Many thanks to Blue Stew of the YTISA for supplying us with his minutes from the latest Customer Charter Meeting, held at Huish Park on Monday 7th February.
MINUTES OF THE CUSTOMER CHARTER MEETING HELD AT HUISH PARK ON MONDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2005
John Fry Chairman YTFC
Adrian Hopper Press Officer and Chairman of the Customer Charter Group
Graham Joyce YTFC Security Officer
James Hoggett Police Liaison Officer
James Hillier Huish Park Stadium Manager
Bruce James YTFC
Len Brooker YTFC
Don Carter VPís
Hazel Ford DSA
Sharon Swain DSA
Rich Rendell G&WSC
Tony Strettin G&WSC
Ali King G&WSC
Mark Kelly YTISA
Roger Brimble YTISA
Colin Turner YTISA
Stewart Bratherton YTISA
Adrian Gleave YTISA
Brendon Owen YTISA
Adrian Hooper opened the meeting by stating that we only had 2 issues on the Agenda and that all other issues should be held over to the next meeting, as the 2 issues to be discussed were regarded as big issues. He then introduced Graham Joyce and James Hoggett to those present, as it was the first time either had attended a Customer Charter Meeting.
HUISH PARK STADIUM SAFETY
John started by saying that from the club's point of view they wanted to keep the costs that are liable to ensure that we have the required stadium safety to a minimum. He informed the meeting that the club still had an order against them resulting from the Enfield days when supporters encroached onto the playing surface and approached the away following on the away terrace. John went on to say that he believed in self policing, encouraging our own supporters to ensure that those on the spur of the moment may have the urge to encroach onto the playing surface are stopped. It was also reiterated that encroaching onto the playing surface is against both ground regulations and FA rules.
John informed the meeting that the costs of policing the ground last season were in the region of 200k. However this year due to both Grahamís and Jamesís intelligence, reporting and management they have been able to bring down these costs to around 125k. It was also hoped that in the future that providing these incidents continue to decline then hopefully the cost to the club would also decrease further. He went onto say that obviously if the club is promoted then we may have away supporters who may come with the intent of causing the club problems, there may well be games that will need a larger Police presence.
Mark asked that if the same stewards could be used in the same areas, then they would become familiar with those that use those areas, and therefore a better rapport could be established between both the stewards and supporters. Graham replied by stating that prior to the club being promoted to the football league they were only required to employ 30 stewards on match days, as in the conference there were fewer rules governing the controlling of supporters. Due to the design of the ground and exit points the club needed a minimum of 80 stewards to hold a game at Huish Park.
Graham went onto say that now we our in the league then we are governed by more stringent FA rules, which was his job to ensure we adhered too. Failure to comply with these rules could result in large fines or even the team playing behind closed doors, and therefore he emphasised the need for a good team of stewards at Huish Park.
Graham stated that he tries to bring in new stewards that like to follow Yeovil Town Football Club, and therefore encouraged any supporter who would like to become a steward to contact him at the club. Colin asked whether there was a minimum requirement he looked for in a steward, Graham replied by saying ďan individual who can talk to people, can fit in well, over the age of 18Ē, he also said that there was a FA upper limit of 55/60. Graham believed those individuals that make the better stewards are in the upper limit age bracket. He confirmed that they tend to be able to talk to people as they have been there and done most things, as also believed that they tend to be able handle individuals who may on the spur of the moment ďlose their identity when in a crowdĒ.
Graham stated that there had been instances over the last season where home supporters had confronted and verbally abused stewards, and he couldnít understand why supporters do this, and emphasised that most wouldnít understand until they had put the coat on and been a steward during such a situation. Graham informed the meeting that currently 50% of the stewards employed are agency with the others being Yeovil Town Stewards and it was these that he preferred to steward the home terrace, though this is not always possible.
One of the concerns that Graham has is the insistence of fans to stand in the gangways and on the yellow lines in the home terrace, with most fans ignoring the request and moving back onto the yellow lines once the stewards had turned their backs. He did point out that this was only a minority but something that was frustrating, as the stewards are only complying with the rules of the ground. He warned the meeting that he expected that with a bumper crowd forecast on Saturday against Bristol Rovers the FA may well be in attendance, monitoring how he and his staff steward the ground. He went onto say that if it was not done correctly that the first the club would likely know about it is when the FA had imposed a fine on the club.
