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YesCymru members blocked from discussing issues within organisation

12 Jan 2024 9 minute read
Picture by YesCymru.

Emily Price

Internal conflicts have broken out within YesCymru, with the largest local group blocked from holding meetings with members to discuss concerns about issues within the organisation.

A recent investigation by Nation.Cymru exposed cracks in YesCymru’s board following the sacking of CEO Gwern Gwynfil and two directors.

This week the organisation’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) should have taken place for members and the board to discuss motions.

However, the meeting was cancelled less than week before it was set to take place.

The EGM will now take place on the same day as YesCymru’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) – an arrangement which some members say is a bid by the board to “avoid scrutiny”.

Following the news of the sudden cancellation of the EGM, a member of YesCaerdydd suggested holding two Q&A meetings for all YesCymru members to “discuss and debate recent events”.

An invitation was sent via an email to all members using the organisation’s HQ Nation Builder account – the membership management system used to send correspondence.

Removed

Later that day, at a Zoom meeting of the South Wales Central groups YesCaerdydd officials found themselves unexpectedly removed from the call the moment it started without an explanation.

The next day, YesCaerdydd found that the two Q&A meetings scheduled via YesCymru’s Zoom account had been cancelled and access to the organisation’s HQ Nation Builder account had been blocked.

A post on YesCaerdydd’s X account stated: “The Q&A meetings we wanted to facilitate for members tomorrow (Saturday, 13 January 2024) have been unexpectedly cancelled by the NGB and we are investigating why. The link to the meeting is voided and out zoom facilities have been removed. Apologies to all who wanted to attend.”

YesPenybont appeared to take umbrage with YesCaerdydd for arranging meetings with members to discuss the organisation’s recent controversies.

Conduct

A thread on X by YesPenybont disputed points raised in the email and urged members to read a statement by Barry Parkin which was sent to members after questions were raised about the conduct of the board.

YesCymru founding member and Chair of YesCaerdydd, Iestyn ap Rhobert said an “inclusive meeting” to discuss recent events was “urgently needed”.

Another email sent by YesCaerfyrddin to local groups and the NGB appeared to acknowledge disagreements within the organisation.

It states: “As officers of YesCaerfyrddin we strongly believe that ongoing internal conflict within the organisation is extremely damaging to the movement and the campaign more widely, and that a divided movement will never succeed.

“We believe that we must put any internal conflict aside, and concentrate fully on campaigning for an independent Wales if we want to succeed.”

Nation.Cymru contacted YesCymru Chair Barry Parkin asking why YesCaerdydd was being blocked from hosting meetings with members.

Shortly after we sent our email, a message was sent to YesCymru group leaders via WhatsApp claiming that a Caerdydd group official had “put pressure” on a member of staff to send out the invitation to all YesCymru members.

Concern

The message, issued by YesCymru director Elfed Williams stated: “Many directors were notified yesterday of an email sent to all members from YC Caerdydd. This email caused much concern amongst recipients as they could not understand how YC Caerdydd had access to their data and were worried that it breached GDPR legislation.

“I can now assure you that your data is safe as following initial investigation last night, it transpired that the email had been sent out from YC HQ NationBuilder account.

“A Caerdydd group official had put pressure on our member of staff. Can I make it clear that no group member is allowed to instruct a member of staff to send out an email from YC HQ, unless it is sanctioned by the board.

“Can I remind you that Group members can only send out correspondence to members within their wards. They have no right to send information out to members outside their wards. Please read relevant bylaw 13.

“As a result we will be tightening down on access to our platforms whilst we deal with the matter in hand. I hope this explains the situation and I apologise for the anxiety it has caused. I also hope that the individual concerned will have the decency to apologise as well and reflect on their actions.”

“Important”

Chair of YesCaerdydd, Iestyn ap Rhobert said: “The NGB postponed the 13 January 2024 EGM at short notice and without a suitable reason, despite motions having been put forward.

