Pontypool Brass Band stopped from competing in local contest by SEWBBA!

Discussion in 'Bandroom News - User Submitted' started by Joanna Jones, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. Joanna Jones

    Joanna Jones New Member

    We all know that brass bands in South East Wales have been in decline in recent years, with many bands that were once oversubscribed now desperately struggling to recruit players.

    Pontypool brass band, after struggling for many years to attract new players, have finally got an almost full band thanks to the efforts of their musical director and loyal members and supporters. Many excellent players who had left banding were attracted back to the brass band scene to join Pontypool band and were rewarded with winning the regional contest in March of this year, when only a year previously they did not have a band to compete with. Moral within the band was at an all time high and the players were looking forward in anticipation of competing in the SEWBBA contest at Ebbw Vale in May.

    The new secretary of the band paid the contesting fees in January, believing that everything was in order for contesting in 2009. However, it now appears that a form (that the secretary did not receive and being new to the role did not know about) was not completed and instead of contacting the band to request the form from them, SEWBBA are instead preventing Pontypool from contesting at Ebbw Vale. Instead of supporting an up and coming band, the association are refusing to be lenient in any way.

    The band appreciates that rules are there for a reason and wish to keep to them, so would have returned the form along with the payment, had they received it.
    What we want to know is why, at a time when the brass banding community is in such decline, they are putting an improving band at risk of losing players over such a trivial point.

    Support, don't destroy our bands SWEBBA.
  2. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    Welcome to tMP, Joanna Jones. It's a shame that your first post to this discussion forum is an attack against your local brass band association. Will this be your only post, I wonder, or will you have anything else to contribute on any other subject?

    As this is a discussion forum, I hope you won't mind if I pass comment on some of the points you have made.

    Many congratulations on your successes, both in building the band up and winning the regional.

    As your secretary was new in the post and, from your comments, is inexperienced in the role, it would not have been unreasonable for him/her to find out from the SEWBBA secretary exactly what was necessary to enter the band into the contest, then the absence of "the form" would have been noticed. Your secretary only has one band to worry about - the SEWBBA secretary has many.

    Isn't the onus of making a correct entry to the competition on the entering band? Surely there is no requirement for the SEWBBA secretary to nursemaid the bands. Yes, it's nice if that can be done, but a bit unfair to try to pass the buck in this fashion.

    If you've been reading the posts on tMP for any length of time, you will know of the outcry that results from any contest organiser relaxing any rule in favour of a particular band. Can of Worms! It isn't a question of whether or not SEWBBA wishes to support a band, up and coming or otherwise. Suppose, having failed to make your entry in accordance with the rules, the rules were relaxed and you were allowed to compete and won. Do you think the other competing bands, who complied with all the rules, would be happy?

    I doubt very much if you'll get an answer from the SEWBBA on this forum. The question would be better put to them directly. I don't think it's they who are putting your band at any risk, rather it's your secretary's lack of competence. And if players are threatening to leave the band over this, you're probably better off without them.

    In your opinion.

    Don't you think your local association is supporting your bands by organising these local competitions? Posts like yours aren't particularly helpful - perhaps you should be doing more to support the SEWBBA, instead of airing your sour grapes like this.
  3. Rhonda

    Rhonda Member

    Should work both ways.
    Yes, the secretary should have done a "better" job. But as the money has been paid and all the other requirements are fulfilled, the SEWBBA should have contacted the band secretary about the missing form. Or do SEWBBA secretaries claim to be perfect?
    Mistakes happen.
    And most are easy to correct.

    Nice to meet some of you at the Ebbw Vale contest(if you like my opinion or don't ;) )

  4. Little Welsh One

    Little Welsh One New Member

    Thank you for your reply They Wherryman, it's always useful to see another perspective to such issues.
    This is my first post and is as a result of the same issue as I am a supporter (not a player) of the band. I came across this thread when googling SEWBBA as I wanted to find out how I can contact the association regarding this issue and I have joined in order to reply to your comments.

    At the association meeting in January the secretary told them that he was new to the role and would need guidance regarding the procedure to enter competitions. An association member (the same one who has made the decision to reject the band's entry to Ebbw Vale contest), assured him at the time that he would help and provide any advice regarding the procedure to apply for contests. There was no mention of the said form at this point, or any other until the issue came to light a few days ago.

    See above. The secretary paid for the contests in person at the same meeting that he asked for guidance at. He was not told about any form. As it is, there are so few bands that are actually competing in the area at the moment, it wouldn't have been difficult for someone to send a quick email stating that the form hadn't been received with the money, please could they send it in. Isn't that what most people would do in the same situation?

