The United Kingdom Horse Shoers Union

The voice of the farrier.

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Report Report of the FRC meeting on Wednesday 14th June 2006 at 10.30 am at the General Dental Council, 37 Wimpole Street, London.

Present (public): Martin Humphrey, Cliff Barnes, Australian friend of SC, Mr Riddle?

Present (council): Chairman was Simon Curtis in his first meeting since taking over from Miss Clayton

Apologies for absence from Hugh Dyer, Steven Hewitt, Brigadier Roach, Mrs Alderton

In his inaugural Chairmans address Mr Curtis said that it was his first meeting as Chairman and his first FRC meeting for 10 years. He hoped that his long absence would have the benefit of giving him a fresh look at things.

He would like more transparency and openness and this meeting would be entirely open to the public whereas previously there was a public part and a closed part where the public were excluded. Members would have to be careful in what they say and not discuss individuals.

Mr Curtis said that hoped to bring in people from outside onto working parties and hoped that any member who wished for more involvement would be accommodated.

He believed that it was wrong for a regulatory body to be involved in training. The reason for it still being so is because of the financial deficit which exists and the hope is to recover the deficit and split the functions as soon as possible.

He wants the FRC to be seen as more farrier friendly.

The staff setup is illogical especially the roles of the registrar and secretary.

He does not want to encourage sniping at staff, and grievance procedures are in place and a formal complaint should be made if there is a problem.

He would like to see all reports given by Council members not by staff in future.

The minutes of the last meeting on March 1st were approved (not available to the public).

Under matters arising which are not Agenda items it was said by MWN that only 19 farriers had asked for a copy of the Annual Report which had not been sent out to all farriers for the first time. This resulted in a saving in printing costs. I believe that he said that the report was available on the website but this does not appear to be the case.

The finance committee had met just before this meeting and the Chairman John ? Said that retention fees would be rising above the rate of inflation to £130 because of a deficit in 2005 and a projected deficit in 2006.

The Registration Committee report was given by Mrs Heather in the absence of Brig Roach. She said that the extension of the Act to the Highlands and Islands was waiting for the solicitors to the Scottish Executive to decide exactly how to enact it, probably by a single SI. The transitional arrangements would be down to the Council. Unregistered farriers may apply to be registered if they had the appropriate qualifications or if they had 2 years experience. If there is doubt as to competency they may be asked to take a test. FRC and the Scottish executive will share the publicity.

There is a new EU directive 2/35/06???? which replaces directive 95/42??? and it has one new aspect which is that it allows people to move around on a temporary basis and work without supervision. They must declare to the FRC that they are coming, have appropriate qualifications or 2 years experience and will be subject to the FRC disciplinary code. They can be pursued across the EU. FRC can decide what is temporary or occasional on a case by case basis. The FRC will stipulate a maximum of 6 months. Comes in in late 2007, Department for Education and skills will bring it in. It is proposed by the FRC to have the same procedures for EU and non EU visitors. EU applicants cannot be charged. FRC procedures are being changed now in anticipation. The rules must be publicised so that no one can plead ignorance. There is no right to test proficiency (this is restricted to health care only) and no entitlement to language tests. They have to be here for a purpose. This may give the FRC better control of polo farriers. PNB asked if they keep coming will they be able to get on the register having accrued 6 years experience? Heather will check with DFES on this.

PNB suggested that if people don't work with the FRC on this then the Registrar should ask the Home Office to revoke their work permits. Fox said take them to court first and then the Home Office will revoke their work permits. The Registration Committee will consider this and report back to Council.

The Investigating Committee had looked at 3 complaints. The Home Office will be putting farriers on the Notifiable Occupations list. This means that the Police may report convictions to the Registrar. Apprentices will be monitored – when they come to register their previous histories will be looked at. The area Chief Police officers will be meeting to produce guidelines as to what sorts of offences will be notified.

The Disciplinary Committee met in Scotland to consider complaints against 2 Scottish farriers. There was insufficient evidence to convict. PNB asked about the cost and was told that it would have been no more than if it had been held in London.

The Farriery Training Agency Management Board met in April and are meeting again in July. The January DWCF results showed a marked improvement. There has been a problem with the LSC restricting 19-24 starts very tightly. The grants were cut by 6% last year and are being frozen this year and next. Apprentices do not have a say, it is hoped to arrange meetings for them at College. A Government initiative called programme led pathways means that access courses may be made mandatory. LSC auditors have recently looked at the FTA books with an excellent outcome apparently. The FTA is doing a self assessment report. The ALI are coming next month. If an apprentice is not up to standard at College he will be brought back in after a month or so with the ATF. Field Officers are not NVQ assessors – JFTC view is that it is better for them to be assessed at College as the standards are then likely to be more consistent.

