REPORT OF THE COUNCIL FOR THE
ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FOURTH SESSION, 2003 – 2004
The Council presents its report and financial statements for the year ended 30 September 2004. The financial statements comply with current statutory requirements and with the requirements of the Society’s memorandum and articles.
The Society is a registered charity, registration number 224084, and is a company limited by guarantee, company number 177204. It is governed by its memorandum and articles of association adopted 2 July 1997, which replaced the memorandum and articles of 1921. The Society’s registered address is The City Museum, c/o The Town Hall, Leeds LS1 3AD.
The members of the Council are considered to be both directors for Companies Act purposes and trustees for Charities Act purposes. One third of the members of Council retire by rotation at each Annual General Meeting (normally held in December), when appointments or reappointments are made. Of the Council members who retired at the AGM held on 4 December 2003, Henry Pantin and Rachel Cowgill did not seek re-election and Peter Evennett, Chris Hammond and Chris Hatton were reappointed; a further nomination, Penny Wainwright, was approved. In March 2004, Matthew Dagg was co-opted to Council. The officers of Society are elected by and from the members of Council at the first meeting of Council following the Annual General Meeting. Regretfully, our Treasurer, Roger Davis, resigned on 20 May 2004; he has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Society and we owe him a great debt of gratitude. Fortunately Tony North volunteered his services and Council was pleased to appoint him as the new Treasurer.
Council met on seven occasions during 2003-2004. Parts of its business were delegated to the following committees: Grants, Events and Publications, chaired by Chris Hatton, Vivian Wyatt and Oliver Pickering respectively.
ADMINISTRATION OF THE SOCIETY
The officers of the Society listed on page 2 were elected at the Council meeting held in January 2004. Norman Madill continued his valuable work as Assistant Secretary, efficiently managing the Society’s links with its members, the sale of its publications, and other necessary administrative matters.
STATEMENT OF COUNCIL MEMBERS’ RESPONSIBILITIES
Company law requires the Council members to prepare financial statements for each financial year which give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the Company and of the surplus or deficit of the Company for that period. In preparing those financial statements, the Council members are required to:
• Select suitable accounting policies and then apply them consistently
• Make judgements and estimates that are reasonable and prudent
• Prepare the financial statements on a going-concern basis unless it is inappropriate to presume that the Company will continue its activities.
Council members are responsible for keeping proper accounting records which disclose with reasonable accuracy the financial position of the Company at any time and to enable them to ensure that the financial statements comply with the Companies Act 1985. They are also responsible for safeguarding the assets of the Company and hence for taking reasonable steps for the prevention and detection of fraud and other irregularities.
THE SOCIETY’S OBJECTS AND POLICIES
The Society is an educational charity, whose principal objects are ‘To promote the advancement of science, literature and the arts in the city of Leeds and elsewhere, and to hold, give or provide for meetings, lectures, classes, and entertainments of a scientific, literary, or artistic nature’. In furtherance of these objects the Council’s policy has been to disburse its income as follows by:
• providing small grants for purposes of research, publication, or artistic performance
• providing research scholarships
• awarding prizes
• financing the publication of research papers and monographs
• supporting the work of Leeds City Museums & Galleries
• supporting other activities in Leeds of a scientific, literary or artistic nature.
The Trustees’ policies on investments, reserves, grants and risk management are set out below.
The Society’s income and expenditure vary from year to year, the levels being dependent on a number of factors. The Council therefore considers it prudent to hold reserves. The amount held in reserve is a minimum of £5,000 (roughly 25% of current average annual expenditure) as a contingency fund for unforeseen expenditure. This sum is supplemented from time to time by provision for major expenditure to which the Council is committed in the coming year (and for which the anticipated income in that year will not be sufficient), or for major expenditure the possibility of which it foresees over the coming five-year period. The Council will maintain the minimum level of reserves by adjusting its expenditure in the year following any year in which the balance of reserves drops below £5,000. The policy on reserves will be reviewed annually by the Council as part of its annual budget review.
The Council is permitted by the Society’s memorandum and articles to invest in such funds as it sees fit. Its funds are unrestricted. Its investment objectives are to maintain a level of income sufficient to fund the Society’s activities, while increasing the capital value of its invested assets over the long term at least in line with inflation. To this end, it is the Society’s normal practice to reinvest realised gains on its assets. The Council has delegated the management of its investments on a discretionary basis to Carr Sheppards Crosthwaite Ltd.
Since the largest element of the Society’s income is from its investments, the major risks to which it is exposed are falls in dividend income and in the capital value of its investments. These risks are lessened by a wide spread of equity investments across several sectors and in a number of companies within each sector. A high proportion of the Society’s capital is currently held in fixed interest securities as a means of protecting income levels. The investment managers pursue an active investment policy on the Society’s behalf which further mitigates the risks. The Council is confident that over the long term any temporary fall in the overall value of its investments will be recouped. Internal risks are minimised by standard procedures for authorisation of all financial transactions. The potential risks at the Society’s events are considered as part of the planning for them, and appropriate steps are taken, including the arrangement of insurance.
