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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you. This really will be my last post on NP. That had been my intention but I felt that
    my good friend Rodders was being treated unfairly.

    I have for many years subscribed to a view that the WSR required fundamental structural
    change. I have also promulgated the concept of an overarching charity. I recognise the
    prominence of the Plc ( because it is the licensed operator ) , also the difficulties that that
    produces.

    I am pleased at the progress so far made wrt the joint statement from the three bodies
    post the PDG meeting. This appears to be the best hope.

    None of this of course overcomes the key issue over the last decade. The WSR ( in its
    entirety ) has been operating in a way alien to Mr Micawber. But a resolution of past
    internecine strife makes the challenge more possible.

    I have for many years offered views/opinions. Some with hindsight better than others.
    As an octogenarian it is now probably the time to shut up !

    Michael Rowe
     
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  2. WSSRTcandidates

    WSSRTcandidates Member

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    Statement by prospective WSSRT Trustee Candidates

    In past days and weeks we have a seen a great deal of emotional, unpleasant and, in part, untrue statements placed by the WSSRT and WSR plc press function about our aims and the effect on the WSSRT, were we to be elected. We have not thought it constructive to respond directly to these statements, rather trusting the good sense of WSSRT members to separate fact from fiction.

    Given that three weeks have now passed since the WSSRT AGM was postponed, with no sign of a revised date being set, we are now requesting a General Meeting under the arrangements set out in s303 of the Companies Act 2006.

    We believe that the WSSRT becoming part of a single lead WSR Charity will be good for the WSSRT and for the whole West Somerset Railway for the following reasons:
    • The number of charity boards can be reduced, allowing more efficient use of scarce resources, both in administration and scarce personnel.
    • The Byzantine complexity of the WSR family will be reduced, better facilitating the grant funding so sorely needed for the whole Railway.
    • The educational outreach work of the Trust can be integrated with the community outreach work of the WSRA, and apprentice and ‘tracker’ functions of the WSR plc thus giving education the place it deserves on the whole Railway.
    • The museums can be fully accredited under the banner of a wholly charitable Railway.
    • Organisational fragmentation will be reduced.
    • The heritage carriages project can be protected, enhanced and the covered accommodation it so sorely needs be provided much more easily as part of larger, better resourced land-owning charity, so allowing the ambition of a rake of vintage GWR coaches running on the WSR to be accelerated.
    We look forward to working with existing WSSRT Trustees to achieve this.

    We would invite any WSSRT member who wishes to join us in calling for a General Meeting to fill in the form which can be found by clicking here and immediately send it by post to the WSSRT’s registered Office at:

    WSSRT
    The Railway Station
    Bishops Lydeard
    TA4 3BX
    .

    The form is also attached, as a PDF, to this NatPres posting, for any WSSRT to download, fill in, and put in the post.

    If you do this, please also send us a copy at wssrtcandidates@gmail.com .

    Regards

    Barrie Childs
    Dee Childs
    Steve Doughty
    Brian Fraser
    Emma Haywood
    Dave Horton
    Nigel Power
    James Price
    Jeff Price
    Robin White

    28th September 2020
     

    Attached Files:

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  3. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Thank you in return for replying to my challenge as I'd hoped, rather than as I'd perhaps feared. As for your contributions to this and other threads, I would personally be disappointed if you felt you had to leave - there have been aspects of your postings (and views) that I have very much disagreed with, but I fully acknowledge you were correct on how the WSR has spent money.

    As for age, this 40-something stripling doesn't hold to an upper age limit on wisdom or performance. For example, I was very disappointed to see last week that Bernard Haitink has decided to retire his baton at 90, feeling as I do that that wonderful musician has much more to give yet (perhaps time to dust off that recording of Die Meistersinger with Thomas Allen and John Tomlinson from the mid 1990s....).
     
