British Showjumping (BS) members vented their anger at BS top brass at a stormy annual meeting — branding a new layer of personnel as a waste of money.

BS introduced seven regional development officers (RDOs) to the sport last October. The jobs were advertised as paying up to £30,000 per year and it was not a prerequisite for them to have showjumping knowledge.

But some members have questioned the RDOs’ expertise and whether they represent value for money.

At a tense annual meeting on 31 August, Lancashire rep Dianne Duggan asked: “What are they doing that was not done before by volunteers?

Member Amanda Carpenter added: “RDOs have done nothing in my area — how can they understand our sport when they are not from our sport?

BS’s Iain Graham said the officers were introduced to develop the sport and allow BS to apply for regional funding.

“Not all areas are as proactive as [Mrs Duggan’s] and we needed to show Sport England that we had a development network in place,” he said.

Mr Graham added that implementing regional officers had led to a small increase in membership in the past year — from 10,504 to 10,590 — and 18 new venues now offer BS classes.

There were more angry words on the subject of the retirement of BS employees Frank Grunnill and Mike Henwood (news, 14 April).

Around 1,200 supporters have joined a Facebook page and signed a petition demanding their reinstatement.

Frank has worked for BS for 18 years and Mike 11, both as stipendiary stewards.

Mr Graham said: “We have a human resources policy that stipulates that all employees over the age of 65 must retire.”

He said the new stewards who will be trained to take their places will be volunteers.

Hampshire rep Danielle Elliot said: “How can you pay someone to be an RDO, but expect people to instill discipline at shows as a volunteer?”

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (15 September, 2011)