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Lynton and Barnstaple - Operations and Development

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by 50044 Exeter, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. Breva

    Breva Well-Known Member

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    Lovely gala today.

    IMG_20220515_111758251.jpg
    What was the name of that station again...?
     
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  2. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    I would agree, especially with Q3, something which I too have already expressed concern about as I feel that the wording, and the impression of being 'oven ready' (to quote our PM!) all bar the money, could leave us open to suggestions of being 'economical' with the facts and perhaps misleading possible donors.

    Sadly I too was not able to get the AGM to ask about this in person. Unfortunately owing to injury I've been shunted into the 'cripple siding' for the time being and not able to get about as much as I would like <grrrr>. Far too much to do to be stuck in enforced idleness :-(
     
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  3. Tobbes

    Tobbes Member

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    Hope you're feeling better soon, @RailWest !
     
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  4. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    So do I, thanks - I'm suffering from severe steam deficiency brought on by inability to get to any heritage railways ! And if/when I'm a lot better, then no doubt there will be a long list of outstanding 'house jobs' thrust under my nose by the Stationmistress :)
     
  5. Meatman

    Meatman Member

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    In all honesty you didn't miss anything at the AGM, in fact Laurel and Hardy themselves could have run it better, considering the trust are in charge of an apparently successful enterprise with multi million pound assets if you were to judge them on the conduct of the AGM you would wonder if they were capable of extending a model railway, let alone the real thing, they couldn't even put up a projector screen without cocking it up, there was a recount of some votes as there was only one vote between two candidates so we had to amuse ourselves in the interim, there was no attempt by the trustees to interact with us during this time apart from auctioning a couple of nameplates and a whip around for van 23, the results of the recount were announced and there were then 3 votes in it so it was decided to find someone independent to take the papers away and count them privately which will be announced asap on the members page, there was a presentation for the future planning route but this was a repeat/update from last years AGM and the members forum so nothing really new
     
  6. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    Thanks for the update. We will await the outcome of the election with interest - it's probably best to have the votes counted by someone independent. Counting votes when the vote is a 'up to 3 from 4' can't be easy - quite common in local elections though. Probably not a lot changed since the last AGM which was delayed - although the S73 application has now been submitted.
     
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  7. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    I am reminded somewhat of a situation which occurred at a General Meeting elsewhere a few years ago where there were some 'crucial' votes.

    There were two tellers appointed, one of whom went down the LH side of the hall, the other down the RH side. There were about a dozen rows of seats, about 12 across, divided into two blocks of 6 wide by a central passageway gap. After the initial count - and recount - produced strange results, it transpired that one teller was counting the whole width of 12 seats, the other only the 6 on their side of the central gap :-(

    Another problem IIRC was that anyone acting as a proxy, as well as voting in their own right, had to put two hands up - one for their own vote and one for the proxy. Problem was, some people were proxies for joint family members, who had two votes, so really they needed three hands!
     
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  8. Michael B

    Michael B New Member

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    I agree. I have attended every AGM going way back, but not the last decade because of illness and other matters. I thought I would go this time as I was down for the gala. I arranged lifts to and from as I no longer drive. I was interested to see how the conduct of the AGMs would have changed compare with 2011. It seemed to me to be less personal and more of an occasion to satisfy statutory requirements. There were no tables I could see for small displays, and no awards, or presentations, such as what had gone on in the previous twelve months. The tellers had to count 500 or so voting papers more than once in what appeared to be a shelf in the main hall while everybody chatted amongst themselves. No wonder that when the votes were counted with 300 or so votes for each and the bottom two were within one of each other and a voice from the floor suggested that those circumstances demanded a recount it was found that they were 3 adrift on the recount. Mervyn had to take a nine inch pile of voting papers back to his kitchen. This is clearly totally unacceptable and in my opinion, should have been anticipated and the arrangements for counts thought through.

