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A message to TRF Group Chairs from Directors@trf.org.uk
Keeping TRF Group Chairs informed
Dear TRF Group Chair,

Apologies for the missed month (March) in sending this and thank you to those Group Chairs who have chased us.  This was due to business pressures form our volunteer directors at the end of the financial year taking priority.  At least we know you find this update valuable.  We have had one comment that the information is too much and are happy to get the balance right - feel free to let us know your thoughts to directors@trf.org.uk.

This month we will be covering;
  • AGM Minutes & Directors meet mins
  • TRF Members Consultation - Bylaws & Directors Length of Service
  • Regional groups & Role of the Group Officers
  • RoR update JV
  • TET
  • TRF supported Bothies
  • Exhibitions - BBC Countryfile
  • Local Exhibitions / County Shows
  • TRF Joining Form reminder
  • Web Trail update
  • Heritage (Paper) Trail update
  • Training Update
  • FAQ s
    • Retention of older members
    • Retaining older members
    • Over 70s Comp membership
    • Insurance approval for events
    • Group Subs
    • Other activities on a TRF Stand
  • Key Diary Dates & TRF events
  • Useful Links - MAG & Previous GCNs
  • Items to be covered in future issues
AGM Minutes & Directors Meetings

A copy of the 2016 AGM Minutes held in January is attached.   Click here for your copy

The Directors subsequently held a meeting;
  • in person on 29th January, click here for minutes.
  • by phone on Thursday 2nd March, click here for minutes
  • by phone on Thursday 16th March, click here for minutes.
  • in person on 18th March and by phone on 31st March .  Operational matters were discussed, no board decisions were taken.

Meetings of Directors by phone are being held fortnightly until further notice - next meeting by phone is Thurs13th April and provisionally Thurs 28th April.   One of these will be a formal meeting.

We would like to extend an open invitation for Group Chairs and those interested in becoming a Director to attend a meeting by phone or in person.  Please contact directors@trf.org.uk and we will make arrangements
TRF Members Consultation -Byelaws Review & Directors length of service and retirement
 
One of the commitments of the new board of Directors was to consult with the members on Directors Length of Service and the TRF Bylaws. 

A consultation with members has been initiated and a copy of the Consultation is available is available by clicking here
Regional groups & Role of the Group Officers

One of the strengths of the TRF is "Critical Mass"  and the way that the TRF is seen as representing the majority of responsible Trail Riders.  
 
No other higher rights user group has such unity which in turn has brought us success in retaining our rights for the past 47 years

As a benchmark, another national higher rights vehicle user group has only 1500 members which some may argue is below the critical mass needed to be effective in maintaining Road Conservation at national level.

By comparison the TRF Membership Secretary, Sharon has reported steady growth in TRF memberships to around 4700.

We appreciate that there are some Group Officers and Group Chairs that don't see our progress and our future in the same way as the current Board of Directors.

The Board will continue to make every effort to retain members and accommodate a diversity of opinions. In particular Carla McKenzie has requested an opportunity to meet with Groups and members looking to leave and sought to find a positive way forward

Nevertheless, for whatever reason, we realise that there are some individuals who choose not to remain within the TRF.   Groups Chairs and Officers are reminded that the TRF's bylaws, chosen, written, and voted in at an AGM by the TRF’s members, broadly require that groups’ officers seek to advance the interests of the TRF and refrain from undertaking actions which are detrimental to TRF.   The TRF’s good work for the benefit of all responsible trailriders, relies on groups officers acting with integrity to perform their TRF role in the spirit of fellowship and with respect for the members chosen bylaws    It is hence difficult for the TRF Membership to see as honest behaviour to promote that a group should leave the TRF whilst remaining in office especially as a Group Chair.      The Directors and the members believe that common courtesy and best practice is to notify the TRF of intentions and step down from office before making or discussing plans to leave the TRF.

Group Chairs or Officers having concerns are encouranged to discuss them openly with Directors in person, or at any of the many National Conferences.  The priority of the TRF Board of Directors will always be to support the remaining members of the TRF in the area and to reform a group, whilst ensuing that Road Conservation activity can be taken over by neighbouring groups.

