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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. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    Mike. I’m disappointed with you trying to stop an EGM by saying wait to an AGM as the better option. You were involved with the rest of us when the EX6 were removed, you know very well that due to the structure and member/shareholder voting process with both the WSRA & PLC at an AGM, any current Board can never be outvoted. An EGM is the only way the real issues can be know and debated by all its members/shareholders because it is highlighted as an item to vote on and communicated by somebody else other than the current Boards view (GDPR, nobody else can have the members contact list, etc. etc).

    If people wait for AGM’s the process is the same: The current Board put out papers to the members which include a summary which they write as the current board. Plus a 250 word (from memory) statement by each standing candidate to ask people to vote for them (which won’t include the issues, only why they should be voted in). Additionally for the last number of years all WSRA & PLC AGM’s have been uncontested so the usual people standing get in, something you have highlighted yourself in the past as an issue to your credit.

    The outcome of this process is always the same due to the membership/shareholding of both the WSRA and PLC, there are many, many more voters remote from the WSR who don’t know what’s happening on the ground and indeed take no interest. These voters trust their current Chairman to ‘do the right thing’ so give their votes as proxy to the Chairman, this means the Chairman will always hold more votes by a large margin than people involved with the WSR and who turn up to an AGM to express their concerns. This means the only way to stop a vote going toward the standing Board is for the people present at an AGM to all walk out before the vote is taken meaning the number in the hall drop below the quorum and the meeting stops. You of course know that as it’s a trick that two current WSRA Trustees tried during the EX6 time, you also know it’s very difficult to achieve in practice.

    The only other option is that enough people stand against the current Board, some may get in if the Chairman lets them but they are then told they have to be ‘corporately responsible’ and fall in line with prior decisions or leave. Maybe this time they would carry a weight of numbers but by the time that happens in this case it will be late autumn and the damage will be irreversible due to the timescales of the eviction notice and legal action or the PLC may have gone bust or lost all its money in a court case.

    The WSRA has made a decision, it is supporting the PLC in evicting the S&DRT. I have had a different view from a number of ‘sources close to the action’ in the last 48 hours trying to tell me that’s not the case, it doesn’t mean what the words say and I should read things into the statements made on Friday. But frankly I just can’t see it, perhaps I’m just being thick?

    However if I was being charitable I could say the WSRA tried to be clever and keep everybody happy by using what has been described by others as ‘weasel words’ which a clever person could perhaps in a certain light, say, maybe viewed as not quite supporting the PLC totally in an attempt to push toward a different agenda and of course another ‘cunning plan’.

    However in my opinion the WSRA had a final chance to be clear about their position, they weren’t, at best they fudged their intent or at worst they do actually support the S&DRT eviction depending on how you read the words and which person you speak to. All I can see this is just another PR disaster. If the WSRA don’t support the PLC as has been suggested to me privately then correct the error, be clear, be concise and say it in a press release to the public whilst you still have the chance.

    Being clear on this decision will affect the future of the WSRA one way or another. At the extreme end it could be the end of the WSRA, the membership is falling, people won’t renew, it’s just given its trading arms to the PLC (for what return?), its income is now only its membership subs, etc. etc. The WSRA Board can only see that this as a key decision, yet it has not consulted its members on something that will one way or another have a large impact. It hasn’t even mentioned it in its Board meeting minutes.

    So why not have an EGM (or a fully informed AGM where a counter opinion is given to all) where members are asked to consider this big decision, why not put all of the facts before the members, why not allow the members of the WSRA to make an informed decision after a balanced debate? If they then decide the WSRA supporting the PLC is right then you will have a clear and unrivalled right to say ‘we are doing what the members have voted for’ and I for one if that’s done correctly will say ‘ok the people have decided’.

    However just ignoring all the bad publicity, the clear future impact on the WSR (because nobody trusts the WSR going forward so doesn’t work with them), burying your heads in the sand and pushing for a good old WSR AGM that will only lead to a victory for the sitting tenants (punt intended!!!) that will ultimately not solve the problem.

    This is all another good reason why the structure of the WSR doesn’t work and a part of the reason the WSR is in the mess it is today. It is not new and has been used many times, just look at the last PLC AGM which gave the current Chairman a clear remit to do all of this and more not yet in the public domain.

