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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    Apart from the fact that you confuse the CC's advice on co-opting a Trustee to fill a particular need with the process to elect Trustees in general, as @gwilialan has pointed out above, in my experience your statement point 7 is not correct. In most cases a charity owned by its members will have provision in its Constitution (Articles) for candidates to be nominated by the members to face an election process at the organization's AGM. There is no requirement for the candidates to be "vetted" by the existing Board as this would be a clear interference in the rights of members to select their representatives. If, at the end of the election process, it is felt that the new Board lacks a particular ares of expertise then it may choose to co-opt an individual. It is at this point that a vetting process may be used.

    For somebody who took a brave stand in favour of the rights of the members of the WRSA, I am surprised that you seem to be having trouble accepting the same basic democratic procedures in the WSSRT. You seem to be taking the same attitude as the old Trustees of the WRSA did at that time, finding any excuse to try to prevent any changes. Most disappointing.

    Mike
     
  2. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    I think, personally, we ought to shift off having 'a go' at Ian Coleby on here.

    Ok, I've had a few pops at him on here.

    Steve Williams really ought to post on here instead of leaving Ian to deal with all this flack.

    I am reminded about David Lloyd George's comments about Churchill during the Norway debate in the House of Commons in May 1940.
     
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  3. fred

    fred New Member

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    After reading the last few pages I'm sorry to say that I can't see the present course of action bringing peace to the WSR. The infighting will continue regardless of the results of any voting .

    The suggestions made by Tom @Jamessquared re a separate all inclusive membership organisation appear to be the best option in my opinion, although quite how you get there from the present position is a bit of a mystery to me.
    In the meantime while you are all arguing amongst yourselves the plc has a free pass to ride roughshod over you with no apparent redress.

    While I'm here I would like to apologise to John Bailey @Lineisclear for my reply the other day to his one-liner to Andy Norman as he later posted clarification of what he meant.
     
  4. richards

    richards Well-Known Member

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    Because that is what this "discussion" has become - a polarised and detailed battle based on how to get rid of a certain group of people and replace them with something (anything) else. The 10 are seen as saviours by some because they are putting up a fight. We do like an underdog, don't we. But I am really not sure what else the 10 represent or *how* they are planning to make any change within a highly polarised organisation.

    The context of the situation has also been totally lost, with many arguing about legal and procedural issues as a way to have a go at one group or another. Everything is taken in isolation without seeing the bigger picture.

    There is also a simplistic idea that the AGM will somehow produce a new management team made up of the old *or* the new. The more likely result will be an awkward mixture of both. Then what?
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2020
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  5. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    May I put a question to @ikcdab @Lineisclear & @rodders154

    Do you - or if you dont, please say so. support a WSR 'family' controlled by its members through a democratic process or by a self appointed group?

    If you DO support the democratic option, please explain how your views on the current WSSRT 10 fit in with this
     
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  6. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Agreed. Aside from the engagement rules of this Forum it's never a good thing to line up against views from any individual that run counter to what a majority may feel. Occasionally an 'alternate' view can shed some light on reasons why things are the way they are and to be honest, I don't believe anyone in this sorry saga has a monopoly on what is best or likely to satisfy everyone.

    As an observer, I think that a lot of good sense has come out of recent pages but I wonder whether in the process the underlying problem, as expressed by many, has almost been given a 'free pass' in this - meaning the plc.

    We are told that recent actions (or lack of action) by the plc have triggered a concern about the health of the Railway and how it is being run. The eviction of the S&DRT was a significant event but this is not the only concern. Many comments on here have been critical of the WSSRT but actually, isn't the underlying problem not the WSSRT, per se, but the fact that some Trustees (or maybe the Trust as a whole) appear to support the plc rather than take a neutral view? Isn't this misplaced loyalty on the part of the WSSRT? Is this stance one possible reason why the membership of the Trust is being challenged?

    When you get 'hand in glove' arrangements as appears to be the case here, it all gets messy if things go wrong with one group and not the other. Any people who are members of both groups can become problematic when that happens.

    It would be a pity if individuals tangled up in their own world were to lose sight of what seems to be the longer term goal for the Railway and the plc were accidentally let off the hook. Just a view, of course.
     
  7. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    I am minded to agree. Every now and then this thread stumbles into interesting discussions on vision and how to get there, but inevitably - within very few hours - it is back to internecine strife to which it is very tempting to say 'a plague on both your houses'.

    I simply cannot see how peace can break out at the WSR in any of the outcomes to this situation.

    Sent from my SM-G770F using Tapatalk
     
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  8. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    This confusion is repeatedly arising. The CC advice is based on applying a professional management model to an organisation, and is generally sound. It breaks down in this situation, where the choices are of a fundamentally different type.


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  9. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Very true in many respects.

    I suggest that there are few if any places where its opponents can take their fight to the PLC

    However by aligning itself rather to closely to the PLC, coupled of course with a small membership the WSSRT has become the first place where those who seek to change the WSR see the potential for change.

    I suspect that if the direction of the WSSRT changes then we might see either some 'interesting' moves by the PLC or the management of the WSRA having to face the possibility of member driven changes.
     
  10. Herald

    Herald Member

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    The latest Heritage Railway magazine includes an article about Sir Gerald Nabarro and the SVR. I wonder if I am alone in thinking the WSR looks like history repeating itself. Faced with a need for finance it seems a determined individual saw selling part of the railway as a solution and is reported as showing total disdain for the volunteers who he is quoted as saying "have no standing at all". Time will tell whether WSR survives to become an SVR style success but it is notable that the SVR achieved it without the individual concerned.
     
