It has been getting on for 10 months since I started the role of Chief Executive, the first we have had, and I thought it timely to have a roundup of the year and explore some themes for the next. For me it has been an exciting time and this post gives me an opportunity to communicate the highlights to you.
Our Chairman Sam Lindo, and Vice-Chairman Peter Gladwin, had instituted some fairly fundamental changes that set a new direction for the UKVA, which led to the creation of the post of CE. Underpinning the new arrangements is the Management Committee, Chaired by Peter, comprising of a series of Sub-Groups such as Regulation, Marketing and Communications and Membership Services, all constituted by volunteers. The Management Committee is a fundamental shift and gives the industry a powerful voice and delivery arm via the CEO. The sub Groups are charged with making the UKVA a more effective organisation and delivering for its members. They support me admirably and make it possible to deliver so many initiatives. For more info click here
In the last 10 months we have seen the development of:
a fresh new logo and forward looking identity for the UKVA and the industry
a new website for the UKVA and a Facebook Page see here
working on developing a new range of internal pages to offer new services and advice into the future
the provision of access to a specialist grants advisor for UKVA members – contact Paul Moss by emailing Jo or me and we’ll pass on his details.
the development of the UKVA Watchlist – a new graphic that highlights to government the issues faced by the industry with regard to loss of key pesticides
political champions, MPs Neil Parish for England, David Davies for Wales and an MEP, Anthea McIntyre for Brussels helping to represent the industry to Government in Westminster and Brussels
closer working with other bodies and grower organisations facing similar issues with their plant protection product regimes
the first positive discussions with the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) at the HSE about the issues the industry faces with regard to plant protection products (PPPs) – see earlier article
a new range of services offered via the Country Landowners Association (CLA), including tax advice (relating to land and property), planning advice and grants advice
new industry patrons scheme to help us deliver a range of services and initiatives for our members – see here for new Patrons and scroll down the page.
In November one of our Wine Champions Neil Parish MP, instigated a Westminster Hall debate about the English Wine industry that highlighted the success of our fast growing industry and some of the issues facing it in the future. This debate highlighted the following amongst other things:
- OIV membership is critical for the industry and the Minister committed to giving this a serious look in 2020, when Brexit occurs. We will pursue this issue.
- Raised issues relating to PPPs
- Raised issues posed by ‘British wine’ and the importance of this ‘brand’ to our industry
- Raised the importance of collecting data on behalf of the industry and highlighted a commitment from the Minster to enable the UKVA to gather that data
The launch of our joint (with the UKVA) Brexit strategy document – indicating to government what we want to see for our industry in a post-Brexit world. I shall place a link via this blog shortly and it will go onto the website early in the New Year.
So it has been a busy, and at times a challenging year for us at the UKVA. Alongside all of this the national competition has taken place and Unity negotiations have been a particular feature.
Where Unity is concerned there is a strong will within the membership to bring the UKVA and EWP together to better represent the industry. As an industry body with about 540 members the UKVA is, especially now, particularly listened to by Government. So it is in our interests to at least explore ways of strengthening our industry and our voice. Wessex Chairman Tim Ingram-Hill is leading the negotiations on behalf of the UKVA.
Over the year I have visited most regions and talked to many vineyard owners, businesses and politicians. Always, putting the UKVA and its members at the heart of those discussions. There is a lot of goodwill out there, as well as a recognition that we are the industry voice – something we need to capitalise on.
Over the year the persistent message from the membership has been the need for us to communicate better with you all, so that you understand what is being achieved by your association. The Communications and Marketing sub-Committee will do a review of our internal communications but in the meantime we are now committed to monthly bulletins, including updates from the Management Committee. The communications problems will, I believe, be much reduced when the internal pages of the website come online.
This blog site is part of my personal effort to ensure I communicate with members and adds to the channels by which members can better understand what we are doing and what is going on. Remember, you can also follow my posts on Twitter @UKVAChief and keep an eye out for new posts linked to here.
This brings me on to what we hope to achieve in the next year.
The Next Twelve Months…
This New Year we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary as an industry body and in that time the UKVA has gone through transformations and changes to get where we are today. So change is not new nor something to be feared but rather embraced. Our President, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, will be kindly hosting an event at Clarence House next month to celebrate this great occasion. So this year of transformation and change for the UKVA marks something of a timely turning point. So it is now a good time to look forward to the next 50 years as the industry body.
Here I set out some of what I hope we can achieve over the next 12 months.
Firstly, there are things that are already in train and on course for delivery in the 1st quarter of 2017…
- New members area for the website giving access to a range of new services and information, including a manual dedicated to setting up a vineyard.
- New Patrons page.
- New online PDO/PGI/VAR Wine Scheme system.
- Further developing our campaigning activities.
- Start to develop an internal marketplace for members on our website.
- Facilitating a meeting of CRD staff at UKVA vineyards to educate and further develop our conversation with them to address the issues the industry faces.
- Building on the recent Westminster debate and 50th anniversary by beginning process of developing a digestible industry strategy for the next 50 years with a clear vision of what we believe the industry will look like in 20 and 30 years from now. For the longer term thinking will be applied to a hoped for vision of the industry at 50 years that will be a bit more blue sky. The next 20-30 years is the critical bit and this will articulate the bigger vision for the industry, the role of government and the UKVA in it. We hope there will be a ministerial and Westminster launch sponsored by our Wine Champions in the 2nd quater.
- Surveys of the membership on a range of issues and debates, such as PDO, duty and PPPs and sustainability.
- A sense of the final direction of the Unity negotiations and further communication with members on this matter
- Continue to visit the regions and explore the issues that affect our members.
Beyond the first quarter will see the delivery of the industry’s 50 year strategy and we should know where we are with the Unity negotiations and the direction we should take.
I also want to look at making the Grape Press a quarterly publication as part of that effort to better communicate with and support members with better information to help us all become more commercially sustainable.
I am also keen we contine work on developing an All-Party Parliamentary Group for UK vineyards and I am actively exploring ways we can do this. Our needs as an industry are unique and require us to explore this.
Whatever happens with regard to Unity, with the help of the Management Committee and the Council our constitution will be reviewed with an aspiration to make the industry body be more workmanlike in delivering for its members, with an active executive body. I believe it is healthy for a body such as ours to look at how it functions and delivers from time-to-time.
Finally, an area where many in the industry feel there is a need for improvement and that is in delivering training and Continuing Professional Development. I am exploring the idea of developing an Institute with partners and stakeholders involved in training and research, with the aim of developing the growing workforce found in the UK wine industry and allied industries. The idea would be to develop a form of tiered membership based on knowledge and skills attained. The funds from this institute could be invested to subsidise training offered and further develop a market for training. As far as I know this could be unique in the world. There is much work to do but it offers a direction for the industry and the UKVA that could be groundbreaking.
I hope this canter through the year and a sneak peek at the next informs and reassures members that there has been significant change with more positive change on the horizon.
I also want to thank you all for your support over the year – one thing about our industry is that it has many people who are forceful, honest and direct but always friendly. It has been a pleasure to work with all of you. I must give a special thanks to Jo, without her help and dedicated support throughout the year, despite a considerable workload of her own in supporting the UKVA’s business and events, much would not have been possible.
Finally, I hope you all had a good Christmas and I want to wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.
Link to Chairmans New Year message here.