A View From The Outside

A View from the Outside – Summer 2022

            Just in case you overlooked the change in title, you may recall that back in the Spring edition I said that it might be my last “View from the Top” as President of the club and so it has proved to be. From my perspective it was going to be a foregone conclusion with the AGM being in Scotland. The 100 or so attendees were the smallest attendance of any AGM in all my years in the club and dominated by Scottish and Northern members. I am of course disappointed having worked very hard and although I say it myself faced the toughest five years of any President with the number of critical issues and the impact of the Covid pandemic I had to deal with.

So where do I go now, what is there left to do that I haven’t yet done or more importantly tried to do? Well for a start I’ve got a lot more time to myself and if some elements of the club hierarchy are unwilling to change, I have, reluctantly, to accept that and move on. I just hope the club can survive with an overly complex, expensive administrative system and three members of the same family holding senior appointments in the club. A completely unprecedented situation in its history and one that risks reasonable democratic challenge.

The current General Secretary has always thought he runs the club and tries to dominate major decisions, hates to be challenged on any subject especially by a President in the chief executive role. He is now unlikely to be so by the new incumbent who in her own recent June “Waffle” sees her role as just chairing the national committee meetings and not “managing” the club. Who is going to deal with the sort of really serious issues I faced over the last five years is quite a worry since some of the officers in post are the same ones that turned a blind eye to several previous serious issues drawn to their attention? I generously thought the new “Chair Lady” would also re-think her “Waffle” page title and choose a more appropriate heading, but July’s edition proved me wrong. How anybody is going to take her and the club seriously now is beyond me.

Flatteringly for me, it took only 48 hours for the another motorcycling body to approach me and ask if I would take on a senior role in their organisation which I said I would think about it. Should I do that or take a year or so out of the limelight and get back to longer motorcycle trips in different countries with Australia being a priority that I’m itching to experience? At the same time though, I do enjoy the kind of responsibility that such roles involve. Perhaps when the gloomy cloud of losing my Presidential position fades away I’ll see the fresh challenges ahead more clearly and favourably.

Did any of you purchase a copy of the new Highway Code as I suggested and if so what did you think of the “Hierarchy of Road Users”? I’ve certainly heard some pretty strong negative views from car drivers on certain aspects of priority the concept goes on to reinforce. On the other-hand, I have also seen some very positive changes in many driver’s attitude and particularly in overtaking cyclists and horse riders. I’ve also tried the “Left Hand and Arm” reach across my body to open the driver’s door to obtain a better offside rear view of oncoming cyclists, but it doesn’t yet come naturally and I really have to think about it first. Never-the-less it definitely works in my view.

Brexit still continues to throw new spanners in the works, this time for UK citizens who wish to transport their motorcycle by van or trailer across Europe for use at a distant location. In the latest twist on customs formalities; FEMA, the National Motorcyclists Council UK (NMC) and the historic vehicle federation (FIVA) have just received updated advice from the UK Government. After the European Commission originally confirmed that transporting a motorcycle or a car (means of transport) from the UK to the continent in a van or on a trailer would not be a problem, a discussion has now started among French and British customs authorities about when a motorcycle or car is a ‘means of transport’. Apparently there is now an issue particularly with French custom authorities regarding the term a ‘means of transport’ under various international treaties and regulations. It has now emerged that in technical terms, customs can take the view that a road registered motorcycle / car stops being a means of transport for the purposes of crossing a border when it is being carried by another vehicle, temporarily becoming ‘goods in transit’ and requiring the appropriate “Carnet” documentation.

I seriously doubt that if those that voted for Brexit had known all the consequences we now face for that decision it would have gone the same way. What do you think? Take the illegal immigration issue by way of example, that was continually hyped in the Brexit argument. That worked well didn’t it, with figures now double what was pre-Brexit. The EU was not perfect, but a wiser head than mine once told me “son, you can’t change something you are not party to”.

I suppose the most challenging aspect for all of us and the club right now is the huge inflation rise pushing the cost of everything ever higher and tougher on the pocket. Having started the general recovery from Covid and a return to some form of normal lifestyle the huge increase in fuel price is certainly going to have an effect on our particular recreational pastime and possibly make many club members think twice about ride outs and even membership renewal. I hope I’m wrong, but the reality is that the monthly salary can only stretch so far and home and family must come first.

Ian Dobie                                                                  


Author: drdrsteve

1 thought on “A View From The Outside

  1. CanI just say Ian, many thanks for the huge efforts that you have contributed in making the club, a better place for all members, no matter from which section. Due to commitments, I’ve not been ‘active’, but I can appreciate the time, effort and good will that goes into any post like this, and indeed for all that serve on the present Oxford Section Committee, and indeed all those previously involved.

    I do hope, that maybe after a well earned break, you can and do offer your consideration knowledge, experience and leadership to another motorcycling organisation, whom I believe can only gain.

    Just my personal view, but when you look at the recent ‘club history’ and the way it’s going, I cannot see a great future for the wider BMW Club, but for the Oxford Section, then as a stand alone organisation of like minded and helpful members, perhaps this will be away forward?

    I expect that within a year or two, Fiona and I will be moving away from the area, and we will retain many happy memories of a few tours into Europe, specifically’SOS’ and Germany. I very much doubt that we would remain club members, but hopefully will remain in contact with many members.

    Thank you Ian.
    Ken & Fiona Smale.

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