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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by gwr4090, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    All true, but there were voices - one of them appearing Cassandra like on here with dire warnings on cashflow. And back then, there were personal animosities very evident in who did - or did not - respect each other.
     
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  2. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Frank,

    Thank you for that.

    So, the six million dollar question, does the eviction of the S&DRT from Washford help the survival of the WSR? If it does why?

    Or does it hinder its survival? Obviously I cant use the feeling on NP as an example, BUT I was suprised at the level of 'Anti WSR; feeling expressed at a meeting of my local model railway society, none of whom are NP members, and these are the sort of people who might contribute to an appeal but have no intention of doing so.

    John
     
  3. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Back up thread at #31281 I asked this question:
    "So that leaves us with one final question. By evicting the S&DRT is this action by the PLC pivotal in securing the long term financial security of the WSR and its future? If so, why is that?"

    I now see that @johnofwessex has asked something similar, above.

    So here is a challenge to anyone in the PLC or connected with the PLC to answer this question to the best of their ability.

    If someone can actually explain how the eviction of the S&DRT will help the master plan to save the WSR then in fairness to all those who want the railway to survive and grow, it needs to be stated. Rest assured that on this Forum all comments are welcome provided that they do not break Forum rules. In fact, some clarity on this, without breaking whatever confidentialities may exist, will help to clear the air considerably so that people can move forward.

    With a membership base of over 10,000 this is an opportunity to reach far more folk than on any restricted access Facebook group. So over to whomever is able to comment.
     
  4. bristolian

    bristolian New Member

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    I hope you're not holding your breath...
     
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  5. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    It has been asked and asked again and the nearest to an answer is that the PLC have a plan and it is a super-duper plan, but it is necessary to keep it secret but trust the board because they are the board and they are all working tirelessly and they have saved the line and look a squirrel...
     
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  6. Steamage

    Steamage Member

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    Way back in March, shortly before "lockdown", I posed exactly this question, along with the related questions "why now?" and "where's the money coming from" but have not (yet) seen anything that comes close to a reasonable explanation. As others have hinted, I don't expect any will be offered now.

    I would have some sympathy with @FrankC 's and @Lineisclear 's views that the WSR family has to work with and through the PLC, were it not for the apparent injustice of the S&DRT eviction and incompetent way the PLC board have handled matters.
     
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  7. FrankC

    FrankC Well-Known Member

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    It is interesting that as the Nat Pres evening wears on the postings become increasingly terse and posters appear less open to a calm discussion. This means that anyone with a contrary view is less likely to take part, and this will be my last posting for a while. On the subject of plans, of course there are plans but at the moment these are having to be revised on a more or less weekly basis, and no company I know expects to post and debate its financial plans on a public forum. On the subject of Washford the matter has now been resolved and we move on.
     
  8. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Whilst you make some interesting points on other matters, even if I don't necessarily agree with them, this is not one of them. It is exactly what the government does when it has done something inexcusable and has no other defence ministers accross the airwaves echo in chorus "The Prime Minister considers the matter closed". It patently is not, not for a lot of enthusiasts who won't forget for a long time. And from a point of pure accuracy, I understood that negotiations between the WSR and S&DRT were still ongoing (ref @Lineisclear some days ago). Have these negotiations concluded, to what end?
     
  9. D1002

    D1002 Part of the furniture

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    What on earth does that mean? Are the S&DRT definitely leaving the site? If so, what happened to the ongoing ‘friendly’ discussions mentioned by @Lineisclear a few pages back.

    Edit.
    Posted at the same time as @flying scotsman123 but OK, two of us asking the same question may provoke a sensible and reasoned response.......but I doubt it.:(
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  10. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    It is interesting that as the Nat Pres evening wears on you still haven't answered any of the questions which have been courteously asked of you.

    Keith
     
  11. bristolian

    bristolian New Member

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    Politician's answers for sure... nothing helpful to say about the matter asked that could show the WSR in a good light, so it's "move-on" time...
     
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  12. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    Clever Frank Courtney. Oh so clever Frank Courtney. Not clever enough.
     
  13. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    To correct an earlier post my report did not recommend a merger of the WRSA and WSST. It suggested the creation of a wholly new membership charity with the two existing ones carrying on within the scope of their limited charitable objects. The reason is self evident from the rise in tension that the latest proposals have created. There is just too much baggage from the past. It’s really depressing to see near universal agreement that a new structure could change the culture and fortunes of the railway being undermined by infighting. The prize is there to be seized. The tragedy is that the various factions are more concerned with making sure that “ the other lot “ don’t seize it or control it’s implementation. I’ve more than enough challenges on my own home railway but I’ve spent a great deal of time, effort and money trying to help the WSR. I’m beginning to think it was all a waste of time. Unless the various players can bury their hatchets in tbe ground instead of in each other it will have been.
    The reasons for the PLC seeking to recover possession of the Washford site were explained on here way, way back. Don’t forget a landlord of business premises can’t simply evict a tenant. It has to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Court that it requires the premises for its own business purposes. I don’t think it’s any secret that the ORR have been concerned about the state of the WSR permanent way. I have heard it suggested that the bill to put it all into really good condition could be as high as £5 million. In that scenario a suitably equipped PW base is a top priority. It was explained that after careful consideration of all other options Washford was identified as the best site. That’s a really tough decision but at the end of the day the Board’s unenviable duty is to decide what is in the best interests of the WSR. Not what may be best for the S and DRT or best for heritage.
    However there’s a perfectly good argument that the negative impact on morale and fundraising may outweigh the benefits of recovering the site. Something I highlighted in my report. It comes down to a judgement which is what Boards are there for.
    Having made that judgement you need to explain why. If there is one single improvement that could start to heal the rifts in the railway it would, in my view, be better communication. Even tough and unpopular decisions will often be supported if the reasons for them are explained.
    Please,please abandon all this ridiculous jockeying for supremacy and concentrate seizing the prize of Peaceful Somerset.
     
