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West Somerset Railway Operations

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

  1. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    Peter,

    2018 WSRA accounts :

    Shop and Cafe sales. £282, 222. ( 2017 £314K )
    Cost of sales £186, 920. ( 2017 £195K)

    Even allowing for salaries a significant profit ?

    Similarly :

    Rally :
    Sales : £97,183 ( 2017 £97K )
    Costs : £51,336 ( 2017 £50K )

    If both these activities came within the PLC, even allowing for some admin costs they would
    provide at least £100K additional funds.

    The same accounts indicate WSRA grants payable 2018 Nil ( 2017 £300 )

    I am sure if you were a PLC director or manager you would metaphorically scratch your head.

    Michael Rowe
     
  2. Steven Harris

    Steven Harris New Member

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  3. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Well-Known Member

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    Michael

    I find myself agreeing with you. You will be aware that this was the route set out by Coombes: The WSRA removes all of its commercial operation so it can focus on attracting and supporting members/volunteers and fund raising and into the bargain cuts its overheads. This allows them to put more of their efforts into benefiting the WSR through new volunteers, funding for projects large and small and to be able to complete fund raising at a high enough level to make a difference through large grant funding.

    In return for its giving up its commercial operation, which I think they would happily do (a WSRA Trustee can correct me if I’m wrong here), it has to have the ‘one lead charity’ status, a clear remit and the necessary place at the WSR table to give it the authority to meet the large funders project requirements on behalf of the larger WSR, or it will fail. Whilst my work with funders and others in the arena last year gave a slightly modified view of this and some more advice which is available from known people is needed, in essence the view of Coombes holds firm in my opinion.

    However the two have to come at the same time and it would be a win/win, as you say it adds to the bottom line of the PLC as well. The ‘true value’ needed by the WSRA for disposing its assets is wrapped up in this and what benefits the one family WSR gains through this structural change. Just giving the shop and the Steam Fair to the PLC is not an option and doesn’t alone cure the problem as you know.

    I do believe that the WSSRT can carry on within the main charity so they can continue to do what they wish, but again it takes people to sort it out not just say no.

    The WSSRT Minutes clearly indicate that the WSRA are outvoted two to one by the PLC & WSSRT, so after four years nobody is any further forward than day one and as it stands this route is dead. Perhaps the stakeholders of the WSR should step up and decide the outcome they want from their leaders for their railway, the people who have had their chance to sort it out haven’t. Stay the same or change it’s the WSR’s call?
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
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  4. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    Thanks for the information. As a WSRA member, and in a modest way a WSR PLC shareholder. I make no secret off either as it is on my signature which is shown on every message I send. With my WSRA member’s hat on I am puzzled that the association paid such a paltry sum in grants compared with income. It seems, on the face of it the WSRA is failing in it’s primary objective. As for the shop and cafe’s profits handing them to the WSR PLC, even for the legally required “full value” seems very questionable. Like wise the rally operation. The WSR PLC are understandably jealous of the profits earned by the WSRA. Many WSRA members would say why should the WSR PLC gain all the efforts over many years by innumerable volunteers not forgetting the excellent work by the WSRA staff? A difficult question to answer.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
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  5. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    One railway!!! :Banghead:
     
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  6. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    The repeated using of Combes as though it is a legitimate blue print for the whole WSR is simply wrong. Coombes was commission by, and paid for by the WSRA. The brief was never for the whole railway just to establish what needed to be done at he WSRA ONLY.
     
  7. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Well-Known Member

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    Yes fair comment, but by default The Coombes Review had to touch on the larger structure of the WSR as the WSRA's future fits together with the PLC's both are intertwined. In addition at the time all of us directly involved (I was an 'attached' member of the Reform Group if you recall) discussed the wider implications for the overall WSR structure so I'm commenting on what was spoken as well as what was directly in the report.

    All I'm saying is that in my time in this environment in the last year or so the experts have filled in some of the gaps that maybe Coombes couldn't touch on but hinted at, and made the Coombes Review make more sense to me in its findings.

    Also perhaps I'm over making the point that 'we' didn't just find all of this out last year, the direction needed is well known, and I don't want my comments to sound like just Andy on a one man crusade. I've been accused by others on here of promoting myself so maybe I've overplayed Coombes in order not to sound like 'I found all this out and aren't I great'. However your point is good, perhaps I've mentioned Coombes too much, I'll try not to mention it again, as you say a different time, long gone.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
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  8. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    What I should have emphasised was the remit ofCoombes only looked into the WSRA and took no evidence on anything else. That is why I don’t believe it is a valid base to work from. An up to date independent report on the WSR as a current whole would the only place to start from.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  9. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    I think you underestimate the value of Coombes. While I agree with you that it had restricted terms of reference, it was obvious at the time that the issues with the WSRA could not be looked at in isolation, and needed to be considered in the context of the WSR as a whole. Coombes did that, and as I recall, was criticised by some for taking a broad view of it's remit.

