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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Member

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    Indeed it is so, without fiddling around with constitutions, especially if the "improvements" made an already excessively complicated structure even more Byzantine.
     
  2. Dennis John Brooks

    Dennis John Brooks Member

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    Ian, I used to admire all the work you had done on the boards of the various organisations you had represented, but I feel now you & others have lost your integrity by supporting the PLC's view.

    DJB.
     
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  3. John Palmer

    John Palmer Member

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    I'd like to take up @Jamessquared's question about vision.

    I know it has become fashionable for organisations to put out a vision statement, but I'm wary of them. History records too many instances of constituencies seduced by their leaders' vision, only to find themselves being led into disaster by it. To encourage me to support a heritage railway I would settle for something rather more mundane, namely Respect.

    Respect for your staff and volunteers such that when one of them raises a grievance it would never occur to you to brush it aside by doing away with the grievance procedure that has been invoked.

    Respect for your colleague organisations such that when they decline your plea for more money it is simply inconceivable that you respond by breaking the contract your formed with them two years earlier and turf them out of their base.

    Respect for your members such that when a body of them express their discontent by standing for office your response is to trust the membership to pass its judgment on all candidates rather than restricting their number on spurious grounds.

    Respect is a state of mind the presence of which is never going to be demonstrated by the most eloquent of vision statements but is as vital to the health of a heritage railway as to any other organisation. Its absence in any of the forms described is going to be all too painfully obvious to the onlooker. If you are able, acknowledge and correct the error with due humility, learn the lesson and seek to rebuild trust. Otherwise stand aside to make way for those who can.
     
  4. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I disagree, but respect the views expressed. @Jamessquared has commented on museum accreditation not being linked to the parent body; I just query how remaining standalone can sustain those objectives if there aren't effective links to the plc that allow those objectives to be promoted and followed. Similarly, there's been discussion earlier in the thread of how different railways have responded differently to the challenges of restoring and running pre-BR rolling stock; they suggest to me that the outcomes depend on people, not organisations.

    That leaves the shareholding. While it exists, it makes the WSSRT a target for intervention and undermines it's ability to truly act independently, but it's a sufficiently small shareholding that it carries limited power.

    I support an overarching charity model, but think the issues you highlight are best dealt with by defining that charity in terms of including specifically precise historical objectives that it has to factor in the heritage coaching stock aspects.

    Personally, I don't see any connection between
     
  5. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Both are needed - a vision is "what"; respect is part of "how".
     
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  6. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    John has just explained why things need to change in West Somerset, there is a lack to two major things
    across the entire structure ( if there is one) of the railway, Trust, Trust in those who hold office, and the responsibility of office, and respect, respect of everyone else, , respect towards each other, you may disagree, but do it amicably, listen to constructive criticism, admit when your wrong, give praise where its due, and remember, you are merely the custodians of the railway, your job is to hand it over in good shape to the next generation .
     
  7. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    My opinion on negotiation is to know where you are starting from and knowing where it’s possible to go given the constraints of the environment, sorry if that sounds like sucking eggs, I don’t mean it to be and its directed at all involved not just you personally.

    I would start with knowing the non-negotiables of the environment, the true ones and not peoples own emotional ‘red lines’ which they often see as non-negotiables but aren’t. You currently feel a win/win is not adhering to the Articles in allowing people to stand because you fear a bigger issue is going to come from it and that’s your personal red line which you don’t want to concede because it’s your view (which we should all respect). We can argue whether the Articles are right or not, but they are an unemotional non-negotiable fact of the environment you face. The articles say that anybody can stand if they do so before the 1st of Nov.

    So if the WSSRT Board take the position of challenging that as fact then all anybody has to do is to beat you over the head with it until you stop or are removed from the debate, and then you will never get to debate and negotiate on your own ‘red line’ of feeling the WSSRT should stay the same and move to be independent of the main WSR structure, which will come later, after the AGM. This is the true source of the disagreement between you all.

    You can in my opinion only negotiate with peoples own emotional red lines. So if you’ve split out the non-negotiable facts you are left with the negotiables that people are able to concede or not as a choice. You have a stance and they have a stance and that appears to be far apart currently, but underneath that if you understand their stance in detail and they like wise you will often find some of the areas of common ground that can easily be side stepped without too much giving in on either side. For example I think you all genuinely love the WSR, you all want the museums to be top notch and vibrant and the carriages to be restored as quickly as possible, you only see different routes to achieve that, and that's the debate, not elections.

    That then leaves you with only the things where the two sides are separate in their thinking and that’s where the true negotiation starts, right at the end, as detail. You can then only negotiate fairly and always ensure honour is kept all round.