    The meetings were very formal with the agenda snapped through at almost indecent haste. As an example, at the Trust AGM, an agenda item was announced and questions invited from the floor; one person from the audience spoke and was answered, and then, without looking up at the audience to see if there were any further questions/comments, on we were to the next item. I was about to ask for a little information on the nearly £500,000 legacy income received during the year, almost all to restricted funds. I was not interested necessarily who the bequests had came from, but I would like to have had an indication what the donor(s) wanted the money spent on, as I couldn't see any mention in the accounts. There are obviously statutory disclosures, but surely there is a justification for brief explanations to explain large one-off items or where there is a major disparity between a figure for the current year and the comparative (i.e last year's figure) I am writing as a former accountant (retired, mercifully not black-balled) part of whose job it was to make sure the accounts gave adequate explanations where justified as well as complying with the law and accounting standards. After all, only a small proportion of members receiving the accounts will be able or wish to attend the meetings and therefore have the opportunity to ask. I would have thought a half a million pound legacy (or combination of legacies) in one year was as much interest to the audience as say, when creditors and loans are due to be paid or repaid. I have queried this at AGMs over 10 years ago about specific items when the reporting accountant responsible for compiling the statements attended the meetings and got no indication that they felt that explanations should have been given to prevent me asking something to clarify the accounting statements. So I would encourage the Trustees to request that the notes to the accounts be expanded where necessary where explanation is warranted. But all in all some thought needs to be given to the conduct of the meeting - most obviously whether the meetings should have to twiddle their thumbs while the tellers count several hundred multiple-vote ballot papers.

    There was a explanation of the Section 73 application with a projector, but even after the farce of putting up the screen to project it on, the audience had to ask for the projector to point the image at the top so that people could see the images above peoples' heads. Frankly all very amateur. As someone has pointed out we now have multi-million pound operations and someone needs to get a grip on organising it professionally, as would the case at any public company meeting. The speaker had clearly prepared for brickbats, but when asked why 'this' wasn't done 4 years ago the question came back 'are you sorry it's being done now ?' That wouldn't happen at a public company meeting either.

    Not good, and the lack of apparent desire for audience participation was noticeable.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2022
  9. Tobbes

    Tobbes Member

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    Thank you, @Michael B . Was there any explanation of what happens if the s73 amendment is not agreed by ENPA? Was there any sort of timetable for the TWAO application? Or clarity on what happens if there has to be a public enquiry (inevitable, I assume) on the existing ENPA planning permission?

    I appreciate just how complex this is and am grateful to all involved for the amount of time and effort committed to it, but these are entirely reasonable - and predictable - questions which should be straightforward to answer, even if the answer is something like this:

    "We're going down the s73 route in order to start construction and begin to realise the benefits of a longer railway for all our stakeholders across North Devon. In parallel, the TWAO application will be submitted by [1 July or whatever]. We expect a TWAO public enquiry which risks timing out the ENPA planning permission, and so if this is the case, we will also ask for an extension of time for the TWAO process to complete, as the TWAO CP powers will need to be granted in order to fulfil the Grampian Conditions of the original ENPA permissions. We are also applying for grants and fundraising for the [£10m or so] required to build Phase II in a single go if the s73 route is unsucessful, as we are fully committed to meeting the Grampian Conditions that ENPA required."
     
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  10. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    I suspect that the majority of votes were posted in in advance of the meeting - If these had been counted prior to the meeting it could have speeded up the process. However, with a close result a recount was always on the cards. I suppose you could ask that all votes be cast in advance. I am not sure what the answer is.

    I did raise a couple of queries on the accounts in advance of the meeting and received a satisfactory explanation. I would agree though that the notes need to be expanded.
     
  11. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Good to get some detailed feedback, but sounds like you might be giving the AGM 'null point' next year :)

    Seriously though, from the general tone of comments so far - and I appreciate that there have not been many yet - members do seem to be somewhat underwhelmed by what they saw and heard. Far removed from the positive gung-ho that one might have hoped for from an audience who - by the time of the next AGM - ought to 'fired up' ready to see work finally start on at least Bridge 65 if nothing else in order to secure the ENPA permission.
     
