Members of the BHETA Board spent yesterday afternoon discussing the ramifications of the morning’s EGM, which produced the extraordinary result of a split vote on the proposed merger.
Members were asked to support BHETA’s strategy to relocate to The British Jewellery, Giftware and Finishing Federation’s headquarters in Birmingham for two years, and during that time to explore the feasibility and most acceptable structure for the formation of a “super federation” with BJGF.
After a recount, it was announced that 66 had voted in favour of the resolution and 66 against, with one abstention. There was no casting vote. The resolution therefore failed.
In his presentation to the meeting before the vote, BHETA chief executive David French had warned that the consequences of not relocating from BHETA’s Brooke House, Northampton base to Birmingham would be “significant”.
He said that costs of almost £135,000 had already been incurred and that Brooke House staff who had been given redundancy notices would be leaving on July 31. At the same time, a team to operate in Birmingham had already been recruited and trained.
Commenting on the vote, BHETA president Andrew Weiss said: “It’s a very unusual situation, and I’ll do my best as president to try to guide us through the way forward. We have to work it out professionally and logically.”
David French had reiterated the Board’s case for the merger in his talk, which followed a presentation by member Charles Harrison, outlining his reasons for opposing it. In it, he accused the Board of “a lack of openness and transparency”, and made an oblique reference to the injunction taken out by BHETA to prevent him from revealing confidential material which he says supports his statement.
From the floor, Mark Newbold of Metaltex asked: “Was everything that Charles said true?”, to which David French replied: “We’ve not put out any information that’s incorrect.” However, Housewares committee chair John Newcomb promised that Harrison’s comments had “thrown up a number of issues that will be looked at”.
Brian Robertson of Click Clack wanted to know: “Why have you taken a member to court? Why was our money thrown away?”
French defended the Board’s action, saying that it had had no option. “Charles didn’t give an undertaking not to use the information,” he said. “Had we not taken out the injunction – if that position of confidentiality had not been protected – it would have set a precedent for any future confidentiality to be breached.”
HousewaresLive.net was also heavily criticised by John Newcomb for its coverage of the last few weeks’ events. He accused the website of sensationalism, saying that the treatment of the story had been “absolutely appalling. It’s degenerated into personal issues.
“Please put all the stuff that’s been read in the press aside and concentrate on the EGM,” he urged members.
Following the vote, consultant Neville Singer said he had been instructed by Gilberts, in the event of the resolution failing, to request the resignation of the chief executive and the executive committee. Patrick Winters of More Than Group also asked the Board to withdraw the legal action against Harrison. Andrew Weiss replied that both matters would be discussed by the Board.
Weiss and Harrison are due to meet next week.