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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. John Palmer

    John Palmer Member

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    Yes. Put more pithily than I could.

    (From the broken down office chair on which this lawyer is perched.)
     
  2. richards

    richards Well-Known Member

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    Firstly, I wonder if this the right place for both sides to have a slanging match about possible legal action over an incident where few people know the details. Perhaps some need to realise when they are being wound up by others, and end up saying things which they may later regret.

    Secondly, and following on from that, it seems strange for a largely volunteer-run organisation to state so firmly that noone has a right to volunteer with them. I wonder what effect this comment has had on their many other volunteers. Whatever the legal position, it doesn't do much for volunteer loyalty or motivation. If my employer said something similar about my work contract, I would be looking for a new job pretty quickly.
     
  3. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    The other effect to be considered is that on potential donors, who are unlikely to want to throw their cash into a mincer - especially when there are so many other well-run good causes to support.
     
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  4. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I would interprete this as meaning people who the plc board do not find acceptable, can not volunteer, as it's the PLC who issue the ID cards for those working on WSR property , and of course such are the very close links between the Board of the PLC, and that of the WSRHT .That the trustees of the WSRHT, would never openly condemn any actions taken by the PLC. All the time whilst the acting chair of the WSRHT is also a board member of the PLC.
     
  5. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Twice in my legal career (most recently last September) I have been fortunate to change one of the 9 ‘protected characteristics’ - the pillars of discrimination law. So it is always a bit dangerous to regard law as fixed and unchanging. Viewed properly, it’s a world of opportunity and a canvas for innovation.
     
  6. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    Let's not go down the route of whether the action is legally watertight or not, this is a very simple moral and ethical question; will you stand up and be counted and condemn the WSHRT action and the PLCs subsequent persuing of that action?
     
  7. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Personally I find it intolerable that the Equalities Act can't, at least in part (I appreciate the points about pay) apply to volunteers. If that's the best legal defence to what is going on then scraping the barrel doesn't come close. Equally though, if there is no relevant law and the Plc can chuck out whoever it wishes on a whim, why on earth does it need to engage fantastically expensive consultants to help them do it?
     
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  8. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    Clause 12 (4) of the Articles of Association of the WSRHT provide a procedure for termination of a WSRHT member's membership by the Board of the Trust on 21 days written Notice if the Board considers this to be in the "best interests" of the Trust.

    Steve Williams was therefore incorrect in what he stated to John following his enquiry, and furthermore, as a Director of both the WSR PLC and the WSRHT, should not have got involved at all. He certainly should not have made a request to the WSR PLC to investigate the matters.

    Given what subsequently has happened, Steve Williams and his WSRHT board had no grounds for involving the WSR PLC. I have not the slightest doubt that Steve Williams knew what the likely result would be which strikes me as both 'ultra vires' and nasty and vindictive.

    Indeed, so far as the WSR PLC determining that some of it's volunteers had brought the railway into disrepute, I would regard Steve William's actions in all this to be just that. I am sure we can all think of other events in the last 18 months when certain other members of the WSR PLC board have brought the railway into disrepute - swearing at the WSRA Chairman, instructing Solicitors to serve a 'Notice to Quit' on the SDRT etc..
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2021
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  9. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    Well there's something of a conundrum there. Legally the PLC could, as you put it, "chuck out whoever it wishes" without going through any disciplinary process. It chose to follow one involving external consultants and yet is castigated for doing so! I make no observation as to whether that process was competent, impartial or value for money but at least there was an attempt to apply one on the findings of which sanctions were based.
     
  10. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    I note you have not condemned the WSHRT or PLC for their actions, I think that will speak volumes to many.
    You have once again defaulted to the legalise of what the PLC can/cannot do. The million dollar question is why are they involved? This was an election to the WSHRT-it has absolutely nothing to do with the plc.
     
  11. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

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    I know nothing of these circumstances but, just as a matter of principle, an individual who's a Director of both the WSR PLC and the WSRHT who refers something from the Trust to PLC with their 'Trust hat on' can manage their conflicts of interest by recusing themselves from the PLC's handling of it.

    Patrick
     
  12. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    While I deplore Steve Williams' action here, and believe the plc should have said "nothing to do with us", this absolutely was to do with the plc - the whole purpose of standing for election was to try to change the plc.

    That the plc have chosen to act as they have speaks volumes about the plc, and the culture of its leadership.
     
  13. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    A legal form which strays close to a fiction at the best of times, and the more so in the context of events last autumn.
     
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  14. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    This whole situation leaves me gob-smacked and incredulous at what apparently has been going on :)

    Assume that person A is a member of a group B such as the WSRHT, WSRA, DEPG etc and works as a volunteer. Person A then does/says something which, in the opinion of group B, brings them into disrepute or is against their rules etc, so they terminate his/her membership by due process. Totally separately the Plc may then decide that the action of A did or did not bring the wider railway into disrepute and so may or may not decide to remove their Staff ID. If the latter, then A can continue to volunteer on the railway in some capacity because there is no requirement for he/she to be a member of any of the 'supporting groups'.

    Conversely, assume that group B decides that A has no case to answer and allows them to continue in membership. Nonetheless the Plc decides in due course to remove the ID from A anyway, thereby preventing him/her from volunteering on the railway. If the nature of A's normal volunteer works was to (say) work on the heritage coaches or in one of the museums, then as they could no longer do that in effect IMHO the Plc is interfering with the work of group B. There is also then the extent to which doing any 'volunteer work' for group B away from the WSR (eg at home, or in an off-site workshop etc) actually requires them to have a Staff ID anyway - there has been a suggestion previously that it did.

    In this particular case, insofar as I understand the details which have come to light on NP recently, group B appear not even to have considered - let alone followed - the internal process available to them, but effectively simply handed the matter to a 3rd-party as if somehow to distance themselves from the fall-out.
     
  15. John Palmer

    John Palmer Member

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    What findings were these? And what were the sanctions?
     
  16. aldfort

    aldfort Part of the furniture

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    The law on matters relating to volunteers and the court of public opinion are two entirely different things. Other much larger charities in the UK who seem to have forgotton that they are membership organisations and have objects and articles and rely on volunteers seem to have been reminded of this only recently. You'd think with such clear lessons staring the many organisations of the WSR in the face that an outbreak of peace and a focus on the actual problems confronting the line might have been a good idea?
     
  17. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    The act of standing for election was/is purely an internal matter, the reform to the plc was part of a much bigger reform also involving the WSRA.

    I could stand for election to Westminster on the policy of abolishing taxes, it doesn't mean it will happen and I highly doubt that Westminster would take action against me!
     
  18. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I disagree with the parallel, though completely agree with you on the utter inappropriateness of the action taken.
     
  19. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    I suggest it would be normal for those to be confidential to the parties concerned.
     
  20. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    Will you publicly condemn the actions of the WSHRT and PLC with/without your WSRA hat on?
     

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