Training continues

Gill Brooks Lonican, chief executive of the National Association of Master Bakers (NA)

After reading the letter from Elaine Ead (February 9, pg 6) I feel the need to correct a number of inaccuracies.

Her comments on the article ’NA takes tough decision to close training section’ (26 January) are somewhat selective.

The main omission being that the NA is meeting with a professional company with a view to continuing training for members. The company has indicated that it would wish to retain some of our assessors.

Elaine also said that we are losing "the only area to make money". However, training has made considerable losses for the last seven years, so the NA can hardly be accused of wishing to make "huge  profits from it". It never has and never will be expected to make profit, just not to continue making huge losses.

I was pleased not to have increased subscription costs this year. The decision made by the board was a balanced one for the whole of the membership and had to take into account the 800-plus members who do not use training, as well as the 45 members who do.

Yes, Elaine is one of the few who pays for training, as she falls outside the government funding criteria. For everyone else it was and is free.

This year it was agreed to charge £150 for the paperwork involved in taking on a trainee and this was taken into account when projecting future losses.

I will repeat what I have told all members who have learners - the NA guarantees ALL Learners will obtain their qualification AND is committed to finding a solution to the mismanaged training section.

BOARD WAS RIGHT Graham Ryder, Peter’s the

The NA board has made the right decision to close the training section. The training section has lost the NA in excess of £250,000. I believe the majority of the membership who do not use the training facility would be quite happy for it to at least break even. But how can anyone in business justify such huge losses?

The board is charged with running our association and that does not mean losing all our subscriptions for the minority who use the training, which I understand is less than 5%.

Mrs Ead makes the point (9 February, pg 6) that she provides accommodation for her assessor, but not all businesses who use the training can do this. In the accounts of the training company for previous years one of the biggest costs is the assessors’ expenses.

Those who attended the last AGM will be aware that redundancies have taken place at head office in an attempt to cut costs, but what is the point of this if all those savings are squandered? I would be interested to see how the training section can make a profit and look forward to Mrs Ead’s suggestions at the next AGM in Harrogate.

We all want what is best for our association but, ultimately, it is the board’s decision. Members can, of course, stand as directors if they feel the board should not be taking these sorts of decisions. I am sure the board would welcome input.

losses Had to stop

Tony Phillips, Janes Pantry and NA board member, Gloucestershire

Elaine Ead’s letter about the closure of the training arm of the NA contains many false assumptions. Training has lost the NA well in excess of £250,000. It has been one of the reasons subscriptions have had to rise each year.

Had Anglo Welsh, the previous training arm of the NA not been closed down it would have bankrupted the association. When training was taken in-house, it continued to lose money - some £20,000 this year - and this for a service that is used by less than 5% of members.

Does Mrs Ead expect the 95% of members not using it to subsidise the 5% that do? No one has ever talked about making huge profits, only not losing money. From day one, it has consistently lost money. The word ’profits’ is a red herring.

As for the comment, "Had the board considered the projected income before reaching a decision?", does Mrs Ead really think all the members of the board are stupid? It was a unanimous decision, reached after great thought and debate.

Gill Brooks Lonican is doing a superb job as chief executive of the NA, putting its finances into good order by reducing costs, bringing in monies owed and ensuring efficient administration.

I am sorry if I have written in strong terms, but I am tired of some 40 members, out of the whole of the NA, trying to dictate to the majority.