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Members Meeting Minutes 2018

As you may recall the 2018 members meeting was held on 30th August 2018. Many thanks to all those that attended and added topics to the suggestion box.
The minutes of the meerting are attached to this bulleten,

The suggestion box will now become a permanent fixture on the bar, with topics forming part of the next commitee meeting, the date of which will be announced here.

if you have any comments or questions please email :

Grafton Members Meeting
Thursday 30th August, 2018
The meeting began at 7.30pm and was well attended with approximately 30 attendees (including Committee Members) in the bar area
Tim Bannerjee began with a high level overview of the club and discussion of the running of Grafton Tennis and Squash Club as overseen by the Club’s Committee, explaining this is all run on a voluntary basis. The Committee members do not receive any financial or membership benefits for in return for the time they devote to our club. The current exception being a club membership fee of £0 for the role of Chairman
Time constraints and work commitments often mean the Committee must prioritise the activities undertaken to keep the club moving in what we hope is positive direction
The purpose of the meeting was to provide an overview on the status of the club, encourage discussion, and gather members’ thoughts on important issues
Murray Sutton then provided a brief summary of each of the Committee members and what each person was responsible for
The Grafton Committee
Murray Sutton: Chairman
Tim Bannerjee: Vice Chairman
Gary Couzens: Treasurer (On-Boarding)
Tony Braimbridge: Facilities Manager
Lucas Wielgo: Club Manager
Melanie Gibbs: Membership Secretary
John Peters: - Head Tennis Coach
Graeme Hogarth: Squash Coach
Peter Gray (Present): Squash Secretary
Toby Mitchell: Share Holders and Contracts Secretary Rodney Toop: Funding Secretary
Sarah Honeyball: Social Secretary
High Level Finances
Gary Couzens, currently on-boarding as Treasurer, provide some analysis of the current financial position of the club, highlights as follows:-
• Cash at Bank £49k
• Donations and loans £91k (this includes long term memberships)
• Nursery (currently owed £15k)
• Total cash available £155k

Grafton Members Meeting
• Committed capital expenditure £131k (includes lights on courts 1 & 2 and re- surfacing courts 5-8)
• Interest free loans of £22k
• The last year income statement is summarised as follows:-
o Income
? Membership £91k
? Nursery £29k (exceptional as there were back-dated payments)
? Food / bar £14k o Expenses
? Administration £18k ? Cleaning £6k
? General expenses £8k ? Insurance £9k
? Heating / lighting £16k
? Other £8k
? Repairs & maintenance £35k ? Wages £12k
o Surplus £22k
• Approximate income split is 72% tennis / 28% squash
• Itemised till coming in
• A “sinking” fund will be established for big ticket expenses
Membership Levels and Trends
• Membership has increased by 90 (since 2015) with the following current split:- o Social 10
o Junior83
o Squash 89
o Tennis256
o Tennis & squash combined 69
Investments and Planning
Tony Braimbridge provided an update on the major current works being undertaken
• Floodlights on courts 1 & 2
• Before installation we had to increase the power capacity at the club, looked at costs
involved and took the cheaper option of a power upgrade, work undertaken by UK
Power Networks and was completed early August 2018
• The new light columns will be installed this week, will also require cables into the
clubhouse roof

