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Lynton and Barnstaple - Operations and Development

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

  1. Biermeister

    Biermeister Member

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    What is it then?
     
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  2. DaveE

    DaveE Member

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    Good morning Toby, a quick reply while watching the sun rise over the bay at Lynton and before another day at Woody Bay working on Carriage 17. (Which I will just add is now back in serviceable condition with one sorry looking frame successfully restored and ready for paint!).

    Taking your points in turn.

    (I), Cost. I should imagine reinstating BG to WLP would actually cost more where we are practically starting from zero. Platforms need to be created at both ends, a compound created for works, all signalling needs to be done, I dare say drainage, nearly a mile of ballast either lifted and washed plus new for top dressing or new throughout, provision for public conveniences, and that's without any issues needing to be resolved with power supplies, etc etc.
    With CFL we are only extending what we already have once KL bridge is done.

    (ii), I believe this is being resolved. As it could involve other landowners perhaps quite rightly this is being dealt with in confidence.

    (iii), as our line speed is low we can have narrow platforms.

    (iv), the extra work (and fill) isn't an overall loss. Big Bank will require fill at a later date. The fill at CFL could be moved to Big Bank, by rail, and thus as I understand it not requiring movement permits by road and would be within any planning permissions given. In some ways CFL could be seen as a store of fill for that later extension. We don't know if KL will need to be dismantled yet, although in the past it was a requirement, will it still be necessary, only the ENPA can answer that one in their Pre-application negotiations under privilege.

    (v), These are things the marketing guys at WB will be exploring I expect. None of us here have the details or figures to be able to work that one out.

    (vi), Things change, attitudes, rules, laws and practices change, we already know the ENPA must be agreeable otherwise they would have said otherwise in pre-application negotiations and we would be at a stand still with planning progress. The reluctance to Salami slice is from a fair time ago now and may no longer be policy or in any guidance they use.

    Many of the questions asked are those which would be asked in Pre-application negotiations, and which are under privilege, and as such, at the moment, we won't know the answers to until any finalised negotiated application is presented to the ENPA. If we break that privilege with the ENPA it's almost certain any good relationship we have built with them will be lost instantly.

    Unfortunately this is very much where the worlds of business and a membership charity clash.
     
  3. Meatman

    Meatman Member

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    With all due respect, has it occurred to you and the original poster that the question that was asked at the meeting, and i was there, was from a new member who hasn't got the background information on the original planning and subsequent S73 attempt so they didn't actually know the situation at Parracombe, it wasn't a stupid question, , it wasn't that they didn't listen to an answer, they simply didn't know that the land owner on the far side of PH isn't willing to sell, likewise the person who talked of a level crossing rather than a bridge obviously wasn't aware of the land levels around Killington Lane or the views of the ORR concerning level crossings, there are many members who don't know anything about the topography of the route of this line or are new to heritage rail full stop, i think quite recently i posted a screen shot for yourself to understand Hole Ground, that cant be done at an AGM where John Barton tried to do an off the cuff talk to fill in the boredom of waiting for the results of the trust voting
     
  4. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I disagree. There is a lot of the detail there that won’t need sharing, but principles and outlines can almost all be shared - confidentiality is rarely that absolute.

    More importantly, some of the questions (notably about economics and fill) are fundamental to understanding the risks and benefits of the project. That’s information that members and supporters deserve to have shared with them, not be told that it’s not for the likes of them. With that in mind, I found the voting figures interesting - they don’t suggest strong support for the established leadership.

    I read the latest Newsletter over the weekend. It presents a positive outlook and expresses the hope that politics are behind us. I’d love that to be right; I look forward to seeing and hearing of a board that engages with members and doesn’t try to close down debate. Unfortunately, reading accounts of board behaviour from Saturday’s AGM, I won’t hold my breath.


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  5. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    Thanks for your insight into what actually happened at the AGM. It is a pity that the person who attempted to answer the question didn't realise that these were new members with limited knowledge of the history and regulations.
    Maybe for future something should prepared for the period whilst voting results are worked out.

