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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    Regarding WSRA locos I agree that their record is not great. I'd argue there are possibly 3 reasons for this. First, legacy from the X6. Secondly fundraising more generally as explained very eloquently as always by @Jamessquared . Thirdly that Williton does not currently seem to benefit the WSR as a whole, but merely managed to keep itself afloat. Absolutely that has to be adressed.

    But in this specific matter surely the relevant argument should be whether the WSRA offers any worse future for 4110 than a separate company, and I don't see that it does. Presuming it still forms part of an overall loco strategy then it'll still have a place an the overhaul queue as it did before any of this took off (I'm sure the Plc never purchased it with no intention of restoring it) and that would be the same whether owned by the WSRA, Plc or separate company. So I don't see any major advantages or disadvantages to either group on that particular front. I don't see the WSRA selling it off at a later date, I see it maintaining its current place in the overhaul queue.

    The major advantages appear to me to be reconciliation between the WSRA and Plc, saving money in VAT and giftaid now and in the future, and preventing yet another group from complicating matters on the WSR, although it seems that final horse has already bolted to a certain extent!
     
  2. granmaree

    granmaree Member

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    Of course they can afford to pay for it ...... in their own arrogant way they have stated that all existing pledges be paid directly to them.
    Taking a screenshot of the 4110 restoration group's FB page it would seem that they are unaware that their funds are to be diverted
    Screenshot_20190111-235905.png
     
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  3. lochness8

    lochness8 New Member

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    Arrogant? Hmm, not sure. The WSRA / PLC statement merely says, “Existing pledges and further donations....should be sent to the WSRA...” the word ‘should’ is perhaps a bit demand-y but think you’re being a little over-sensitive there! The rest of the statement, which I have now read carefully several times, makes perfect sense. I want to support ‘one railway’. I’m in.
     
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  4. lochness8

    lochness8 New Member

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    But does anyone know what the ‘overhaul queue’ is?
     
  5. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Active Member

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    If they added paint mixing to their business they’d be a tender fender bender mender lender sender blender.

    A nasty dose of sunburn would lead to a tender tender fender bender mender lender sender blender
     
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  6. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    I've certainly bandied it about enough in a somewhat nebulous way tonight! Exactly where 4110 might be in a propsed overhaul cue is somewhat beside the point I've been making though, I was think more about its relative position. I don't see how this would change regardless of who owns it, unless it gets sent to somewhere external for restoration, which I suppose you could argue might be more likely under separate company ownership - but in all the exchanges tonight no one's made that particular argument.
     
  7. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Well-Known Member

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    Don't count on it.
     
  8. jnc

    jnc Active Member

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    I hear you, but the downside of this (as others have already pointed out) are that it's going to result in £20K going to the tax man (in the short term), one more organization added to the mix, etc, etc.
    Agreed, but it just goes to show the residue of distrust still extant among WSR supporters...

    Noel
     
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  9. Matt78

    Matt78 Active Member

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    As @flying scotsman123 has already said, there would have been a lot more faith in the “one railway” position if the WSRA and 4110 Ltd had made a joint statement. Instead the impression gained from the two separate statements issued that the two parties have not really acted in unison.

    There does appear to be some ambiguity in the statement of “existing pledges”, this is again a consequences of not having a joint statement. Wil supporters of 4110 Ltd now see this and assume they should give their contribution the WSRA? Maybe 4110 Ltd are in touch with all their contributors about this, I don’t know.

    From afar it appears that the private 4110 group has been a well-organised effort, I would agree that ultimately the WSRA is the best owner for 4110 but it’s a shame that this campaign by the WSRA was not initiated at the outset and not announced “just after” the 4110 group hit the target. As is frequently the case it’s not what is done but how it’s done that can leave a bad taste or air of suspicion or mistrust.

    Regards

    Matt
     
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  10. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Resident of Nat Pres

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    Herewith the relevant form for UK tax payers.

    Robin
     

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  11. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    What have I started?:)
     
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  12. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    I don't entirely understand the situation with VAT, but how about a compromise? Those who have pledged money and are happy for it to go to the WSRA send it there. Those who are unhappy with that, whether because they fancy being part owners or for any other reason, pay it to the new company. WSRA then uses its share of the donations to buy shares in the new company.

