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S&D Railway Trust and Washford Eviction Notice

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Andy Norman, Feb 24, 2020.

  1. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Looking at another aspect of this problem, given the impact of COVID-19 on the volunteer situation, I would suggest that - if the eviction were indeed to go ahead - the S&DRT might be very hard-pressed to resource the task of dismantling, packing and moving everything by the deadline if much of its volunteer work-force was unavailable. Behind the scenes there is a huge amount of historic material which needs to be handled very carefully so that it is not lost or damaged in a rush to get out (as happened to some extent in the move out of Radstock).

    IMHO it would seem not unreasonable that the whole process should be 'put on hold' for at least 6 months, if not 12, so that it can be addressed properly once the virus problem has eased. There is scope here for the PLC to be seen to be reasonable and initiate a delay without any 'loss of face' or the need to make any immediate decision about rescinding their Notice.
     
  2. D6332found

    D6332found New Member

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    Outsider feels all this is pathetic. The cuckoo in the nest chap sounds more paranoia than reality, and he is in charge? A lot of heritage railways seem to exist in spite of these people, but a silent majority of us enthusiasts won't get involved/donate because of them.
    If it involves lawyers then both sides will suffer, both believing they can win, one of them will lose, and lose everything, like the King Locomotive all over again. Either the railway will actually close, or the S&D trust will need to sell it's 7F. This will be painful and end the society which loses. If its too far gone for trying mediation, which would be the best solution, S&D should decamp to somewhere it owns itself, say at Chilcompton or somewhere it can help rebuild a few miles of S&D, along with the 7F. Costly and hard now, but for the future, a safer option. Why would you want to stay in such a scenario?
     
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  3. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    A scenario that would favour the owner of a GWR loco looking for a contract. Just saying...…..
     
  4. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    It is a bit like the football club chairman who sell the ground to themselves and then charge the club lots of rent

    The one railway argument seems to be very selectively applied. When it suits them fine, but when things are difficult it is all 'nothing to do with us'.
     
  5. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    The shareholders could only do that whilst the company remained solvent. The power of the existing Board and shareholders would end immediately the company became insolvent. The Administrator’s job would be to sell or liquidate in order to pay back as much debt as possible to the creditors, not the shareholders who come last in the queue for crumbs if there’s anything left.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2020
  6. Keith Sims

    Keith Sims Member

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    To change the subject completely for a moment. In these days of working at home etc, is any provision being made for the daily care of the BL cat? She has been a feature of BL for many years now and has been cared for by many platform and office staff. Thank you in anticipation if she is "on the agenda" Keith & Joyce
     
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  7. ghost

    ghost Well-Known Member

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    In which case, if the S&DRT won and was awarded substantial damages (enough to make the plc insolvent), could the S&DRT end up as the default owner of one (or both) of the plcs locos?

    Keith
     
  8. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    Haven’t a clue, it depends what other people offer. Alternatively a rich person might offer to pay the debts in exchange for ....
    But we don’t want to go there! The plc’s lease from the Council might also have conditions which apply in the event of insolvency, it’s a terrible idea.
     
  9. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    Amongst all of this absurd speculation, a lack of understanding.

    We shareholders are not even ‘in the queue’. Our investment is, in effect, a gift. We will never receive any sort of dividend and have no rights of ownership to anything on the Railway.

    What we do get, and what I am very satisfied with, is the knowledge that we are supporting the Railway. Also the opportunity to attend and vote at AGM’s and EGM’s. Some of us also receive travel passes (£2000 worth of shares purchased) or discount vouchers (£100 worth of shares purchased).

    I’m pleased to put the record straight.

    (Edited to correct a typo).
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2020
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  10. FrankC

    FrankC Well-Known Member

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    Julian

    Without wishing to offend your sensitivities, I think it reasonable to ask, what is your status in this debate? Are you, as it were, the proverbial man on the Williton Omnibus, or do you have some more significant connection with any of the organisations referenced (other than your recent S&D membership subscription, which I believe you reported in these columns)? Also, you are making some seemingly very authoritative statements about the legalities of the process involved. Again, is this just "received wisdom" or do you have some actual qualifications, or professional experience, in the field involved? (And, if so, what is it?)

    A response on these two points would enable us to determine what veracity to give to your opinions. By the way, I'm not seeking a five page CV here!

    Thank you.
     
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  11. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Thank you for the clarification. With those privileges come responsibilities; I trust that you are considering how you will exercise those privileges in light of recent events.

    That is both in connection with the timing, nature and manner of the eviction notice, and also considering that the board have put the plc in a position where legal action is a genuine possibility, with the financial and reputational risks that go with it. Specifically, and even without Covid 19, can the plc afford to win, let alone lose, a contested eviction?


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  12. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member

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    Thank you - I agree. The point of my post is to discourage anyone who might be tempted to think plc insolvency could somehow lead to a good outcome. It would not.
     