Hargreaves reported on the meeting of the the Veterinary Surgeons Act Working Group with DEFRA on 6th June. Not much information of interest was forthcoming. Mr Curtis said that the Group was driven by the WCF. He said that they had agreed to include Nafbae. He said that wider consultation was needed, that the craft must be well informed and must have a big influence. Membership of the Veterinary Surgeons Act Working Group was approved despite a vote against by PNB who felt that the elected farriers on the FRC should be included. It did not take long for the new chairman to break his opening pledge that “any member who wished for more involvement would be accommodated”. Mr Baker also made the point that the FRC does not have a mandate to represent farriers.

Membership of the Working Group to Review A Farriers Guide to Professional Conduct was considered and the Council was asked to choose between Mr Baker and Mr Chalmers. Mr Chalmers withdrew and so there was no vote. Mr Baker made the point that the body setting the standards should be distinct from the body enforcing the standards and that this was not the case as the members of this group were also on the investigating committee and the disciplinary committee. Mr Curtis said rather bizarrely that the Guide did not set the standards!

Burton had been Chair of the Visitation to Myerscough College on 1st and 2nd June 2006 and gave positive report of the College. In particular the staff were motivated, get on well, and the students were happy. The College offers education from access courses to degree level. Dr J Riley, a vet, had recently been added part time to the teaching staff. The workbooks were very good. The main recommendation was that the staff needed to get teaching qualifications (Cert Ed).

The European Federation of Farriers Associations had enabled Fox, Williamson Noble and Howard Cooper to go off on jollys to Switzerland, the Netherlands and Austria as members of an accreditation Board, with the aim of standardising farriery qualifications throughout Europe.

There is a farriery consultation day planned for 1st July at Myerscough.

A Joint rewrite of the WCF Guide to the Diploma Examination is in place involving Mr Riddle? who was present with the public. A new setup was being tried out in January next.

A report on Barefoot Trimming Research was presented. A very long discussion followed. Apparently the ILPH and to a lesser extent the RSPCA have been pressing the FRC very hard to do something about barefoot trimmers. Chris House chairs the committee of the National Equine Welfare Council. He rambled on at length about the need for research so that it can be proved whether horses can be worked normally barefoot.

Three degrees of trimming were talked about: (1) simple hoof trimming, (2) trimming to be worked barefoot and (3) radical and remedial trimming. The first category did not pose a problem, the third category was covered by the Animal Welfare Act and RSPCA prosecutions. The main problem was trimming for working unshod. Peter Baker made the point that this should not be a concern as the hooves will largely regulate themselves.

RSPCA Inspector Goddard reported that there have been 3 prosecutions so far involving “hoof trimmers”.

MWN said that the act of putting on an equiboot is technically classed as farriery.

Simon Curtis posed the question, does the FRC want to regulate hoof trimmers? No definite conclusion was reached. It was agreed that Peter Baker would produce a report.

Under any other business Peter Baker raised the subject of apprentices being exploited by their employers, being overworked, underpaid and allowed to perform illegal acts of farriery in the case of preapprentices. He agreed to produce a report on this.

Peter Baker also raised an enquiry from a farrier whose son was his apprentice and legally therefore he was not required to have employers liability insurance. However the FTA had been insisting that the insurance was necessary. It was agreed to re examine the matter at the next meeting.

Terry Hargreaves suggested that Mrs Heather needed to have an assistant registrar in case anything happened to her.

Simon Curtis raised the matter of whether all FRC members came from the correct bodies. The main issue was the CoSira rep which had been replaced by the RDC which in turn had become defunct. The Countryside Agency had been asked if they wanted to take over but they in turn cease to exist in October 2006.

Martin Humphrey 14/06/06

Comment. An encouraging start by the new Chairman Simon Curtis. Especially welcome was the fact that the public were not excluded from any of the meeting as has previously been the practice. Peter Baker made a big impression, questioning and probing on many subjects. Alex Chalmers was surprisingly subdued given his outspoken election statement. Terry Hargreaves won the brown nose award for sucking up to Mrs Heather. Surprise of the day was Mrs Heather correcting Williamson-Noble.