Grafton Members Meeting
• In October the flood lights will be fitted, went for the LED option which are 50% cheaper on electricity costs. Murray and Tony went to Welyn Garden City earlier this year to test the exact lights being fitted and were happy with the visibility
• Total cost of lights £32k including VAT
• Clay courts being installed on the back courts 5-8
• Work will commence 4th September with a power wash
• The main work will begin 10th September and take 2-3 weeks
• Total cost is £80k inc VAT
• Additional cost of approx. £4k to include leaf blowers, sweepers, etc
• Annual maintenance costs of approx. £1.3k
• Other essential include the squash court heater program, approx. £1.3k and already done
• There is a 5 year electricity testing scheduled which will cost £2.3k
• This year / next:-
o Re-paint tennis courts 1 & 2
o Repairs to patio / paving
• Other longer term works:-
o Replace squash roof
o Insulation to outside of squash building and/or quick blast heaters (cold
weather wet walls problem)
o New fencing and gates to back courts
o Large trees to side of court 8 will need trimming
Working Bee - Fixing, Tidying, Gardening, Tournament organisation
• Lots of suggestions coming from participants, any working bees will need a few additional volunteers to organise as the committee do not have the bandwidth
• Items suggested included cutting back the ivy around court 8, bamboo overgrown to side of courts
• Suggestion for a “volunteering” meeting, with a volunteers bulletin to go out in January, 2019 to all members
Ladies Toilets and Changing Rooms
• This was a “hot” topic, female members are clearly unhappy with the current state of the changing rooms / ladies toilets. Discussions included the nursery leaving items in the toilets from day use which were inappropriate. The club are currently looking at a new school contract in negotiation, we will push for toilet cleanliness inclusion. Will also look at how / if we can include changing facilities into long-term investment planning
Social Tennis Courts
• A lot of animated discussion around the pressure on courts on social Wednesdays

Grafton Members Meeting
• Committee agree that Wednesday is a vital club night (new members and bar revenue). The new floodlights will increase general capacity and reduce pressure on Wednesday courts. Normally social courts start to empty at 8:30 / 9, so look at allowing one hour bookings from 9pm for league / winter competitions?
• Question on what is the tennis membership capacity, are we close to that? The LTA suggest 60/80 members per court, hence currently there is no requirement to restrict new membership
• From the squash side it was suggested the club could grow by a further 20/30 members without putting undue pressure on squash bookings. This may however require substantial capital expenditure to achieve (eg a glass back court, new squash roof). Squash have lost a lot of juniors. Suggestion to tie in more closely with Lambeth community
Staff Attendance at Committee Meetings
• Some members were concerned at staff attendance at committee meetings. Tim explained that we need Lucas on committee meetings, he has the day to day details and expertise. Any potential conflict of interest remains firmly on the committee’s radar and we are putting more process and rigor in place surrounding the allocation of maintenance funding
Introduction of Designated Smoking Areas
• Suggestion of making certain areas “no smoking” with signs (eg outside courts 3/4), and having other areas designated for smoking. Proposal was to provide ashtrays in the designated “smoking” areas for members
Viewing Area Improvements
• Discussions were held as to whether the club should invest in proper seating on Court 5 as tis may be the new “show court” with the new clay surface. The grass steeped embankment should make this a relatively low cost option
• Would need to look at the finances and build in to plan, no decision made as yet as members are uncertain as to where the players’ in the finals, etc will want to play (eg court 4 or court 5)
Umpiring at Tournament Finals
• Further lively discussion around foot-faulting in tournament finals, decision made that the organisers of the summer and winter mixed competitions can opine on this
Advice on forthcoming Committee Meetings and Permanent Suggestion Box
• A request was made to provide members with a memo of any forthcoming committee meetings in case there is anything they would like to raise, this was agreed and will be published in the weekly newsletter

Grafton Members Meeting
• A point was raised to have a permanent suggestion box, the committee agreed this was a good proposal, and the suggestion that points raised in the suggestion box were the first items to be discussed at the committee meetings was also approved
Other topics discussed
• Lucy Puddle suggested £250 bar credits as cash input
• Danielle Wade raised the spectre of ethos of the Club changing with the advent of
clay. Murray said this shouldn’t be a problem, if people don’t like the club they leave
• Neighbours (one in particular) continues to complain about the noise
• Committee will investigate planting bamboo along Radborne fence
• Lucas will order small bins for ladies cubicles

