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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Piggy

    Piggy Member

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    There's a very simple answer, the track is the responsibilty of WSR .......... the yard is SDRT.
     
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  2. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    It seems to me though that he underlying issue is the lack of accountability of the PLC, hence what is happening with the WSSRT

    Had the WSRA & WSSRT used their combined shareholding, or even made it look as though they were willing to do so then I suggest that things may well have turned out very differently
     
  3. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    You discuss the problem with your donors that is what you do John

    COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY!

    Something the WSR has never been good at doing
     
  4. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    All groupings on the WSR are similar in that respect, not just the PLC. Only when it suits do some communications get posted here. Often they are overshadowed by folk blowing their own trumpets rather loudly.
     
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  5. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    On this specific point, I have previously opined that the SDRT would in fact in practice almost certainly be safe, given the huge hullabaloo (and reputational damage to the WSR as a whole) caused by this. I still hold to that.

    Yes, it's not absolutely 'cast iron', but given the enormous issues with leaving (as laid out so eloquently by John Palmer), I still feel it's a risk worth taking

    Well, we'll see. There seems to be a very complicated dance going on between the PLC and SDRT. All we can do is wait patiently and calmly, and hope that a way out is found.

    Noel
     
  6. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    Good idea, but I have an informational query. I'm unfamiliar with the situation at Shearing's Yard; is that stock currently just sat on the ground, or on rails? And if the lattter, to whom does that track belong? I ask because if the SDRT does leave Washford, and the site is put back to what it was at their arrival, there will only be the running line there, not a single point or siding. So, if stock were moved there, and it's wanted to have it on rails, the WSR would have to install all that (and possibly purchase it, unless it owns points and rail that can be moved there).

    Noel
     
  7. An update letter from the Swanage Railway Trust this morning.

    SR took over £250,000 in fares and shop sales during August alone. Income has exceeded expectations and patronage continues to be encouraging.
     
  8. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Indeed. Frequently in response to very limited information being released about stuff that is of genuine interest. It's amazing how little noise there is about this minor 20 mile branch line when people do communicate.
     
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  9. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    AIUI - and no doubt others here will know more - the stock at SY is either on the bare ground or on loose rails laid on their side. Certainly not on 'track' as we would know it.
     
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  10. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    True, but do the shareholders of a limited liability company themselves need the protection of limited liability? If you had an unincorporated body as the owner of the shares in a limited liability, would that body and hence its members not be protected from liability by the limits on the company's liability? I would imagine that that is the case, or else the Bluebell would not be set up in that way. It would allow a democratic members' organisation to be the owner and therefore, legally the directors would be expected to act in the best interests of the members of that body, i.e. the railway's supporters.
    That seems to have finally pinpointed poor communication as the cause of the West Somerset Disease, together with the reason for its virulence, no formal structure which prevents feedback but allows separate power bases. That communication has been better at times and worse at others explains why the Disease waxes and wanes. Secrecy is the natural state in all organisations, after all, if no-one knows what you are doing, they won't find out if you do it wrong. Continual efforts have to be made to combat it. If there is not a way that information can be formally required in an organisation, then, as we have seen, that information either remains unavailable or leaks out via rumours that may or may not be accurate.
     
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  11. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    In 100% agreement with all of Fred's post, but the bit highlighted can't, IMO, be overstated.

    Whilst obviously heritage lines are not normally part of anywhere's front line local transport infrastructure*, there ought to be symbiosis .... i.e. what's good for any given railway should be equally good for the wider economy of the locality and vice versa. If that ain't happening, something is badly askew on one or both sides. Bunker mentality serves no-one.

    * please do feel free to disagree, folks ..... preferably identifying and justifying any cases. :)
     
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  12. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    It will, but the role of structure in channelling information is critical. If the structure is wrong, the risk of all that you describe just grows; if it's right, it will leave little space for what you describe. But even then, the people and attitude are essential
     
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  13. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Oh dear, another salient on the WSR front! Joking aside, when engagement with the local community involves the competing pulls of both heritage interests and public transport interests, defining that involvement is itself challenging.
     
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  14. Mike S

    Mike S Member

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    Absolutely spot on.....
     
  15. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    'a significant cause' might be better wording than 'the cause'.

    Noel
     
  16. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Sadly, the PLC's idea of local community engagement appears to consist of engaging in legal action against members of the local community.

    I think I can see a flaw in the WSR's approach to community engagement
     
  17. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    Heard something similar from my Dad regarding the SVR.
     
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  18. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    On that highlighted point, currently the BRPS (which majority owns the plc) is an unincorporated body. However, the potential for unlimited liability has been identified: had Covid-19 not happened this year, we would have had an EGM by now to put in place a process to convert the unincorporated society into a limited company. That hasn't occurred for various reasons, one of which is that it was planned to hold that EGM immediately before our normal AGM; and that hasn't occurred because the rules require a quorum of 200 and for the meeting to take place in person, which hasn't been possible this year.

    So the liability is still theoretically there, and awaits more normal times to resolve I believe. While I can understand the point being addressed, converting to a limited company is not without its own issues.

    One significant point though about our structure which seems to be being missed, is that the BRPS is not a charity. That brings some advantages, in particular it means there aren't the same restrictions on the support the society can give to the company. In essence we have a non-charitable membership body which owns the company as an operating subsidiary; and an associated charity that is not a membership body. The general tenor of discussion here seems to automatically conflate the two, i.e. talks about having a "membership charity" which owns the operating subsidiary. You would need experts in charity and corporate law and accountancy to think through all the implications, but given that there seems to be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get this right, it is worth considering the pros and cons of the membership body being the charity; or their being separate. To put it in WSR terms, you would get to a "Bluebell-like" structure if:

    - the WSRA ceased to be a charity but acted as the sole membership body
    - the WSRA owned the majority of plc shares (and had a formal remit that the company directors had to maintain the confidence of the Association; and was tasked with delivering, within regulatory limits, the formally expressed wishes of the membership of the association);
    - volunteers had to be members of the association
    - the WSSRT took on primacy for fundraising and charitable support across the railway, including being the beneficiary of any legacies etc.

    Other structures are available ...

    Tom
     
  19. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    In theory this looks like a fairly neat solution as you keep all the existing bodies, you just shuffle their purposes and statuses around a bit. Practically it may not be so easy when it comes to charity stuff though! I get the impression that the WSRA would be willing to do its bit to achieve that if that was what was decided to be best, but I don't feel particularly optimistic that the WSSRT or Plc would be willing to play their parts. Delighted to be proved wrong of course.
     
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  20. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    Will be very interesting to see what results from it!!
     

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