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  11. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    The Nabarro parallel has been suggested a few times, but feels implausible due to who owns the land. On the other hand, the reported arrogance towards those who disagree is a consistent theme.


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  12. rodders154

    rodders154 Member

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    Your wrong, apology accepted. The rest is company confidential.
    BTW I have had correspondence to say that they have rumbled that I am in fact you. Please put them right.
     
  13. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    Julian that isn't how it was and you undersell yourself by such a characature. I was still chairman at the time, and john made a very cogent and compelling case to the board.
    I guess it's all in the company minutes.
    Ian
     
  14. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    John you ask a good question that deserves a considered response. I am away today but will respond properly later.
    Ian
     
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  15. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    And to @ikcdab
    It has never been my intention to 'have a go' at Ian. I have a great respect for him for the work he did and the grief he suffered in the process of removing the Ex6.

    There is nothing personal in my comments, all I am interested in is getting the facts straight before people on here go haring off on another wild goose chase that achieves nothing.

    Ian, If I have caused you any grief with my comments I sincerely apologise, I am not 'having a go' at you personally. I greatly respect the fact that you are the only one of the board with the strength of character to come on here without hiding behind any tagname and actually put measured and constructive comments we can discuss. Next summer, when all this hoo-ha has died down (one way or another) I will be coming to West Somerset - I hope I get the opportunity to make any apology you may feel is needed personally.
    Alan
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2020
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  16. Bionic_Woman

    Bionic_Woman New Member

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    Since the WSSRT are keen to follow the advice of the Charity Commission, may I also add some useful advice from the Electoral Reform Society?

    "Independent observation is a crucial part of the electoral process. It helps to ensure that elections and relevant referendums are carried out in a way which is transparent, accessible, impartial and secure".

    Another piece of guidance that I hope you will acknowledge and take on board.
     
  17. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    Ian is right, its easier to look at Companies House. But in fairness to Julian there were a lot of comings and goings from the PLC Board in a short period at the time and even I had to go back and look for the time line of JJP’s Co-option.
    • Frank and Rodney were already on the WSRA Board and then joined the PLC Board in addition earlier in 2018.
    • Ian was on the PLC Board already as Chairman as he says.
    • Frank and Rodney were removed from the WSRA Board (I can’t remember the exact reasons why) but remained on the PLC Board which happened in August 2018 so before JJP was co-opted in September, so were on the PLC Board as well.
    • It was after JJP was co-opted that all three plus the rest of the Board resigned or were removed either in September or in the following months.
    So Ian is correct, he was Chairman but Frank and Rodney were also Board members during the co-option.
     
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  18. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    A fair question.
     
  19. John Palmer

    John Palmer Member

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    At https://www.national-preservation.c...eral-discussion.508987/page-1721#post-2614507 @Steve said “The trouble with volunteers and supporters voting to appoint boards is that it is very much frowned on by the ORR.” I've looked in vain on the ORR's website for the expression of such a view, so could @Steve or someone else please point me in the right direction?

    @Steve's post prompted the following response from @Jamessquared
    I wonder whether it might be worthwhile to explore how, hypothetically, recent events on the WSR might have played out under a different regime such as that on the Bluebell to which @Jamessquared refers.

    Suppose, then, on a fictitious heritage railway, the board of the operating company has been established by the process described in @Jamessquared's post and the directors' appointments confirmed at AGM by the vote of the controlling membership organisation as majority shareholder.

    The railway concerned is in dire financial straits, but initially the operating company's board is applauded by most for the remedial measures it takes. But then, unexpectedly, a crisis arises when that board falls into dispute with one of the family of groups (I'll call it 'the Group') that occupy premises on the railway and engages in railway-related activities having some incidental benefit to the operating company. A significant (or at any rate vocal!) part of the membership organisation expresses outrage at what it regards as the unbelievably crass decision of the operating company's board that gave rise to the dispute. The decision in question happens to have nothing to do with the operation of the railway, and the Group claims that it is one that has caused it financial loss. The loss alleged is one the operating company is not well placed to meet due to the railway's straitened circumstances but not necessarily sufficient to pitch it into insolvency. Solicitors advice to the board is that the Group's claim for such loss, if pursued, stands a realistic prospect of success.

    How is this crisis addressed within the organisational structure described? Can members of the membership organisation discover that the operating company faces a real risk of having to pay compensation it can ill afford? If not, can the trustees of the membership organisation, as majority shareholders in the operating company, access that information? What power do the members of the membership organisation have to compel the operating company's board to deal with the dispute in accordance with the membership's collective wishes? Is such power confined to the exercise of trustees' rights as majority shareholders? Are those trustees' rights effectively limited to forcing changes in the composition of the operating company's board by EGM vote?

    I have a strong suspicion that, regardless of the organisational structure chosen, preponderant power remains concentrated in the hands of the body having day to day control over the land and working assets of the railway. Those appointing the members of that body may have brought appropriate diligence to the selection of competent railway managers, but no amount of professional skill and expertise in the running of a railway is a guarantee that the members so appointed will not make an utterly foolish error in matters unconnected with that expertise, so does it not, ultimately, come down to a matter of luck whether a heritage railway is blessed with a management that avoids such errors? Could it be that the West Somerset Railway has just been desperately unlucky?
     
  20. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'm not sure that the scenario you describe could come about under that setup, because surely the freehold, or lease of the freehold, would be with the charity, and thus the operating company board would have no power or business to evict a tenant in the first place?
     

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