    PS - Thanks for the insight into Hole Ground
     
  6. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    Thanks for your insight. In a way it is a pity that the meeting can't be streamed so that we can observe what happens first hand. Maybe streaming the meeting might have a positive effect on the conduct of the meeting. I am a member of another Railway society who have their AGM in around a week and have been sent a link so that I can attend remotely.
    With regard to the election - most of us "remote" members only have the 'candidate statements' to base our decisions on - in addition many of the candidates post to various forums and this can provide a further insight. I looked at this carefully and made my mind up prior to receiving the voting papers. Hopefully the unsuccesful candidate you mentioned will stand again next year.
     
  7. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    As has been mentioned before, in theory at least - once we extend south of KL - then the KL station site has to be abandoned and returned to its previous owner and condition.

    Now, it may well be that that the ENPA does decide to allow us to keep KL even if we extend to CFL, but in that case IMHO there are a number of questions which - as yet - appear not to have been addressed in any communication from the Board. If we keep KL, then how do we use it, given that - on the basis of the current layout and location - any trains calling at KL would have to run into and then back out again of a dead-end?

    In such a case IMHO it would make more sense - both practically and operationally - to relocate the platform and waiting shelter from its current location to a new site adjacent to the new running line (assuming for the sake of discussion that the cutting could be made wide enough), leaving the former station site simply as additional siding space. But then we must ask ourselves - what use would such a get anyway? After all, KL exists only because it is the current terminus - once that situation changes how many people would want to get off/on a train there rather than simply going all the way to CFL instead?

    I would hope that the Board has given thought to such matters already in their discussions about extending to CFL, but if so then why have they not made even the briefest of mentions of it in any of their news so far? Surely there can be nothing confidential/'need to know' about the future of KL that prevents it being discussed currently?
     
  8. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Streaming would be an excellent idea. So would expanding the meeting to allow both formal business and wider discussion of the Trust, CIC and their plans. That the time allowed for the meeting is so short, and the conduct from the top table so open to criticism, suggests that the underlying issues aren't really about behaviour, but something deeper about the view of the (previous?) Trust board of ordinary member.

    I did attend the Exmoor Associates/Yeo Valley Trust meeting on Saturday morning. Arriving about an hour into proceedings, I realised (a) that I'd missed a lot of content and (b) that there was still a lot to enjoy; I didn't leave Goodleigh Village Hall until about 2 hours later, much enlightened, and feeling very welcome. One interesting side discussion was raised about the seeming contradiction between the noise about democracy at Woody Bay, compared to the nature of the EA/YVT governance. Driving home later, I reflected on this - and the very different attitudes to inclusion of the two organisations.
     
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  9. Tobbes

    Tobbes Member

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    Hi @DaveE

    "I should imagine" is not the same as "is", @DaveE - and that's precisely the point. You may be right or you may be wrong, but until we do a proper options analysis we won't know - and this is a lot of money (I hear £1.5m or so) which we can't afford to invest in the wrong scheme. Measure twice, cut once.

    Ah yes, the usual "it's all commercially confidential" bo11ocks from the Trust. It should be a matter of public record who owns Cricket Field Lane, and the Trust can say "we believe X, Y and Z and are in discussions". Instead, the usual unhelpful behaviour abounds.

    Which is not an answer to the question I asked: but you seem to be agreeing that the proposed platform is narrower than our own engineering standards, and as Anne Belsey has said on Exmoor-NG, this raises questions about wheelchair access.

    The point here is not that someone is right or that someone is wrong. We all want the railway to be reinstated to the fullest possible extent; but this doesn't happen by bodging things, and we can and should do better.

    Again, complete speculation: is the fill the right type to rebuild the bank? Are you now proposing to build the section from south of CFL to the north side of the bank first and if so, how - where is the site base and place for recieving and dispatching materials? What will ENPA require? What's our plan B? None of this should be secret - it is precisely the secrecy and cack-handed approach to the s73 proposals that were so damaging.