Directors@trf.org.uk
Road Conservation Update

TRF served proceedings on Carmarthenshire CC last month to challenge a TRO in Burry Port. Although the road in question is not especially valuable in the network, the case offers considerable potential to shape the common law. This means that a win on an unimportant lane may set legal precedent to protect the more valuable ones.
 
This brings the total number of currently live TRF high court cases to 3:
 
  • Oakridge Lane Herts
  • Essex ETRO’s
  • Burry Port
 
We believe that this a first for TRF to have as many as 3 cases on the go at the same time. All three were commenced this year. We are currently running at one per month.
 
Subject to Counsels advice, Washgate TRO may be challenged in April– if PDNPA make the order. At present the PDNPA have only decided that they will make the Order, they haven’t done the dirty deed as yet.
 
TRF will be attending Motoring Stakeholder Working Group’ (MSWG) on 6th April.    - As a product of the Deregulation Act 2015, Minister promised Parliament that there will be a ‘Motoring Stakeholder Working Group’ to examine all the concerns raised about vehicles in the countryside during the Bill debates. This MSWG, which is currently being set-up by DEFRA and Natural England, will be tasked to seek and hear evidence and report back to the Minister in 18 months of starting work.
Trans Europe Trail (TET)

The TRF Directors have agreed to support a Trans European Trail or TET.

Dr John Ross (EYTRF) will be leading on this and Greg Vilalobos - chair fof Northumbria TRF is also involved in the project.   John explains more about the TET in his own words below;

The Trans Euro Trail
 
The Trans Euro Trail (TET) is a 30,000 km route from the North Cape in Norway to Tarifa in Spain developed and created as a collaborative effort by trail riders from all across Europe. 
 
The TET is Europe’s answer to the Trans America Trail and the Trans Canada Adventure Trail, endeavouring to use unsurfaced legal tracks, trails and roads as much as possible and is aimed at riders using small or medium trail bikes (think DRZ400, WR250R, KTM 690, 660 Tenere, CCM GP450) carrying lightweight soft luggage bivvying, camping, staying in hostels and B&Bs, using local shops, markets and cafes to explore the full diversity of our ancient continent’s cultures, landscapes, trails, sights and cuisines in the style of traditional overlanders while at all times respecting communities, trails and environment. 
 
The route will be challenging but not damaging and is aimed at the competent trail rider. It is a route and trail to aspire to - a bucket list entry.
 
It is non-commercial and community “owned” - created by riders for riders. The result will be a GPS route that allows individuals to ride as if being guided by a local - seeing and riding the very best a country has to offer, stopping at those favourite pubs, cafes, campsites or vistas and hopefully making some contribution as they pass to these sometimes remote areas and above all being ambassadors of trail riding.
 
Access to the route be via the TET website  (www.transeurotrail.org) which will have galleries, ride reports, discussion forums and advice and information alongside “Country Pages” which will give country specific information  and allow the download of GPX files. There will also be an explicit statement that the TET community takes no responsibility for injuries, harm, losses etc and the legal status of routes remains the responsibility of the individual rider to check and assure themselves of.
 
The TET aspires to do some good for the wider community as well and hopes to direct some funds each year towards charity (for example www.pikilily.com).
 
Adventure Spec, the UK’s foremost adventure motorcycling retailer, has stepped in to support this project through providing server space and funding of the creation of a website. Such is their enthusiasm for the project that they have made a hugely generous donation of examples of their new line of specially designed and manufactured bespoke “Linesman” jackets to TET reps in each country covered by the TET.
 
Conditions, laws, infrastructure and roads change continually and to address this and maintain the currency of the TET, the route will be updated on a six monthly basis. It will thus be a  constantly evolving entity. Each country has a Linesman - an individual who has volunteered to act as that country’s single point of contact. He/She will receive comments, details of problems or changes, suggestions for amendments or alternative “better” routes which will be submitted by both users and local riders. The Linesman may hear about an issue from a TET user then communicate directly with a local rider, someone who knows their patch. They will then check out the issue and feed back to the Linesman who can update his/her country’s route, place a “Stop Press” alert on their country’s TET website page and pass on the finalised new version of their route for uploading to the TET website.
 
