General Meeting Minutes for 2004

A General Meeting of the British Mathematical Colloquium was held in the Refectory TV Lounge, Stranmillis University College, Belfast at 7.30 pm on Tuesday 6 April 2004.


  1. An apology was received from Helen Robinson.

  2. The minutes of the AGM of the 55th BMC, Birmingham 2003, were approved subject to the correction of the spelling of 'Mathieu' (item 3, line -3).

  3. Matters arising: none, other than those treated below.

  4. Accounts of B(A)MC Warwick 2002.

    Caroline Series reported. There was a deficit of about £6000, largely attributable to the University's intransigence over cancellation of room bookings. The deficit was eventually covered by equal contributions from the LMS and the Warwick Department.

  5. Accounts of BMC Birmingham 2003.

    Chris Parker reported. Draft accounts show a surplus of about £2200. About £1000 is still owed by publishers. A suggestion that the surplus be transferred to the LMS was queried by Garth Dales, as it is not in keeping with current arrangements for BMCs (see item 7 below).

  6. A revised BMC constitution, incorporating amendments agreed at the AGM of 2003, was circulated for information. On line 1, read "... be a standing ...".

  7. Status of the Scientific Committee and the BMC

    (i) Garth Dales reported as follows on the changed status of the BMC.

    The BMC used to be a permanent entity with an account held by the EdMS.

    For legal reasons, the EdMS had requested the termination of this arrangement, and at the BMC in Glasgow 2001, it had been agreed to transfer the balance, about £7000, to the LMS.

    Two possible ways forward had been considered. One such was for the BMC to remain a permanent entity, and seek charitable status as a means of avoiding liability for VAT. This had been rejected, as it would render the Scientific Committee liable for any deficits incurred by BMCs.

    The alternative, which had been adopted, was for each BMC host institution to become responsible and liable for its own Colloquium. Accounts will need to meet the requirements of the host institution and show that all conditions specified by the donors of grants received have been satisfied. Ordinarily, host departments would have to absorb deficits; the LMS could consider helping to meet a deficit only if the deficit were due to events beyond the department's control.
    Following a remark from the floor, it was agreed that BMCs should aspire to have venues ratified three years ahead, rather than two years, which has been typical in recent times.

    (ii) A memorandum between the Scientific Committee of the British
    Mathematical Colloquium and the London Mathematical Society
    was circulated for information.

    Sir John Kingman questioned the use of the word "body" in relation to the BMC, and also the phrase "Pure Mathematics" as a description of the BMC's domain of interest. Peter Cooper defended the use of "Pure" as a good reflection of the BMC's province.

    It was agreed that the word "bodies" could well be deleted in line 1 of the document. Further consideration will be given at a later date.

  8. Relations with BAMC.

    A joint B(A)MC was held in Warwick 2002, and another will be held in Liverpool 2005.

    Garth Dales reported on prospects for such ventures in the future. A difficulty is that the BAMC has no counterpart of the BMC's Scientific Committee, though a proposal for the setting up of a BAMC Scientific Committee will be brought to the BAMC meeting in Norwich, later in April 2004. Possible future joint B(A)MCs will also be discussed at Norwich.

    If a favourable consensus emerges at the BAMC meeting, then a joint meeting of representatives of the Scientific Committees will be held, preferably in September 2004, and if the Applied Mathematics representatives bring forward a proposal for a joint B(A)MC, this will be considered. Otherwise further consideration will be deferred until after the Liverpool meeting in 2005.

    As 2008 will be the BAMC's 50th anniversary, it may not be deemed an appropriate year for a joint meeting. Moreover, the next RAE will take place in 2008. One university has expressed an interest in hosting a joint B(A)MC in 2009, if no proposal for 2008 is forthcoming.

    A large majority of the AGM favoured a B(A)MC meeting in 2008, provided that the Applied Mathematics community is enthusiastic and a suitable venue can be agreed; some members, however, urged caution.

  9. Sandra Pott (York) was elected unanimously to serve for one year on the Scientific Committee.

  10. Report on BMC in Belfast 2004.

    Martin Mathieu reported as follows:

    The attendance, about 240, was gratifying.

    The satellite student conference had been successful: attendance had been about 70; about 20 talks had been volunteered, of which 10 were selected for the student conference, and the remainder accommodated in the BMC splinter groups.

    The support and participation of mathematicians from Ireland were most welcome at this meeting, the first joint meeting of the BMC and the Irish Mathematical Society.

    A draft budget predicted a deficit of about £800. Students, invited speakers and some others were exempt from paying fees; this resulted in there being only about 90 fee-paying participants.

    Thanks were expressed to all organizations and individuals who had supported the Colloquium.

    Ken Brown welcomed student participation but would have preferred to encourage students to give splinter group talks to specialist audiences, instead of talks to general student audiences.

  11. Report on progress of B(A)MC 2005, Liverpool.

    Hugh Morton reported. The Colloquium will run from the early afternoon of Monday 4 April until lunchtime on Thursday 7 April. Both Pure and Applied Mathematics will feature throughout the meeting. Plans are well advanced. All plenary speakers have been agreed, including four who will be of interest to participants of all backgrounds. Possible morning speakers are under consideration. A detailed draft schedule has been drawn up. Activities will take place in several buildings on the main campus. Accommodation will be provided in halls of residence, some miles away.

  12. Nicholas Young invited the BMC to the University of Newcastle on 10 -13 April 2006. His invitation was accepted by acclamation.

  13. BMC archive.

    Garth Dales appealed to participants for any material, especially programmes, from earlier BMCs that will help complete lists of BMC speakers etc., which were circulated to all participants. The intention is to create a BMC archive, including as many original documents as possible, to be held by the LMS in De Morgan House.

  14. Garth Dales reported on his strenuous, but so far inconclusive, efforts to secure a venue for BMC2007. A venue in the south, or possibly the midlands, of England would be preferred. Several departments had been approached, but all had declined. A difficulty is the provision of moderately priced accommodation, especially now that students hold 40-week tenancies at many universities. Also, departments are reluctant to take on an additional burden at a time when the next RAE will be imminent.

Meeting closed 8.30 pm

Minutes signed by M Mathieu (Chairman), D H Armitage (Secretary), L Halbeisen (Treasurer) (undated).