    Indeed, which is precisely why they should be being shared to demonstrate that there's a financial case for doing this to support the (apparently difficult) engineering case. This is exactly what good project management puts out there so that we can build support based on evidence rather than allowing our opponents to monopolise the narrative with their figures. If our financial figures are as robust as they should be, then we'd be the first to share them - making the silence and secrecy a bad thing.

    Which laws, policies and practices have changed Dave? I can't think of any - please enlighten me.

    You would have thought that the best way to destroy a relationship with ENPA was to lie about their role in the s73 fiasco and blame them for something that was our fault.... and this canard of 'it's all privelidged' is ridiculous when there are things that can be said - like "when did we meet them?" "how many meetings have we had?" "what steps for consultation with the people of Parracombe are we taking" -- all of which are by definition not privelidged.
     
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  10. Meatman

    Meatman Member

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    I might be having a moment and forgive me if I have missed any comment on a point but if CFL is ever realised how could the fill that @DaveE mentions be used for Parracombe Bank without KL being kept and it's rent will have to be paid for it not being in use! As you say once the railway extends beyond KL it has to be removed so if that is correct the railway will have to cease to operate whilst CFL is removed to create Parracombe Bank, as I see it the railway will have to be built back from Rowley to connect at CFL with minimal disruption, therefore Parracombe Bank will already have been built so the CFL fill will be surplus to requirement
     
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  11. Michael B

    Michael B Member

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    This is an inescapable conclusion from looking at the Blackmoor Co. accounts for 2023, which of course nobody sees unless they are a shareholder in that Company. I did not see the relative importance of buying OSHI when I learnt of the unaffordable price being asked, so did not subscribe, but 2 kind gentlemen have sent me a copy of these accounts which were presented to shareholders at their meeting yesterday. There was no reason not to walk away from this purchase when the price was quoted and wait until the owners' decision to retire whereupon there would be competition to buy it from potential pub operators. These 2023 accounts showing a profit of £8,290 from 8 months trading (including the summer season) on an investment in the business of nearly £1.9m is hardly an inducement to want to buy it in a situation where that profit benefitted from interest receivable of £13,000 dating back to early 2023 when there was over £1.5m in the bank waiting for the purchase. Meanwhile plans could be adjusted to a temporary terminus north of the BMG cross-roads where a depot is envisaged anyway. Admitted there would be a problem for passengers having to cross a busy road from the car park on the old hotel site. But deferring the cost of a tunnel under the cross-roads for the railway which will clearly be a large expense. I would refer to my posting 13439 on p672. In summary, the accounts both of the Trust and the Blackmoor Co. show that the Trust has invested unsecured in the Blackmoor Co. £648,000 at last December. Since when a further £40,000 of shares has been allotted by the Blackmoor Co. - eventually we shall discover who to when this is disclosed. This investment included the £250,000 loan, £25,000 since repaid as part of the annual repayment arrangement, made by the simple expedient of issuing shares to the Trust - £170,000 in 2023. It seems likely the plan is to pay off the whole of the loan in this way rather than in cash. The charge registered at Companies House shows that the other loan is secured on the property, and the Blackmoor accounts for 2023 up to 31 December Co. show that this stood at £379,000 is repayable by the end of 2025. In fact £101,333 of this sum is repayable by the end of this year or on demand. How is this money going to be raised with a barely profitable business. ? I understand the 6-bedroomed house might be worth £400,000, shortly planned to be vacated (?). If it is required to sell it to repay the loan there will be no volunteers hostel when the line comes to be rebuilt. This situation has a direct bearing on the future of the Trust and its plans for extension in view of heavy investment. And this in a situation where it appears to me the Pub requires urgent (and expensive) attention to its roof (see picture this morning below), it was poor 15 years ago when I surveyed it for drawings purposes, and the Gents is out of order - customers are directed to the disabled facilities, and has missing paintwork which is tatty and in need of repainting, hardly giving customers a good impression.
     