Within the UK, we have created a 2,600km route from the Newhaven to Newcastle ferry terminals (as shown on the attached screenshot). As the TRF are the custodians and champions of sustainable green road use in the UK, we feel that they are uniquely placed to ensure the legality of the routes, to maximise the experience of users but most of all, in a country where there are often competing views on green road use and occasional conflicts, identify trails which may be more fragile or contentious and guide the TET away from these.


 
We are all conscious about avoiding overuse and damage of the trails in our area. Many of us are keen to keep the “Knowledge” of the trails close to our chests for fear of irresponsible use or damaging overuse. The existence of the trails is known, OS maps clearly mark them, the internet is full of files of routes to ride, magazines publish accounts and maps. The TET encourages responsible, sustainable, respectful use of trails which are legal, minimises the chances of conflict with other users, lets riders engage in this pastime that we are all passionate about, fosters friendships and international cooperation and brings some income to rural communities.
 
The TET in the UK runs through the "domains" of a number of TRF groups and it would be fantastic if the groups would take on the section that passes through their patch, to “curate" them as the experts in their area.
 
Please let me know what you think. You can reach me on info@transeurotrail.org and I’ll try and answer any queries or concerns that you have.
 
All the best
 
John Ross
info@transeurotrail.org

 
A New Idea?

TRF could substantially improve the network for all by setting up bothies- click for info on the Mountain Bothies Association.
 
Similar would work well for green roads, with the TRF’s bothies being on TRO’d/private/path/RB roads. MPV would only be allowed to visit with TRF permission, other users could visit freely and without charge.
 
There is a lack of Bothies in England/Wales. There are members who have had the pleasure of motorcycling the Swiss Jura to a variety of mountain huts accessed by unsealed roads. They are highly valued by natives and tourists alike. There is a win-win in this scenario that is a PR wonder for TRF.
Exhibitions - High level plans

The Directors are pleased to announce that following many months of negotiation we have secured a prominent space at BBC Countryfile Live at Blenhiem Palace from 3rd - 6th August.

This will be a major public relations activity for the TRF that will take our cause to a new audience that perhaps we have not specifically targeted in person..

Following a succesful event at the London Bike show Feb 17th/19th and we evaluated feedback from the event and the major point that stood out was investing in a new stand.

In addition to the stands shown last week we are looking at a portable stand for use across the county.   Click on the link for more pictures

Indoor - Portable stand




As Well as Gregs work on design  TRF Marketing would like to thank Rupert Trigg of Norfolk Group who has offered to contribute his professional input  http://www.dualcreative.co.uk/ to the design and creation of our physical presence - outdoor banners etc.    EM TRF Member Stuart Ward of Peek Design continues to build the stands for the TRF at major shows as his contribution to our success.   We have put out an exhibition brief to help guide our requirements.   For any questions or if you are looking to get involved in this area please get in touch with marketing@trf.org.uk or Mario on 07721 480000.
Local Exhibitions

The Summer County show season is in progress and many local TRF groups are reaching out to their local community by exhibiting at a show.

Norfolk TRF have taken space at the Royal Norfolk showground, Herst TRF will be at the Herts County show and Surrey TRF at Ride it Right in Guildford.

Herts County Show
Royal Norfolk Show 
Ride it Right Guildford Surrey

There are three major local events that the TRF have attended in the past which need local group support;

Horizons Hubb in Baskeville Hall Hereford

Brackely Festival of Motorcycling 

Peterborough MCN Festival

Currently the organisers are looking for the TRF to attend and TRF Marketing are keen to support  local groups who wish to do this.

If  you are looking to get involved in this area please get in touch with marketing@trf.org.uk or Mario on 07721 480000.
TRF Joining form 

As a last reminder we will be producing new brochures shortly.
 