Grafton Members Meeting
Grafton Squash Overview – as provided by Graeme Hogarth
This is written following the AGM which was held on Thursday 30th August. The agenda was based around issues raised by members through the suggestions box and as there were no squash–specific issues and no squash-only members at the meeting (Jeremy Chantry was briefly there for a pint and (club) half) then I thought I would draft some comments- thoughts to provide an overview of where squash at the Grafton is at the present time.
Squash-Tennis balance: There are 89 squash members currently, as compared to 256 tennis, with 69 joint. Thus around 25% of the membership income comes from squash. It is not as clear re. how much of the overall income comes from both sectors but given that squash members pay £5 for lights each time they use a court, while tennis members dominate the bar; then to a first approximation I would think this 3:1 split is reasonable. The club are in the process of installing a smart till so that individual takings can be better itemised and hopefully over the next year we will have a better idea of the actual income split.
Club strategy: One issue that was raised at the AGM was the general direction of travel of the club, especially in relation to the upgrading of tennis facilities and the need to increase membership in order to sustain these facilities financially. For squash I think we can easily accommodate a 50% rise in membership and should be looking to raise to ca. 150 full adult squash members. This will increase pressure a little for courts but we could easily deal with this. We could also focus on increasing the overall standard at the club, however I fear this would require some significant financial input as without glass-backed courts or paying someone to do the work (such as Dulwich do via Tim Garner) then I am not sure how successful we would be. I would note that Dulwich (2 miles away) have 4 courts (2 in bar area) and the standard there is very high with top professionals such as Vinnie Rodrigues playing for them. They undoubtedly pay for this privilege as most clubs will in Surrey Divisions 1 and 2. Is this a route we want to go down? There may be opportunities to tap into high quality university players if we wanted to attract some top players to the club to raise standards and attract more members.
Squash courts: The squash courts are currently in a moderate condition. Hopefully the newly installed heating system (thanks to Peter Gray and Tony Braimbridge) will work better this winter and reduce the dampness on the walls. As many experienced, the courts were virtually unplayable after 8pm many nights last winter. While some may think the problem has been solved I fear that until we hit the darkest-dampest days we will not know. This must be #1 priority; so if courts continue to be wet then some major investment may be needed. A consequence of the damp courts last winter is the loss of paint-plaster from some of the walls. While low level at the moment it’s likely to get worse. There is some work going on but we need to monitor carefully. A likely major squash expense over the next 5 years is a new roof. This is the root of all damp problems and also the current struts prevent quality shots high down the walls. A good player would not put up with this and hence (hopefully) when a new roof is fitted the walls can be adjusted so that we have a single roof

Grafton Members Meeting
(there are currently two tied in on one of the walls - reducing damp) and a loss of these struts. Better lighting would also be installed (maybe we can do this earlier?). Otherwise the courts are generally fine and as long as we keep them clean then the environment is liveable.
Internal Leagues: These are generally quite healthy. Since taking over from Spencer a few years ago I have changed a couple of things; (i) if you do not play a game in a session then you are automatically ruled out for the next session – I did this as people complained that they couldn’t get enough games. if you are injured or away for a session then let me know in advance and I can take you out and put you back at same level at a later stage; (ii) I have increased the numbers in each league to 6-8 - again to guarantee that players can get enough games; (iii) I promote-relegate on a more flexible basis – sometimes 3 get promoted etc. other times one. I try to be fair and want to get people to the correct level. Also happy to relegate-promote more than one league when it’s obvious that a player as not at the correct level; (iv) if an opponent cancels within 48 h of the scheduled game then you are entitled to take a walkover – especially if you cannot rearrange. The biggest issue still facing the leagues is players not replying to emails - even if you cannot play it is courteous to reply. I am not sure how to address this but am happy to have a grey list of non-responders and dock them points etc. Any ideas?? Finally, I did consider offering bonus points (or a free pint at the bar) to players who play all their league games in a session. Good or bad idea?
Tournaments: Tennis have loads of tournaments but squash traditionally only has two; (i) Grafton Open – runs from March-June, (ii) Grafton Handicap – runs from September- December. Entries for both have been very low in the past year (handicap down from 33 to 16). I introduced Grade A (team players and leagues 1-3) and B (all others) to the open this year in order to increase numbers but overall they were lower than last year. Is there something wrong with the tournaments that we run? I am happy for new suggestions if others see a gap that they want to fill. Some years ago Julian ran Friday night American Round Robin tournaments that were great fun but died when he left. Any suggestions? I also find that once entries have closed then people contact me! Not sure why they can’t do so in advance. Do squash players read Grafton Comms?
Teams: For around 5 years we ran 3 teams in the Surrey leagues but two years ago dropped the third team due to lack of players. The first team are in Division 4 which is a good standard. Most players are social members and play most of their squash at Dulwich (who are in Kent leagues). Some members do not like this arrangement but it is the only way we can currently maintain a team of good standard. Thus our better players (Dan, Andy P) coming through the system will go on to play for the first team but it takes a while to get to that standard. As mentioned above, most clubs will pay their first team. The second team are in Division 6 and did well to finish mid-table this summer. Even with 4 in a team (summer rules) we struggled to get a full team out for three of the matches. We need to ensure that we have good quality teams; other clubs that have let this slipped have suffered for membership with some going out of business.
Club night: In general the Sunday club nights work well. Attendance can be highly variable (from 2 to 20) but we attract non-members and often it’s the first port of call for potential

