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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. 5914

    5914 Member

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    As I think I mentioned in a previous post there are two easy to justify reasons for a charity to invest:
    1. to make a financial return so that it can use the proceeds to fund its own work to fulfil its aims; or
    2. to give it sufficient control of a commercial body that it needs in order to fulfil its own aims and objectives (the concept of an 'operating subsidiary').
    The far harder investment to justify is where the investment gives neither a commercial return or provides significant (and preferably controlling) influence on a company in or for it to use that company to fulfil the charity's own aims and objectives.

    The quotation cited here highlights the challenge that WSSRT and WSRA may now have. They do not hold their shareholdings as investments (which is fully supported by CC guidance), and they do not seem to have influence to demonstrate that they are able to influence the direction of WSRplc to effectively ensure it fulfils their own charitable aims. This leaves their only justification being the criteria that you cite - that they have invested in a corporate body that sufficiently shares their aims to justify this investment. Should the direction of the plc change further in the future, or move away from the heritage aspects that are at the heart of the two charity's aims and objectives.
     
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  2. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    Now why would you think that I wonder?!!
     
  3. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    If the WSRA& WSSRT had both said in unison, no, or else, then the eviction of the S&DRT would have not happened, but personal loathing and some peoples need to preserve their personal empires , meant the PLC were able to ensure there would be no threat to the cosy little empires peoples have built for themselves, by playing them off against each other. which meant they could not work together, against the plc, this is further played by the air of mistrust between the three groupings, clearly now post the WSSRT AGM, when the problem became very clear, in that there is no way any of the groups can effectively work together, you have to ask, who's hand is strengthened, its not the two charities, that's for sure,
     
  4. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    Or else what exactly?
     
  5. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Yep. In its original form:

    'Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.' John Stuart Mill 1867

    Various versions are (probably wrongly) attributed to Burke and to Kennedy.

    But there is a REAL quote from Kennedy that I like:

    'Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.' JFK in a speech at the White House 3.3.62

    Robin
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
  6. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    You really don't know that that is the case. The powers of shareholders are pretty limited, even when they are a majority, which is not necessarily the case with the combined WSRA and WSSRT holdings. It is fatally easy to imagine, that, if things had gone a different way to how they had actually turned out, then the outcome would have been the best possible outcome under the circumstances, when there are always an infinite number of other possible outcomes, a good many of which would have been worse than what actually happened. It's like losing the first race on a six horse accumulator and saying that, if you had won that race it was a dead cert that you would have won the other five.
     
  7. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    I think it depends on how you think the PLC Board would have responded to criticism from the two main shareholders. Now, there is every possibility that they may have taken it as an opportunity to 'put some people in their place' within a power struggle and to ignore any opposition, working on the assumption of the impossibility for the shareholders to activate the nuclear option and get rid of the board. Or alternatively, whether you think the emergence of a unified, critical mass representing the broad spectrum of supporters, volunteers etc, would have acted as a constraint on the behaviour of the board.

    The PLC has been very effective at shutting down opposition by presenting i) as the railway facing an existential threat and ii) that only they can defeat the existential threat iii) the end justifies the means.

    As we know, i) is probably true but it is of their own making, ii) there is scant evidence to support that other than the claims of financial miracles that no one else can see, iii) would only be true if they were actually defeating rather than creating the existential threat to the line.
     
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  8. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    How, then, in your proposed new 3rd charity model, will that charity exercise any control over the plc( or whatever the new operating business is).
    If the combined WSRA and WSSRT shareholding cannot have any influence, and you have stated quite clearly that it cannot, the PLC is free to do whatever it pleases. You seem sure that the combined 20% shareholding could not unseat the chairman of the PLC, you may be right, but I can't understand how you can be right.
    You apparently agree with the PLC that in fact the charities are and should be controlled by the PLC, and I cannot see how the proposed new charity will be any different, and as long as the WSR operates under a 'bullies charter', the strife will continue. The PLC can threaten any volunteer with ID card removal, without any recourse to appeal, and thus have individual control, and hence total control, of volunteers, support charities, facebook pages, society magazines and virtually all information.

    Personally, I am utterly appalled by the chairman of the PLC. Not just in regard to the S&DRT, not just in regard to the volunteers who have been forced off the railway, not just in regard to 7027, not just in risking the PR disaster of being caught out operating a white vehicle on red, but none of these suggest anything other than a bad character. Charming and persuasive maybe, but they said that about Tony Blair.
    I believe the attempt by the 10 to attain the WSSRT board was strongly motivated by a desire to change the board of the PLC, to try and stop the downward trajectory of the WSR. As that is off the table, your new charity proposal is touted as the only way forward, but how will it make anything different if whoever holds sway at the PLC can carry on unchallenged?
     