The draft redesign is shown here.  If you have a redesign comment please contact Greg@trf.org.uk with your changes for incorporation.
 
Trail (Web including Forum)

In brief,

We’ve engaged Akriga ((Adrian Allen Oxford TRF) as contractor to start on the project, and they’ve made good progress thus  far. Akriga are confident we’ll be able to begin testing ​end of May​. 

What we’ve done 
● Created new platform based on Wordpress, CiviCRM, and BuddyPress 
● Tweaked our theme from trf.org.uk to be distinct, but with continuity 
● Engaged James Higgs to act as editor for content. He’s written a lot of fresh  content for when we go live. 
● Migrated the prototype site from the staging site to production 
● Completed the first round of test migrations 
● Dropped information about what bikes members have from the CRM 
● Created transactional email account with Mailchimp, and linked to the CRM 

What we still have to do 
● Gather a list of about ten people to beta test. Dave has a lead on this. 
● SSL certificate to make the site(s) secure 
● Financial integrations for card payments and Direct Debit. We may also need  to migrate existing DD to a new system. 
● Build a mechanism for existing members to re-introduce themselves to the  system, and create a password. 
● Some user interface tweaks and hardening. 
● Lots of testing. This will fall to us first, then the members. I’d also like to  introduce some automated interface testing. 
Wil Linssen Wil.L@trf.org.uk
Heritage (Paper) Trail

Heritage Trail's aims were covered in February's Group Chairs Newsletter (GCN).
 
We have found a professional guest editor of motorcycle magazines who is happy to do this as partly as his contribution to Trail Riding and we are now looking at graphic designers and printing costs.  We have started to receive volunteers for contributions.

If you are interested in joining this project please get in touch with mario@trf.org.uk 07721 480000 or carla.m@trf.org.uk.

Meanwhile for any stories or articles that you would like to see in print - please email editor@trf.org.uk
Training
 
Chris Barrable has started work on the TRF training framework
  • Safety
  • First Aid
  • Riding skills
he is busy creating the TRF's offering in this area and is leading our engagement in training with the ACU.

Currently he is creating a list of TRF Recommended training providers.

If you have any contributions to make in this area please contact Chris at chris.B@trf.org.uk

Following discussion meeting of directors at Stewart Bosworth Stewart.b@trf.org.uk will be working with Chris on supplementing our Training offering by providing training on dealing with Conflict on the Trail.
Questions from the TRF Groups to Directors@TRF.org.uk

We will be replying to questions from the groups that may be of interest  to all Group Chairs and Officers.

Why aren't we (the TRF), Working harder to retain members instead of just ploughing money into new memberships?.

The TRF board have realised that over the years we lost touch with many TRF members, not just older members.

Regardless of whether they are still Trail Riding, out of the factors for not continuing there is still a large segment of previous and current who want to;
 
Pay to the fighting fund
Re-live stories of trail riding on routes they may once have ridden
Continue involvement in the club
 
Retaining members is part of managing “churn”, the acquisition of new members less those who leave .   We mentioned at the AGM there are indicators that the TRF has made good progress last year to reduce churn. 
 
The Membership Secretary, Sharon’s report covering the number of members choosing to renew is higher each and every corresponding month from the previous year. 
 
Here are some of the actions we are taking to achieve this progress;
 
Sharon runs an efficient membership renewal process with reminder email and post follow up.   Of course it is not perfect and some slip through the net and we welcome suggestions on improvement.
 
Each year, for the past few years, Sharon in TRF Membership has painstakingly gone through our sketchy pre electronic database like a jigsaw puzzle, and by hand piecing records we have identified members who have made 25 years of membership.   The Membership Director, previously me , now Carla, writes to each qualifying member and confirms each one with an eligibility of Life Membership.  This is a not inconsiderable amount of admin work applies to literally a handful of members – an investment we see as worthwhile to recognise long term members.
 
