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S&D Railway Trust and Washford Matters

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Andy Norman, Feb 24, 2020.

  1. Kempenfelt 82e

    Kempenfelt 82e Member

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    You may need to take a closer look at the conflicts of interest and motives of the so called doctor!

    There is certainly is no proof out there that the S&DRT have anything to do with the illness!
     
  2. 60044

    60044 Member

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    The new GM is an unknown quantity, but is arriving at a job saddled with all sorts of baggage , that has suddenly become a whole lot more difficult than it needed to be.. Would it not have been better to allow him to get stuck into some managing and deal with the S&DRMT rather than catapult him into trying to avert what may prove to be the first nail in the coffin of the WSR Plc?
     
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  3. toplight

    toplight Well-Known Member

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    I would suggest that the plc wanting to kick out the Somerset and Dorset trust, is more probably down to a falling out of individuals.? Perhaps there has been some bust up in a meeting and it has resulted in the ok take your toys elsewhere response. I think they have been treated terribly and I can well imagine they are going through a lot of stress trying to decide what to do next and where if anywhere they could move to. It will also have huge financial costs for them even if they could find somewhere else. It has always seemed such a welcoming little place whenever I have been in there and their volunteers showed me their restored S and D coach with real pride over the work done, last time I was there.

    If the volunteers of the WSR dont agree with the move, they should collectively down tools and stop coming and make it obvious why until the management gets the message, or you might be next.

    To a certain extend I blame programmes like the Apprentice where they have fostered this 'your fired' culture which makes management want to get rid of individuals or an organisation, so 40+ years work can be kicked out just like that at the drop of a hat on the whims of often a single individual with no thought about the impact it has.
     
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  4. staffordian

    staffordian Well-Known Member

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    A couple of points spring to mind instantly.

    First, how does alienating and abusing the S&D achieve any more than issuing a regretful and conciliatory message?

    And second, how does doing this without calmly explaining the rationale behind the decision help the WSR and it's reputation?

    Even if the eviction is necessary, the way it's been done has done more harm to the railway family as a whole than doing it properly.
     
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  5. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Well, the East Somerset might see their arrival as beneficial..........
     
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  6. GWR4707

    GWR4707 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Interesting to observe that those suggesting that all is rosy in the garden continue to ignore this question, despite it being asked on numerous occasions (the above are from the previous page alone...)
     
  7. Blackdown Boy

    Blackdown Boy New Member

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    Have they found a possible home at Cranmore? What a perfect location for them.
     
  8. 60044

    60044 Member

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    The former oil sidings at Cranmore would be an ideal site for them, I think,but I've no idea whether they are available or if the ESR have their own plans for them.
     
  9. Roger Thompson

    Roger Thompson Well-Known Member

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    A lot closer to the route of the S and D line too - although after 40 years at Washford I suspect a lot of their volunteers come from the West Somerset area.
     
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  10. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Well-Known Member

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    Politics aside, I just fail to grasp how an asset like the Washford site in its present (immaculately turned out) form can be cast aside like that...
    17-2152.jpg

    I would have thought that most railways would have appreciated such an asset, and you don't have to look too far to find "eyesore" sites on various other lines.....
     
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  11. 5944

    5944 Part of the furniture

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    Or just look a few miles in either direction at Dunster and Williton.
     
  12. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    To cut it down to a minimum summary (happy to expand if needed). A 2 Year Community Engagement Project, £96k Split as: The WSR gained a 2 year funded person (WSR Community Engagement Manager) to operate across all parts of the railway. Also funds a list of 20 Activity types to enable elements of the community to engage with the WSR on various levels as both visitors and volunteers. One example of the 20 is: The WSR CEM arranges for school kids from local schools to have an educational steam train ride on the WSR, the fund pays the PLC for the tickets and it provides the WSR CEM to look after them. The result is community engagement, happy educated children who otherwise couldn’t afford a train trip and tickets sold on existing mid-week trains filling empty seats.

    Therefore in part a revenue stream for the PLC and in part a community service paid for by a very good local benefactor and company who value the community it sits in, in HPC/EDF (a company I became very impressed with). I won’t go on for fear of writing pages so hopefully you get the drift of how it works.

    This project was supported at Board level by both the WSRA & PLC and supported by all other groups (including ironically the S&DRT who were very helpful in helping me and the WSR gain this award, who said they don’t support the PLC ????).

    The award was given just before the current PLC Chairman arrived and started just after he was in place. It’s sad to report that none of the kids it was aimed at had a train ride (it was budgeted for 19 complete school visits) and the money for the activities….….. I’m not going to complete the rest of the sentence. However the WSR CEM is still in place but working remotely in Bridgwater not on the WSR.

    Needless to say the bid was structured to bring more money and more people to the WSR in an inclusive and positive community spirited way. More importantly it would have also given other funders a ‘track record’ of project completion to give them confidence that the WSR could cope with external grant funding. Public Interest Disclosures Act.
     
