Controversial plans to increase membership fees of the sport’s governing body by up to 300 per cent have this week been scrapped, Angling Times can reveal.
Through a special investigation, AT has learned that the Angling Trust had been intending to implement price hikes that would have impacted hugely on the financial fortunes of angling clubs.
This was based on the body’s proposal to change its subscription offer, making membership of the Trust’s legal arm, Fish Legal, compulsory, as opposed to the optional extra it is currently.
Under the new plan, clubs with more than 1,000 members would have faced an increase in fees from £250 per year to nearly £1,000, while those with 51 to 200 members would have suffered a rise from £150 to £290 per annum.
Following a change of mind by the Trust’s board, the fees for clubs will now remain at their current price for the time being.
However, a rise for individual members will go ahead, increasing the cost of joining the Angling Trust for non club members by 25 per cent (from £20 to £25) from the start of 2011 ¬ a move that could prove controversial.
“I’m not surprised that it changed its mind on the club price rise, as it would have a hugely detrimental effect on its numbers,” said Angling Trust member and Chub Study Group secretary, John Hepworth, speaking to AT about the issue.
“I’m also glad to hear it will not be making membership of Fish Legal compulsory. Not all clubs, such as the Chub Study Group, want, or need, to join it, and just railroading us into joining would have upset a lot of people.
“I think it’s disgusting that they haven’t consulted members first about the rise in individual fees, though. Any group or organisation like the Angling Trust which relies on the funding by its members needs to consult those members before doing anything like this.” Speaking about the aborted plans and the increase in individual membership fees, the Trust’s chairman Mike Heylin said:
“We didn’t go ahead with the plans as we want to take some strategic decisions prior to any significant change in subscriptions. Before a decision is made about increasing membership rates for clubs, we want to speak to more club members about the impact it would have, we want to prepare a much more comprehensive package of benefits and we want to make sure that what we do offer is the best package available on the market.
“The rise in individual membership is due to the increasing workload of our Fish Legal department,” he continued. “Further revenue is needed to keep this important work going and a percentage of the increase will go towards this.”