The CIPHE 2020 AGM in brief

New CIPHE president Mel Gumbs spoke at the AGM

The CIPHE AGM, on 19 June, was held via Zoom and had 93 people logging in from across the world including Hong Kong, Australia, Abu Dhabi, the Philippines and Ireland.

We’d have loved to have held the event as planned in London but the risk to members was too high. That said, the CIPHE team worked hard to prepare and were pleased by how well it went.

There will be some learning from this, not least how we can make more use of technology like video conferencing in future. A benefit was that our members in Hong Kong and elsewhere were able to join in directly for the first time.

Proposers and seconders for motions were sought by ‘a raised hands’ button and questions were logged using the chat function. Issues like approval of the trustees’ report were decided by online polls among those present.

Stepping down

Retiring president Chris Northey, CEng FCGI FCIPHE RP, shared a review of his contribution over the last year and some of the Institute’s achievements.

He said: “The CIPHE’s current membership comprises over 7,000 individuals, including consultants, specifiers, designers, public health engineers, lecturers, trainers, trainees and practitioners, covering the full breadth and depth of the plumbing and heating industry.

“I believe that CIPHE regional branches remain vital to strengthening the future of the Institute. With this in mind, it is a pleasure to speak today with representatives of Hong Kong branch in attendance – a fantastic model that all our branches should look to for inspiration. Relationships established via branches are a key element of what makes the CIPHE the Professional Body it is.”

Looking to the future, he also stressed the importance of training and apprenticeships: “We must continue to encourage young people into our great industry and give them opportunities for career progression that will secure the industry’s future.”

Stepping up

Taking over from Chris Northey, our president for 2020-21 will be Melville Gumbs EngTech MCIPHE RP, who has been a member for 44 years. He set out his priorities in his acceptance speech.

He said: “The main goal I would like to attain is to see the membership grow so that the guys you see at the merchants are also members.”

He said it was vital that the CIPHE continued to be on the frontline of the COVID-19 response: “In the space of four months, life across the world has changed and we have all had to adapt to a different way of living. Plumbers are looking for leadership and I am delighted that the CIPHE has taken a lead. I will use my experiences on the job to help guide CIPHE priorities as we continue to adapt to this new world.”

He also wants members to prepare for a very different future and be ready for the low-carbon agenda.

“Change is coming with the end of fossil fuels and greener solutions. Future homes are going to need a dedicated plant room to house cylinders, buffer tanks, plate heat exchangers, mains fed pumps to boost pressure and all the different pipework required,” he said.

“This means a rethink about our knowledge and skill levels. We must be prepared to access training through manufacturers, training companies, and bodies such as the Institute.”

He also thanked his local branch for their support: “I would like to thank the committee of the Surrey Branch and especially Rodney Cartwright for all the personal support they have given me and all the members who voted for me.”

Chief executive officer’s report

Our chief executive office, Kevin Wellman, was unable to attend so our membership director, Tim Sainty, shared his update, highlighting our key 2019 activities

We’ve been working hard across a range of safety issues including scalding and legionella. We don’t shirk in acting against those members who don’t uphold our values. We dealt with 17 complaints and as a result four individuals were removed from the CIPHE for failing to meet standards.

Work to professionalise the industry has been boosted with 36 Engineering Technicians added to the register and four master plumbers appointed.


The technical team has been busy, with 43 CPD tools created and 254 technical support calls responded to. We visited more than 40 colleges and training centres and promoted bursaries to help new entrants to the industry.

A big part of our year was promoting the Trailblazer apprenticeship and we’re also working with the Welsh government to support the development of technology in the industry.

Low carbon

We have a technical strategy group, working with government, which led the CIPHE’s review of our low-carbon strategy. It is now developing training guidance to support members through the transition to low-carbon heating and hot water systems.

Rogue traders

Our focus on competency has been a key part of our post-Grenfell activity and will continue as we come out of the COVID-19 crisis. The emergence of poorly-trained traders has happened in recessions before and we are raising this issue with government and the industry.


The CIPHE could not hide from this and received support from the government to deal with issues like changing regulations and managing disputes.


We have made significant progress to enhance the offer to existing members and recruit new people. We have reduced the average age of our memberships and developed direct benefits such as the legal support service. We are overhauling our online offering to bring us right up to date.

Hong Kong

We were delighted our members in Hong Kong could join us – they have had a stellar year with an 11% growth in membership, frequent events and activities and high quality CPD.

A big, big thank you

We are making huge gains – the CIPHE team has worked incredibly hard. But we also owe a big thank you to our trustees and volunteers: your commitment and enthusiasm has challenged, motivated and inspired us to progress.

We thank you all for your membership and commitment to our shared goals. We might have been ‘virtual’ for the AGM but some things don’t change: we are a membership organisation and we couldn’t do it without you.

Find out more:

If you couldn’t be around on the day, you can still see the AGM here.

Any questions?

Contact Tim Sainty if you have any enquiries regarding your CIPHE member benefits.

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