“Instead of the cancelled EGM, a member of YesCaerdydd wanted to hold Q&A meetings for all YC members on Saturday, 13 January 2024. An invitation was sent to all members across Wales to offer an opportunity for discussion and debate on recent events.

“It is important to note that in a grassroots lead organisation like ours, members are fully entitled to freely associate with other members without seeking authorisation from the NGB.

“This morning, we have unexpectedly found out the Q&A meetings scheduled for Saturday have been cancelled by the NGB, and our access to YC systems have been removed without warning.

“Claims that YesCaerdydd broke GDPR rules are untrue and we categorically reject any such accusations. The invitation to the Q&A meeting was sent out centrally from YC under our group’s name.

“YesCaerdydd can only hold personal information of YesCymru members in Cardiff and we use that information in compliance with the Data Protection Act 2018. We have never held any personal information on members nationally neither do we have any access to this data.

“We would like to reiterate: the message was sent out centrally at the bequest of YesCaerdydd and under our name. This was our only means to invite all YC members to an inclusive meeting we believe was urgently needed and very important.”

Response

YesCymru Chair Barry Parkin was invited to comment but did not respond.

YesCymru Director, Elfed Williams said: “It is unfortunate that an officer of YC Caerdydd sent an unauthorised email to all YC members yesterday. They are fully aware of Nationbuilder protocol and byelaws [sic] including bylaw 13 which restricts Group officers to sending out email other than their own ward.

“Luckily it did not breach data protection laws. We are dealing with the matter and will be disciplining the members responsible for their actions. YC takes members’ data very seriously and as a result of this misdemeanor [sic] have secured all their platforms for the time being.”

On the meeting that YesCaedrdd were removed from unexpectedly, Mr Williams said: “There is only one zoom account and unfortunately two meetings were mistakenly booked in for the 11th January. The North Wales Regional Council Meeting had started at 7pm and continued until 9pm.”

Feedback

On the YesPenybont X thread and the YesCaerfyrddin email, Mr Willaims said: “We have been approached by a number of members and groups unhappy that a letter has been sent by YesCaerdydd to all members.  We have sent a reminder to YesCaerdydd in accordance with Bylaw 13 that they should only be using the data on Nationbuilder to contact members within their own ward.

“The feedback we are receiving as a Board is that groups and members throughout Wales are unhappy with correspondance emanating from some members within the Yes Caerdydd branch and that they should cease in their campaign to spread information that is incorrect and that we should be working together to focus on our wider campaigns for an Independent Wales.”

On the cancelled EGM meeting, Mr Williams said: “An EGM due to be held on the 13th January was cancelled for the following reason.  On the 10th of December an announcement was sent out that an EGM would be held on the
13th of January. An unanimous decision previous to this was undertaken by the NGB for this meeting to take place. The responsibility of ensuring that the correct procedure was undertaken in announcing the meeting was the responsibility of the then CEO.

“Concerns were raised by Directors in the meeting of the NGB on the 2nd of January that the correct procedure had not been undertaken in announcing the meeting. As a Board we were reassured by the Director leading on the EGM that we had complied with the notice in accordance with our articles. Following further concerns raised by members and Board members the majority of the Board agreed to obtain legal advice.

“The legal advice we received clearly indicated that the notice sent out on the 10th of December did not meet with our requirements under our articles of association and therefore there was no option available to us but to cancel the meeting. A letter informing groups of this decision to cancel the meeting with a full explanation why was sent out last week to all Group Chairs and Secretaries.”

“Open dialogue”

On the suggestions that YesCymru’s Chair and a faction of directors are attempting to avoid scrutiny, Mr Williams said: “Over the last few weeks we have had an open dialogue with members with a letter being sent out to all members and only a few days ago a further letter was sent out to group Chairs and Secretaries explaining the decisions taken by the Board of YesCymru.

“An AGM is arranged for the 10th February where there will be further opportunity for members to ask questions of the NGB. As with any organisation, committee and Board not everyone agrees with the decisions made and the same exists within YesCymru.