  14. bristolian

    bristolian New Member

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    But why weren't the S&DRT consulted prior to being given an eviction notice?. And why was the fabled 'cuckoo in the nest' bought into play?. The WSR PLC Board have a lot to answer for.

    Apologies would also start to help heal things - possibly, although I'm sure that the feelings of those in the S&DRT would need an awful lot of apologies to make them start healing...
     
  15. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    I may be misinterpreting what you are saying John, but wouldn't that result in 3 charities on the WSR? Surely that would just lead to even more confusion over who is responsible for what and a 3 way competition for grants? Apologies if that is not how you envisaged it.
    I fear that the rest of your message is painfully close to the truth, that the various groups and personalities would rather wage war on each other instead of making their railway a great place to visit and to volunteer on.

    Keith
     
  16. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    If Washford were to be adopted as the PW depot, it is a summit with fairly steep gradients on either side of the station.

    Would this have any practical, or more importantly regulatory issues due to the risk of runaways, compared with Dunster?
     
  17. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    A lot of the above, John, is not in the redacted sections of your report, and will be of some concern to those of us who have your whole report.

    Lots of members on here have explained why Washford is unsuitable as a PW base.

    Others have explained why the costs of having such a PW base for the WSR plc board at Washford is going to be very expensive (and therefore not feasible) and will not surmount the legal requirements of s. 30 (g) of the 1954 Act.

    You gloss over all this. A civil litigation lawyer with experience of 1954 Act proceedings would be choking over his mid morning biscuits and coffee over all this!

    That Notice to Quit over Washford needs to be rescinded.
     
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  18. staffordian

    staffordian Well-Known Member

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    As far as I can recall, this is the first time that the reason for evicting the S&DRT has been explicitly explained, rather than speculated or rumoured, so thank you very much for this clarity.

    But had the board said what you have just said, instead of saying that they were being evicted as they were a cuckoo in the nest and wouldn't break the terms of their charitable aims to give the plc money, we would be in a very different place now.

    As you say, communications have been woeful, and if the line fails, or even if it continues to struggle to raise the finance it needs, it will be in no small part down to this, and we all know where the buck stops.

    It's of little comfort, I suspect, to the Trust and it's members that there (apparently) is a Grand Plan, and most outside observers will, I think, still see it as a bad decision, carried out even more badly, but as you say, a board does have to make difficult decisions. I hope they at least learn lessons, and start to be open about their plans, as IMHO that is the only way the current board have any hope of regaining trust and any respect.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  19. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    While it might be the best site in the absence of any other constraints, hasn't it been said on this thread that there is a problem with road access? Moreover, setting it up from scratch (when the WSRT has taken everything away) will cost additional money on top of the £5 million that the WSR doesn't have for the PW. The prospect of such sums being donated by either individual well-wishers or grant-giving bodies has been sadly spoilt by the way the PLC has gone about the eviction and by other actions.
    Edit: others have said similar.
     
  20. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Your point about baggage is well made, and obvious to all. I've just checked back though, and although you exclude the WSSRT from your suggestions as you say it "seems to have a well-defined sense of its public benefit role as enshrined in its Articles. Its focus on its core educational purpose is clear". Ok fine, but where does the WSRA fit in with that? As has been noted, the objectives of the WSRA are extremely similar, even if you don't think they are being realised correctly with the WSRA's current activities. In light of your post above, your report now seems to take on the light of the WSSRT should carry on as it is whilst the WSRA should fold and in effect be replaced by the new charity you suggest? Or in your mind would the WSRA stay on, and to what end? As I say, I accept the point about baggage but it feels like you could be advocating the continuation of organisations purely so that some people can remain trustees of them and not hurt their feelings!

    Whoah whoah, hang on. In evicting the S&DRT, is the Plc relying on the legal defect you believe exists making the current lease void, or is it relying on its own needs for a new P'way depot? I've no reason to doubt @jma1009 when he says reasons why the Plc might want Washford yard itself were not discussed in your report. Surely that's of major importance? If the WSR can prove a genuine need for the site then many people might be willing to be a little more sympathetic. True it's probably too late for that now, but there was a window. In that window, all the Plc managed was a collection of disparate ideas of what it wanted to do, some contradictory, and all requiring money. Reasons why Washford might not be suitable for a P'way yard have been gone through here, as part of mediation was there any exploration of whether there were other options for a P'way yard that might make everybody happy?

    I'm sorry, but invoking the ORR doesn't cut it for me, it seems to be something to hide behind, and means anyone criticising it is accused of not taking safety seriously enough. The ORR are unhappy with the state of the WSR's track. They did not say they ought to have a P'way yard at Washford. To my knowledge, they didn't say there ought to be a P'way yard anywhere in particular (happy to be corrected), just that the P'way itself needed significant work. Other locations have been mooted, were they explored as part of mediation? If tha was the reason the Plc is evicting the S&DRT, surely looking to se whether both parties' needs could be met without conflict would be the first port of call?
     

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