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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    "ITV West is running a feature on the evening regional news programme on Friday 3 July 2020 about how the local tourism community in Somerset is trying to bounce back from CV19 and is using Dunster as an ideal example of the fightback. As the nearby West Somerset Railway is the biggest tourism business in the West Somerset area and carries around 180,000 passengers a year on its steam trains, the heritage line is crucial to the economy but it is still sadly closed by the lockdown. WSR Plc Vice Chairman Mark Smith will feature in the story and explains what is going on."

    Steve
     
  2. simon

    simon Part of the furniture

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    There is an argument, advanced on here, that the WSR only has a 25 year lease on the railway and therefore this limits the length of any sub lease that it can grant and any longer lease is not valid.

    However, the railway offered a 50 year lease, one presumes, and the Trust had, I would argue, no need to check for themselves that this was acceptable, although it would be better if the lease stated that the railway warranted that it had the power to enter into such a lease. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, only those who have read the lease would know.

    Whilst one can never know how a court might find, I would think it highly unlikely that a court would deem the lease invalid in total if the railway sought to argue that it didn't have the power to offer what it had offered and that therefore the lease is voided.

    It is more likely that the court would accept that the lease be reduced to be co-terminus with the lease of the railway, but would hold that the railway should be required to honour the lease for the reduced period of time.

    Edit: misread the original post which says leases are limited to 25 years, but the argument remains basically the same. The courts are unlikely to declare it void, merely limit its length
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
  3. Barrie the Beer

    Barrie the Beer Well-Known Member

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    www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk/corporate-information
     
  4. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Member

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    Absolutely so. I have thought this for years.

    However, for yer av'rage gricer, such considerations are nowhere near as sexy as extension projects or getting in an 8P to haul five coach trains,
     
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  5. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    As well as the length of the SCC lease term, you also need to consider what the terms of the lease from SCC are, and whether the plc had the legal power to enter into that sub-lease. I agree with you that predicting how a court might act if the 2018 lease were found unsound could be an interesting challenge, and the judgment of Solomon required.
     
  6. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    I think that we all need the opinion of a property law specialist. I retired too long ago to stick my hand up, but if you have a business tenancy you do have a lot of protection. The S&DRT have, I understand, been taking legal advice, and in their position I'd be wary of being talked out of my rights by what is said in the report.
     
  7. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Thanks for that interesting post, more or less answering what I was asking yesterday. Not that it will happen or even that it is likely, merely that it is possible.
     
  8. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    I agree, to add a bit more to the puzzle taking into account @jma1009 (Julian’s) comments as well.

    Firstly a caveat, this is based on a supposition based on information not in the public domain and purely based on a theoretical situation which could have happened in a parallel universe and how people can get themselves in hot water when they use a legal process.

    Party A goes to his Solicitor and says ‘How do we get rid of Party B as sitting tenants’. Solicitor says ‘OK doesn’t look like they have broken any terms, tell me about the lease they have, who signed them and when’. Party A gives an edited highlighted version to Solicitor based on what’s important to them. Solicitor gives some advice based on what he is told along the lines of: ‘we could try using this funny little clause with a specific time frame, it’s a bit of a chance but worth a try’ and Party A hears that as ‘you have them banged to rights’ and says ‘send the letter’ and the Solicitor obeys his Clients instruction.

    In Party A’s head this is now a done deal and it becomes that persons ‘truth’ and they just keeping pushing down that road regardless, and indeed when Party B highlights some details perhaps not covered in the conversation with the Solicitor, Party A says ‘we took our legal advice at the time and we are sticking to that, no need to incur more costs on seeking further advice’.

    In these situations Party A then doesn’t go back to their Solicitor and seek further advice as the situation unfolds, the problem is of course the Solicitors advice is based on only a part of the story because some of the important details were left out (the devil is always in the detail).

    Party A finds after a while of saying ‘no need to talk about it anymore, its done’ they have got themselves into a right mess and can’t get themselves out of it because turning back on a decision is not in the mind-set.

    Along comes an outside party and because of the short time frame they have to work to and not understanding some of the detail and history they just confuse things a bit more with comments like “both sides will have to compromise” in true mediator fashion and the mess gets a bit deeper.

    None of this in reality makes any difference if we discuss it here, it’s never going to go to court. Party A could never get through the courts mediation process or the application for costs and of course as Party A themselves have said they have no money left and indeed some people have been told directly in the last week or so that unless they get more money donated quickly Party A will be broke in 2 weeks. Just think back a few pages here where people were very keen for people to donate quickly or it would be all their fault if they didn’t (it’s not the first time this line has been used of course and I take it with a pinch of salt).

    The reputational damage is now done, the only way out of this is for a simple reversal of the situation, however if I were Party B and I had already planned for an exit maybe I would want a bit more than a: ‘sorry, trust us it will be OK’ especially seeing they also have an issue with a big black engine not being repaired as per a second contract.