In making grants to promote the advancement of the Society’s objectives, the Council places particular emphasis on (but does not limit its grants to) support for citizens of Leeds engaged in academic and scholarly activities, especially those relating to Leeds and its immediate area. It does not normally give grants in general support of students on taught courses.
THE SOCIETY’S ACTIVITIES
During the 2003-2004 session the Society continued its recent successes in fulfilling its objects as listed above, including a growing number of artistic and scientific events for members and non-members as detailed below. During the year the Society welcomed 13 new members, so that at the end of September 2004 the total number stood at 136. We urge members to make an effort to bring the Society and its activities to the attention of potentially interested friends and colleagues.
The Society has continued to offer a varied programme of events. We have had lectures on William Hey, The steam engine heritage of Leeds (in conjunction with The Thoresby Society), The Mary Rose, The Leeds Mummy, The transit of Venus (in conjunction with the Leeds Astronomical Society), Louis Le Prince, and Harry Thubron (in conjunction with the Leeds Art Collections Fund). Following on last year’s highly successful ‘An evening with…’, the Society hosted a similar event starring Jane Francis, the geologist and polar explorer. The highly popular Pre-Bonfire Night Spectacular attracted an audience of about 350.
Over 80 members and guests attended the AGM (at which life membership was conferred on Henry Pantin) and dinner, followed by a talk by Allan Chapman, delivered with his characteristic exuberance, on the life and work of Robert Hooke.
To celebrate the bicentenary of Joseph Priestley’s death, the Society collaborated with The Leeds Library and Mill Hill Chapel in organising a sequence of events: an imposing wreath-laying ceremony at Priestley’s statue in City Square, a re-enactment of a Priestley sermon by Frank Beckwith in Mill Hill Chapel, and an address and reception in The Leeds Library. The further Priestley commemorative event, a 1-day conference held jointly with The Leeds Library and the University of Leeds’ Department of History and Philosophy of Science, was held in the Edward Boyle Library.
This year we have had three visits: the first was to the new University of Leeds Textile Archive (ULITA), the second to Gaping Gill Cavern and the third to the Roman mosaics at Boroughbridge.
The Society also sponsored three events to commemorate the founding of the University of Leeds in 1904. At the first of these, held on 26 April, our Council members, Tony North and Peter Evennett, did us proud with splendidly illustrated lectures on Leeds University’s role in the birth and development of X-ray diffraction, molecular biology and electron microscopy; the second on the history of landscape was a lecture in honour of Maurice Beresford by Richard Muir; and the third was The Centenary Conference, held in the University’s Council Chamber on 12 May, which was well attended and entertained by a lively array of speakers.
Scholarships, Prizes and Grants
Following extensive publicity, the number and quality of applications for grants have improved this year. During the year the following individual grants (ranging from £100 to £3000) were awarded by the Society:
· The Thackray Medical Museum (Towards publication of booklet Painful Past)
· D. Emmott (Research on Jewish immigration with particular reference to Leeds)
· University of Leeds International Textile Archive (Production of DVD)
· M. Hall (Historical research on statues in Leeds City Square)
· The School of Music, the University of Leeds (Edinburgh String Quartet Concert)
· Leeds City Council (Purchase of Egyptology collection)
· Rodley Nature Reserve (Construction of dragonfly pond)
· St Bartholomew’s Organ Fund (Towards cost of Armley Spring Organ Festival)
· University of Leeds Centenary Conference
· S. Kellerman (Research on bath houses in country houses)
· Chapel Allerton Festival (Visual arts commission)
· Public Catalogue Foundation (Production of paintings catalogue for Leeds)
· Cumbria Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites Group (Towards publication of A walk in Yewdale by Murray Mitchell)
· West Yorkshire Archive Service (Microfilming of Thomas & Walter Harding diaries)
· University of Leeds (Early Music Festival)
· Leeds Art Collection Fund (Norbet Lynton lecture)
· R. Muir (Illustrations for book on Ancient Trees, Living Landscapes)
· University of Leeds Modern Languages Prize
· University of Leeds Arthur Chadwick Prize
Although the Society did not produce a publication of its own during the year 2003-04, it did support, through grants, the publication of works by other bodies or individuals which fit with the Society’s stated charitable objectives (see above). Several of these publications were distributed to members of the Society. The Society also signed an agreement with the Thoresby Society regarding contributions towards costs of the latter’s publications.
The Society continues its active involvement (together with three other local societies, the Friends of the Leeds Museums, the Thoresby Society, and the Leeds Civic Trust) in the planning and the development of the Leeds Institute building as the New Central Museum, and the preservation and conservation of our national heritage in auxiliary archives and resource centres.