Introduction by chairman
Kevin Thompson welcomed the attendees to the AOP AGM. He said that it had been a significant year at the AOP and a great deal had been achieved.
Approval of the minutes of the last AGM held on 7 June 2016
The Chairman asked that the members approve the minutes of the last AGM held on 7 June 2016. The vote was carried and the Chairman signed the minutes.
Roll of deceased members
The Chairman asked the members at the meeting to stand as the Chief Executive read the roll of deceased members.
Report from the chairman
Mr Thompson said that 2016 had been a year of consolidation and development for the AOP, building on the three key strategic pillars of membership, policy and politics and finance.
He said that the AOP is consistently mindful of giving members value through the delivery of best in market service and products, and has been able to keep costs and membership fees down as a result of growth and sound financial management. As a result, the AOP has exceeded its membership growth target for the year with a market share of 80.9% of the profession.
The Association has also introduced a new parental grade to assist members at this stage in their careers, which has been well received by members, he added.
Mr Thompson said that defence of AOP members in clinical negligence cases and in the increasing number of cases brought by the GOC remains core to the AOP’s business and its support for members. The team is to be expanded to ensure that we give the best possible support.
He said that the AOP’s employment advice to employers and employees continues to grow as does its regulatory and clinical advice. He added that the AOP looks for innovative ways to assist members in avoiding potential pitfalls and the release of the legal CET drama film, jointly funded with the Central Fund and the old OCCS, has received excellent uptake and feedback.
Mr Thompson highlighted that the AOP launched a health and wellbeing survey in 2016 in partnership with Aston University. He said that it received a very good return rate and the anecdotal evidence of practice pressures was confirmed.
Mr Thompson added that the member journal, Optometry Today, celebrated its first year of monthly production and received many accolades including winning the Membership Awards best journal of the year.
Mr Thompson said that the AOP’s public affairs activity has largely been undertaken under the umbrella of the Optical Confederation, adding that the AOP’s own political interests are significantly increasing. The policy committee and Council place the AOP in a good position for developing this activity further, he noted.
He said that the members wish to see the AOP representing their interests to a greater extent in the media to ensure that the value of the optometrist is understood. He explained that this is a work stream that is being developed through the Voice of Optometry.
In conclusion, Mr Thompson said that the AOP will continue to engage fully with members to understand their needs and develop relevant packages from student to retirement. He added that the AOP’s voice will continue to grow and represent members to government, regulators, influencers and the media, and the welfare of its members, personally and professionally, will continue to be the focus for the AOP.
To receive a report from the chairman of finance and approve the Annual Report and accounts
In his summary, Mr Fegan said that the AOP had continued to balance the need to offer value for money for members with being efficient, together with the requirement to build reserves.
He noted that AOP’s net assets were £1.4 million, after removing the fixed assets and the mortgage.
Mr Fegan explained that the AOP’s previous reserves policy required readily realisable assets greater than three months of costs. He said that the Board had agreed a change in that policy to become more prudent, and in addition to three months' costs, they had added a further reserve for potential remaining claims in the Cell and an additional reserve for future claim liabilities. This represented a total requirement of £3 million. He said that the strategic defence reserve requirement followed the performer's case which the AOP had defended last year. He said that the AOP had to generate sufficient surplus over the next few years to meet this requirement.
Mr Fegan said that the surplus fluctuated from year to year, and stood at £607,000. The main components of the surplus were the increase in membership subscriptions by £275,000 or 486 members.
He added that the auditor, Moore Stephens, had given the AOP a clean audit for 2016.
Mr Fegan moved the acceptance of the Annual Report and accounts for 2016. These were accepted unanimously.
In response to a question from the floor by Martin Sweeney on the need to run a greater surplus, Mr Fegan said that he did not think surpluses would be generated by increasing membership subscriptions, but believed that it would come from increasing membership numbers and looking after costs.
Mr Thompson paid tribute to Mr Fegan for performing an excellent job as Chairman of Finance.
To approve the proposal of the Board to re-appoint Moore Stephens LLP as the Association’s auditors:
Mr Fegan, on behalf of the Board, moved that Moore Stephens LLP be re-appointed as the Association’s auditors. The vote was seconded and carried.
To approve the Special Resolution:
Mr Thompson asked for approval of the amendment of Articles 31, 32 and 33 to keep them in line with common practice and the byelaws.
That the article of the Association be amended by:
Article 31. Members of the Board shall normally (subject to all relevant Byelaws) be elected for a three-year term.
Article 32. The Board shall immediately before each Annual General Meeting elect from among its number a Chairman of the Board...
Article 33. The Board shall immediately before each Annual General Meeting elect from among its number a Chairman of Finance...
The proposal was approved, with one abstention.
Any other business
Mr Thompson announced that the Board had approved the appointment of Mike George as Chairman of the Board. Kevin Thompson presented Mr George with the Chairman's medal.
Mr George thanked Lyndon Taylor for his work and support of the AOP as Past Chairman.
He presented Kevin Thompson with the Past Chairman's medal, and thanked him for his contribution to the Board. He said that Mr Thompson had been a committed and innovative Chairman.
Mr Thompson said that he was standing down from Council, and thanked Councillors for their support.
He thanked the Chief Executive and her staff, and congratulated them on the work they did to make the AOP such a successful organisation.