    This is not about relaxing rules in the slightest, it is to do with lack of support from the association. Another point which was not mentioned in the previous point is the verbal reply of the member of the association aforementioned in that it would be 'his decision' whether to let the band compete at the contest and he did not owe the band any favours 'due to the idiot in the middle'. I hope you can now appreciate that this is more than the band expecting special circumstances; it is obviously a personal vendetta against a person who has worked exceptionally hard to create a band from nothing to winning in 12 months. I do hope it is not a case of tit for tat because the conductor has previously has some disagreement with the association, at a time before he was conducting Pontypool brass, so it has nothing at all to do with the rest of the band.

    Players have not threated to leave as yet, but after struggling for so long to get a full band, you can surely appreciate why the above poster is concerned that being unable to contest could persuade people to go elsewhere. Afterall, the vast majority of lower section bands in the area are struggling for players.


    Perhaps if the SEWBBA supported more bands, instead of creating issues like this, we would have more for support them. This is not the first time something like this has happened in this association. At Swansea this year a band actually paid their contesting fee minutes before going on stage as their new secretary also wasn't given any instruction when asked for it. However, it was fine for them to go on stage at the last minute, why not Pontypool when there's 3 weeks to go to the contest? There is mention of other issues that I would also like to raise with them regarding their practice as a fair and unbiased association. In fact I would go as far as to say that possibly an investigation needs to take place.

    What I would like to know is who is responsible for regulating the brass band associations are there are a number of issues that need raising, and not just about Pontypool band's predicament. We all know that had a member of the band been on the association, Pontypool would not be in this current position. However, this is not just about Pontypool band, but rather any band that has already and could find themselves in the same situation in the future and could result in yet another casualty of what was once a thriving band scene.

    I do hope that you are never in a band that suffers in the same way after months of hard work and commitment due to the lack of support of the very association that is designed to support them. It is quite simply soul destroying.
  5. Little Welsh One

    Little Welsh One New Member

    Thank you for your support Rhonda. That is the point we are trying to make.
  6. Joanna Jones

    Joanna Jones New Member

    I appreciate your comments 'The wherryman', however as much as you disagree with virtually every single comment I have made I urge you to look at the facebook group that has been set up by a supporter of the band.


    With over 120 supporters within 24 hours of the group being set up clearly this is not just a case of me having sour grapes. I am just passionate in what I believe in is right or wrong. This is not just about a secretary who failed to complete a form, this is about small minded people who are more interested in rule books than playing music . Rules can be bent when it suits them, clearly you have no involvement with SEWBBA to know what Im talking about and I urge you to take a look at the above link to see not just my views on this but many others.
    Last edited: May 1, 2009
  7. Joanna Jones

    Joanna Jones New Member

    May I also add, that I have just discovered that during a phone call to the band secretary he was told by a certain member of the association that whether the band was able to compete was down to his PERSONAL decision. Apparently he didn't owe the band any favours due to 'the idiot in the middle'. Therefore this is obviously a personal issue that a member of the association has with the conductor of the band, not taking into account the hard work both he and the members of the band have put into practising for this contest. This is unprofessional conduct and he should not remain on the association if personal vendettas are clouding his judgement. This is something that should concern EVERYONE in the brass band world, as an association is there to regulate the whole contesting scene and ensure a fair playing field for all; not for its members to 'provide favours' for those bands held in favour or have direct links to the association. All brass bands should be very worried about this obvious misuse of power.
  8. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    What is there at stake at the contest in question?

    national grading?


    If neither of the above are involved then i think that most rules should be flexible.

    Wea are all involved in a hobby that we should try to make as accessible as possible. Personally I would love to see all registration scrapped for contests that do not affect gradings and do not have substantial prize money - no registration checks are required for whit friday - the most lucrative evening of the year ?
  9. Little Welsh One

    Little Welsh One New Member

    It is more the fact that the band have had to work so hard to get to the stage they are currently at. They have been rehearsing hard for this contest and it seems it is now for nothing. The moral of the band is being knocked by the very association that should be supporting them and bending over backwards to get everyband to compete. Last year there were an average of 7 bands in the 3rd section and much less in the 4th. The way it is going there will be no point in lower section bands competing at all.

    This is actually the tip of a rather large iceberg, please see the facebook site linked to above and become a member if you agree that the band have been prejudiced against on this occasion.
  10. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    I simply commented on the original post. Now it appears there are lots of worms crawling out of a can that originally seemed to be empty. I have no intention of adding to the "local difficulties", I was simply stimulating debate on the broader issues, without personalities being involved.

    Cudgels have been taken up by a supporter of the band in question, rather than a player or officer of the band - not always in a band's best interests when this happens.

