportunity to canvas members. That didn’t happen in 2014 (see previous posting here) and the actions of the WSRA trustees in allowing only their resignee/re-electee colleagues to enjoy an official second letter to members remains an example of underhand manipulation of the process.

So, what’s the point of all this? Just a simple review of the process and a best-guess at the likely number of trustee vacancies available in 2015. We do expect rather more candidates than vacancies so it’ll be interesting times again and here we will try to allow candidates – all candidates – to stand on this blog’s soapbox and tell members why the cross or tick should be placed against their name.

WSRA members may wish to look beyond the official publications, documents and papers relating to trustee elections.