“We have robust discussions but at the end each Director has a right to a vote and decisions are only taken with the approval of the majority of the Board.  For example the decision to terminate the contract of the then CEO was taken by 70% of the Board which can not be regarded as a small faction or a minority element of the Board.”


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Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
1 month ago

I’m saddened reading this article. It seems YesCymru with its National Governing Body and Council of Deputies, and encyclopedic rules and regulations are suffocating what the organisation should be about – campaigning for Welsh Independence. YesCymru needs a big dose of common sense and a clear, unequivocal focus on what matters – independence for Cymru. Please stop tearing yourselves apart for personal gain, park your narcissistical egos and focus on the big picture please. The grassroots groups have placed a lot of trust in the Directors, many of us are not happy with how things are being currently managed.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

These guys are power crazy before they even acquire much power ! Outside observers will put it down to the self destructive nature of our nation. Schisms easily fostered by agents of the Union in this kind of immature environment. Wake up boys and girls or you will be yet another big idea consigned to the forgotten page of history

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Agents of the Union are not needed their work is done for them. Plaid, S4C and YesCymru.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
1 month ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

Too true

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

According to this article, a number of groups and members are unhappy with the conduct of YesCaerdydd, who had taken it upon themselves to arrange this meeting.

I understand from this article that there were concerns with GDPR and individuals putting pressure on staff to send out unauthorised emails!

Perhaps we need to look at the bigger picture here. GDPR rules are there for a reason.

J P
J P
1 month ago

And how many of the board voted to remove the CEO in the first and second attempts? And before they removed the two opposing co-opted directors?

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  J P

It would need to be a majority decision to effectively be “legal”. If all steps were undertaken in relation to company law and their organisation’s Articles etc then no “rules” have been broken. Companies sack CEOs and Directors all the time with little fanfare.

Another Richard
Another Richard
1 month ago

It’s good that Nation.Cymru is reporting on this. However, the report would have been more useful at half or even a third of the length: its 1,600-odd words consist largely of extended quotes from different factions and concern mind-numbing procedural issues. This makes it very difficult for a reader new to the story to work out what is going on. What is the significance of these tensions within Yes Cymru? Do they arise from poor organisation, or personality clashes, or are there fundamental differences in policy? It would be good to know.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

So all this is really helping Cymru become independent, isn’t it. Well done everyone! It’s time some people sat back and looked at the direction of the movement at the moment – is it achieving what it set out to do, if not why not!? Yes Cymru needs to stop this BS if we are to achieve self determination any time soon.

HarrisR
HarrisR
1 month ago

If it’s like this well before “Independence”, on the “junior slopes”, what’s it going to be like later on, and if there’s ever an “after”?

This is an organisation held together by chicken wire, ego, boosterism (those membership figures?) and rhetoric. And a convenient explanation that setbacks and screw ups are down to the Brit state’s elastic tentacles and dedicated black ops. Which equally saves a LOT of domestic political evaluation & soul searching.

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago

Not an organisation worth expending one’s efforts on. Always a welcome for good folk to join Plaid Cymru. I can categorically state that one thing Plaid Cymru could really do with is active and capable members on the campaign trail. Remember – if we want independence, we have to build a democratic mandate for it. Right now, you can help get Plaid Cymru MP’s elected which is the most practical thing you can do to build that mandate. Or you can expend your energies in endless arguments about YesCymru.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Well said – my sentiments exactly!

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

I have no idea what is going on but a movement should not sound and look alike a corporation board room fight? Since Brexit, I have been more interested in indy but not this path for me. While it stands as it is.

Riki
Riki
1 month ago

It’s obvious Yes Cymru has been taken over by outside forces who wish to see Wales suffer. When will we Grow up as a People?

John Bates
John Bates
1 month ago

Finally had a chance to look into the Members Area and check the NGB minutes. If you haven’t got time, I’ll save you looking too far.

October 16th, 2023: 9 month loss of £63k is reported.
December 11th, 2023: Director Daf Smith brings “The charges are as follows: breach of fiduciary duties; unauthorised use of company funds; misappropriation of company funds” to the NGB against Barry Parkin

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