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Teifi Valley Railway

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by Anthony Coulls, Jun 22, 2014.

  1. Vulcan Works

    Vulcan Works Member

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    Indeed, Bikermike is correct in so far as accounts paint a picture but don’t tell you what is really happening behind the scenes (unless Directors are honest and full in their assessment, which history shows in some organisations they struggle to do). As BigStu says though, producing the accounts is a basic legal requirement of running a business and if Directors can’t galvanise themselves in to dealing with unforeseen delays then members / shareholders need to ask if the right people are leading the organisation.

    Of the examples quoted I would also add that the size and competence of the Boards is a factor. A common theme in poorly performing organisations is the reliance on a small number of people running the show (which leads to insular decision making) and the questionable competence of those people or their failure to provide constructive challenge. This is worse when a dominant character is in a key role such as MD or Gen Manager. The Teifi has previous form, I don’t know about the present day but clearly some people have concerns.
     
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  2. Elizabeth Perry

    Elizabeth Perry New Member

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    Since 2015 the various parts of the organisation at the TVR have been steadily demolished to give the General Manager complete control. The Railway Society officers/trustees are the GM, the office manager, and 2 people who live nextdoor. The directors of the TVR Ltd are the same 4 people. The GM is only concerned with action and has done much of the recent tracklaying on his own. He acted as general manager about 20 years ago but the board of directors found that he was ignoring their decisions and constantly disputing policy. Paperwork such as grant applications was declared unnecessary and cashflow forecasts were screwed up and thrown away. After he had threatened violence to a director during a board meeting, he was sacked. In 2015 he saw the opportunity of stepping into the chaos left by the conman and took over. The office manager is not an accountant and has no experience of administering a limited company, let alone a statutory authority, and has no interest in the history of the TVR. The grant-aided nature trails have not been restored since ruined by the conman and the GM has proudly declared that the Company's office has been cleared of unnecessary paperwork. The TVR tries to keep things private and does not like being questionned. When the GM achieves his aim of legally taking over the Company, I hope he is not too shocked to learn that even a one man Company has to send in Accounts!
     
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  3. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    then Elizabeth , the brutal truth is the TVR and the GM will have to learn the lesson the hard way . Should the ORR go in and find no documented SMS then the likelyhood is the line will be stopped from operating . no accounts and it will be wound up . You have done more than enough to fight a lone battle .
     
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  4. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    The TVR isn't the only railway with serious problems caused or exacerbated by personalities. But we do get some good news from the others, in between the fights, cock-ups and mudslinging.
     
  5. 2392

    2392 Member

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    I like many others here have been following the twists and turns of this sorry saga. I've come to the following conclusion, let the current outfit go to the wall. Then Elizabeth and her fellow disenchanted former members move in and buy out, acquire, take over the newly "defunct" TVR phoenix fashion. I don't know how you'd get round any left over issues resulting in the current company/outfits demise. Brutal perhaps, but in the longer run perhaps the only way to save/resurrect the Company/line.
     
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  6. Vulcan Works

    Vulcan Works Member

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    It doesn’t sound like a recipe for success if I’m being honest. The Boards of both organisations are arguably far too small to adequately carry out the wide range of statutory and commercial functions required of them, and I would be surprised if a 4 person team can honestly say it has sufficient competence in leadership, railway operations, engineering, marketing, H&S, accounting, catering etc etc.

    I don’t know know the personalities involved or their agendas, but having the same clique running both organisations doesn’t sound healthy. There are uncanny similarities with my soapbox subject of a Derbyshire railway where a dominant character holds sway and runs their fiefdom, aided and abetted by weak Directors (all previous challengers have been removed, I only know of one current Director who has seriously defied the dominant character).
     
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  7. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    It also sounds like something we should be surprised and relieved doesn’t happen more often in a sector driven by enthusiasm but always short of people and resources.