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  12. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    It seems to me that there are a number of key inter-dependant time-critical concurrent processes in play at the moment, namely the time-limit on the ENPA permission, the TWAO and the Sec73 Application (and maybe others). IMHO it is quite clear that there needs to be a Plan 'B' to salvage at least something in the event that any of the former go belly-up in the near future.
    Now quite clearly, for various reasons, the Board may wish/need to keep the details of such a plan close to their corporate chest until such time as it might be needed, but it would be comforting at least to have confirmation from them that there is such a plan up their corporate sleeves - the current silence and apparent reluctance to discuss such a scenario does not help to inspire confidence.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2022
  13. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    Agreed. In my view the current appeal for funds is a positive. If the Board can go to ENPA prior to the decision and say we have raised £x towards the cost [or hopefully the whole amount] then at least one of the current conditions [having funds in place] can be met. In addition, starting work in earnest on the extension is good for the TWAO since it shows that the railway is serious. I think that part of the problem is that the local objectors have little concept about Heritage railways and how they are funded - so they say that they are concerned that the railway will run out of funding before it is completed. It is difficult to anticipate how the S73 application will go - but the Board seem to have taken pre-application advice so there must be an element of confidience. Lets not forget, from a planning prospective, that re-instatement of the railway is in the local plan of both ENPA and NDC so in theory a planning application should be successful and that any conditions ought to be capable of being met.
     
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  14. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    That's appalling. Who was this "speaker" please, Michael?
    In the meantime, thanks for your fulsome account. It certainly sounds nothing like a Bluebell agm, which tend to be a lot more open and are generally speaking, 2-way affairs. This sounds more like an old fashioned schoolroom, with its brusque, didactic approach.
    On the subject of the legacy, the impression gained from the Parracombe leaflet was that these funds (presuming that it is the same legacy) are earmarked for the extension. That at least would pay for Killington Lane bridge.
     
  15. Michael B

    Michael B New Member

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    I am hard of hearing, even with both ear trumpets installed, but I think that it was said that if the ENP application (timed for 2 August but might be delayed as is sometimes the case), fails, they will carry on with the extension. Nothing more said, and I dont recall the TWOA being mentioned, but I stand to be corrected on both counts by someone with better ears. The emphasis on the 'slides' was that a wish to do this thing in phases rather than in one go. And the Blackmoor - Parracombe stretch will come last - after the Blackmoor - Wistlandpound phase. So it is planned to have two operating bits of railway until the gap is closed. Peter Miles was interviewed (or communicated with) for a double page spread at the beginning of this month's Trackside Magazine which is on the Appeal for £1.65m, of which, if I understood what was said at the meeting correctly, the £400,000 and odd legacy(ies) goes towards it, so a need for £1.2m (although the article doesn't mention that). The Trackside article says the £1.65m will fund Bridge 65 and excavation of the cuttings, track, fencing and a platform at Parracombe. Quote from the article 'The LBRT says that should the appeal be rejected, the funds would be retained to progress the extension by alternative means, such as focusing on trackbed and west of Blackmoor to Wistlandpound'. The phase for the 2.5 miles to Blackmoor is estimated at £8m. The £1.5m section to Wistlandpound is proposed to reopen by March 2025.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2022
  16. Michael B

    Michael B New Member

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    The presentation with a digital projector was by John Barton, Charles Summers chaired the Trust meeting as Peter Miles was standing for re-election. Peter Miles and one of the Snatchells were re-elected on the basis of the numbers of votes. The other Mr Snatchell and Mr Whiteacre had less but votes near to each other with around 326/7 votes on the first count for the third post and the choice between them awaits the outcome of the recount being done by Mervyn (and maybe the tellers)
     
  17. Michael B

    Michael B New Member

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    Correction - I thought he said 'are you sorry it's being done now ?
     
  18. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Did anyone explain HOW they propose to support, maintain and staff two discrete sections of line, especially without the Depot at Blackmoor?

    And if the Sec 73 fails and they miss the March 2023 date, how will they build KL to Parracombe anyway, let alone Parracombe to Blackmoor? Either something has been 'lost in translation' here, or do I detect an element of 'wishful thinking'?
     
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  19. Tobbes

    Tobbes Member

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    I'm glad it's not just me who is confused by this. This would appear to double the overheads for.... what? I get that the trackbed reconstruction may well not run precisely north to south (the WHR didn't, for instance), but I don't understand what is gained from two separate operating sections.

    I really hope not. But without clarity, it's very hard to tell. And the kicker is that EA are also looking for additional funding for trackbed purchase south of Wistlandpound, and to some level at least, they're competing for the same pool of contributors/number of pounds; folk will vote with their wallets.
     
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  20. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    I could be wrong but I thought that part of the S73 application is to enable work to start on the Depot at Blackmoor.
    If the S73 fails then they won't be able to build KL to Parracombe. If they can do it 'anyway' then they don't need the S73.
     

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