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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    That link takes me to four hours of programme. 3:14 into that there is just a horrible racket. When is the Geoff Garfield bit?
     
  2. 32110

    32110 Member

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    Need to go to about 3 hours 14 mins.
     
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  3. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    Nice piece of PR.
    Geoff came across very well.
     
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  4. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2020
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  5. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Ah, the facts! Talk of reconvening the PDG sounds encouraging though, albeit potentially interesting given the S&D Trust sit on it. One wonders if they will be invited... It is certainly a failing on the part of the WSR as a whole that the PDG has not met since 2018 though, regardless of who the chair supposedly is. Even if I was a volunteer, let alone a nominated rep, I'd be jumping up and down asking whn the next meeting was. I may have missed this first time round, but I still find it sad and a bit odd that WSR "employees and volunteers" don't feel represented by any of the Plc, WSRA or WSSRT.

    "The implications that the PLC is acting on its own and pursuing its own agenda are simply wrong. It also, sadly, indicates a breach of confidentiality"

    Well ok, but the implications were not made by @Maverick, we all implied that from how Mr Jones-Pratt's letter to the council was worded. The question of why it wasn't done properly through the PDG as the Plc board now accepts is the correct way of doing things remains unanswered. Why bother to send that email at all when you knew it required a PDG meeting - why not call for a meeting instead? It was clear the email released wasn't the first time the Plc board had been told the proper way of doing things. I also don't understand who broke confidentiality - this was an FOI request to SCC, not anyone from within the WSR leaking internal communications.

    Edit - and there's still no explanation of how the WSR proposes to pay for the freehold of the line, the letter setting out "the facts" is at great pains to say how cash-strapped the railway is and how the main purpose of purchasing it is to raise loans against it. Isn't that like saying you're going to buy a house just so you can re-mortgage it - you still need all the capital to begin with?
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2020
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  6. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I observe that this letter presumes ill intent from the person who submitted the FOI request, and presumes that the only relevant consideration is that of the railway, not of the taxpayer. A depressing tone.
     
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  7. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    What I dont get from this is a coherent story.

    The PLC was in financial trouble - agreed.

    We now have the Coronavirus situation and an emergency appeal.

    But we do have a plan to do something or other with the Washford site and the money to evict the S&DRT

    We also have some kind of desire to acquire the freehold

    Where is the money to come from, especially given all the post Coronavirus uncertainty?

    I am not aware of the 'post coronavirus' plans from any other Heritage Lines, but would have thought that apart from any 'essential' major works, and works already in progress everyone is waiting to see what happens

    And now a non statement whose main purpose seems to be to take a swipe at the PLC's critics
     
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  8. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Clearly someone is feeling rather miffed with the rest of the Railway world,, the feeling I got from that statement was one of dictatorial , ie , we will set the agenda, and you will do as you are told.
     
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  9. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    As I mentioned before, everything has the hallmarks of an ancient Roman fiddler. :D
     
  10. Roger Thompson

    Roger Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Two points from this statement. @Maverick who made the FOI request, is referred to as an "ex connected person" , so another work permit would appear to have been withdrawn.
    For the first time the statement is not attributed to a named board member, but just "The Board'". Presumably so no one individual can be criticised. However, the style tells me that only one person is behind it. Trying to justify another mistake.

    Sent from my SM-T590 using Tapatalk
     
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  11. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    Moderator Intervention

    1. Eight posts have been deleted.
    2. Some comments have been made about the PLC letter.
    3. Now move on please.
     
  12. Downline

    Downline New Member

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    So in the statement from the WSR Plc at the beginning of the coronavirus situation, they put in their statement they didn't want to enter into any loans to help them with the pandemic, if at all possible. But they also want to buy another asset to be able to secure an overdraft against.

    Would the money be better spent paying off existing loans against assets, or alternatively keep the money sat in the bank and used as a interest free overdraft facility to a degree.

    Taking the railway out of debt will secure its future. Taking out more and more loans, and increasing overdraft limits puts the PLC's future at risk.
     
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  13. Maverick

    Maverick Member

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    As the “ex related person to the WSR” referred to in today’s statement issued by the WSR Plc Board, I feel I need to answer the comments made in the release. My association with the WSR goes back to my childhood where I visited the railway with my father and great uncle on many occasions. I recall with fondness watching a pump trolley be raced through Bishops Lydeard Station in the early 1990’s by IKB! Visits continued throughout my teenage years and in my early 20’s I decided to put in a volunteer application for the Locomotive Department. After a year’s wait, one December I received the letter inviting me to join the Cleaning Gang the following January, I looked forward with trepidation to my first day at Minehead shed. One January Saturday I joined the cleaning gang and can remember being warmly welcomed by the now acting chairman of the WSRA on my first day on the railway. After a long cold day underneath 5553 cleaning the frames I was hooked and from then on in spent almost every other weekend at the WSR, on shed cleaning locos, helping out with overhauls and making life long friends. It was this experience that taught me how much of a community the West Somerset Railway was. After 3 years wait, I was made a trainee and my days at the WSR increased and I spent weekends and any free weekdays learning the ropes. I made passed cleaner within 5 months and then fireman grade in the next two years. In this time I spent more than 150 days on the footplate and about the same volunteering in the shed at Minehead. As my time allowed I also helped organise the loco departments MIC’s one year and arranged a visit/day out for the Loco department and friends to Bath to walk the S and D route to Midford through the Two Tunnels. When 4110 came along I was part of the group which went to Tysley to retrieve the locomotive and subsequently due to my work experience of writing business plans I was asked by a group from the loco department to support the case and eventual appeal to save 4110 for the WSR Family. A particular highlight was fulfilling a life long dream and firing two return trips over the line on flying scotsman! Over 10 years of my life dedicated to the WSR family and the community it creates. My time was free of any safety critical issues and whilst a fireman I participated in many Steam Engineman Courses and took many trainee cleaners out on the footplate, passing the knowledge I gained on to the next generation and keeping the skills of the footplate alive for the WSR. I am still very much a member of that community and whilst I may no longer be allowed an ID card due to a disagreement with company management over a one off, not thought out and rather foolish comment I made on facebook. A comment I acknowledge was inappropriate and have apologised to the PLC director involved for in 2019. I am still an active supporter of the WSR, in regular contact with the many friends I have made!

