Meeting minutes — 18 April 2023, 19:30
Kevin Welton (left c. 9pm, proxy: Michael Hindley)
Jim Ratcliffe (Mark Dale)
Peter Roberts (Mark Dale)
Brief Team Updates
Some board members have been absent/uncontactable for a while, so no meeting has taken place since November. The board asks people to think about running for election in September. Joe will not be around after Xmas as he will be away. The board can begin handover soon, so please let Joe know your interest as it’s never too early to take tasks on.
Overall picture is healthy. We had c. £5k allocated to spend on updating aspects of the space (broken/missing/aging tools/equipment, etc.). There was a worry that this would be poorly/mis-spent spent, but to date only £3k has been requested through purchase proposals. Please ask if things need replacing — the money is there. If anyone has ideas, please let the board or workshop teams know. Our general bank balance is just under £25k. On average, we generate about £1.5k ‘spare’ money per month.
We now have an iZettle (card payment machine for Snackspace). This seems to be well used and is bringing in money each month, but it’s hard to calculate exactly how much money is being taken in between cash, membership system and card reader. Taking a rough average, it looks like a fair amount of stuff isn’t being paid for. A reminder for members to ensure they’re paying for things from the tuckshop.
Rent has gone up 20% in April 2023, which is the first rise since our lease began in 2019. This is in line with the conditions of the lease.
Insurance has been renewed. There is some concern that we may be in breach of fire regulations because some of the illuminated fire exit signs are missing the plaques, and our fire extinguishers need an annual audit at a cost of around £7-£9 per unit. @Josephxtian is looking into this. If anyone can help, please speak up.
Around 240 members. This has remained steady for about 4 months, despite new sign-ups, which indicates some turnover.
Were contacted by an LGBTQ+ charity for young homeless and house-vulnerable people about running activities. Tom Hall (member) has volunteered to run it. The activities were going to be DIY related, but we are considering something more crafty/fun. Please get in touch with Tom on the forum post if you’re interested. It would be good to have other LGBTQ+ people involved to serve as role models.
We have updated/are updating a few pieces of equipment in line with recent risk assessments, and have organised some areas following the recent Hack the Space Day. We also have two new trainers on the large tools. Bandsaw remains temperamental, and we are working to find out what the issues are with that machine. We have also put through several successful purchase proposals for new/better equipment.
We have lots of new machine trainers added, so thanks to those people for coming forward.
The table saw is now fixed, so we are just waiting for dust extraction to be finalised before putting it back into use.
Other small tools (pillar drill, larger belt sander, bobbin sander) are now working again. The Evolution mitre saw is broken, which we believe to be an issue with the speed controller.
A member reported an incident with the lathe where a workpiece exploded and flew across the workshop. Nobody was hurt, but the team looked into it and concluded that it was a freak occurrence that is accounted for in training and the risk assessment. However, this serves as a reminder that people should report incidents using the QR codes around the space or Telegram. This allows the teams to have a full picture of how equipment is used and lets the teams put adequate safeguards in place. Thanks to the member in question for reporting the incident.
The team is rearranging the space to accommodate the new large blue laser cutter (Bluey). They have also updated risk assessments for the big sewing machine.
Some small tweaks need making to some equipment based on the risk assessments done in March.
Work is progressing on the new laser cutter. Extraction is a major consideration, as is construction of a wooden cabinet. The team believes Emerge can do this. There is no specific ETA on this work to be complete; it depends on people’s availability.
An expensive soldering iron went missing, but the team did not know if it was an historic anonymous donation that was reclaimed by its owner. We now have two new soldering stations in place, but please don’t use leaded solder with these. A reminder to all members that equipment is not to be borrowed or taken outside the space, even temporarily.
Operation and inductions are going well.
Resin printers are still offline because of issues with the extraction. We can buy the carbon filters required, and some proposals may be coming in for that.
It has been decided that existing trained users will not have to be retrained under the new process due to the low risks involved.
The biggest change has been acting on feedback on usability for newcomers. The team has made some changes about information provided when people sign up. New users are now clearly signposted to relevant areas.
Training procedures and usage procedures need updating, but this is dependent on two people’s time, and these members are also active in other areas of the space.
Consumables list — approval of existing list
Joe (and Chris Hilliard and others) have created an updated consumables list.
It was previously not clear to many members how consumables could be purchased. We had list(s), but this wasn’t complete or widely known about, and the mechanism for reimbursement wasn’t clear. Desire was to bring consumable purchases in line with the purchase proposal system for one-offs.
