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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. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Especially common these days as sensitivity over personal data like home addresses increases.
     
  2. 32110

    32110 Member

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  3. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Ah, ok then. It all looks a bit opaque to me.
     
  4. DavidH

    DavidH New Member

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    Unless you do a bit of research you can't tell from the companies house list how many of those companies are particularly active - seems to me that when the chap in question starts a new venture (e.g. buys a loco) he starts a new company to own it. That way the assets of one can't be grabbed should another go under. (Unless I have seriously misunderstood how limited companies work.) I can't see anything wrong in that. Good to see that the registered addresses are in the UK.

    But, is this discussion of the chairman's other interests really pertinent to the eviction?
     
  5. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Isn’t one of the questions as to why the WSR is so keen to evict the S&DRT and what they plan to do with the Washford site.

    Obviously it is a conspiracy theory to think that someone with a lot of other activities such as locomotives, or buses, wants the site for themselves and in no way shape or form are the other business interests of the chairman driving the agenda of the plc with regard to the eviction of the S&DRT.
     
  6. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    Yes
     
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  7. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    ...not forgetting of course that Highbridge (and its S&DJR loco works etc) is not that much further away and there is probably more of the products of those works at Washford than anything related to Burnham.

    As a 'random thought'.....

    The S&DRHT have their site at MSN on the 'Bath Extension'. The NDRT have their site at Shillingstone on the former DCR. There is no equivalent 'preservation site' anywhere on the former SCR. Part of that problem may be that, apart from perhaps Glastonbury or Wells, there is nowhere really on the SCR that has the 'tourist appeal' to bring in the visitors.

    The Highbridge Works site of course has now been redeveloped, but even so might there not be some scope for the HPC fund to be used to create something for the S&DRT in that area, should they need to leave? Could be a useful task for the WSR's own HPC-funded Co-ordinator :)
     
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  8. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    Yes, the trips were educational in nature as well as just a good day out for the kids. The S&DRT were a supporter of the HPC application in both giving a letter of support to the bid saying they wanted to be involved and would make their site available (for no cost) and hosted the HPC Funding Managers line visit when she and I stopped at Washford during her tour. They kindly opened up specially, provided two people and showed her around the site. She was impressed with the works and the museum.

    In real terms Washford could/would have played a part of the overall WSR experience for people coming to the WSR as a part of the project, the WSR would have received the ticket money and the S&DRT would have played their part at no cost to the people or the WSR. This is just another reason that people saying the S&DRT don't pay their way and contribute nothing 'grinds my gears'.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2020
  9. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Thanks. Is it considered good or best practice?
     
  10. simon

    simon Part of the furniture

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    There is nothing odd or wrong about it. As @35B says a lot of people do not want to have their home address in a publicly available document, esp as Companies House is now free for all to access.
     
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  11. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    If the business providing professional services is itself registered at that address, why wouldn’t it be considered good practice?

    I see nothing in those correspondence addresses that gives me concern, or which implies to me that there is an inappropriate relationship.

    On the other hand, I would be more concerned about a very close relationship between a dominant individual and one particular firm of external advisors; in particular where they are not only providing external professional services but also key internal operational functions. That is not a suggestion that their work is anything less than professional or is in some way wrong, but that the approach of someone within the organisation may be more grounded in that organisation’s ethos than could be that on an outside firm.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  12. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Yes, that was more what I was asking about. Is it considered normal/good practice to have the secretary/accountants and chairman so close to one another. I get the point that you have an office address even if it could be a PO Box. That they all share the same address would to me point to them being very close. How separate is separate?

    I'm asking out of genuine curiosity because byzantine structures and conflicts of interests would appear to be constants in the saga of the WSR. I know nothing about board structures so I am interested to learn. If we looked at say other lines would we see similar structures?
     
  13. simon

    simon Part of the furniture

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    You may very well do so. Effectively the Secretary deals with the admin side of operating a legal entity and should work very closely with the Board (and hence the Chairman) in that regard.
     
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  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    A general railway structure of operating company + membership body + charity is not that unusual; the problem within the wider WSR is that it has those bodies, but to some degree they haven't had clearly delineated functions; for example, the WSRA and WSSRT are both charities; the WSRA has also had some operational / commercial responsibilities, though post-Coombes review, it is gradually divesting itself of those roles.

