This year, Pedal on Parliament has had to make the difficult decision to become a limited company. To date, we’ve been organised along anarchist collective lines, with decisions taken collectively, and a loose definition of who ‘PoP’ is. Organisers have been paying out-of-pocket to travel to speak to politicians and project organisers, volunteers distributed posters paid for by t-shirt sales, and we have been fortunate that Edinburgh Council have never charged us for road closures and have been OK working with us in our somewhat loose formation. While the current structure has worked thus-far, it was beginning to be unsustainable.
As we looked into expanding this year into other councils, we found we were up against a significant increase in costs — more flyers and posters, sound system hires, and the cost of paying for and organising road closures! Each prior PoP has cost close to £1500 to put on with poster/sound system/flag and web hosting costs and last year we raised £1500 through T-Shirt sales and other donations. By expanding to Glasgow and giving more support to the PoP in Aberdeen, we were clearly going to need to significantly increase the funds we were raising; t-shirts alone weren’t going to cut it this year!
We also had to consider the fact that liabilities could have potentially rebounded on the people at the forefront of organising PoP, who already have enough on their plate. We needed an organisational form that limited the liability of the people involved. Becoming a charity would have restricted our campaigning work – which is our raison d’etre.
Finances and liabilities, taken together, made us realise that our current form was working against us should we have needed to take swift action as an organised group. Therefore we took the decision to become a limited company as the fastest way of getting PoP on a secure and sustainable footing.
None of this means that we are becoming a commercial enterprise – or that the people behind PoP will see a penny of the money donated, other than reimbursement for (receipted) expenses, as our articles of association make clear. Fortunately, as a limited company, we will have to produce annual accounts reported to Companies House, so we can be much more clear and open about where your money goes while still having the freedom to continue our political lobbying. When we started PoP, we thought we were organising a one-off flash mob, not forming a national cycle campaign for Scotland. Inevitably, we have suffered growing pains as we adjust. We hope that this new format will free us to continue to be a voice for everyone in Scotland who wants to cycle. And we welcome anyone who wants to help to come on board.
We want to thank you for your support to keep running the family-friendly protests that PoP stands for!