British Eventing members returned a “no” verdict to a proposal to make amendments to BE’s Articles of Association at an extraordinary general meeting yesterday at Stoneleigh.

A 75% majority was needed to pass the special resolution — 173 votes were cast, with 98 voting for the amendments, 74 against and one withheld. More than 30 more votes would have needed to be cast in favour rather than against to pass the resolution.

British Eventing chairman Ally Fox opened the meeting by explaining that the changes followed the 2006 Companies Act, which made some of BE’s articles (first accepted earlier in 2006) “superfluous and out of date”.

The proposals include increasing the number of co-opted, rather than elected, members on the BE board and cutting the number of board meetings which must be held each year.

Changes had been proposed before an EGM last year, but agreement could not be reached then and the decision was made to adjourn and form a committee to look at the articles again, the result of which was the changes proposed today.

Prior to today’s meeting, Richard Clapham — the organiser of Mattingley Horse Trials, who has been recently been responsible for putting together a document with suggestions for the future of the sport — wrote an open letter advising members to vote against the changes.

His concerns focused on the changes to the composition of the board and ensuring rider, owner and organiser representation. The letter was widely circulated by email and published on website www.eventingworldwide.com.

Ally Fox addressed the points in Richard’s letter in her opening speech, but after remarks from the floor, including some from Richard, there were evidently still not enough members convinced of the benefits of the changes.

During the accompanying Annual General Meeting, members heard an update from Chris Gillespie of the BE business team on the state of the organisation’s finances. Sport director Mike Etherington-Smith also spoke, giving an update on safety and information on changes for 2009, including entry fees and class names.

Read more about the British Eventing AGM in next Thursday’s Horse & Hound (6 November).