Graham went onto recollect an incident last season when a group of opposition supporters were allocated tickets in the home area of the Main Stand close to the Westland Terrace, which resulted in home supporters remonstrating with the stewards to have them moved from the area. At this point Stewart stated that he was one of those fans that were involved in the incident, and that supporter and stewards had informed him that as a result of this incident the stewards were targeting him. He stated that the stewards were being briefed that both himself and Mark Chairman of YTISA were known troublemakers and should be watched. Stewart asked whether this was something that he was briefing down to his stewards and if so was his own personal opinion or that of the Football Club. Stewart went onto to inform the meeting that he regretted the incident, which had happened on the spur of the moment, and had apologised to the Steward concerned. Graham responded by saying that he didnít realise that Stewart was the supporter involved and that he did not have a grievance against Stewart, Mark or Yeovil Town Independent Supporters Association. He also asked that when individualís are stood on the home end and getting frustrated or excited not to do it in the stewardís faces.
Roger informed the meeting that he had a season ticket in the main stand, just behind the area that the opposition supporters had purchased tickets for. He stated that when the stewards and police realised they had away supporters in the home areas they positioned themselves behind the Yeovil Supporters to see how they reacted rather than escorting the away fans out of the area. He felt that it was our supporters that were being punished for the clubs mistake by selling the tickets to opposition supporters. Graham replied by saying that as soon as these supporters were brought to the control room's attention, it took 7 minutes to request they move to the away terrace, which they duly did. Graham stated that his job was to make Huish Park a safe place for all supporters; he confirmed that banning orders had already been issued to 3 supporters for incidents that had happened on the home terrace this season.
John intervened by saying that the purpose of these meetings is to bring the supporters concerns to the attention of the club, and that we must all work together. He emphasised that failure to comply with the requests of the stewards could result in the ground capacity being reduced, and we all need to ensure that the minority that are not adhering to the requests are being told so by those that are complying with the request. He reiterated that it is better to have our own stewards than agency stewards as not only do they get to know the supporters they will also save the club money in the long term.
The meeting was also informed that the stewards are paid more than in previous years and that they are also trained in accordance with security industry requirements. Colin asked what was involved in the training that the stewards were receiving. Graham informed the meeting that they receive training in conflict management, conflict resolution and searching, he also stated that only a certain amount were trained in restraint, he stated that they had no such thing as a snatch team but did have an ejection team. As has been noticeable this season the ejection team do not go into a crowd, they are usually held at the sides until the individual they wish to eject either goes to the lavatory or tea bars and he or she is then ejected, which therefore results in minimal confrontation. Stewart asked Graham to clarify the different types of stewards we have employed on match days. He replied by saying that those wearing the Blue Jackets were his Senior Stewards, the Orange are the Supervisors and those wearing Yellow jackets were your matchday stewards.
Graham went onto inform the meeting that as from Saturdayís game the club would have a number that supporters could send a text to the control room if any supporter has a problem with a fellow supporter, this includes those that are being verbally abusive or racial. They have introduced this to enable the authorities to deal with the incident rather than having confrontations between Yeovil supporters.
There were discussions on the rules governing the standing on the Yellow lines at half time. Graham stated that they had relaxed the rules during a period of 5 minutes either side of half time, as this is the period when most supporters have to stand on the lines when queuing for the tea bars. Those that use the Westland Terrace felt that some of the tannoy announcements could not be heard, and it was felt that this was due to the position and direction that the speakers were in. The club officials present stated that they would look into this before Saturdayís game.
Graham finished by saying that to avoid facing possible legal action in the future it would be necessary to have the lights within the stands on during the game, this would obviously enable supporters to see where they where going. He stated that this was already being implemented at other grounds within both the Premier and Football League. Brendon expressed his concerns with this proposal as he felt that with the lights on the supporters view of the playing surface was not as good. Though it was agreed that there might be a requirement to have them on, it was felt by having a lower wattage bulb it hopefully would not diminish the view of the playing surface. However if it did it would not be taken well by supporters within the stand, as it is they that had paid their money to see the team play on the pitch, and again this may cause conflict between the club and its supporters.