    The current discussion involves large numbers, and the stakes for the Minehead branch are high - up to and including the closure of the railway.

    In that context, the legalistic tone of some posts concerns me - they suggest that the discussion is still about how the individual organisations divide the WSR cake, and not how that cake is grown to the greater benefit of the WSR. For that reason, I sincerely hope that the discussion on Nat Pres is not representative - even if I groaned inwardly at the oversimplification (and factual inaccuracy) of @thequantocks' description of the purpose of the WSRA.
     
  10. rodders154

    rodders154 Member

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    If the steam trust and the WSRA were to merge how would that affect the current grants that each has. Surely each grant is issued to the respective organisation.

    Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk
     
  11. daveb

    daveb Member

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    I think you need to consider carefully what is "commercial operations" and what is "fundraising". The shop and cafe at BL is certainly a commercial operation and, if continued to be well managed, ought to continue to produce a profit year on year.

    The Steam Rally, on the other hand, is less of a clear cut case and, personally, I would class it as fundraising. It is not guaranteed to make a profit year on year. All you need is for the first weekend in August to have two days of heavy rain and it could make a large loss, which has happened in the past. I feel that, were the rally to be run by the PLC, they would pull the plug on it after the first wet year.
     
  12. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    A very bad dea.
     
  13. snappertim

    snappertim Member

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    AIUI quite a few years ago, if the steam rally were to be run by the PLC and therefore included in their P&L account, the take at the gate would be subject to vat @20% at today's rates. That apart it is absolutely right that it falls under the remit of the WSRA as an educational charity.
     
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  14. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Well-Known Member

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    Very good question, my view would be it won't effect it. It may in fact aid it, the funders are all about ensuring they get value for their money, the biggest bang for their buck and making sure they can justify there they have given their money. Lets say you move the WSSRT within the WSRA for example (other options available) the current HPC Grant is unaffected (I know that one as I set it up as you know). The current HLF Grant with the WSSRT actually conflicts in some areas with the HPC Grant and this is the very reason that funders want one charity to avoid duplication and conflict. In this case it involves two funded staff for example going into schools to encourage visits to the WSR for educational trips. The WSSRT Chairman and I discussed this potential conflict at length before and after I made the HPC Application to ensure that our applications were different and if needed both people employed through the funding worked side by side, mutually supporting each other to the common aims of the funders requirements and of course the WSR as a whole (funders don't see the splits and factions, only we do).

    This approach strengthens the grants because they support each other. If you brought the WSSRT within the WSRA then nothing much changes other than better cooperation between sets of people ensuring a bigger positive impact for funders money and a more coordinated approach. Two Charities not related to each other means potentially one WSRA Community Manager goes into a school to arrange a visit followed a week later by a WSSRT Community Manager doing the same thing.

    When you get to large amounts like say the WSRA making a £1 million bid for say Black Monkey Bridge with two charities in place the WSSRT could make a 'rival' bid for the same because they can (or indeed the other way round), this is why large funders just say 'no, not going to risk it, our money has plenty of other places to go'. The risk is everybody looks stupid and uncoordinated and most of all the funders look like they have wasted their money.

    Funders are not hung up about working in partnership with others for the community good and will also fund jointly (re NYMR £10 million), that's a lesson the WSR needs to learn so it is good that you brought it up.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
  15. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    Indeed so, but with the baggage of disputes and cantankerousness here, it will be most difficult to achieve. Unless it is achieved though, I don't give much of a chance.
     
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  16. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, nail on the head !! Back to previous comments, time for people to stop doing the same old, same old and look at whats best for the WSR. Ego's and self interests must be removed, that may involve people changing course and/or stepping aside, The very first post in this particular conversation by a well known Barrister of this parish said that it takes more strength to stand aside for the greater good than to stay and continue. Some people need to take the leap, be brave and break the cycle, the clock is still ticking.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
  17. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    Why? If the two can be brought together, unless there is a condition in the grant about a change of control, the merged organisation would be the successor organisation and inherit the funding - and associated obligations.

    Of course, if you are suggesting that the two bodies could not be brought together without conflict of personalities and/or objectives, then that might point to where the wider WSR's achilles heel may be.
     
  18. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Well-Known Member

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    Good point and one for debate, you are right it may be better staying in the WSRA (or whatever the new one charity is). This then also posses the question of the 1940's Weekend which is also managed the same way as the Steam Fair as a quasi-WSR event with its own external team, perhaps both should sit with the Charity. My view would be, what is best for the WSR, not any one party within it.
     
  19. nine elms fan

    nine elms fan Member

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    Have the mods given any thought to renaming this thread as the Andy Norman thread, no, ah well just a thought. :rolleyes:
     
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  20. Thompson1706

    Thompson1706 Member

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    OR 'The Andy Norman common sense thread'

    Bob.
     

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