  9. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think the idea is that the new charity will own 100% of the voting shares? With all current voting shares being transformed into non-voting shares. That may be simplistic/wrong, but that was my limited understanding of how things would be different.
    Then the hope would be that the WSRA and WSSRT would merge with the new charity. Things are looking good for the WSRA, not so much with the WSSRT. I suppose if you were to pick one as being more important and thus more important to merge it would be the WSRA though.

    I think overall the end destination doesn't seem a bad one anymore from what I can gather, although I'm still sceptical that the journey to get there is being and will be conducted in the best way that it could be.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
  10. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    To what does this refer?
     
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  11. Selsig

    Selsig New Member

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    Diesel fuel, I suspect.

    John
     
  12. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    we continue to come back to the eternal conundrum that is the WSR . the endless circular debate and that is which faction controls the future of the railway . in more simplistic terms it almost boils down to the WSRA or the PLC. Two players , funnily enough not too different a destination , slightly different journey and vision and a healthy dose of distrust of the other side
     
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  13. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I would say its more than a healthy dose of mistrust, more like complete and utter loathing, by a PLC who do not want to lose the power they have, and certainly not to the WSRA. that's why they have their tame poodle, on a leash to counteract any move by the WSRA via their shareholding to force through change, It would be very enlightening to see who ends up as officers of this new charity i would bet that current members of the PLC board, also end up being in charge of things when the PLC morphs into the new West Somerset Railway Charity. that is the game plan all along,
     
  14. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Member

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    Over the years the WSRA have not done themselves any favors with their actions and attitudes, i was a member for a few years i left when Paul Whitehouse became chairman (personal reasons from his days with the Sussex Police Force) i always had the feeling (and saying this is only my opinion) that the society were only interested in my subscription and not much else, at the time i lived in Sussex so visits were scarce which was known to them, i was also at the time a member of another society at Weybourne in Norfolk of which i found very amicable completely opposite to the WSRA.
     
  15. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    It only boils down to people and factions because the prize is power without accountability, the luxury of the dictator. If the controllers of the railway were accountable to the volunteers and other supporters, then the "eternal conundrum" would disappear. That, however, smells of democracy, something John Bailey is set against. Whilst there is a "top down" structure to the WSR, there will always be those who will strive, by fair means or foul, to get to the top and once there, stay there.
     
  16. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    The PLC does have a very bad track record, at least in the last few years, of selectivity in whose views it listens to.
    The WSRHT* recently appeared to take account of its members' views, but only after sending them some very dubious propaganda.
    The WSRA seems to be making a genuine attempt to assess its members' views.

    *Has the change of name taken effect or is it subject to ratification by the Charity Commission?
     
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  17. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    The new name was pre approved by the CC (and changed on the CC site) and was then only subject to member approval. As it was accepted at the AGM I suppose they only have to give a copy of the result to the CC and that's it done.

    So what should we call the WSSRT now? Clean answers only please, on the back of a £20 note to:- Battersea Home for the Bewildered...
     
  18. aldfort

    aldfort Part of the furniture

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    At the risk of going around in circles on this:
    Most of the shares held in the WSR plc by the two charities have been gifted over the years as part of the settlement of the estates of passed shareholders. I am therefore unsure that they constitute "investments" as anybody would reasonably understand them.
    One thing seems certain, the holding of the shares by the 2 charities, who each hold roughly equal percentages, is seen by many to place a burden on the charities to act in a particular way from time to time. Now there is an absolute raft of guidence to trustees about how they should act already that most may be unaware of. In fact the guidance on working with what the CC refers to as a "connected organisation" is just about to be updated and made a little more prescriptive. So even more rules for all of us to follow.
     
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  19. aldfort

    aldfort Part of the furniture

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    Yes we were, we are a charity that seeks to support the WSR, we were interested in getting your money to use to that end. I am saddened that you think that 4 journals per year is insufficient communication. I get less from the National Trust and the RNLI, both of whom I support at far greater cost than a WSRA membership. Additionally the e-mail address of the WSRA chairman is freely available to members and I enjoy my communication with many of them almost every day.
     
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  20. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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