    The only fly in the ointment then would be a remarkable resemblance to the ownership of A N Other locomotive which, according to the last we heard, is still subject to ongoing litigation.
     
  13. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Or perhaps not.

    If the WSRA take on the loco because it furthers their charitable aims, then future disposal is hard - not impossible, but it can’t just be sold on the whim of the members. Most likely, any disposal would have to be to another charity with compatible aims. It’s why the Bluebell Railway Trust ended up as the recipient of two operational locos in the last ten years when the Trusts that previously owned them were wound up and disposed of their assets.

    Ultimately, neither the WSRA bid nor the 4110. Ltd bid restore the loco - that will require more resource (cash, space, people, time). So all this really seems to have two drivers: (1) how does the PLC get as much money as possible as quickly as possible and (2) what safeguards the loco on the railway most effectively.

    Leading the purchase via the WSRA gives a better formal guarantee of long-term tenure on the railway than transfer to a private company, and as has been outlined above, is also more tax efficient, which means either the PLC can get more money, or more likely, the tax advantages can start to form funds for restoration.

    The flip side is that it appears 4110 Ltd have the money now - assuming all their pledges are honoured - whereas the WSRA will have to scramble to find the money quickly that it presumably hasn’t budgeted for (one reason why it is desireable for charities holding an appropriately sized unrestricted reserve fund to allow rapid moves where necessary).

    Charities also have to exercise good governance and can’t be compelled to take action by any outside group. I do wonder to what extent what appears to be a very rapid decision by the PLC to sell 4110 at short notice has caught the WSRA on the hop, since clearly it needs time to allow good governance of any major expenditure such as this.

    Altogether, anywhere else this would be a no-brainer - the charity associated with the railway would lead the purchase on the basis of being the best long-term safeguard of the loco remaining on the railway; organisational simplicity and tax efficiency.

    Tom
     
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  14. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Resident of Nat Pres

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    And if I were produce a graphic representation of the above, could it be said that was to

    Render a tender tender fender bender mender lender sender blender?

    Robin
     
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  15. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    I am well aware of that - but what is it people want to do?

    Help secure a loco for the Railway in the most tax efficient manner or be able to say 'a bit of it is mine'?

    Is it a case of wanting to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond?

    I have seen loco specific Companies elsewhere be faced with having to give up the control they thought they had in order to see the loco overhaul actually progress at a speed that might see the loco running in their lifetimes (and at least case where for many members, not only did they lose all their money but many are no longer with us and the loco still hasn't run). No matter how ineffective the Charity Commissioners may appear, they still provide a stronger framework of accountability for a Charity than exists for a private Company and no issues of who ends up as the shareholders as 'time takes its toll'.

    I have no inside knowledge of the timing etc. but to an outsider, WSRplc decided to dispose of the loco, which, let's not forget, needs probably at least £ 1/2 million spending to restore it to traffic (something for which 4110 Ltd appear to have no plan nor proposed source of funding), a group of working members decided to aim to keep it on the Railway (the stated purpose of 4110 Ltd, not 'having our own loco') just a very short time ago. This hardly seems to have given the WSRA chance to consider whether to do the same at that (very recent) point.

    What also seems to be being forgotten is that 4110 currently belongs to WSRplc - they can decide who they wish to sell to. Clearly, they seem to have preferred the option of the WSRA and, after what happened with 4160 Limited, who can blame them!

    I find it particularly distasteful that some West Somerset Railway supporters seem to have immediately decided to try and poison this arrangement by posting provocative statements about WSRA plans being to store then break up for spares the loco, seemingly without any evidence but clearly a desire to block the WSRA. Again, from what has been said, 4110 Ltd appears to have no firm plans or definite idea of funding beyond securing the loco remains on the West Somerset Railway.

    May I make a suggestion - that the eventual structure (which would be a little more expensive and take a little longer to perhaps do now) be 4110 is owned by a Charity associated with the WSRA. The WSRA secures the loco now on the basis that such a Charity is established and the loco transferred to it, along with associated funds, when it has been formed. This formation should be easier to achieve than a new Charity, the constitution could allow a board of Trustees which includes 4110 Ltd representatives and WSRA appointees and it would give an extra degree of 'protection' for the loco while still keeping it under the WSRA umbrella.