    As it stands the S&DRT can be thrown out by a small number of Directors/Trustees without the people they are accountable to being informed or allowed to debate what they feel is the right way forward, it has been this way for a number of years and it hasn’t worked so far, will it work this time?
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2020
  2. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    Don't worry I'm alive and well.
     
  3. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    The WSRA using "weasel words" to try and be diplomatic whilst trying to actually resolve the situation is one thing, using them just to try and protect its reputation whilst actually going along with everything is quite another. Despite the subtle hints of one WSRA trustee on these pages, I get no inclination that it's anything but the latter.
     
  4. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

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    Can one assume what demand there will be to pay hire fees for hire locos, or when, bearing in mind cash will be short and restrictions and recovery times may be long?

    Patrick
     
  5. Wenlock

    Wenlock Member Friend

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    That is disappointing.

    I would have expected that in normal service at least one member of the station staff would await arrival of the last service, just in case of any unforeseen difficulties which may arise.
     
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  6. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    I would have assumed that there was, otherwise who else locks up the car-park 20 minutes later? The signalman perhaps?
     
  7. Ian Monkton

    Ian Monkton Member

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    The station staff stay until the last service has arrived. The shop and cafe are usually closed.
     
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  8. Herald

    Herald Member

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    I refer you to the ORR guidance on crossings https://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/2158/level_crossings_guidance.pdf point 2 of which says "Risk control should, where practicable, be achieved through the elimination of level crossings in favour of bridges, underpasses or diversions. Where elimination is not possible, ORR aims to ensure that duty holders reduce risk so far as is reasonably practicable and in accordance with the principles of protection."

    I would suggest that at the very least this implies things like warning lamps or staffing. From memory Watchet has lamps at unknown installation and maintenance cost but the quoted rent probably wouldn't cover it.

    The issue of crossings has come up on a number of threads about other railways and I see no reason to believe regulators and insurers will suddenly stop applying 21st century requirements or requiring continuous improvements particularly if use increases.
     
  9. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    It's not only morally bankrupt, it's logically bankrupt too. The building and rails may be too hard to move, but a scrap merchant will still take them away and pay the Trust to do so.
     
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  10. Wenlock

    Wenlock Member Friend

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    That's more what I would have expected. The shop might be losing a few sales to passengers who didn't fancy carrying souvenirs around with them all day, but might have bought something before rejoining their cards. Probably those few last-minute purchases would not be worth paying staff to stay on longer.
     
  11. Poolbrook

    Poolbrook New Member Friend

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    If the current S&D site is to become a PW depot, there will be a need for road vehicles to access that depot. That would require a level crossing. The volume of traffic would be low but appropriate controls would be necessary.
     
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  12. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    There already is a level-crossing, effectively a user-worked one. I see no reason why the PW dept could not continue it under the existing arrangements, especially as it would be both owner and user of the crossing, hence ultimately responsible for any 'errors' there.

    As for Watchet, there used to be lights - regularly vandalised :-( - but I think they are now gone?
     
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  13. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    On (6), the crossing at Washford is an accommodation crossing for owners and occupiers of the farmland to the north of the yard at Washford. It also, of course, gives access to the yard itself . It is not a public right of way and, beyond the usage I've just mentioned it never has been. I doubt any upgraded, general use, level crossing would be permitted at Washford, and the highways authority would surely take a dim view of increased traffic turning at that right angle bend in the A39.

    A later comment on this thread by @35B mentions the crossing at Watchet. That one is subject to a level crossing order (amended) and thus approved by ORR. It is not, however, a public right of way (prow), despite being much used by local folk and railway passengers, although a prow does exist either side of that crossing. The crossing has quite a history of debate and argument right from the late 1850s. The B&ER and GWR long insisted there never was a proper 'way' from Goviers Lane to the harbour, and so they refused to provide a proper crossing at that point. That Goviers Lane itself should have, pre-railway, ended just short of the harbour seems unlikely, it was a long established and well used route. The line was orginally designed by Brunel to end to the east of Goviers Lane (as shown on the original parliamentary plans) but was later extended, before the line opened, to the then terminus near the present station building/goods shed. The pathway must have existed but was somehow got 'overlooked' in the parliamentary amendment rushed through when the railway realised the layout was just too cramped. All academic now as the crossing is well and truly in place.

    Steve
     
  14. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    No lights now.