Grafton Members Meeting
new members. I did have an idea to theme these – have one court dedicated to (i) doubles; (ii) 2 on 1; (iii) long game, (iv) racketball etc. but I can only get there quite irregularly and we would need someone to run it on a more formal basis. Suggestions? The club have mooted having a second club night on Fridays. I am not against this as the courts are not much used. Is there an appetite for this? Another possibility would be to have an app so that you could try and find a partner at short notice or gauge interest at club nights?
Juniors: Until last year we had a fairly healthy junior section which I set up with Duncan Marlow (Dulwich) about 7 years ago. We ran on Saturday afternoon from 3-5pm and at one stage had 25+ players. However, numbers dropped dramatically two years ago and also the range of standards was so wide that it has proved impossible to run a single session. I would like to reboot the juniors but would only do so with some commitment from the club to help publicise and organise. Thus we currently do pay and play and it is not sustainable. Are others interested in getting involved? Do members have children who would play, and then send message to friends etc. – this is how we got the whole thing started in the first place. On a positive note we ran a junior team in the Surrey cup for the first time last year and they performed very well. Vivian Hogarth (Wandsworth) and Gabriel and Felix Bowen (Lambeth) all played in the London Youth Games with Wandsworth reaching the finals. As Vivian is in the Surrey Junior Squad I have links there and ran a successful half day tournament for U11 and U13 girls in May. This serves to bring players (and parents) to our club many of whom have no idea that we exist. I suspect the same goes for most parents of children at local primary schools! How can we raise our profile (squash and tennis?) locally?
Coaching: Most know this but I offer sessions for £25 (£30 first one) with a cap of £90 for any four sessions. I also offer one on one sessions for juniors for £15 (£50 for four). I am happy to do other sessions; groups, teams etc.
Surrey Initiatives: You may know that England squash is pretty much broke. Thus there is little money knocking around but Surrey have asked each club to pay towards a development scheme (I think we contributed ca. £300). For this they have regional organisers and are trying to stimulate interest in new initiatives; especially for using clubs during the day. I recently received a letter from Surrey Squash and in this they asked that all club players should register with Squash England as they will then receive more money from Squash England. Go onto their website: According to the letter “Leaguemaster, has an automatic England Squash membership check” but I can’t find it. The League Master website is;
One initiative being pushed is daytime Squash57 (racketball) for over 50s which has proved very popular at some clubs. Our situation is confused by the nursery, which means that the ladies toilets are out of bounds during the day. This was discussed at the AGM and hits tennis also. Some clubs also allow access to schools during the day – Vivian plays at Southbank through his school. It can be quite lucrative and it’s the teachers that have responsibility for the pupils and not us. Is this something we can try for squash (and tennis?). How would it fit in with the nursery?

Grafton Members Meeting
There are doubtless other things but by writing these notes I hope to both inform and stimulate discussion. I believe that in order to best move squash forward we should have a small committee who meet informally every few months to take forward ideas and initiatives. This will then serve to ensure that we have a strong voice on ca. 3 monthly Grafton Committee Meetings and more engagement at future AGMs. Anyone interested then please contact me.

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