    Steven
     
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  16. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    Whereas the 'track record' of 4110 Ltd, which has only just been formed is......?

    Not wishing to denigrate the efforts of those who have raised so many pledges so rapidly for 4110 but your question seems irrelevant in many ways. One group is new so has no track record, the other has seen major reform and has purposely halted restoration work but has had issues with rapid progress in the past.

    However, the point remains - by their own statements, 4110 Ltd's primary aim is preventing 4110 being sold off the West Somerset Railway, not also then securing a speedy restoration. They even admit that of 3 potential options for the future, 2 involve them selling the loco. I seem to recall the statement ended, when discussing the 3rd option of restoration 'but that is for the future' - i.e. they also have no current restoration plans, nor indeed facilities. The WSRA, meanwhile, have some track record, and existing (albeit again perhaps not as yet particularly effective or successful) fund raising structure and certainly have facilities available.

    As I have already suggested, the two groups coming together would seem the best way forward, yet some seem intent on creating extra division by posting wild and largely unsustainable allegations (its like Brexit all over again!)

    Steven
     
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  17. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    I think you have provided your own 'counter argument'!

    It has also been said a number of times on here that 'the Charity Commission won't allow a Charity to use Charitable funds to buy shares in commercial companies' - I believe the investment in 4160 was made before the WSRA was a Charity.

    I don't necessarily agree that these is an outright ban - if the Charity can show how the investment furthers its Charitable aims, then there should be no reason why it can't proceed in such a manner. However, I would expect that some sort of 'special shares' arrangement would be needed in order for the Charity's interests to be protected and we are again into complexity and potential for further conflict that seems to be readily avoidable.

    Steven
     
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  18. patriarch

    patriarch New Member

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    I suggest that 4110 Ltd., which has gained sufficient support to raise £100k in a matter of days, should be quite capable of raising £500k over,say, a period of 3 to 5 years to fund the restoration (possibly off site). I can see no long term future for 4110 with the WSRA, and clearly the Plc's priority at the moment is enough readies to survive.
     
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  19. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    Again, you post bold claims with no evidence for either statement. I presume you are heavily involved in 4110 Limited, so perhaps you are revealing plans which have been made but not yet announced!

    The raising of pledges of £120,000 in less than a month is very impressive, but 'past performance is no indication of future prospects'. This is an 'emergency' situation and people will quite probably have 'dug deep' to meet the challenge. This doesn't mean they have the same funding available every year for the next 5 years to fund restoration - nor am I saying that no further funding is available, although finding a Company Secretary willing to take on issuing more and more shares in that manner could be quite a task!

    On what basis can you state that 4110 has no long term future with the WSRA? As @Jamessquared has already pointed out, a Charity cannot just sell its assets for what it likes and to whom it likes (and I realise some involved with the West Somerset don't seem to appreciate the 'power' of this reality!) but a commercial Company can.

    At worst, both potential owners are in the same position of no definite plans for funding for the future, but the WSRA offers considerably more protection to the future of 4110.

    Steven
     
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  20. Matt78

    Matt78 Active Member

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    Agree 100%.

    To me the best future for the WSRA is as a locomotive owning charity. This should be the primary objective. Does the aquisition of 4110 fit in with this? Absolutely.

    The WSRA would have a stable of suitable locos, and a loco restoration business as a subsidiary. The only ingredient missing is fundraising. If we are talking about a sustainable long term for the WSR as a whole then this has to be nailed. It works superbly well on other lines, have a look at the accounts for the Dean Forest loco Association (Charity Commisison) who have just purchased 9682 for a good example.

    If one loco can be restored to traffic (4561) and hired to the PLC then a fund is generated for loco number two. Couple with with a good campaign and maybe even apprentice grants (again see SVR re Hagley Hall and GWSR re 2874)...you get the idea.

    Sounds simple just typing it all, but it just requires the vision and commitment as a starter for ten. There is a better chance for WSRA to achieve all this in their position than a private company with just one loco.

    Regards

    Matt
     
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