The TRF Membership list sent out by Sharon to each Group Membership officer where we highlight any member “in grace” and not renewing so any “save action” can be taken on by local groups.   Sharon also asks each non-renewing member for feedback.   Again this is a high manual effort operation which yields results across a much greater number of non- renewing members.
 
Dedicated Membership Director – The TRF are fortunate enough to have one of our most  talented and able members coming forward as Membership Director, focussed on the enhancing the experience of existing Members.
 
Carla the Membership Director  runs the “unsung heroes” awards programme, given out to long serving members whose efforts have not received  the publicity that should have been given.   This has been well received and again affects a potentially unlimited number of members.
 
Heritage Director- Steve Neville, is a valued member of the Board.  He has been a member since the 1970s and keeps the Board in constant reminder of our rich Heritage and the wishes of long established members.
 
It was announced at the AGM, - Options for "Heritage Trail" are also being investigated.    TRF Membership & Marketing appreciates that there is still a significant need for a traditional format printed magazine.  The TRF is currently looking at different ways of reinstating this in its original paper format.
 
Complaints- Obviously it will be difficult to retain a member with a complaint.  Last year we spent a phenomenal amount of time discussing complaints.  I believe the largest single area of board discussion and time spent has been in complaint resolution.     This has been a cathartic is difficult process for the TRF and for all parties concerned.  From what was once a flood, we are now down to a trickle of issues.  These are seen as constructive room for improvement.    Even a very few long term outstanding complaints are still being progressed, even though quick fixes are not forthcoming. 
 
Success – everybody likes to feel part of a successful organisation, and the progress made on growing the TRF, clarifying our Aims and Objectives and increasing our influence  has been commented on by members of all eras
 
Of these nine areas of work, I believe the most significant factor in losing touch with longer term existing members is not price of membership but the loss of Trail in paper format without understanding the negative impact on the TRF or making actionable alternative plans.
 
Thanks to Greg with his work on our branding & web, and supplemented now with Wil on Membership & Social Media integration we will shortly be bang up to date with our “Web 2.0” strategy that has proved attractive to the new generation of Trail Riders and increasing our influence.  
 
We can now look at fixing Trail, the broken link to our past.  
 
With Heritage Trail (paper/magazine) we aim to;
 
Re-engage Trail Riders who don't use or don't like electronic medium
Reach out and connect with older TRF members who can no longer ride but still wish to be part of the TRF
Gain a new audience who may be tempted to glance at a paper copy.
Encourage members to engage with TRF groups and group meetings.
 
To start this project, we are looking for volunteers with magazine editing , graphic design and journalistic skills as well as the print production and distribution that the TRF will require. 
 
I hope the above has given you an idea of what we currently do to retain members.  
I would suggest that in terms of effort we currently spend an equal amount between new member and retaining existing members.   We currently spend a higher amount of effort on both areas than any time over the last 4 years that I have been involved with the TRF.   
 
Any suggestions on ways we can retain our members are welcomed.   I trust that the above demonstrates a few of the programmes of work that we are doing to achieve exactly what you suggest.

Over 70s Complimentary Membership

The Board has made substantial enquires over the issue of complimentary memberships of over 70's and concludes that over 70's memberships are not in force.

The option is open to members to propose an over 70's membership for the directors consideration and voting at the next AGM.

How do we get insurance approval for events.

Firstly take a look at the previous groups chairs newsletters attached.

Feb  http://eepurl.com/cx-GPT
Jan  http://eepurl.com/cu2k7X

There is a simple six step process that will result in  safe events and diretcors approval.   If you need further help please call Mario on 07721 480000
 
Do we have the right to remove a member from our group Facebook and forum?  can we do it without reference to National TRF?”
  
