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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. thequantocks

    thequantocks New Member

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    [
    On re reading the post still come across as arrogant.
     
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  2. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B Member

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    I take issue with your last two points.

    The railway is not reaching out to those who will dip their hands in their pockets is a consistent manner. Yes there are blogs and newsletters for those people but they are scattered all over the place and sometimes not even made available publicly. I refer to the permanent way newsletter which emerged a few weeks ago to the amazement of many supporters as an example of the latter. Supporters want to follow the progress on the railway through good times as well as the bad and, more to the point, they want to understand and see what their money is being spent on. As far as I can see the PLC's policy is to release anything only if it has absolutely no alternative.
     
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  3. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your comment, good point, and it’s a major part of the issue in my humble opinion. The structure of the WSR is as is well known poor, and the support organisation as a PLC Shareholder doesn’t engage with supporting volunteers/members who have issues/concerns and needs support, or indeed just help to apply the current policies in place and agreed being followed. It also doesn’t use its PLC shares to support members at an AGM. There is no oversight so it’s up to individuals to raise issues, however when the PLC doesn’t listen and then ‘sacks’ these voices one by one, it means the people have no voice and the WSR is a little poorer each time.

    This is not new or just aimed at the current PLC but daily I have private conversations with more people ‘on the inside’ who are egging me on to say things as they are scared to do it themselves or have just given up and gone away but would like to come back. I can and do push back to them telling them that ‘I’m out’ and they need to do it themselves, but they don’t as divide and conquer rules.

    If the WSRA supported its members this problem would not be there, if the PLC were inclusive then it would not be a problem (I feel you can be inclusive whilst still making the current tough decisions as well, but that takes pro-active management), if the people supporting the WSR felt a part of the WSR they would raise their voices and engage more, etc. etc,.

    Regarding the PLC AGM my opinion is as follows: 1 Problems, concerns and issues come up every day not once a year. 2. You have to be a PLC Shareholder to go to the AGM, many who want to be involved with the WSR aren’t and won’t ever be. 3. The PLC is now a ‘closed shop’ invitation only Board where the current Board decide and then elect people (see recent press release re Board Restructure). 4. Most PLC Shareholders are remote and don’t know what’s happening and the two main shareholders don’t jointly engage and challenge using their shares at an AGM. 5. Last year a certain well respected and heavily involved former WSR Employee and Shareholder raised a point of order regarding the voting on the Board of the GM. His point was correct and the Board action was wrong yet he was told by the then Chairman that his point of order was not carried and he would be outvoted in the room in any case as he, as the Chairman would always carry the largest amount of proxy votes on all occasions. This is just one example of questions and even points of order being ignored.

    As it stands there is a ‘perfect storm’ of unaccountability with the PLC Chairman holding all the cards and all the support with no consequence, partly due to the structure and partly due to ineffective support organisations. Whilst I agree that the PLC Chairman needs support to do some tough things, it has to come with being accountable as well. If you have positive and experienced PLC/WSRA/WSSRT Boards who all have an agreed objective and direction it might all work on a good day but as soon as all pull in differing directions and people ignore the rules and do their own things then the people of the WSR have no voice and no way of being heard.

    For anybody who doesn’t think this is happening, since I made my previous post yesterday 7 people have contacted me privately supporting me, they have either already recently left as they are fed up and have no way of being heard so why bother at all or are currently there, support my views and asking me to carry on but are scared to say anything in public.

    Back to basics, you are right an AGM should be the right place to elect the people with the skills and the shareholders support, and set the strategic direct. But it hasn’t worked for years now and as it stands the Shareholders don’t decide who joins the Board, the PLC Board does. The money and the people will run out at some stage if the current impasse continues, or unless the PLC (or somebody) has a large pot of cash somewhere and will soon go ‘tad da’ or something else large changes. The maths dictate that there will be the only one possible outcome.

    Again I pray I’m wrong but perhaps it’s time for the Reform Group to reinvent itself and take a voice.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  4. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    The question, and I note in this context the latest ill tidings in @AndyNorman’s post, is whether the glass is half full or half empty. The newsletter of which you speak is the sort of thing that should be being generated for precisely the reasons you give. Yet other signals from the plc do suggest a policy of silence wherever possible.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  5. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    Just on these 3 points:
    1 - Most of our departments (carriage and wagon, loco, station staff etc.) have departmental meetings once a year, usually during the close season. in addition to providing important operational and training info, invariably our chairman and another director (often commercial) give a short talk thanking volunteers for their hard work, explain a bit about how the year has gone and future plans and then a Q+A session. I always find these sessions the most illuminating part of any such departmental meetings. Do departments on the WSR have any similar such meetings? If so, perhaps getting a couple of members of the board to go along to give a talk might be a good idea. If not, they are worthwhile meetings to have full stop, they are a great opportunity to discuss things relevant to the department and the railway as a whole in a more formal way than chatter in the messroom or complaining on the platform.

    2 - Does the Plc and WSRA (and WSRT) have joint AGMs? We do, and it means everyone associated with the railway is able to question the PLC and trust boards even if they don't have voting rights. Of course being a volunteer by default means you're a trust member on most railways, which also helps with oversight.