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  4. Dennis John Brooks

    Dennis John Brooks Member

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    Michael, what I do not understand is that three organisations have agreed the statement while there are about 7 organisations in the PDG, what are their opinions or don't they have a voice or not considered important.

    DJB.
     
  5. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    During my 5 years on the WSR before being removed I saw and heard many things that left me speechless concerning how much some people truly dislike each other and what they are prepared to say and do.

    One such incident was during the Flying Scotsman visit, in the Event Control Room on BL Station. I was the Event Manager controlling the event and Michael and Rodney decided to pay me a visit, in fairness Rodney was there for the right reasons and was helping. During the latter part of that conversation Michael made some comments directed toward a certain Barrister of this Parish which I will never repeat as I would not want such words to come out of my mouth, however it’s fair to say they were most certainly not Christian in my opinion, Rodney will no doubt remember what was said equally as well as me. Luckily the phone rang and I was needed to resolve a small operational issue, I think that was a timely distraction and Michael left.

    Generally when you look into somebodies eyes when they are making a statement you can normally judge if they really mean it, it’s happened to me a couple of times on the WSR since, another time being during a ‘mediation’ meeting regarding my ID Card removal in Nov 2019.

    My point is that good, decent people of this thread rightly talk about banging heads together, getting people to work together, a focus on one railway and looking at the bigger picture and they are all fair comments. However having been on the inside, trying to work with all people and the local community so all people can engage and work in an environment they enjoy and feel safe in whilst not trying to take sides I have to say the internal dynamics are much more complex than first appears.

    I have said here before the structure isn’t the problem, it is faulty and it does need fixing but some of the people have a such ingrained and deep hatred of others and indeed any new thinking I do believe that until some people remove themselves nothing will change because any new structure will mean anybody can just get themselves back ‘into the game’ via elections which will have to follow a re-structure.

    Again I have said before only a clean sweep will fix this., a new charity, two charities, three charities, side A or side B winning or just staying the same won’t change how people think and act, and now there are no HR Policies everybody is acting however they want to with no consequence (some acted this way before they were removed as well).

    I don’t want to take sides and also become a part of the problem, but currently the WSR is like the wild west with no Sheriff and a big bad local cattle rancher with lots of hired hands. Many of the previous posts demonstrate something is very wrong, the latest thing to happen if rumours are true is that some PLC people went into the WSRA AGM and called for 10 people to have their WSRA Memberships removed because 10 members of the WSSRT decided to stand for election at the now cancelled WSSRT AGM, if it’s true how mixed up is that?

    The facts are clear, the WSR is sliding backward, its alienating people left, right & centre and the culture of ‘if you don’t like it sod off or we will remove you and tell the world in a press release what a bad person you are’ is rife and coming from a number of directions not just the PLC.

    Something has to change and I don’t think some people can change, a good starting point would be to bring back the HR Policies and start putting people into those processes. I know for certain that some have committed Gross Misconduct as clearly defined in those Policies as stated items, but of course it is not for me to say, the Policies and Due Process as a fair and democratic process should define these things, not yet another person in me deciding who is right and wrong.

    The internal war will not be stopped until the long standing people who have administered over this car crash of a situation see their way is not working and it will destroy the very thing everybody says they love. Something has to go bang soon.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2020
  6. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    In case anyone is interested I sent the e-mail below to the WSSRT recently

    Dear WSSRT,

    I have joined the WSSRT, partly out of an interest in heritage carriages, partly to possibly give me something to do when I reach retirement, and of course to try & help the WSR in its time of need.

    The WSR is currently facing a real threat to its survival, partly as a result of things entirely outside its control.

    There is however one major issue that in my view presents a threat to the future of the West Somerset Railway that is entirely self inflicted and completely within the control of the Railway to resolve, namely the Notice to Quit served on the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust at Washford.

    At one of the few meetings of my local model railway society we have managed this year, the unanimous response to the WSR's decision was that the WSR would no longer be getting any money from any of those present, and there was a collective feeling of 'Giving up' on the line. This seems to be replicated, as far as I can see across the 'Heritage Railway' community.

