The Magistrates' Association has puzzled a few of us in recent weeks. I have been a member for about 30 years, dutifully coughing up thirty-odd quid each year. In recent years the MA website Members' Section has included a (passworded) forum. It has never attracted many contributors, but I have chipped in occasionally, as have luminaries such as Richard Monkhouse, the MA Chairman. Now, it has simply vanished, without any notice to readers and contributors nor any explanation as to why. My passwords for the Members' Section are now rejected.
This seems a shabby way to treat paid-up members. I cannot see that the Forum did any harm to anyone, after all.
Forum software is cheap and plentiful, so perhaps someone will set up a site where JPs can talk to each other and compare notes without fear of being got at by the tabloids.
Musings and Snippets from a recently retired JP. I served for 31 years, mostly in west London. I was Chairman of my Bench for some years, and a member of the National Bench Chairmen's Forum All cases are based on real ones, but anonymised and composited. All opinions are those of one or more individuals. JPs swear to enforce the law of the land, whether or not they approve of it. Nothing on here constitutes legal advice.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
What's Going On At The MA?
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As I said as an OT comment under an earlier posting, I agree with BS completely and I too was 'locked out' of the shiny new MA website. Having now got back on (they should have sent you an email with the new log on details BS), my disappointment knows no bounds.ReplyDelete
It is (not to put too fine a point on it) pathetic. It is sparsely populated with information and is not really intuitive to get around. The Forum was a useful tool to explore issues that might get directly to the ears of our illustrious 'masters' on the MA board. We can only hope they all migrate to this august arena!!
A poor show MA, a poor show...
You are spot on with this one, Bystander. The MA website Forum has been a prime reasons for many of us keeping our MA membership, which apart from a glossy two-monthly magazine offers little to the troops on the ground. Justices were forcibly told by the then-Senior Presiding Judge not to post on public forums, so the MA Forum became our mouthpiece. Now that has been silenced.ReplyDelete
The MA claims to speak for the 22,000 magistrates in England & Wales, but in practice our voices are rarely heard, often forgotten.
The axeing of the Forum was done over the weekend before the Branch Conference in Birmingham, with no prior warning, no explanation and worst of all, no consultation with the membership, something which Richard Monkhouse claims to be strong on. But on this one he has done himself no favours. Why? In the words of that august organ 'Private Eye', we need to be told.
Like you, I am very unimpressed with the new website.ReplyDelete
I had an email from the MA which said "After consultation, it has been decided to say goodbye to the Forum. We consulted with members on its future and only 16 people responded, with the majority of them saying they had never used the Forum."
I challenged this, as the supposed membership consultation passed me by, and I don't recall seeing anything on the forum itself. I was told the message had been passed on to those concerned, but silence ever since.
The MA forum was the only reason I kept my membership for a few years but then decided even that wasn't worth it. Has any MA member who posts here asked the MA for an explanation?ReplyDelete
I've just resigned my membership after 20 years. The MA is increasingly the mouthpiece of the "Powers that Be" to Magistrates rather than the other way round - and at the moment there is no shortage of what they should be saying on our behalf. Perhaps I'm cynical (okay, I am) but I wonder whether the disappearance of the Forums just when the Criminal Criminal Courts Charge is coming in is a pure coincidence.ReplyDelete
I think it maybe fear of any subversive movement being organised via the Forum. All archives etc on the original Members Area have been wiped so it is now impossible to check back and see whether there is any continuity in policy. Plainly the management want to play a bigger role on the politicial stage and it will be interesting to see how far they get with a new government.ReplyDelete
The main reason for me logging on to the MA site was to browse, and very occasionally contribute, to the forum, OK, there were was the odd pompous windbag on there but nevertheless there was often some really useful real world advise & information given. I don't bother logging in to the site any more as the redesigned site & content is bland and self-serving.ReplyDelete
Consultation? I certainly wasn't consulted nor do I recall ever seeing any communication of any kind inviting opinion on the matter.
I know many magistrates feel the MA is becoming irrelevant to them as individuals and this latest development will have alienated even more of us. I don't know whether I'll renew my membership or not but right now, to use the civil test, of 'On the balance of probability', I won't be.
What rot about the MA being mouthpiece to the powers that be. If you look at some of the coverage the chairman has been getting, it is clear that they're taking on issues more stridently than I can previously recall. As for the forum, never used it. So won't miss it.ReplyDelete
I asked the chairman directly and had a long somewhat specious reply which concentrated on a survey done by the MA showing that only 11% of members liked the website and the majority preferred the magazine. It also referred to too much information on the website and a search engine that did not work. I never used the latter but certainly found the website easy and informative including a lot of useful info about committees, council etc. Onlooker JPReplyDelete
As a Founder of the Forum and former Moderator, I too was dismayed that it was closed down without notice. For years the Forum was never officially adopted by the Association but it certainly provided a useful place for exchange of views, particularly to hear what was going on or of concern in parts of the country well away from one's own. Where was this so-called consultation? It certainly bypassed me! Perhaps I could express our thanks to Nick as Administrator and the small team of volunteers who looked after it and kept it going for so long. No doubt it was quite a time-consuming exercise.ReplyDelete
Shabby and high-handed action.ReplyDelete
I shall not be renewing my subscription.
I similarly pitched into the Forum once in a while, and enjoyed reading many of the posts. The consultation also passed me by. But having left the MA a few months ago, I can barely conceal my indifference.ReplyDelete
I too was a regular contributor especially on the lighter side. I defined my role as to find the tone of the discussion and lower it.ReplyDelete
It is not cheap being a volunteer, £30 for the MA about the same again for lightweight sentencing guidelines, £10 for the bench fund. Works out around £3.50 per day in court.ReplyDelete
It's a great shame the forum has gone. The MA did little to promote it and I suspect were keen to kill it off. I find the new website something of a let down, despite looking tidier, hardly worth looking at now. Will I renew my MA membership? What's the point?ReplyDelete