Let's spend pound;6m in a hurry

2nd June 2000 at 01:00
Anna Hughes writes the unofficial minutes of her governing body

Painful as it is, an emergency board meeting at 8:30am does mean that in theory we are bright-eyed to deal with the 48-page document that awaits us. Our principal, Rex, explains that the college has been investigating sources of funding within the more esoteric bywaters of the European Union and has found a development fund that is very soon going to be wound up. "There is a strong possibility of a multi-million pound grant being available if we apply by the end of the month," he concludes.

That's just five days away, I think to myself, sufficient to consider a major development with huge implications.

Silas, our financial director, takes up the reins - or is it the whip, as far as members of the board are concerned? "The document before you describes the information technology centre, administration block and sports complex we seek funding for."

Charles, our local industrialist , is already many pages through the document. "I see there is a requirement for us to raise 30 per cent of the total required."

"Indeed," says Silas almost casually. "We have an outline loan agreement with the bank to meet this." He elaborates.

So far, in about 20 minutes, the board has been introduced to a pound;6 million development project and the need to raise pound;2 million ourselves. At a previousmeeting it took more than half an hour of discussion to agree to replace the old signboard outside the main building with a modern version - at a cost of pound;420.

"There hasn't been time for detailed design work, but the architect's basic drawings look very impressive," Rex beams, no doubt glorying at the thought of his empire expanding.

It is the teacher governor, Mary, who puts a spanner in the works. "The plans look magnificent, but there hasn't been any consultation with the academic staff. Does it even come within the scope of our mission statement to meet the present and future needs of the community? What research has been done to find out the future needs? Should we be making a decision of this magnitude so fast?" Adroitly avoiding her first three points, Rex enthuses on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. "We need the board's approval today in order to get the documents to Strasbourg by Friday."

Chairman Alan goes into persuasive if not evangelical mode to extol the virtues of this major boost to the college's esteem.

A decision had to be made. Those in favour:11. Those against: none. Abstentions: Mary, who obviously wishes to continue working at the college.

I turn to the last page of the document and find the draft minutes of the meeting have already been written. The proposal to apply has been unanimously approved!

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