    It seems to me that this decision and the way it has been presented is seriously affecting the ability of the WSR to raise funds at a time when the line desperately needs all the money it can get.

    Secondly of course there was the press release describing the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust as a 'Cuckoo in the nest' and allegations about events at Washford allegedly reported to the ORR, which it seems the ORR know nothing about.

    What concerns me is that - and it does not appear to be the only such issue that has occurred, is that the behaviour of the PLC is 'bringing the railway into disrepute' Not only does this damage its public standing, which again it will make fundraising harder, but given that the Safety Regulator, the ORR, is increasingly interested in management 'culture' raise doubts about the suitability of the PLC to run a railway. It certainly raises serious doubts in my mind.

    Between them the WSSRT & the WSRA have a significant shareholding in the PLC, certainly enough to exert control, however in these difficult times I see no sign of attempts either in public or quietly behind the scenes to try and reverse the decision to evict the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust. While it may be too late to stop them leaving Washford, it may not be too late to reverse the damage to the WSR.

    I think that there is a strong possibility that the WSR, indeed several other 'Heritage' railways may not survive the next few years, what concerns me however is that the WSR may not survive, not as a result of factors beyond its control but as a result of factors entirely within its control.

    If, however the eviction of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust IS necessary to ensure the survival of the WSR, please can a clear case be made, in public as to why.

    Yours Faithfully
     
  7. paul1609

    paul1609 New Member

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    Paul, Im afraid you don't recall correctly you'd need to be in a very long train to be alongside the sewage works whilst the train took water.
    In the past it was possible to be held there at the home signal for a passing move but the signal was moved when the loop was extended for the carriage storage shed some years ago.
     
  8. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    How have you indentified the people you claim "do not visit the wsr or live anywhere near it or donate to it" or are you just making rash accusations without justification ? This sort of meaningless assumption adds nothing to the discussions and damages support just when it is needed.
     
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  9. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    Thanks an interesting read, here is the one I sent to the WSSRT Chairman on the 12/9 as a WSSRT Member, needless to say I have had no reply not even an acknowledgement, which is disappointing.

    Chris

    Having read the statement from you sent to Members and the article you were quoted in, in the local newspaper this week I have some grave concerns over the position you as Chairman and the WSSRT Board have taken over the AGM and people standing for election.

    To both your Members and the Public you have made some specific statements which I consider to be ill-judged, in part inaccurate, one sided and against the WSSRT’s Articles. You seem to be deliberately confusing Members standing for election at the AGM with their stated opinions, which it is clear the current WSSRT Board do not agree with. This generates a situation where you appear to be deferring an AGM and making some large and serious accusations in public in order to stop Members standing for election who you don’t agree with.
    You make the statement “The reasons for this was the receipt late on 3 September of 14 nominations as trustees from Robin White, amounting to a hostile takeover of the Trust, not for the Trust's benefit, but as a basis on which to force a merger with the Association prior to organising a conference to pressure the PLC into the early implementation of the Bailey Report.” You then go on to make a statement that the Members concerned did not discuss it with you before standing.

    1. Neither a late receipt or a prior discussion regarding standing for election are either needed or relevant, yet you state these in part as reasons for delaying an AGM.
    2. You state that Members standing for election “amount to a hostile takeover bid”. That statement is both inaccurate and malicious, Members standing for an election is a democratic right.
    3. You state this is not for the benefit of the Trust but to force a merger with the WSRA. That is your opinion which is not relevant in the context of Members standing for an election and Members voting for them or not as they see fit. In my opinion this statement constitutes you interfering with an AGM and who is allowed to stand and who not.
    4. Members deciding to stand for an election is one thing, a later decision to meagre or not can only be taken by an all Members vote and has no relevance with who stands or does not stand.