    For the record I welcome John Bailey’s report in most parts I feel it is a way forward, it was just one bit that was perhaps with hindsight and full information a bit rushed. I’m sure JB was thinking he was dealing with rational people and needed to set all up for mediation in the usual way and the wording threaded through his report was aimed at allowing people to back down with some honour. However as many have said before in Somerset things always seem to be different. Additionally I think he was right to extend his remit to the wider issues as well.

    Let’s now hope that people are not allowed to ‘re-interpret’ the report to suit their version of what they want to happen. Egos are still running wild, however the WSRA are closest at this time in their response to the HRA Report and that’s important for WSR Operations if they are able to ever start again. Clear feedback I’m getting is that the rank and file volunteers on the ground have had enough and they need a champion to get behind so it’s time for the WSRA to step up and be the members association it claims it is.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
  9. Barrie the Beer

    Barrie the Beer Well-Known Member

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    All irrelevant given the WSR's lease with SCC expires in 2088! See the link I posted above.
     
  10. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Just on this last point, a useful reminder that volunteer based organisations are to a significant degree run for the benefit of the volunteers. On the basis that the devil makes work for idle hands, I can't help but wonder if the "had enough" could actually be nipped in the bud by restoring a degree of operation.
     
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  11. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    Most of us were under the impression that the HRA had been asked to help resolve the eviction issue, not necessarily to assist with eviction happening. Are you one of the privileged few who have seen the whole report, and if so is your interpretation that the report does only address how to effect the eviction, with no possibility of leaving the S&DR Trust in situ?
    As for the wider recommendations about restructuring, surely those (a) are in addition to addressing the eviction issue, not replacing it and (b) are very welcome in their own right.
     
  12. RichardBrum

    RichardBrum Member

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    Even if both BA & BL together are the same size as Washford, the rent paid for Washford still isn't out of alignment with other rents on the WSR.
     
  13. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    The Bailey report should not be seen as a legal decision on the lease. Remember that the S&DRT were not consulted on the choice of who would prepare the report, and I suspect he is a 'home town jury'. I hope that the S&DRT will rely on the legal advice from their own solicitors, and not be talked out of their rights by anything in the report. The simple fact is that the plc has behaved appallingly towards the S&DRT, and (if they are interested in regaining any reputation) should (a) rescind the Notice to Quit, and (b) lodge with a third party sufficient funds to meet their contractual obligations with regard to the hire of 53808. It would be even nicer if they paid the legal costs incurred by the S&DRT in taking legal advice.

    Let the facts not be clouded!
     
  14. RichardBrum

    RichardBrum Member

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    Everything erected by the S&DRT is theirs anyway, retaining them is not in the gift of the plc.

    Didn't they also refurb/renovate the station, therefore saving the plc money?
    If so, then the value of those improvements would likely be due to the S&DRT, which means the plc having to pay them.
     
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  15. RichardBrum

    RichardBrum Member

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    The West Somerset Railway is operated by the West Somerset Railway PLC, which leases the line and buildings from Somerset County Council under a long lease currently expiring in 2088.


    No idea when that page was created, possibly after the 2017 AGM.
    So it's at least a 50year lease from SCC.
     
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  16. Barrie the Beer

    Barrie the Beer Well-Known Member

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    Here's interesting.

    Some time back our plc chairman instigated a probatory period for board director nominees. During this period these folk are appointed as board advisers in advance of elevation to full director status. The plc corporate information web page is woefully out of date but does list two such appointments, by way of example.

    Recently fellow NPer (and Platform editor) Frank C has been signing himself off as a board adviser. So, which director portfolio are you taking on this time round Frank?
     
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  17. RichardBrum

    RichardBrum Member

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    Well well

    The S&DRT lease is not the only 50year lease from the plc. There was another one issued in 2017.
     
  18. Barrie the Beer

    Barrie the Beer Well-Known Member

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    I should like to draw your attention to this news item on wsr.org.uk:

    www.wsr.org.uk/news.htm#2083

    If you are involved with the WSR in any capacity and have a view about the proposed organisational restructure, then please consider sharing your thoughts with Mike. He is pro-WSR and keenly interested in hearing from you. Mike is a Parish, District and County Councillor. I'm sure he will prove to be a valued member of WSR's Partnership Development Group. He also appreciates a decent pint of real ale.
     
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  19. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    Just rough figures from my own measurements:

    BA Museum (former Down Waiting Room) 50 sq m approx

    BL Museum (former Goods Shed and south extension) 210 sq m approx

    WD Station Building and Signal Box (Down side) 105 sq m approx
    WD Yard (Up side) 4400 sq m approx (1 acre approx)

    Happy to be corrected.

    Steve
     
  20. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Member

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    Withdrawn. would most likely have ended up in the headmasters room. :rolleyes:
     
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