SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

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SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by Admin on Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:26 am

On the SNU website under Stop Press 19th March 2011
The Arthur Findlay Learning and Conference Centre in Stafford
http://www.snu.org.uk/news/aflcc.htm
Decentralisation of the AFC has begun how on earth did they finance this? Is this not right in David Bruton's District Council area? When will we hear more about other AFC Centres and the sale of Stansted one wonders. Are there any other pieces of news about to hit us? They can sure spend money.

Well well I suppose the PP1995 Staff and Creditors helped to pay for this lot indirectly. I note they hit the local church for 55,000 pounds towards intial refurbishment and decoration



Last edited by Admin on Tue May 10, 2011 11:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by Admin on Tue May 10, 2011 4:25 am

Hmm in the Spirit of PN we have a comment indicating that the SNU has its next new AFC centre purchased in Edinburgh for 1 million pounds.

Once again I guess the money that was not paid out to the PP(1995) staff, when they were terminated in such appalling circumstances, helped towards this. Of course, they could have been much better off had they accepted the JV Trusts offer for the whole company lock stock and barrel when it was made in August 2010. Not only would the staff still all have jobs, all the creditors would have been taken care of. Almost certainly this would have included the the SNU itself as one of the creditors, which would have saved around 100,000 pounds in lost debt, for money the SNU NEC have had to inject into PP1995 for fees, liquidators etc.

They could not handle any of that correctly, hiding behind what proved to be a spurious claim for ownership of the masthead and archives. Yet it appears members are happy to see them splurge money on new centres. This despite the fact their 5 year plan shows no financial numbers or justification about how the huge increases in courses will be sold to the public and the overall viability of the venture to the AFC.

Once again trust us, shut up, do not ask questions, we have decided.

Remember this is 1.5 mill for two centers one in the North West Midlands one in Scotland. They have promised more so we should expect at least two more to get the geographic spread right. So the minimum spend may well be in the order of 3 million.

We know there is no accommodation at Stafford and one wonders if the new model is based upon non residential courses. If that is the case I am certain it will limit the numbers attending. Firstly because of the problems of daily travel, secondly because I suspect people enjoy the chance to immerse themselves in the experience of an intensive course, spending time with like minds rather than rushing home.

I just cannot see the numbers adding up for such a venture, which seems to have been poorly planned and rushed through to prevent opposition.

Whoever has funded this venture will have to have put up in the region potentially of 3 million pounds. Now they should be looking for a rental return on the properties, say at an 8% yield, at least 240,000 pounds rent. Then we have the fixed costs electricity, water, gas. I do not know whether there is an exemption for rates (or whatever they now are in the UK). We also have the cost of administrative staff, printing, stationery, communications, advertising and then the retainer or fees paid to the Tutors.

With 5 separate centres including Stansted, and the two, still to be announced new ones, this will be a tidy sum.

It is possible that they have plans to move Stansted up market but as a listed building it may be hard to provide what Duncan Gascoyne called 5 star accomodation. Additionally it must be presumed this will entirely change the market it is aimed at. I doubt the planners are worried about that. They will feel those driven away will go to the new centres.

This whole deal has been created in 9 months since David Brutons election and it must be wondered at what market research they have conducted. What surveys have they taken with potential attendees and what detailed financial modelling they have developed to justify committing the SNU and the AFC to such a risky course of action.

I then wonder which of the main course organisors are being despatched by the new Chairman of the AFC Andrew Hadley to the various scattered locations. I may surmise that the split up could have intangible political benefits by splitting the Tutors who are NEC members sending them in different directions each with their own personal fiefdom.

Time will tell but my personal feeling is this will become a financial white elephant, unless the SNU introduce some Draconian training requirements for members. Some years ago the JV Trust stood up to prevent Stansted closing. I doubt it would do so again after the PP(1995) debacle and the Eric Hatton book banning.

This time I can see a few of the new centres surviving but the financial value of Stansted will have to be realised by its sale to prop up an ailing AFC. How many years? Not long, it will probably survive the current President but by then I expect the financial drains to be causing heartaches, especially with the speed money is currently being spent. Of course David Bruton may be the one to face the consequences of his actions if, despite all the dreadful events of the last 10 months, he gets a second term.

Still with what I have heard it appears quite possible that as many as one quarter of their 400 churches are under supervision, so they can always close a few and sell them like Dalby Road, Liverpool. Well maybe the Bruton years of the NEC will be known as the Brutal years by many because of the undesireable personal impact on so many, especially the loyal staff of PP(1995), those who were on the Philosophy and Ethics Committee, and Eric Hatton.
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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by Admin on Tue May 17, 2011 5:23 am

Oh well more news this time again from Spirit of PN and the comments on the banning of Eric Hatton's book. Well if you haven't looked you should go and see all the comments now the subject has really caused a stir.
http://spiritofpn.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/snu-bans-eric-hattons-book/

Not content with 500,000 pounds on Stafford and 1,000,000 pounds at Edinburgh David Bruton was caught saying, during the President’s day during the open week, that Stansted Hall was to be gutted. Now this fact was disputed by one of the Presidents there, who said it was just to be an upgrade to the accomodation but it was clear the statement was overheard by others.