    You state: “The proposal would mean the end of the Trust as an independent organisation and brings with it considerable uncertainty on the future direction of trust activities, and effectively prevents us seeking further external funding until this threat is removed.
    1. This is your opinion, again your opinion is not relevant in the context of who stands for election, it is again for the Members to decide if the WSSRT merges or not and if so what a possible outcome and future direction could be.
    2. The prevention of external funding by Members standing for election is nothing more than you scare mongering and I cannot see it has any basis in fact.
    You state: “To fulfil our duties as trustees, and protect the interests of the Trust, we need to take legal advice and the views of the Charity Commission and to review the prospects under such a scenario before we can properly give you, our members, a clear view of the implications of the proposal.”

    1. In my opinion you are again confusing Members standing for election and a direction Members may in the future decide to take or not take. In order to protect the interests of the Trust you must allow any Members to stand for election within the Articles of the Trust. I assume that the 14 people who have decided to stand have submitted their applications in accordance with the Articles, that being the case you had no remit to defer the AGM. Again it appears you have deferred the AGM because you don’t agree with their opinions, this appears to be you acting against the interests of the Trust and for your own personal benefit.
    You state: “I am sorry that this unwanted interruption to our work prevents us discussing and agreeing the proposals set out in the resolutions already circulated in relation to changes in the objects and name of the Trust”.

    1. This is a very troubling statement, in effect you are claiming that Members standing for an AGM is an “unwanted interruption” and prevents you and your Board continuing to push through the direction you have decided on in a name and article change. It is clear to me that you and your Board have gained an impression that changing the direction of the WSSRT is in your gift and not for Members to vote on, merely to rubber stamp.
    2. This leads into a number of public statements made by the WSSRT recently which state that the Members have decided to stay independent and not get involved with the wider WSR. Again, it appears that the WSSRT Board have made that decision without a Members vote and you are assuming your Members views.
    3. In my opinion you and your Board may have forgotten that it is for the Members to decide not the WSSRT Board, you appear to think that your proposals are already agreed for an AGM just to ‘rubber stamp’. This sense of entitlement is worrying but unfortunately part of the larger WSR issues demonstrated by many of the WSR ‘old guard’ currently.
    In addition to the above you have made these claims to a local newspaper which of course makes the situation all the more serious.
    The other noteworthy point is a clear close and unhealthy relationship with the PLC Board in this matter, given that they have stated they will in effect assist the WSSRT in stopping its members stand for election. There is as you know anecdotal evidence that some of the 14 Members have been approached by various people from both organisations and have been pressured to stand down, of which 5 currently have.

    In my opinion the WSSRT Board has lost its perspective and has acted against the interested of the WSSRT in clearly trying to stop its own Members standing for election at an AGM, publicly claiming that the WSSRT has already agreed a direction which has not yet been voted on and taken an assumption that only they as current Board Members have the right to decide.

    I am not saying I agree with all of ‘the 14’ views and opinions or whether you or I like it or not, but I reserve the right as a WSSRT Member to decide for myself and make each decision in turn regarding who is on the WSSRT Board and later which direction the WSSRT Takes. I would therefore look to the WSSRT Chairman to uphold due process, yet clearly you are using your position to stop that in a clearly emotional set of reactions rather than a pragmatic process driven one because you don’t agree with their opinions.

    It is my opinion you have allowed your personal views to cloud your judgement. Therefore as such I have no choice but to call on you to consider your position and resign with immediate effect.


    Regards


    Andy Norman

    WSSRT Member

    Cc A representative of ‘the 14’.
     
  10. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Unfortunately , what Andy has highlighted clearly shows that even with the best will in the world, some of the people involved should not be in the positions they hold, there should be no place for personal ill will, towards fellow employees or volunteer's, On any other railway, it would result in a grievance hearing, but then , this does seem to be the wild west Somerset. Something does need to go bang, the collective ego's of those who are the problem,, the problem though is it will lose the railway to other people who are not part of the endless strife and bitching. because there will be no railway.
     