    3 - I'm not convinced that is necessarily a bad thing, although it must be done in a transparent way. Holding interviews as if it were a proper job is probably a better way of finding the best candidate than leaving it completely open to the membership to vote for directors who then, having been elected, decide how the portfolios are split up.
     
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  6. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your comments as far as I know but certainly not in 2018 when I was heavily involved with all, but perhaps it could have changed since I was suspended in Jan 19.

    1. No (good idea)
    2. No (good idea)
    3. Agree, in fact as a part of my previous Community Engagement role I suggested exactly what you say here in a paper. As you say it needs to be open transparent, fair and most importantly independent and accountable in order to attract the right calibre of people from a wider community pool and allow a wider spread of expertise to be able to join. I don’t feel that’s in place at the moment.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
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  7. Blackdown Boy

    Blackdown Boy New Member

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    Here we go again.:Gagmewithaspoon:
     
  8. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Member

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    Lets call for half time, the British Grand Prix starts in about 40mins time.
     
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  9. free2grice

    free2grice Well-Known Member

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    Although briefly mentioned earlier I'm sure that others who tend to quickly skip over the other operating news/saga would be pleased to learn of the following. <BJ>

    The West Somerset Railway Association are keen to share two pieces of good news.


    Firstly, WSR 2-6-0 no 9351 has today been returned to the WSR Plc in Minehead. After a little more gentle running-in the loco is expected to return to traffic within a few days. The overhaul of this locomotive was a truly collaborative venture. The boiler was overhauled at LNWR Crewe and the bottom end was overhauled at Minehead. The re-assembly and refurbishment of a suitable tender were then completed at West Somerset Restoration in Williton. The total cost of the re-assembly and tender work was just short of £30,000, which has been funded by donations from supporters and by the WSRA. Ryan and Liam Pope of West Somerset Restoration accompanied no 9351 during the light engine move back to Minehead on 12 July 2019.

    The 9351 Blog

    Our second piece of good news relates to our own locomotive, GWR 'Small Prairie' 2-6-2T no 4561. We have today received a cheque for £20,000 towards the cost of the restoration of the loco, from Garfield Weston Foundation. This is a result of the work of our Trusts and Foundations fundraiser Kate Williams. Kate has also sourced £5,000 from the Veronica Awdry Charitable Trust and £15,000 from the Pilgrim Trust for this project and means that the total now held in donations and pledges for restoring 4561 is over £120,000. We still need more, but we are well on the way and now that 9351 has been returned to Minehead the team at Williton will be able to turn their attention to 4561.

    13 July 2019
    Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association
     
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  10. simon

    simon Part of the furniture

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    I've always been interested in the WSR since I visited back in 1976. Some of my photos from then are on Steve's website. I've also visited it since then.

    However, comments like yours put me off putting my hand in my pocket to donate and my money will go elsewhere until some of its supporters change their attitude
     
  11. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B Member

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    I agree that's good news but supporters want to hear more than just selected good news. We want to hear far more news. Good. Bad. Or Indifferent. Why is this so hard to explain?
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
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  12. free2grice

    free2grice Well-Known Member

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    I'm tired of all the bickering and general nastiness associated with the WSR on National-Preservation. Just thought it good for a change to emphasise some good positive news. Sorry to offend. <BJ>
     
  13. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    I'd have to add two caveats to Anne's list .... good, bad or indifferent, like news anywhere, it needs to be accurate and verifiable. Nowt wrong with opinions of course .... provided they don't claim to be more than opinions.
     
  14. D7076

    D7076 Member

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    As I may be in the area on Wednesday /Thursday this week anyone able to say what will be running on psssenger services please ?
     
  15. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B Member

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    Agreed. However I was referring to news from the PLC about the railway which I would hope would meet your criteria.

    If the PLC was more forthcoming at least we could debate certainties rather than assumptions here.
     
  16. aldfort

    aldfort Part of the furniture

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    Anne,
    To be fair you could debate certainties if you chose to.
    The rail replacement appeal has been given wide prominence. The appeal has the support of the WSR plc board, the WSSRT trustees and the WSRA trustees all working together. The appeal is there for a reason. You could debate how well it's going, what could be done to improve it and what might happen if the appeal does not get the required traction that it needs. The railway is wearing out, it needs infrastructure replaced these are certain facts that have been communicated widely. AFAIK every shareholder has been written to, every WSRA member has been communicated with about this, the press have been briefed and the appeal has been started. There can be no bigger issue facing the railway except perhaps how to increase visitor numbers. How the railway can be more forthcoming than this is a bit beyond me. What is it that we are not doing that we should be doing?
     
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  17. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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  18. Fish Plate

    Fish Plate Member

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    By the sounds of it, supporting volunteers who are being arbitrarily dismissed from service without appeal would be a pretty good starting point.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  19. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    That is excellent, and positive, news.
    Congratulations and thanks are very much in order to Ryan and the rest of the Williton works team.
     
  20. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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