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  12. martin1656

    martin1656 Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    The Railway should not even be thinking about extending the current length of line, until the land is secured, surely that has to be the number 1 priority, and start with the other end of Woody Bay, to the next viable site, before thinking of going in the Paracoombe direction, to ensure you still have an operating railway, The Trustees have to realise they need to work with the entire L&B family, not go it alone, there have been far too many cases of empire building, and wanting total control, that has to stop,
    The only way forward is to separate the land acquisition, and civil engineering from the operational side of things and that includes the shares held in the inn, Exmoor associates should be solely responsible for land purchase, and the maintenance of the sites once purchased, very much how things have been done with the RVR, with the L&B trust, operating the active side of things, and supplying work parties, and of course once sections of land are acquired, then extensions can be planned, but they have to be planned, not done ad hoc,
     
  13. Michael B

    Michael B Member

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    A closer view of the tiles blown off the gable and showing the weather worn paintwork on the barge board etc. This needs a scaffolding job to catch up with years of arrears of maintenance.
     

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  14. Isambard!

    Isambard! New Member

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    I don’t know what your experience of the 'world of business' is, but mine is that degree of secrecy seen here is quite remarkable.

    A guy who I was in business with many years ago once said that there were two reasons for excess secrecy - either they have something exceptionally rare & valuable or they don't know what they are doing - the latter being more common.

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  15. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    My experience in the 'world of business' is that there needs to be confidientiality - so I don't find what the L and B are doing as unusual or excessive. It does worry me that documents which are clearly company confidiential are leaked and posted freely on open forums.
     
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  16. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    For certain aspects, yes. For the vast majority of discussions, ideas, proposals, happenings....no.
     
  17. Miff

    Miff Part of the furniture Friend

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    Whilst there's no doubting that EA/YVT are currently managed in a much more open and inclusive style than L&B Trust their constitutions are far from democratic, the only way to become a Director/Trustee is by invitation of the current board. That's probably fine whilst these organisations are largely run by their original founders, or people very close to them, keeping true to their original vision. But will it stay that good in the long term?

    I'm not necessarily advocating that all preservation organisations should be governed by a direct membership democracy*, but all of them should give thought to succession planning including how the founding-vision should continue (or move with the times?) after the founders have gone, without falling victim to a group-think or bunker mentality.

    *Some of the most successful are far from democratic e.g. Ffestiniog yet the best of them do not seem to take the support of their members and funders for granted and seem to be good at attracting new supporters as well as keeping the old ones.
     
  18. Michael B

    Michael B Member

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    I seem to recall that Mr Pegler set up the Festiniog acquisition knowing full well he was depriving the Society of control, but as has been implied, perhaps he was thinking in the long term when the Officers then in place might be replaced by people with different attitudes. The FR may not be currently taking the FRS members for granted, but some with long memories will recall this has not always been the case with the Welsh Highland saga, scrapping historical coaches and infrastructure. Can it be imagined that the Long Shed at Boston Lodge, damaged in a gale, would be demolished if it happened now ? So things go in phases. We have to hope that the current phase at the L & B will be short lived or many people will walk away and the project will die. The CVs of the new influx of Trustees give cause for hope that things will change before it is too late. Or we are doomed.
     
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  19. Meatman

    Meatman Member

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    EA was set up as a private company limited by shares and as such directors were and are self appointing, with that knowledge in mind many people have invested in EA over the years, the YVT has been running for many years but as an unregistered charity due to its income being below £5k, the purchase of BFS changed many things so it was decided to convert EA into a CIC and the YVT was starting to receive more donations so had to be registered, this process took around 18-24 months and it was eventually set up as a CIO as part of the requirements of the Charities Commission, it relies totally on donations and legacies. Incidentally, EA have previously asked shareholders at meetings if any of them would be interested in becoming directors. Also last year a vote was overwhelmingly supported by the shareholders to lock the two groups together, there are 4 shared trustee's / directors with two different chairmen
     
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  20. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I agree - political scientists increasingly look at "democracy" as being about much more than there being free and fair elections.
     
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