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  11. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    [​IMG]
    It seems to be the case that it is not just the top of the tree i.e. the PLC, as is suggested in many posts, that need a clean sweep. The issues of ego's, personalities, bitterness and even hatred are widespread in all the various component parts of the WSR and they all seem to need new people at their helm. The WSR has a large following it seems so there has to be some interest in filling the vacant posts that would arise from any clean sweep. Sadly many people are unlikely to want to stumble into a hornets nest so changes would have to be crystal clear to those so inclined.
    It seems there are many in this thread who appear to have the answers - but not me, far too old for hassle. :D
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2020
  12. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    I wouldn't worry, I'm sure they just want to ring you up for a friendly chat, although I have to say that when my name was more easily discoverable, it did result in complaints about me being made to, of all people, my brother's business partner.
     
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  13. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    Michael,

    I am wondering who holds the record for the most protracted retirement, I think you have finally surpassed Frank Sinatra.
     
  14. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    ●Comedian George Burns. Finally retired on his 100th birthday, 20 Jan 1996 (and died just a few weeks later!)
    ●Pharaoh Rameses II. Had a jolly good innings. He reigned over Egypt for >66yrs, not bad for someone who lived over 3000 years ago and died aged somewhere around 90.
    ●Rupert Murdoch, whose ongoing failure to just die retire irks millions among us.

    More appropriate to us lot, an honourable mention to Sir Daniel Gooch, ret'd 1889, after 52 years with the GWR, aged 73 and we can't overlook Mr Edward Thomas, who joined the Talyllyn way back in 1897 (IIRC), serving, under Sir Henry Haydn Jones, as General Manager until 1950, continuing with the line's new management as a representative of Sir H's estate, on the board, as a director until 1966 (or was it 1968?).

    Anyone else feel a new thread coming on? :)
     
  15. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    Here's what I sent to the WSSRT Secretary a few weeks ago:
    I note that the Chairman has serious concerns about the nomination of new
    candidates to become Trustees, having regard to their openly declared
    intentions. However I have trouble understanding how the proposed merger
    with the WSRA (or indeed any other reorganisation of the various WSR
    charities) could have any adverse effect on the WSSRT's charitable
    objectives. Any merged charity (whether under the existing WSRA name or
    under a new name) would inherit all the rights and responsibilities of the
    present charities, and would be obliged to continue to pursue them, except
    insofar as the Charity Commission might, on request, agree that something
    could be dropped. Some clarification of the Chairman's fears would be
    welcome.

    I raised some other unrelated matters in the same email, and I did get a response to those, but none to the above request.
     
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  16. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    My reservation with this merger (forced or otherwise, depending how you view it), if it takes place, may well cause defections from the two societies - particularly the WSSRT. It follows that another group might be formed which whilst not having asy shareholding factor wanted by the 10 would just replace one group on the line with another.
    There have been some upbeat comments regarding the future - hopefully they will prove accurate - but it could still end up with tears before bedtime I suspect.
     
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  17. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Why I wonder did the WSSRT send out the AGM paperwork before the relevant deadlines had passed?

    I suspect that they may have had n inkling of what was to come
     
  18. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Presumably the consent of WSRA members would be needed for a merger?
     
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  19. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'm not sure what this supposed group could actually do though? The WSSRT's activities are mainly focused on maintaining the museums on the railway for which they are responsible for and the heritage carriages project. I don't see how disaffected members could start up a new group to do any of those things unilaterally.
     
  20. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    That, of course, would depend upon how the WSSRT was merged with the WSRA and how it featured in the new set up. Formation of new groupings of people who felt unhappy how things went with their former group, are not unknown. There are probably many instances, not just with heritage lines.
    Whether a new group would have any influence, premises or whatever, is beside the point. They do arise; some achieve their membership and objective, others fade into obscurity.
     

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