Of course now as the protest starts to come out about the future of Stansted the new Chairman, Andre Hadley rushed out an AFC newsletter on Monday 16th May. Once again communication after the event to try and limit the damage caused by the news which came out via the “gutting” statement.

Hmm apart from his intent to change the culture of the AFC and turn the accommodation into a minimum 4 star with matching hospitality standards and intent to change the curriculum to what he feels it should be addressing let us look at what is meant by the planned changes to the building.

Hadley has met with architects and the local listed building planners and is in the process of putting a planning application together to convert the clock house and annexe rooms into all en suite single and twin rooms, improving disabled access and build in wet rooms where practical to improve the level of service offered. It is the intention to bring the furniture and facilities up to the 4 star standards “so students may relax in comfort”. Then they are also applying for permission to build a new museum and shop. On top of that they are seeking to get approval for a ten bedroom extension which will provide much needed twin and single en suite accommodation. Clearly this will be necessary to make up for the decrease in beds when the old rooms are converted to a more spacious layout

Once this is done they will then start work on the main building. To convert the rooms into en suite bedrooms as has been done in many listed buildings which have been converted to hotels using an architect who assures them they will be able to achieve this if they all have “the right attitude, we can overcome” the inherent problems.

No comment about this except of course the price of courses will logically have to rise substantially to help offset this extensive expenditure so many will be excluded. It is also going to entirely alter the experience of a Stansted course although I could expect that many will be grateful for this. Of course if you cannot afford it there will be the no frills no accommodation at the other centres.

Hmm for once I do not think Bruton overstated this when he called it “gutted”. It sounds very much like gutting to me and I can see periods when no courses will be taking place at Stansted. Once done up with SNU money of course it also becomes much more saleable.

Now this is going to be fearsomely expensive when working round Government restrictions on such a listed building where unforeseen complexities are bound to occur. Let’s pop a figure of 1.5 mill pounds for the entire job. I would love to see the financial analysis which justifies this expenditure.

Oh! financial analysis - we now have two centres costing 1.5 million and this development so 3 million pounds committed. Yet the 5 year plan said other centres. The two announced are in the north so we should expect two new ones in the southern regions. Maybe another 1.5 million pounds for these two centres or possibly more, the South tends to have higher property values..

This is a huge gamble throwing what might be as much as 4.5 million pounds of trust funds at such a project in the hope that at least 5 times as many courses (5 centers all needing similar levels of couse occupancy to Stansted) will be sold when several centres are not offering residential accommodation. Remember every college has all the standing charges I listed before and the cost of running Stansted will escalate dramatically to maintain that 4 star status.

It is rather unbelievable that such an initiative should be taken when the emphasis should be more about returning to training via the church circles and encouraging home groups. It was that era which saw decent mediums appear, it is the course intensive mediumship which has seen the rapid demise of standards.

On top of this what an amazing commitment of SNU resources in such a rapid time, without showing the results of the financial evaluation of the project to members. If as I and many others suspect these fail the SNU will be stuck for a period propping up an AFC college that is losing substantial sums of money before selling the sites with no guarantee of a gain.

I have seen few Business organisations throw so much money about in such a short space of time, without considerably more overview. Indeed a Business could well have huge problems with shareholders if it did. Although trustees can commit money to further the designated aims of the trust they also have a duty to protect the principle and earn a return. On this basis they refused to prop up Psychic press (1995) Ltd. To justify this huge investment they will have to earn rent or interest and be very sure that the investment is in fact financially viable.

The SNU trust and its Trustees seem to me to be taking a huge gamble with funds badly needed to help promote the Churches, improve mediumship and the philosophy. Instead it is clearly heading down a different path, indeed one where many could be priced out of training.

Well time will tell but this has to be an amazing way to use the hard won Trust funds.
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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by Admin on Tue May 17, 2011 5:34 am

I forgot to say that I remember Duncan Gascoyne resigned as Chairman partly because the NEC did not keep him informed. This lot must have been a huge surprise to him when he found out.
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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:45 am

I notice that Stafford has now opened and spotted one seemingly innocent piece of trivia. The Chair of the Management Committee is Julia Almond.

Apart from the obvious risk of nepotism as she is from David Brutons District Council she already has an important role on the NEC as Finance Director of the SNU.

Now one of the biggest risks for both this centre and the next one at Edinburgh is that they are very likely to become financial white elephants. Now if that is the case it would be one of the role's of the SNU's Finance Director to draw this to the NEC's attention and ensure prompt action. Her new role will mean a clear and obvious potential conflict of interest.

The potential of Stafford becoming a white elephant should also be a concern to the Stafford Church who have added all of their own funds into the repair work. With an imminent intensification of the recession in the UK both failure and a drop in property values becomes much more likely.

