Endurance GB is coming under increasing pressure from members to explain its £80,000 deficit for 2004.
Finance director Maurice Whiteley resigned last week, citing business and personal reasons, including a family bereavement. The remaining 14 management committee members — all of whom are volunteers — have pledged to develop a new financial business plan after a meeting this Saturday.
The committee acknowledged that members were upset by the deficit and the rise in ride fees. But concern has escalated to the point where one regional group chairman has withdrawn rides from the EGB calendar pending an explanation.
Jim Lane, chairman of EGB’s Staffordshire group, said: “EGB made an £80,000 loss last year, after making £15,000 profit the year before and £89,000 profit the previous one. Where’s it all gone? Nobody can tell us, and until we get proper answers, I don’t feel comfortable putting on rides.
“Ours, the Eld and Manifold, cost £1,500 each. Entry fees go to EGB, then we ask EGB for £1,500. I won’t put in my money when EGB has nothing in the bank.”
A spokesman for EGB said: “We hope that 2005’s approach to financial issues will show that calling off rides was not necessary. We hope Jim will regain confidence.” The spokesman added that the financial and admin committee was still looking at the deficit’s causes.
As early as the 2003 AGM, EGB was concerned about a future shortfall because of the policy to freeze fees and subscriptions for three years from 2001, when the society was founded. But the financial position was considered “adequate”, said the spokesman, and investment still went ahead in “improved membership services”, such as increasing the frequency of the society’s magazine to six times a year, appointing a PR agency and revamping the international side.
At last November’s AGM, members approved a hike in ride fees of 50-100%. For example, the entry fee for a non-FEI endurance ride increased from £30 to £50.
EGB has also said higher health and safety bills at rides have fuelled the deficit, yet have been unable to give members a breakdown.
Former EGB chairman John Hudson, who runs Alfred’s Tower, the venue for this year’s European Championships, said: “I’ve seen a steady increase in costs, particularly for signage, paramedic cover and police. But smaller rides have probably been less affected.”
Liz Finney, Cheshire group chairman, said that the costs of running the lower-key Delamere Forest ride have hardly risen at all. Jim Lane said his costs hadn’t risen.
Members’ fears that EGB subsidises the international side at the expense of grassroots riders — for instance, during January’s British team trip to Dubai for the World Championships — have been played down by EGB, which says that it paid around £2,000, including some entry fees and public liability cover, for the trip.
The UAE hosts picked up thousands in expenses, while riders helped with costs of the British management team — for instance, team member Rachel Claridge spent £5,000 of her own money on the month-long trip.