January 1932 shows a low point in the history of FETA, then 16 years old.

25 January 2016

At the Council meeting, nobody wanted to take on the job of Chairman for the next year. Several members were proposed, but each one was quick to offer a good reason why he would not be suitable. Some of them genuinely doubted that the organisation was achieving anything – it was, but it had failed to reach agreement on price fixing, or to get more of the outsider companies to become members, both major issues. The one man who might have liked to become Chairman represented a Manchester based company, and meetings were never held outside London, so he didn’t want to be obliged to attend every time. The retiring Chair, Mr Cook, was badgered into remaining. There was debate as to whether we should turn into a defensive organisation and reduce meetings to quarterly, or whether we remain proactive and continue to meet monthly. We stayed with monthly meetings, and resumed work with some good results.

When we pitched the idea of 52 snippets/summaries from the minutes, Mrs Randall prepared a summary and noted that “the minutes are pedestrian records of meetings at which items of interest are raised, discussed, sometimes developed, sometimes abandoned. Every so often someone will come up with a ‘new’ idea that had been fully chewed over years before, these usually sink again.

But you can hear the voices of the Council. They get outraged by inaccuracies in the press, they worry about the rising cost of luncheon. Their dedication shows, their Secretaries go on for decades, members participate after retirement, octogenarian members are honoured. The ordinary members clamour for more information and greater participation, while the Council deplores their failure to contribute to surveys and committees.” The current FIA Board commented “Nothing much changes then!” The comment about volunteers for the Chairman position is still equally apt. Each Chairman automatically retires after two years’ service but they are usually persuaded to stand again as its difficult to find other willing volunteers. We also note the north/south divide – more on this later!