The answer is yes – a group can remove a member without reference to TRF, with the caveat that the member then has the right to complain to TRF. On receipt of such a complaint, TRF has the right to investigate the matter. If TRF are satisfied that the TRF groups contravened TRF bylaws or policy by their actions, appropriate action could be taken.
In that context it is good practice for the locakl TRf group TRF to consult TRF before they take such action (which also enables directors to keep their fingers on the pulse).
Groups operate as local agents of the TRF to provide services for TRF members and to generally advance the interests of TRF and trailriding.
If the local TRF are satisfied that a service they are providing to that end is being misused, they can take action against those misusing it.
The confusion is apparent in the statement that a member “isn’t a local group member”. This is immaterial, because the member is a TRF member and we are one tribe. TRF is comprised of its members, as opposed to Groups and the members that belong to those groups.
 
Can a group charge a subscription.


A voluntary donation can be requested on an annual basis and the reasons for seeking the funds can (should) be given. A subscription differs in that it is a condition placed on receiving Group services, which would conflict with TRF’s byelaws.
 
The entitlement to attend local groups meetings are a benefit of TRF membership, which  are protected by the TRF’s byelaws.

Working on a TRF stand, & promoting there own activities, be they commercial or otherwise.

Can you confirm that there won't be anyone working on a TRF stand, that is promoting there own activities, be they commercial or otherwise, as this gives a mixed message to protective new members

Thanks for raising your concern.  The point you raise about mixed messages is a good one and this of course should be avoided. The decision on this at the end of the day will be down to the local stand event manager who has responsibility for what happens on the stand.
 
As guidance for the event Manager, we are sure you will have noticed the success that the TRF have had in recent years on Facebook and the website where the TRF have actively engaged with commercial organisations and supported members with commercial interests to the benefit of all parties.
 
Members voted at the  past two AGMs overwhelmingly in favour of a marketing strategy that aims to increase the TRF’s influence and that recognises the Economic value of trail riding which is delivered by businesses directly and indirectly involved in Trail riding.
 
The many positive benefits for the TRF range from direct advertising revenue , and indirect wider influence from partners and linked business interests in stopping lane closures.     The TRF has prospered recently on increased activity, and some of our more active members have commercial interests.  We can give you specific examples if required but you may wish to take a look at APTR – a TRF member who focusses on this aspect.
 
Some of the new volunteer role at the show will involve leaving the stand and going out to commercial organisations and promoting the TRF to potential commercial partners.
 
For these reasons, we don’t believe it is in the TRF’s interest to deprive long term established TRF members from responsibly promoting sustainable Trail riding regardless of the commercial aspect.  
 
Diary Dates

A list of TRF up and coming events can be found by clicking here including National Conferences and AGMs
  • 6th May National Conference location TBC  
  • 15th /16th July National Conference location TBC
  • End Nov National Conference at Motorcycle Live NEC
  • Sunday 4th March 2018   TRF AGM
The TRF Board welcome offers from Groups to host a National Conference or the AGM.    Contact Dave Carling (Dave.c@trf.org.uk)

Please do not hesitate to contact the team if you have any further questions.

The TRF Team
Directors@trf.org.uk
MAG Magazine & Previous GCNs

A link to MAG's "Road" magazine is available here; http://  http://flk.bz/RQBP

Links to Previous TRF Group Chairs Newsletters (GCN)

March 2017 No GCN sent
Feb 2017  http://eepurl.com/cx-GPT
Jan 2017  http://eepurl.com/cu2k7X
Dec 2016 http://eepurl.com/crLcYr
To be covered in future issues
  • Increased number of TRF Events & needs for proof of TRF membership  Carla Mario
  • Governance & MCIA update Stewart Bosworth
  • A report on the New Directors induction & training Carla & Stuart Metcalfe 
  • TRF Road Conservation training options  - Basic, Intermediate & Advanced levels John V & Mario
  • The TRF's biggest source of revenue - Local groups raising money through Equestrian events  & Riding Days. Mario
  • TRF Ride videos & location sharing on social media   John V & Mario
  • Colour coding GCN emails eg Green for information only, Blue for action required. (May include onward transmission at club night)
    Yellow for a reply required from GCs.
  • Checklist for GCs which cross refers to the document but lists all the necessary actions on one short list. Helps ensure things get done and assists GCs to deliver.
If you would like to see other issue covered by Directors - please contact directors@trf.org.uk


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