James Hoggett was asked to the reasoning of why both away supporters and children are not allowed in the Marquee, he replied that he was unsure but would inform the meeting in writing of the reasons by the next meeting. John stated that one of the main reasons was that when the club was promoted it was the customer charter meeting that felt that they did not want away supporters using the Huish Park Facilities. Mark replied by saying that the initial impression that we all had of away supporters was that there were a large percentage that were trouble makers, something that is obviously not true.
Everyone acknowledged that most clubs hosted Yeovil fans very well, and they felt that we were not offering the same hospitality when they visit Huish Park, and therefore it was felt that the Police should be approached with a request that away supporters be allowed to use the facilities. It was also emphasised that if the Police received intelligence that there could be trouble from certain away supporters then the use of the facility for that set of supporters would be denied.
James informed the meeting that the local police were receiving compliments from virtually every opposing police force on the exemplary behaviour of the travelling Yeovil Town Supporters, something we should all be proud of.
Hazel brought to the attention of the meeting that stewards were allowing non-badge holders to park in the disabled parking spaces, which was obviously causing problems to those that have the space designated to them. Graham asked that in future if this happened that a steward should be asked to contact the safety officer, who would come and try and sort it out, he did ask that disabled drivers do not confront drivers that are illegally parked in these bays.
Hazel also stated that the some of the designated bays are not marked well enough and therefore visitors did not realise that they were parking in disabled bays. She also asked that the disabled bays at the rear of the Bartlett Stand be marked up accordingly, John asked James Hillier to ensure that this was done at the earliest opportunity.
John stated that the players should park at the back of the VPís car park, with the VPís car park being used by permit holders only, he also said that staff are required to park in the top car park. Colin had concerns at this as this meant his partner who is employed by the club is required late at night to walk to a her car which was parked in a car park that had no lighting in. John reiterated that when the marquee is removed that the area would be used as a car park for both players and staff.
John asked both James Hillier and Bruce James to sort out the flooding in the VPís car park, he requested that it be dug up and suitable draining put in prior to Saturdays game.
NEW SOCIAL CLUB
James Hillier produced the revised plans for the proposed new social club. Stewart asked if he could obtain a copy that he could get scanned so that it can be placed on all the club websites, this was agreed by James. John informed the meeting that the plans had been submitted to the council for planning permission. The bar would have 2 floors, however initially only the lower floor would be furnished, with the first floor being developed at a later date, but it was intended that in the long term to have a function room upstairs that could seat 200 users.
The proposed build was part of the redevelopment of the tea bars and toilets of both the Westland and Bartlett Stands. John stated that there were insufficient ladies and disabled toilets in the 2 stands and by building the social bar it would alleviate some of these problems. He also stated that the club was required to refurbish the tea bars with a figure of 10k required to refurbish the Westland Stand one, once the Social Bar was built it would be used for catering at half time with no alcohol being served during games.
It was decided that a Fund raising committee should be established with representatives from all groups to focus on raising funds to assist with both the build and furnishing of the proposed new social club. All present felt that with all groups focusing on the same goal it would hopefully be easier to raise the funds.
The club had put the proposed build out to tender and they were awaiting the bids to be submitted. Obviously the priority will continue to be the development of the club on the pitch, with the playing budget for this year being based on crowds of 6,000 with next year being 7-7500. John informed the meeting that they were in discussions with breweries about the possibility of funding the build, with a meeting planned for the following day with a major brewery.
Providing that the funding can be found it is hoped that building can start as soon as planning permission is obtained, it was still hoped to have the bar built by the start of next season.
John informed the meeting that obviously if the build was not complete then the club were looking for a contingency plan. One of the suggestions was to turn the Gloverís Restaurant, which very rarely had enough income to cover the overheads, back into a supporterís bar, the reasoning behind this was the club needs the revenue and also the supporters need somewhere to drink.
Don was asked by John to approach the VPís committee and members to attain whether they would be willing to use the Gloverís Bar for the period of the build.
John informed the meeting that the initial idea of putting the control centre on top of the new social bar was now not feasible. The club who had already submitted a bid for funding from the football trust, hoped that funding would be forthcoming to update the control room, if the funding was given the club would have 3 years to develop the control room.
Adrian closed the meeting by informing all that the next meeting would take place on Monday 4th April.
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