Clearly Ms Almond should have more of a watching role than a hands on position, I trust there is no renumeration involved in this new position.
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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:49 am

Of course there is the potential that the claims of nepotism will extend to the appointment of the new AFC manager of Stansted hall by Andrew Hadley. Reading the SNU's news she is, after all, the daughter of the President of his mother church, Norwich, although I understand she has practical experience in such roles.

In the current circumstances with all of the other problems the NEC have created for themselves one may have thought appointments like these may have been a lttle insensitive.
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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by zerdini on Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:21 am

Admin wrote:Of course there is the potential that the claims of nepotism will extend to the appointment of the new AFC manager of Stansted hall by Andrew Hadley. Reading the SNU's news she is, after all, the daughter of the President of his mother church, Norwich, although I understand she has practical experience in such roles.

In the current circumstances with all of the other problems the NEC have created for themselves one may have thought appointments like these may have been a lttle insensitive.


.......meanwhile back at the ranch:

SNU - Employment Opportunity
Posted: 01st July 2011

Position: General Manager Administration
Location: Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, CM24 8UD
Job Type: Permanent 37 Hours/week
Salary £28000-£30,000 p.a.
Closing Date for applications:Wednesday 14th July 2011

This full time post is responsible for the effective administration of the Spiritualists' National Union, managing and co-ordinating the work at Head Office and the Registrations Office.
Applications to: Miss J. Almond.

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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:28 am

Z do you think they would like an application from me. I may be rather overqualified but I am at least a Spiritualist. Hmmm I suspect something that I have done on this forum may dissuade them from seeking my services. Nice part of the UK to live in.

I wonder why this staff member has gone does anyone know, I understand staff relations are not one of the SNU's strongpoints.
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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by zerdini on Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:02 am

Admin wrote:Z do you think they would liek an application from me I may be rather overqualified but I am at least a Spiritualist. Hmmm I suspect something that I have done on this forum may dissuade them from seeking my services. Nice part of the UK to live in.

I wonder why this staff meber has gone does anyone know, I understand staff relations are not one of the SNU's strongpoints.

Somehow, Jim, I don't feel Julia Almond and her fellow Directors would look too favourably on your application! Wink

I understand the staff member in question resigned. Rolling Eyes

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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:05 am

Somehow, Jim, I don't feel Julia Almond and her fellow Directors would look too favourably on your application!

I understand the staff member in question resigned. .

Do you know Z that I am not surprised by either of your answers Very Happy
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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by mac on Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:13 am

"I understand staff relations are not one of the SNU's strongpoints."

Wonder how that came about? Laughing

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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by zerdini on Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:01 pm

mac wrote:"I understand staff relations are not one of the SNU's strongpoints."

Wonder how that came about? Laughing

The Annual General meeting of the SNU on the 15th - 17th July 2011 at Warwick University should be interesting.

Will the delegates speak out about the appalling treatment of Eric Hatton and his book or will it be swept under the carpet?

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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by obiwan on Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:23 pm

I suspect it will be a parquet floor.

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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by Admin on Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:27 am

I suspect the Chairman will be well prepared to try and stop any decisive action against the NEC. I am not sure of the constitution but given the way members only get to vote for the President one year and the two VP's next (who then appoint the remaining NEC) I would bet it is written in a way that makes effective action at an AGM very difficult.

However I would also bet that if people are to speak out they will also be very well versed in the rule book to counter any move by the Chairman. Hopefully it will be a lively meeting which helps to turn the SNU around by achieving change. In that case a parquet floor is easier to clean afterwards.

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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by zerdini on Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:05 am

I wonder if any members of the NEC will throw their toys out of the pram?

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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by Lis on Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:17 am

If you ask me Z, it's themselves they should be throwing out and then leaving the building with their heads hung down as the members shout out "Shame on you" "Shame on you."


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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by zerdini on Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:30 am

Lis wrote:If you ask me Z, it's themselves they should be throwing out and then leaving the building with their heads hung down as the members shout out "Shame on you" "Shame on you."


I confidently predict that will not happen. Laughing

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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by hiorta on Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:04 am

""I confidently predict that will not happen""....Z

Agreed. These ' top' Spiritualist people would give fortune-tellers and soothsayers a bad name.

(apologies to fortune-tellers and soothsayers)
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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by obiwan on Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:41 am

Admin wrote:. In that case a parquet floor is easier to clean afterwards.

lol - how true!

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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by Admin on Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:49 am

Hmm by report no blood was spilt, indeed I think very few dissenting or questioning voices were heard. Those SNU members are well trained to follow their leaders.
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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by zerdini on Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:18 am

Admin wrote:Hmm by report no blood was spilt, indeed I think very few dissenting or questioning voices were heard. Those SNU members are well trained to follow their leaders.

As I said before, "Shepherds may change but sheep remain sheep"!

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Re: SNU new Arthur Findlay Learning & Conference Centres

Post by Wes on Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:58 am

It is interesting to contrast the way David Bruton handled the difficult questions, compared to Ruper Murdoch. Regardless of what you think of them, it was impressive how Rupert showed leadership and accountablility, and sad that David showed only zipped lips.
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