    Please don't get me started on my opinion of Facebook :rolleyes:
  11. Joanna Jones

    Joanna Jones New Member

    The prize money is never more than £100 as there is never enough bands competing to make the amount any higher. In fact most of the championship bands in the area have boycotted most of our local competitions for the very same reason for a number of years now.

    It costs bands so much to attend these competitions, not just with contest fees but also with buses to contest venues, extra rehearsals etc etc. Only a year ago, one of the members of the association expressed his concern about the fact that band enteries for the contests were dwindling and that all bands should make the effort to attend these competitions!

    Obviously they have changed their mind since.

    As for grading...these contest results only affect the local grading, which of course, now not going to a competition will seriously jeopardise the bands chance of any promotion this year.
  12. Joanna Jones

    Joanna Jones New Member

    Really? What is your reason for that?
    Last edited: May 1, 2009
  13. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

  14. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    If there is a dispute of any nature in which a band is involved, I suggest that it should be the band committee who resolve it. It is usually the committee who are legally responsible and liable. Are "supporters" in possession of all the facts - I think not.

    FWIW, if there is a dispute between a band and their local association, it is hardly a good exercise in bridge-building to slate off the association publicly on here, Facebook or anywhere else for that matter. How can anyone with any sense give such a band their support, with only one side giving their (biased?) views. I have no axe to grind either way but, with the limited knowledge at my disposal, I certainly couldn't support either side, so the idea of signing up on Facebook is a total non-starter for me.

    Is membership of SEWBBA by application and is there a mechanisim by which a band can be expelled? Just a thought. If, as a result of this very public criticism of the association and it's secretary (whose name , I'm sure, is known to many) the band was expelled, who would be blamed?
    Last edited: May 1, 2009
  15. Joanna Jones

    Joanna Jones New Member

    Thank you Mark, your comments are very useful, and I will certainly pass these on to the rest of the committee. Your point of calling an extraordinary meeting is a good idea, and certainly something we can look into. Thanks again.
  16. Little Welsh One

    Little Welsh One New Member

    This is why a supporter has set up the group. This person did previously play for the band but can no longer do so due to the location they live at. They offered to set up the group so no responsibility could be put on the shoulders of the band, its players or committee. They are well aware of the facts as they have been in contact with the people involved and have read any literature involved carefully. Surely with such prejudiced comments being made from an association member this should be known publically as who knows how many other bands could be affected in such ways. As it is, as you note, a can of worms has been opened that is possibly suggesting there is corruption within the association and for the sake of all other association members and the bands in the area, a proper investigation needs to take place. As it is, was have yet to find out who to approach to begin any complaints procedure.

    If you had read the posts properly you would notice that no-one has mentioned the secretary of the association, only the secretary of Pontypool band. An association member, (both role and name unknown and will remain so in public forums such as this) offered help to the secretary of the BAND, but that support was not given and the same person then refused the band entry to the competition this year. This is our whole objection.

    Thank you for your support of the association as this has enabled a much more balanced debate to take place on here. You can no longer say that this is a one sided view. I will link people on the facebook group (despite your view) to this forum so this debate can continue in another more form with a more generalised view.
  17. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    Oh, dear, this is getting very nasty. I wish not to be involved in any witch-hunting, thank you very much, so I will leave this particular wormery well alone and leave it to the anonymous sh*t-stirrers.
  18. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    As much as it hurts me to say so Wherryman. you do seem to know when the boundary has been crossed!
    I would suggest that the suggestion of corruption be carefully reconsidered by the poster and concentrate more on the individual comment made about the conductor, that is where the mistake has been made.
    The Association as a body, is more than likely unaware of it.
    Any public accusations should not be made lightly!
  19. Little Welsh One

    Little Welsh One New Member

    To me the comment of the 'witchhunt' was an school boy comment made on retreat i.e. 'you won't accept my point so I'll call you names and run away.'
    Maybe corruption was a strong choice of word on my part, however, if you read some of the comments on the facebook site, you will see that there are many other issues that have come to the surface as a result of this and it is those that I was actually referring to. This is just a very small part of a much bigger issue and even if the band is able to compete at the contest, the practise of some members of the association needs to be looked into or at the very least reminding of their code of practise.
    I personally know nothing about how associations run, but from what I'm hearing things do not seem right or fair and over 130 people in just 36 hours seem to agree.
  20. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    I take your point and understand how you feel. I am just so aware that we live in a litigation focused society, so just make sure that all points are supported by evidence, not just 'hearsay'.
    I have had my own thoughts on procedure in past years and know that the ranks well and truly close and leave you horribly alone and exposed, without a strong case.
    All the best.

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