BHETA member Charles Harrison has told HousewaresLive.net that he is seeking election as president of the trade association at its AGM in May.
Harrison, managing director of CAT Enterprises, successfully led last year’s campaign to derail the merger of BHETA with the British Jewellery, Giftware and Finishing Federation. Now he says that a contested election for the office of president will provide the platform for a proper debate on the future of the association.
“The current structure for BHETA shows the board at the top of the food chain and the members at the bottom,” said Harrison. “This is the reason why I think so much apathy exists in the association.
“If the members truly believed that BHETA was structured to be accountable to them, provided services that they wanted and reacted to their requirements they would be much more likely to buy into the association and participate in its activities.”
He went on: “There’s no doubt that the heart of every non executive director is in the right place – they give their time freely and want the best for BHETA – but a watershed has been reached and they need to be asked to consider their roles in a different light.
“To thrive in the future the association must be driven by the sector committees, that should have the autonomy and budgets to set the strategy and determine the services that BHETA provides for their sectors.”
Harrison said he wanted to create a structure that was “completely transparent and gives members more say than ever before.
“The role of the board should be to enable, encourage and support the sector committees whilst ensuring that the association maintains low overheads and manages its finances properly. I believe that the ideas I have will benefit the association and drive costs down for members.”
Harrison said he did not want the debate to turn into a re-run of last year’s BHETA/BJGF merger dispute.
“Last year at an EGM the members refused to give the board a mandate to proceed with plans to join the BJGF. That should have been the end of it but it appears there are plans to ask the members to vote again on essentially the same proposal.
“It would be ludicrous to have another EGM before there’s been a proper debate on other options for the future direction of the association,” he said, “particularly when there has to be an AGM in a few weeks’ time.”
He added: “Members of BHETA know that everything I told them last year has proved to be completely true even though it was all denied at the time. I’m going to ask them to trust me again and participate in a debate that can only benefit them and the association.”
BHETA’s current president is Andrew Weiss.