    Throughout my time at the WSR there have been turbulent times, none more so than the attempt to purchase the freehold by the WSRA. I helped with the campaign then to save the WSRA and from that day on have always wanted to protect the WSR Freehold for the community, not an individual organisation. I am concerned that a private company owning the freehold and utilising it to raise funds or even allow an overdraft as per todays PLC board statement put the railway at even more risk. The current COVID-19 crisis adds further to this, should the private company require more funds, what is to stop it selling of stretches of land or even should the worst happen the land being seized by the banks/creditors of the company. This was my concern 4 years ago and remains my concern today. I do not believe the freehold of the WSR is something which should be managed behind closed doors and kept from the wider community that support and run the railway. Today’s statement suggests that the FOI undermines railway and breaches confidentiality. This is something I believe is wholly inaccurate and encourages me more to continue to expose the discussions for the sake of the whole West Somerset Railway Community. The triple lock announced in 2017 makes it clear that any approach to SCC should be made following the PDG’s agreement and the membership of this group goes well beyond the PLC, WSRA and WSSRT. Furthermore this group has not met since 2018. Questions raised by others surrounding the PDG not meeting were not answered. Following the issue of the notice to quit made to the SDJR at washford I felt it was time to enquire with SCC if any approaches had been made in the previous 18 months. The triple lock made it clear that SCC would only support discussions once the PDG had suggested an approved bidder. I do not understand how the approach made in February 2020 meets these criteria. I did not ask the PLC, WSRA or WSRST before hand just as much as I didn’t ask the other members of the PDG. My intent was not malicious, I want to ensure the WSR is around for many generations to come, protected for my children and grand children just as countless volunteers have done in the past and continue to do. I was concerned that the WSR was not acting as a community as a whole and still do not believe the community as a whole has answered the questions I made following the FOI release by SCC.

    The West Somerset Railway always has been and should be protected as a Community asset for the community of Somerset and railway supporters. I truly believe the only way to achieve that is for the freehold to be protected within a not for profit charitable organisation, beyond the reach of a commercial / private operating company. Only then can the WSR be protected as a community asset. Now is the time for the Whole WSR community to come together and make this happen!

    Christopher Ruddick

    (And if people want to know why my tag is Maverick, long held school nickname!)
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2020
  14. Roger Thompson

    Roger Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Am I allowed to point out that the letter referenced in post 25204 has now been removed from wsr.org? Its not on the WSR PLC website either - so are we to assume this letter has now been withdrawn?
     
  15. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    It seems to me that the writer of the emails was not expecting them to put into the public domain, i.e. it was SCC who broke confidentiality. Seems like someone forgot about the Freedom of Information Act.
    Ah, but if you can get the house at undervalue, you can borrow yet more money against it that you had to borrow to buy it in the first place. Remember how SCC wound up owning the freehold in the first place.
     
  16. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Indeed!

    That would make the sums "add up" of course, but would a cash-strapped SCC really sell prime land at significantly below market value to allow the WSR to raise a larger loan against? From a tax-payer point of view I'm not sure that would be acceptable. Given such a sale would have to be agreed through the PDG it would be extremely foolish of the WSRA and WSSRT to agree to that as well. Advertising your PLC as barely solvent then asking if you can own the land that the railway relies on to run along with all the inherent liabilities, presumably claiming that the Plc would be a safe vessel for that seems self-defeating. But then again so does advertising the PLC as barely solvent whilst kicking out a tenant paying rent and doing maintenance on their bit for free, then claiming you're going to do this, that and the other on the newly acquired space of land which won't come cheap.
    It's all very confusing!
     
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  17. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    I understood that one of the reasons for the Council not wanting to sell the freehold was that it would retain certain liabilities - the principal one being Sea Defence around Blue Anchor.
     
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  18. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    No doubt Steve Edge will explain how today's WSR PLC board statement has now disappeared - but we have it recorded on our computers - and the disappearance of it for others who weren't quick enough, will be rectified in due course.

    I've been in work this afternoon and this evening so didn't see the Nat Pres coverage and after apparently posts were deleted.

    Today's WSR PLC board statement was not on Steve Edge's site before I went to work.

    I have enormous respect for Chris ('Maverick)'s statement on here today; that cannot have been easy; and I trust it won't also get deleted.

    I can see why the WSR PLC board might have thought it advisable on further reflection to withdraw today's statement. (Which calls into question what has been going on within the WSR PLC board today and yesterday).

    Equally, I consider they should also have formally withdrawn their 'position statement' of 1st May, and the 'Notice to Quit' upon the SDRT over Washford.

    Cheers,

    Julian
     
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  19. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    Two things struck me as odd about the, now withdrawn, letter.
    1. There was no company 'header' on it.
    2. It wasn't signed.
    Which makes me wonder if it was a draft that somehow was published before its content had been discussed and agreed to.

    During my working life I saw several documents like this, they were essentially internal memos written by one member of staff and intended only for discussion at board meetings. Some never saw the light of day, others formed the basis of formal documents published by the board with the company 'header' and chairman's signature on them.
     
  20. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    What does concern me though is that taken 'In the round' these decisions raise a valid question about 'Good Governance'
     

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