    But it still leaves the membership control on the railway very weak. On most railways I know, in some hazy way you "join" as a member, and in exchange for your subs, you get some sense of the railway being run for you, and in accordance with your wishes. That doesn't seem to be the case on the WSR - the members seem to have very little influence on the direction of the operating company.

    Personally, I would prefer a structure in which the WSRA governed according to the wishes of its members; the plc operated according to strategic direction communicated via the WSRA; and the WSSRT act as an allied funding charity.

    That said, that is all a discussion for another day. The critical governance problem right now seems to be a plc board that is far too small for the scope of the task. Even with angels on the board, the role looks far too broad for the size of the board, which means that there is a lack of critical challenge to a single overbearing personality. That would be a problem regardless of who is actually in place.

    Tom
     
  15. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    And of course all 3 own rolling stock as well, with the WSRA and Plc both owning locomotives.
     
  16. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I can't comment on other lines, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it - a perfect separation of powers is a counsel of perfection that would in reality be unworkable, especially in what are small organisations with tight budgets. More generally, I'm not at all surprised to find a close relationship between a businessman and his professional advisors - indeed, I'd almost expect it as part of a successful operation when employing those advisors full time would be unsustainable on that organisation's budgets.

    I would encourage you to let go of the question of the addresses as a red herring - even if they do help point to what are very close relationships between one key member of the board, and his advisors. The real question that concerns me, more even that @Jamessquared's excellent point about the size of the board, is the lack of challenge to that one dominant personality within an organisation that relies on the goodwill of its own workforce. Where "belonging" is an important factor, yet the management model is very strongly anchored in one individual and their vision, I worry for what happens when - and it must be a when - they make a mistake, or are unable to continue, or otherwise are challenged. In politics, chaos tends to follow the demise of autocrats who demand loyalty in return for stability - because the loyalty they demand usually treats criticism as hostile, regardless of motive.

    I find it worrying that the reaction to challenge seems to be a division into camps "for" and "against", where those "against" are pushed away. When creative people able to achieve positive results are pushed away rather than harnessed, something is wrong - I can't believe any railway has such a surplus of talent that it can afford to just lose people. Even marmite characters.
     
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  17. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Thanks. I do appreciate the time you and others have taken to explain what are probably blinding obvious things. My view is undoubtedly coloured by my experience working for a much larger organisation where there were serious conflicts of interest at the top, and there was a marked lack of checks and balances on an overly powerful member of the board. In particular the external accountants seemed more interested in creating opportunities for their consultancy arm.

    I will say this, although it was a couple of years back, the scars from the experience collectively have not yet begun to heal and there are still plenty of recriminations going around. I suspect that even if there is some kind of resolution of the S&DRT lease, that won't be the end of it.

    One of the things post fall out where I work was, 'how did we end up here?' and 'where were the checks and balances? and why did they not work?'. Why did good governance not happen?

    Now, to tie this all into the WSR and the S&DRT, what concerns me is that it seems like the board is so small and so closely connected to one another that there is no one to say 'a court case with the S&DRT, is at this point in time financial insanity. We need to drop the matter and get on with keeping the railway on sound financial basis and not pick needless fights.'

    Where I worked, it came out that a kind of group think had emerged. Any advice contrary to what they wanted to hear was ignored, and they became quite open in labelling people who disagreed as 'change resistant'. A very macho management culture emerged, whenever anything went wrong it was never that the policy was wrong it just needed to be implemented differently (and we're going to pay the accountants consultancy arm several million to tell us what we want to hear).

    Now, I am surprised about the lack of checks and balances at the WSR. Where we worked, it ended up with a big blow up, stories in the national press and our board departing out of the gates never to be seen or mentioned again. I was kind of hoping that there would be a mechanism for the WSR to avoid another round of massive recriminations.
     
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  18. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    There is curently a reccomendation certainly with big firms that the accountancy firm that does the audit doesnt to consultancy work for the same company to avoid conflict of interest
     
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  19. City of truro fan

    City of truro fan New Member

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    It could work the other way that everyone’s thinking and the WS R might need to sell some there engines to SAnD or if they could buy a couple of carriages they could run them with kilmersdon.
     
  20. ghost

    ghost Well-Known Member

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    Can I ask, what is your obsession with Kilmersdon? It's a small industrial. It is NOT suitable for running up and down a 20 mile railway (even if you limit it to 2 carriages).

    Keith
     

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