  13. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    Surely the capital of the PLC is provided by the shareholders, who therefore, as in any company, have the right to vote on the election of the Directors and other matters under the constitution. Whilst you are perfectly entitled to pass up your rights in this respect you can hardly blame others for taking a more involved approach. It is true that there are three major shareholders in the PLC but this does not prevent other shareholders from expressing their opinions if they consider a situation warrants it.

    There are some historical oddities in the organisational structure, in particular the existence of a very large number of tiny shareholdings and the lack of formal representation of both the Association and the Trust on the Board. Hopefully, once we are safely past the present challenges, both financial and medical, the major shareholders could set up a review to consider some options.
     
  14. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    With respect, but that is pure fantasy. If you are referring to the S&DRT at Washford, AFAIK it does not own any land anywhere on ex-S&DJR trackbed. What makes you think that to be the case please? The Trust did not, and AFAIK still does not, have any interest in rebuilding sections of the S&DJR, which is exactly why in the past many of its members 'splintered off' to form the S&DRHT to do exactly that at MSN.

    As regards Chilcompton specifically, it was only about 1 or 2 years ago that a local group tried to get agreement to restore the station site there purely as a local community facility and attraction, with no operational railway - it met strong (and partly mis-informed) local opposition and the idea folded.
     
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  15. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    Like just about everyone on this thread, I don’t know what’s caused the situation at Washford and I think the sensible thing is to wait until we do know rather than engage in endless speculation and ‘fake news’.
     
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  16. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    Perhaps rather than saying you don't know what has happened so you can't talk about it, neither can anybody else and it must be fake news, you should seek a balanced view. The PLC have been clear what they think caused this eviction notice so you know that bit, so to get the other half of the story perhaps you should ring or email the S&DRT Chairman and ask him. Its what I did and I was given an open and transparent reply which then lead me to join the S&DRT. Other people are also doing that and its why I respect @Steve Edge on his welcome return to Nat Pres and his reply recently, he is asking his own questions and drawing his own conclusions. Whilst we all will come up with our own opinions on how this will play out I think most of us come up with the same general answer in that this is not going to end well. Its just a case of how bad it will be?

    On a more strategic level whilst we are all in self isolation and have a bit of time on our hands a re-read of the Coombes Review might be useful, its as relevant in its concerns today re the WSR structure, governance and behaviour as it was back then, it has findings that sets out how generally the WSR has got itself into its overall current position even though it was a WSRA specific review. http://www.wsr.org.uk/wsra-review-report.pdf

    However ultimately I don't think anything we say here will change the outcome now, with the S&DRT standing and fighting a chain of events have been kicked off which will either kill or cure the WSR as a whole (covid-19 or not). I believe the time for 'tinkering around the edges', replacing one or two people, a simple delay (which won't help the S&DRT feel more confident about wanting to stay), a truce or mediation have disappeared in the rear view mirror now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2020
  17. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I agree, its a no win situation, , but brought on by what? is the chairman so powerful no one can say, " Hang on lets look at this" or is he, like the Ex 6, running it like his own company, where no one says no? where he has no objection, and others are too weak to object? or is there a situation where the other groups, are thinking, if we let him do this, it means he isn't turning on us? all in my opinion fair questions to ask given the possible outcome, has the railway made a mistake, and now they cant control the monster they made? corona virus restrictions is going to make the best run railways struggle , some might struggle for years after it, but to wilfully put the future of your railway at risk for what purpose, I have said it before, the WSR, and its support charities, seem to have problems with ensuring those placed in positions of authority are acting in the best interests of its members at times, both because, theres a large amount of distant shareholders and members who , do not take an active interest in the railway they are supports of, or where, that's how the ex 6 managed to gain power and use it for their own ends, and how the WS R plc board might also end up with the wrong people putting personal agenda first,
     
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  18. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    It is a no win situation and also a completely unnecessary situation.
     
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  19. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    That’s fair, and your right. But if I just take official statements in the public domain, I find my conclusions remarkably straightforward to draw. And that’s why I disagree with your conclusion about discussion; obscurity is always to the advantage of those who have something to hide.


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  20. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    It is bad when you have enthusiasts fighting each other and lining lawyers' pockets. I'm mindful of the 6024 dispute, and would have thought that to be a disaster which nobody wants to repeat. Believe me,it doesn't take many hours of lawyers time to bring the Railway to the abyss of insolvency. And yet the WSR plc Board took action that the BL station cat (and we all hope that he is being looked after while the Railway is not operating) would know was bound to lead to litigation. Do JJP and his colleagues really believe that the S&DRT will just move out at their behest, despite there being a 50 year lease?

    And regardless of the legal status of this matter, it was no way to treat people who had been there for 45 years and committed themselves so fully to the site. I have joined the S&DRT, and am very pleased with their Bulletin. I am very reluctant to buy more shares in the WSR plc, while it is run by people who behave in such a way.
     

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