List was adopted by unanimous vote. Any members can now buy items from this list as needed and claim money back using the claim form.
Outstanding Purchase Proposals and general feedback on new system
Feedback was very positive on the purchase proposal system. There was a request that we lower the board requirement for a microproposal to 1 board member. This was unanimously approved by vote.
There was a question about a purchase proposal being put towards a service (e.g. printer repair by a technician). Board response was that it can.
There was a request for a quicker payment method for snackspace. This would be improved with more defined board roles (e.g. treasurer — see below).
There was a question on the maximum amount for reimbursement. There is not one specifically, but the board will query large expenses, and these should probably be run past the board before submitting in any case to ensure a balanced budget each month.
Discussion on new open evening format
Open evening tours are now at set times (18:30, 19:30, 20:30) and tour guides are organised on a rota. This works well enough, but some people have been missing their slots.
There was a request to set slots up in the space’s Google Calendar and automate reminders for volunteers.
ACTION: @rjackson and @SyntheticRabbit to look into that. @mikeh can assist connecting the right people into the right comms groups etc.
Getting more engagement in the space.
There is a constant need for volunteers, but some members find it difficult to understand what jobs need doing. Joe has created a space-wide Trello / To-do list, which is linked on the main page
@DominiqueTink noted that it would be good to refresh the notice board area for those members who don’t use Telegram/the Forum and has volunteered to do this.
Reviewing/Simplifying Rules - to be voted on whether to adopt new set 1
We had several sets of Hackspace rules, which all differed slightly. Joe has consolidated these into one document and made some slight changes. The original rules had four headings with a long descriptive paragraph underneath. They were written in quite fun, colloquial English, but could be difficult to navigate and may not be clear to people whose first language is not English.
There was debate about the inclusion of Rule 0 (Do not be on fire). Those for said it was a tradition in Hackspaces, was fun(ny), and made it clear that members should use common sense. Those against said it was unclear and could put new members off as a result.
The rules (minus Rule 0) were voted on and adopted. All voted for this, bar two, plus two abstentions.
Rule 0 was voted on separately. 5 voted for it, 7 against, and 4 abstained.
Restructuring of Board of Directors
Currently, board members do not have explicit roles. Tasks are shared out based on who can do them.
One current problem is that it’s easy for board members to go quiet because they don’t have specific roles, yet there is always plenty to do. This can result in major to-dos not getting done.
In 2020, a (then) board member proposed a new structure at a meeting, which outlined roles for the board with defined responsibilities, like chair, treasurer, etc. Defining roles also makes it easier for members to run for board because they know where their skills will fit in.
Mark Dale noted that he was on board when this proposed structure was adopted, but the roles were not fulfilled in practice.
ACTION: @Josephxtian will draft a proposal along these lines to be voted on at the AGM.
Next Hack-the-Space Day
Opinion was that a summer event would be good, and the VA team also mentioned a “Hack the VA Day”.
There was a desire to construct an area for spray painting or other messy/fume-producing activities, which raised further questions about other equipment needing extraction (laser, resin printers, welding). Members are encouraged to make proposals about this, either on the forum or at members meetings.
ACTION: @mikeh to set date for summer HTS day
AKT charity skill share - anyone interested?
Already mentioned above. If interested, there is a forum post.
Member submitted items
CCTV and Security (Reiss Jones)
There have been some recent incidents of crime nearby. Can we install CCTV to monitor the area directly outside the main door? The idea would be to improve CCTV coverage of Pollard St. E as the area outside the space is currently not covered.
We currently have a camera installed there, which was relaying footage to a monitor inside the entranceway acting as a peephole to check who was ringing the door. The monitor was removed at some point. @Ben_Dooks1 volunteered to reinstate this during upcoming wiring work. Note this setup only provides a live feed to the monitor. No footage is recorded.
If we want to record footage, GDPR and other legal issues are a consideration. These would need working through. We might need a data protection officer (DPO) which the space currently does not have (and does not need to have). It was raised that CCTV footage might fall into ‘special category’ data (ethnicity).
A vote was taken about whether people are in principle (and without comprehensive legal research) in agreement with recording CCTV footage of the area directly outside the Hacksapce front door? All voted for, with 2 abstentions. This does not constitute a decision to install CCTV recording equipment.
ACTION: @SyntheticRabbit (and any volunteers?) to look into legal ramifications of CCTV recording.
Discussion on the space having Staff
Reiss suggested it would be a good idea for the space to employ someone, but withdrew the item after having seen the space finances earlier in the meeting. Private conversations ensued.
Meeting ended 21:37.