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  8. mdewell

    mdewell Well-Known Member

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    This is at least partly why the HRA run Management Seminars etc to help managers understand what is required to successfully manage a heritage railway. However, the HRA can only offer advice and support to those who want to take it, they can't help those who don't want to be helped.
    If nothing else, the General Meetings give people a chance to meet with their counterparts on other railways and learn how other people may have dealt with similar issues they are facing. Unfortunately not all railways/managers are willing to invest the time in attending HRA meetings.
     
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  9. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

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    the basic problem is that if the company “goes to the wall” then the LRO is also lost with it. So that would be a major issue for any “revivalists”.

    If the shareholders are dormant and/or few in number and both boards are the same people then there is going to be little or no challenge to the status quo. It does seem very much like the situation on a railway further north and as alluded to.

    The only real hope for an expanded board is that the present directors are willing to allow people to join. That hasn’t happened so far.

    “Closed shop” heritage railway are few and far between, most at least have member and shareholder schemes but in one or two cases the set up allows incumbents a free had for as long as they want, which can be au unintended consequence of using private company law to establish a heritage line.

    Regards

    Matt
     
  10. richards

    richards Well-Known Member

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    But even the heritage railways with members or shareholders rarely have people queueing up to take on management positions. Few bother to read meeting minutes or attend/vote at AGMs. They "buy in" to the railway to show their interest, not to support a particular management group or style.

    So there is always a risk of getting the wrong sort of management - see various other threads in this forum ...
     
  11. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    And “there but for the grace of...” is something that applies to many volunteer based organisations.


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  12. richards

    richards Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. Some might also argue that voluntary organisations may attract people with interests in management who wouldn't be considered for similar corporate roles. The recruitment and interviewing skills of the organisation may also be limited, as well as the difficulties in finding people who are interested in a particular niche subject.

    When the multiple threads in this forum start blaming "management" for things they disagree with, I do wonder how many of these members/observers/keyboard warriors would actually put themselves forward if the opportunity became available.
     
  13. GWR4707

    GWR4707 Resident of Nat Pres

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    From my experience of voluntary heritage organisations, people volunteering for management often sit in two groups, either those with long-standing upper management experience (often trying to 'give something back' we often referred to them as those chasing an MBE) and those who saw an opportunity to go into management which would not normally be presented to them in their working life. This often leads to two unfortunate problems, with the first group they are used to their underlings doing what they are told, which doesn't work with volunteers leasing to conflict or the latter group not really having the skills or experiences to address the roles they fill.
     
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  14. mdewell

    mdewell Well-Known Member

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    I would add a 3rd group, those who are dedicated railway fans who want to see 'their' railway suceed and will step up to a management role if no one else is willing or able to take charge. That may well mean people without adequate management experience (or ability) being in charge. They probably didn't want to become a manager, but hopefully people who find themselves in such a position will have the wisdom to seek, and listen to, appropriate advisors.
     
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  15. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Unfortunately, it is frequently those without that experience who are least able to cope with the challenge of leading people towards something, rather than doing the job, because they've never developed those muscles. I detect signs of that in what's been written here about the Teifi Valley.
     
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  16. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

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    agree to a point. However there are some extremely well run heritage railways (which rarely get a mention on this forum). There are also a fair few that have shown it is perfectly possible to turn things around.

    regards

    Matt
     
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  17. Maunsell man

    Maunsell man Member

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    Enough of this nonsense and trivia. I need to know whether the scones and pork pies are in profit or not????
     
  18. DcB

    DcB Member

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    A quick check shows the Teifi Railway and Busy Bee cafe now have July 19th to file account statements.
    Best not to leave till the last minute.
    The Facebook page seems upbeat saying a newsletter will be printed in August, asking for more volunteers, and showing a picture of volenteers Alan and George with the Alan George loco.
     
  19. SpudUk

    SpudUk Member

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    I don't live too far from Teifi - about 6o miles or so which is more then do-able in a day. Alongside my other voluntary commitments here in Glamorgan I've considered offering to lend a hand at Henllan but it does seem like a complete mess - resignations, membership sign-ups ignored, the removal of the newsletter. Not a particularly attractive prospect for a new volunteer, particularly when it's plastered across their own Facebook page
     
  20. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    "Liked" for it's truth, not the tale revealed.
     
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