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  13. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    No - that was just me musing on options and complementary possibilities. It's not as if what is on offer to another set-up has no value. Quite the reverse.
     
  14. Steamage

    Steamage Well-Known Member

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    I think that's a foolish comment. As several others have pointed out, Washford station and museum is a neat little attraction in its own right and a reason to get out of one train and potter around until the next one arrives. It's a destination for people who don't wish to do the whole (rather long) trip, especially from Minehead.
     
  15. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    For anyone interested this was in the Chairman's report in the most recent edition of 'The Pines Express'. (Winter 2019) Emphasis in bold is mine.

     
  16. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    The first part of this comment must be a good contender for the understatement of the year on this thread. There is absolutely no excuse, none, for the sort of language that the WSR Plc have used in their press release concerning the SDRT. As to the second part of the comment, if "doing your best" includes the the sort of crass and completely unnecessary lack of tact shown in the Plc's dealings with both the 4110 group and the SDRT, then that is a pretty damning comment. A huge part of the job of the management of an organisation like the WSR Plc, where you are dealing with "a business where the paying customers are discretionary; most of the staff are volunteers; and a considerable amount of the funding is altruistic", as another commenter put it upthread, is public relations and being crap at public relations, even if you are "doing your best" doesn't really cut it. Added to which, where is the business sense in giving a rent-paying tenant notice to quit without having any alternative revenue planned from the site? The rent may be low, but it is better than nothing and the WSR Plc wouldn't be the first landlord to try and up the rent, only to find out the hard way that their property wasn't worth even as much as the previous tenant was paying for it.
     
  17. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    That really does miss the point about why people are so concerned and upset at the decision made, and the impact it will have. And now it's in Steam Railway, circulation approx. 30,000 IIRC, further damaging the WSR's reputation. It's about way more than how many passengers who visit the WSR migh not visit if the S&D trust weren't there. It's about reputation, from grant-giving bodies as @Andy Norman has outlined, locomotive owners and owning groups (especially now that 53808's future seems less certain in writing rather than just speculation here) and most importantly, the sort of people who are the target market for donations to things like the track appeals. Maybe only 1% of passengers on the WSR read Steam Railway or are aware by other means of the shenanigans going on here, but I'm willing to bet it's a noticeably higher proportion of those that donated to the track appeal or similar requests for funds to keep the WSR afloat.
     
  18. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    The press release which has caused much of the angst here was comparable to some of the X6 stuff in my humble opinion. I'm not sure it's unreasonable to expect a press release to be courteous, non-aggressive and professional towards a tenant of 40 years standing who, on the face of it, have done good work. If there had been nothing released at all the "very busy, difficult circumstances" line might wash, but someone actively took the time to write that press release and write it the way it was written. It would have been so much easier to write a short "We thank the trust for everything it has done over the years, we wish them well, but unfortunately we find ourselves in extremely challenging circumstances and we need the land for X".
    I'd be interested to know how much of that recently discussed is plain wrong, as a lot of it has been very disturbing reading. Until Andy Norman's post today, I had absolutely no idea that there was any opinion involved in how close the WSR came to insolvency. I assumed that everyone at least accepted that. But now we find that there might even be more to that than meets the eye, and the evidence of a significant grant being given not long before with all the rigorous checks they have to do does lend some credence to the view that maybe it wasn't quite as bad as suggested. Some of the rather draconian actions taken under that banner might have attracted more criticism if the financial situation wasn't portrayed to be worse than it was.
    As for new members, I haven't noticed many, and of those that there are, I think the obvious and most likely explanation is that they haven't felt the need to comment before, but the seriousness of recent actions in their eyes moved them to do so on this occasion. I don't see a conspiracy theory of people not liking the current regime and using this as a bandwagon, quite the opposite in fact. Before this, despite some of the previous controversies under the current board, I was genuinely undecided who the good guys were. I'm not now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2020
  19. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    No disrespect inferred, and I'm glad to see the role of the HRA above and beyond their mediation attempts in the background clarified. However, I stand by my comment, based on what was written at the time about the refusal of the Ex6 to engage with HRA. That limited the effect that HRA had, and indeed could have had.

    As regards the approach of the plc board to the S&DRT, I'm afraid I can't accept the panglossian view you present. Accepting at face value both the difficult circumstances and the attempts of these individuals to do their best, the nature of their public tone with the S&DRT and lack of any positive visible vision for what they want to do at Washford does not encourage me to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Edit - duplicate text due to loss of connection trimmed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2020
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  20. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I will give the new GM the benefit of the doubt, while also noting that the job ads for CME and Head of Infrastructure both point applicants to the Chairman, and that the Chairman's style has so far been rather more "exec" than "non-exec" in nature. I hope and pray that these appointments can be made to work successfully, and that the WSR can find a path to sustainable success. I trust you will pardon me a certain amount of scepticism given the apparent abrasiveness in recent months, evident amongst other things in the plc management's announcements about the S&DRT tenancy, that the plc has shown - an abrasive style that is not generally known for creating a motivated workforce.
     

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