All eight league clubs were represented at the 2011 annual general meeting at Swindon which once again proved to be a very positive meeting.
Dave Murphy was returned as Chairman and will double up as the regions' representative on the Cycle Speedway Commission. Rob Absolum had previously indicated his intention to stand down from the position of secretary but has agreed to an interim extension until such time as a new postholder is recruited. Andy Collett will continue to combine the jobs of treasurer and league recorder and Rob Carter continues to oversee competitions.
The 2011 season feedback from all clubs quickly found its way onto the white board and it was soon apparent that changes to the second and third tiers of league racing were being sought together with another look at the annually contentious rider grading system. There was unanimous support from clubs to upgrade the current combination division from a four-a-side, 8 heat event to a full 6+2 rider 12 heat match which will be titled Division 2. Changes to the Conference will see a reduction from 15 heats to 12 and a reduction in the age restriction from U18 to U16, with the U18 limit retained for girls. Once again teams will be 6+2.
Division 1 will continue unchanged with East Newport, Exeter, Hellingly, Horspath, Newport, Poole, Southampton and Swindon competing. Entries for Division 2 and the Junior Conference will be confirmed later. It is hoped that the new Division 2 will be an ideal entry point for clubs such as Filton and developments such as Weymouth where a site for the new track has now been confirmed.
Another significant change sees the Gold Cup become an end of season play-off style event featuring the top three clubs in the league table battling for the trophy using the highly popular three team formula which was used 12 months ago for the 2010 league play-offs. Non-elite/Premier clubs will once again contest the Rose Bowl at Swindon and the Individual Riders Championships for seniors and under 16’s will be at Southampton. The South West Best Pairs will double up with the Girls Individual Championship and staged at Poole.
The running sequence for the region's 2012 league will be round 1 – Newport, round 2 - East Newport, round 3 – Swindon, round 4 – Poole, round 5 – Southampton, round 6 - Exeter with the final at Horspath. The South West venues for the BYJL National Round will be Exeter for the Junior U12 divisions and Filton for the over 12's.
Clubs have been tasked to go away and submit their proposals for the vexed subject of gradings in time for the pre-season planning meeting on January 15. In closing the meeting, Dave Murphy acknowledged the importance of harmony and cooperation which all clubs agreed had been the most valuable feature of the past season.