    Steve
     
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  15. 6960 Raveningham Hall

    6960 Raveningham Hall Member Friend

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    Yes, this is Sentinel DG steam bus ‘Elizabeth’. It was purchased by one of JJB’s companies in November 2014. For many years, when with its former owner, it operated daily passenger trips around the town of Whitby, probably well known to @Steve.
     
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  16. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    Yes Steve you are right, you would need to get lorries through a village which is very narrow in parts with up to 60ft artic trailers (track lengths?) plus tractor unit length (80ft total?) and then turn them and reverse them in the road, up the slope from the road edge up to track height and across the line with the road on a blind bend. The site is narrow ahead of you once you get over the line (so you need to reverse in, not drive straight in) so you have to leave a lot of space on site as lorry manoeuvring space and unloading area therefore you can’t fill the site up with buildings or other obstacles. Additionally I also don’t think as you mention you would get planning permission for change of use due to Lorries on a regular basis doing the above.

    As @flyingscotman123 mentioned a few posts back this was covered in 2018 as a paper I wrote (after RW's previous thoughts a year or so before) for the WSR about Dunster and re-locating the PW Dept (which was covered in some detail). For reasons I won’t bore you with the best logistical and cost locations for PW are either Williton or Norton, in part due to on line logistics and in part due to cost reduction in getting materials delivered to the WSR from ‘the rest of the world’. Both also have easy and available access for Lorries.

    Apart from the road access, Washford is not near the centre of the line, it’s in the longest and most time consuming section of the line to work through and you need at least 2 Signalmen to allow a movement (outside of a full possession) within that one section. With Norton or Williton you can cover half the line with 2 Signalmen (or a possession).

    In my opinion none of this has been thought through, it was it seems easy to say “put PW there, that’s a good excuse”.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2020
  17. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    I was thinking of rather different uses as I don't think a PW depot at Washford need to concern itself, necessarily, with lorries (big, small, short, long) as far better to offload PW materials elsewhere on the line. Materials are already delivered to Norton, Dene Bridge, Lydeard, rather than Dunster, so a move to Washford would not make matters worse in that respect.

    My ramblings concerned (a) the current crossing which is not a public right of way, so for example, 'Steam Trail' users have no right to use it, and (b) heavens forbid, any other kind of use of the yard (eg dwellings, industrial units or other non-railway purposes - for which I sense no desire from absolutely anyone) would require an open, upgraded, widened, tarmac-surfaces, possibly-signalled, crossing, which I believe would not be permitted by ORR or SCC's highways.

    Enjoy Bev's PICTURE of a time when a biggish lorry or two did visit the yard...along with a PICTURE from Gerry.

    Steve
     
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  18. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    Why does Henry VIII and the dissolution (stealing?) of monasteries and other lands remind me of this saga? It should be recalled that most of Henry's cronies did well out of it, one wonders who is waiting in the wings for some of the 'plums'. ;)
     
  19. granmaree

    granmaree Member

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    I wonder if the locals would object too, it would be an increase of traffic resulting in an increase of delays with vehicles waiting to turn in. Each worker arriving in their own vehicle, each works vehicle, deliveries. There has been one death right on that corner, 4 accidents involving injuries, upto 20 minor crashes with no injury. The car park can accommodate 4 vehicles, 2 spaces are extremely hairy to get in and out of blind. The tarmac in front of the gates (the end of the ramp to the pub fence, from the road to the gates) still belongs to the council not part of the plc. Although the farmers have unhindered access as it were, 24 hours a day year round industrial is a totally different thing to 'occasional'. Parking anything more than one car alongside the pub fence would seriously hinder any emergency vehicles that needed access for passengers, building or yard emergencies.
    Just before the plethora of new signage went up everywhere a few years ago there was a chap surveying at Washford. He visited twice that I know of and during conversation it was said that he was checking the sighting at the bottom of the ramp for both directions, I don't think he was too happy personally but I think it did have the required distance in the end.
    One of the ideas mooted in a statements from the plc said they would expand on the museum theme? There wouldn't be physical expansion to the side of the station building unless they have been able to purchase the ground, I doubt the owners would let go of that little bit treasure in a hurry if they do still own it!
     
  20. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    What next, JJP stars as Thomas a Beckett in "Carry On Cuckoo" ? :)
     

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