EXHIBITOR SHOCK AT GCCF DECISION
The world of the cat fancy has been buzzing since the GCCF announced on its website an end to the 24 year arrangement which existed between OUR CATS and the GCCF.
Exhibitors have expressed a range of emotions ranging from shock, disgust to sadness and dismay in a torrent of telephone calls, letters and emails to the OUR CATS offices in Manchester.
The question many people have asked is: ‘Why has the Executive Committee taken such a decision...and what do they hope to achieve?’
In an effort to clarify the situation, OUR CATS has taken the step of publishing the two-page letter signed by Gordon Butler on behalf of the Executive Committee and sent to us by recorded delivery on July 26th (see link). Unfortunately, even though the letter mentions vaguely ‘our conduct’ and ‘concerns’ about our ‘service’, many people will still be mystified as to why the GCCF have left an established and respected publishing company dedicated to the fancy, with years of experience, to join forces with a group known primarily for its Siamese Planet web site, amongst others.
A Siamese exhibitor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: ‘OUR CATS is an inde- pendent voice which has no allegiance to any set of people in one breed and does not belong to any cliques or is not trying to promote any breeders or breeds; that’s why we like it. Having had personal experience of some of these websites, myself and many others in our breed are terrified that any new publication will find it impossible to be as independent as OUR CATS. This is a sad day’.
OUR CATS Managing Director Vince Hogan said: ‘I have no wish to act outside the wishes of the GCCF and in fact I recently wrote to the then Chairman, Betty Shingleton saying we are not the enemy - which is sometimes how you are made to feel. They have requested a professional approach for the last six months of our tenure as the official journal, but the staff at OUR CATS feels that we have offered them a completely professional service for the last 24 years.’
‘We too are bemused at this decision which came out of the blue; there was no meeting and no one had the courtesy of approaching me at a show (and I have attended many!) to address any alleged problems,’ he said.
‘I received a letter a while ago saying that the Committee had received some complaints regarding show reports, but did not offer any names or dates so we could source any perceived problem, so it seems like they have acted on hearsay and rumour, although we are assured they have given this very careful thought,’ he added.
Mr Hogan went on to say: ‘the Directors and staff of OUR CATS fully respect the right of the GCCF to place their official status with whoever they like, and they have acted within the terms of the agreement made with the then Chairman Lesley Pring; they have provided me with a copy of the letter from July 1983.
However, we have a right to expect fair play and since the announcements made by the GCCF on their site and by SEAVIEW Designs on their site, plus an email sent by their new Show Editor Lisa Aggett, we have been staggered at the reports coming back to us that many people seemed to know about this well before we received the letter.
‘I had been made aware by a number of concerned delegates that something was afoot, and had been approached by some very worried people at Lincoln and Gwynedd shows in July.
To that end I approached a member of the Exec’ at Lincoln who assured me that this subject was not on the agenda. I now know that was not the case.’
A number of people contacted OUR CATS on receipt of an email from Lisa Aggett, the newly appointed show editor of a new publication called Fancy That. Many people were unhappy that they had been contacted in such a way and via email. OUR CATS lodged an official objection via Anna Shafto of Seaview Designs who has subsequently issued an apology to OUR CATS, which we carried in last weeks issue.
The paper has also received Mrs Shafto’s under-taking that the same people who received the email have been contacted once more highlighting the apology which now appears on the new titles website. Copies of the correspondence have been filed with the GCCF Chairman Gordon Butler and also with the solicitors acting for the GCCF.
Again MD Vince Hogan commented: ‘I am amazed at the turn of events. One minute I was happily covering the Gwynedd show, and the next the whole world of OUR CATS coverage of the show scene has been turned upside down; and for what? The phrase: ‘if it ain’t bust, don’t fix it’ comes to mind!”
OUR CATS is, of course, keen to carry on publishing and will continue to print the judges’ reports as fast as they come in, although that is largely down to the judges.
The company was also keen to stress that no money is involved in the termination, as the GCCF does not actually fund OUR CATS in any way.
In return for the right to publish show reports, OUR CATS has carried every announcement, list, disciplinary report, show list over the last 24 years, at no charge to the Council and trust that the new publishers will be operating under the same conditions.
Although OUR CATS is dismayed at the sequence of events it is now considering its position and would like to place on record its thanks for all the genuine messages of support that have flooded in.
Rather than comment further, we are leaving this up to readers and have included as many letters as possible in this weeks viewpoint, see more in a special viewpoint...