    I do think from the starting position of now it’s a tough debate to reach a consensus, but you shouldn’t be afraid of failure if you don’t reach an agreement because at least both sides would have tried. I think ultimately one way or another it will conclude because whatever route you all take ultimately it will be the Members who will have the casting vote, the negotiation is just to determine whether you all get to that point the easy way or the hard way.

    Sorry if that all sounds a bit basic in concept and I know your thinking is most likely beyond this but maybe come back to the basics in this case and keep talking to try and find the starting point of common ground.

    Lastly and again sorry if this is obvious but when I trained people in negotiation skills the one message I would try and get across is always have an objective to: Arrive at a position at the end of a negotiation which allows all sides to come back and negotiate again another day.

    Good luck.
     
  8. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    An excellent post indeed. Over in politics land, I was reading an article that suggested a good first step to a decent, informed debate might be to get the opposing sides to explain the opposite sides' positions, in a way that the side holding that view would agree with. It seems like a productive way to start to me.

    @ikcdab I would really like to know what the current board would do if resolution 7 passes, but the ten do not find themselves in a majority on the new board. You've been good enough to stay on here and express your views, I'd really like to know what you think on this one.
     
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  9. Groks212

    Groks212 Member

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    That is exactly the way I see Mr Colebys post. Don't let the members vote but let the board decide if we want any of the new candidates to join us. It also means that if the candidates agreed to that proposal then the only people standing at the AGM would be the trustees standing for re-election.

    Dave B
     
  10. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    FS123, well, any resolution passed at an AGM should be complied with.....
     
  11. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Reassuring to hear, thank you.
     
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  12. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Again, its down to trust, I note the wording is "Should be complied with" should it not be " Will be complied with" as its the members who guide the policy, and the trustees have to put their aspirations into a workable policy, that is then taken forward. not the trustees say they might or might not accept the members wishes ?
     
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  13. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    Umm no. Both you and @Andy Norman are misrepresenting what I said and said in a previous post.
    All trustees need to be elected in the usual way. I quoted the charity commission guidance earlier about advertising and interviewing and seeking trustees that have the required skills, knowledge and experience to build a coherent board. They still need to be elected.
    Or you can go down the route the ten have chosen and nominate yourselves. That is perfectly ok, it just risks the very fallings out we have seen and it risks an ad hoc board.
    I am not ignoring the articles or trying to subvert them. I'm just saying you can add to the process to make it more effective. It's what virtually every other railway does.
    Ian C
     
  14. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    The issues here - in all sorts of directions - being ones of trust, and of power. You are right to call out that risk, but the other side of it is that if those who aren't content with WSSRT leadership believe that their views won't get a fair hearing
    then alternative, more robust, tactics may be felt necessary.

    In the context of the WSR at this juncture, I don't consider that an unreasonable position to have taken.
     
  15. Bionic_Woman

    Bionic_Woman New Member

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    I am not surprised that the 10/The Reformers did not take up your 'offer'.

    The Articles specifically state that there is no maximum number of Trustees, nor is there any mention of any 'selection process'. So the offer you are placing before 'the 10' appears to breach the WSSRT' Articles. How can they accept an offer which the Charity Commissioners would clearly rule as unlawful?

    Of course the WSSRT needs a team with the right mix of skills. So after the (lawful) election, if the Trustees' skills don't meet the needs of the WSSRT, Trustees can be co-opted, as the current Board has very recently demonstrated .

    The current Board can choose not to support the nominations; what they cannot do is choose who stands for election. Simply put, if the nomination is in accordance with the WSSRT's Articles, the response of the WSSRT must also be accordance with the Articles.

    The 10 do not appear to me to be the 'awkward' squad that your last sentence appears t0 paint them. You've made them an offer they have to refuse.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  16. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    The 'Big Issue' though that we need to debate is should the WSR be controlled by self perpetuating boards or by its volunteers and supporters voting to appoint the board(s) that control it?

    As I have said before, the track record of the 'self perpetuating' management isnt that impressive so far.
     
  17. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    You need to read my subsequent post made at 5.20pm
    Ian
     
  18. Penrhynfan

    Penrhynfan New Member

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    BS specs use the word "shall" rather than "will" or "should" to indicate a demand or command which must be complied with - without question.
     
  19. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    This educational remit is something that has the potential to cause trouble in future. Under the Plc/Bailey plan, a new charity will be created. Now, if this new charity is to have an educational remit, that will make three charities with that remit on the one railway and the Charities Commission could well ask how many educational charities West Somerset needs. If it doesn't have an educational remit, how is it going to show it's activities are charitable?
     
  20. Matt78

    Matt78 Well-Known Member

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    since the Charities Act 2011 “advancement of heritage” is a charitable object. So it doesn’t need to be educational.
     

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