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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    What it also needs is fundamental change. Without that, what little money comes in will only prolong the inevitable. With considerable change, there is a chance that sufficient money will be generated and we can all then agree that we dodged one almighty bullet.

    A new board must start with one objective, to define and deliver a plan that enables the organisation be handed on to the next board, in a fit state and with excellent working relationships with all interested parties and stakeholders. It is essential that any new board must be untainted by controversy in their previous professional lives, preferably carried out in a regulated commercial environment.
     
  2. Lplus

    Lplus Member

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    Great idea - and when you find a way of imposing that change on a board that has no reason to change and no wish to change, then better tell everyone.
     
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  3. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    @Sidmouth hit the nail on the head when commenting on his self-awareness when being asked to do roles that he's not best suited for. Successful change is rarely "imposed"; "regime change" is fraught with risks and should never be seen as more than a means to an end, never as an end in itself. And in an organisation where people clearly define themselves by local loyalties, one set of tensions risks being replaced by another.

    It is self-awareness, and drawing people in, that is necessary; there are some obvious steps that could be taken which would begin a process of reconciliatoin and which are entirely within the gift of the plc's management to do.
     
  4. 60044

    60044 Member

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    Perhaps the time has come to think the unthinkable and accept that the WSR in its present form is not, and is likely to remain, an unviable entity. It hasn't just slipped towards insolvency by accident or by disastrous over-reaching in terms of projects. It has arrived there because of falling passenger numbers, and despite disastrous skimping on maintenance or undertaking any significant development projects for years. All the evidence suggests that shareholder/supporters input is going to be insufficient to save it, and no outside body is going to put money in without a viable business plan.

    Cutting it back to a shorter line would almost certainly include sacrificing the main line connection if one chose to keep the Minehead end, or losing most of the maintenance facilities if the Bishops Lydeard end was kept - a real dilemma I feel
     
  5. Lplus

    Lplus Member

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    Indeed, but that seems to be a poor argument for not having that means available.
    Which does require the plc's management to have an interest in reconcilliation - something that seems to be conspicuously lacking. It appears to me that the only way the plc will take any such interest is if the alternative is being removed. Particularly if the plc feel they that their option is still the best way to rescue the railway.
     
  6. ghost

    ghost Well-Known Member

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    Actually Steve I made a suggestion of how back at post 26299 - get the WSRA and WSSRT together for a Zoom meeting in the next 24/48 hours and issue an ultimatum to the PLC to reverse certain actions otherwise the 2 groups use their shareholdings to force an EGM to remove the board.

    So just to turn the tables here Steve, assuming everyone gives lots of money and the plc get through the current crisis, how do you "make ruddy sure it is the last time"? - you've said yourself that there aren't any suggestions of how to do this, so therefore everyone has given their money to end up back at square one, with an unreformed plc/wsra/wssrt structure with no way of making ruddy sure it's the last time such problems arise. There has to be reform of the structure before people will have the confidence to donate.

    Keith
     
  7. 242A1

    242A1 Member

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    Does anyone believe that any positive outcome will come about if sufficient funds are raised to tide the existing failed structure over until 2021?

    My view is that should this occur it will be viewed as a rubber stamping exercise validating what has happened to date. It appears that the existing supporting groups are unable to raise the required level of funding so that leaves looking to external sources and any one looking on from the outside would be foolish to fund a continuance of this terminally flawed exercise. Tapping into charitable funding schemes is a boat that has sailed. In light of events and past records this is unlikely to happen. This Railway appears to have hit the self destruct button and is in denial. Or the button has been pressed and some people have have engineered this and stand to benefit.
     
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  8. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    Hi Keith - yes I saw that suggestion and I wondered how you might get WSRA and WSSRT to do just that. Surely first each organisation agrees that an ultimatum is necessary or that an EGM be called. I think I know the position of each one. Do you?

    And yes you are right about making sure it is the last time. It is nigh impossible to make sure. Just as it was in 1981 when the WSRA (mostly) bailed out the Company and got their agreement to having three extra directors on the Co Board (two from WSRA) but as we know subsequent Co Chairman saw fit to exclude that representation. But equally I am sure this is a critical moment and I believe the Plc must be carried through it.

    Steve
     
  9. ghost

    ghost Well-Known Member

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    Well maybe someone like yourself who seems to be respected throughout the WSR could make the suggestion. As there seems to have been some suggestions of recent discussions between WSRA and WSSRT then perhaps it just needs a little push along the track...

    Doesn't that strike you as a company with a serious, perhaps unresolvable problem? Sorry to say this Steve, as I know the WSR is very dear to you, but I fear that that the WSR (and the apparently complicit WSRA & WSSRT) has shot itself in the foot so many times that it's now just a matter of when it falls down, not if.

    Keith
     
  10. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    That's so depressing. The next thing will be folk suggesting that actually there are people in Somerset who have seen a business opportunity in the WSR failing! :rolleyes:
     
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  11. Maverick

    Maverick Member

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    As way of an update, of the 533 who have signed the Open Letter, 396 74% are either postcodes within a 50 mile radius of a West Somerset Railway Station, or are known to be members / volunteers of the West Somerset Railway (Please note this is based names recognised by the group).

    Of these 396, a little over 60% have expressed their wish to remain anonymous, with a large majority of these being recognised volunteers of the WSR (Again please note this is based names recognised by the group). We have not collected reasons for anonymity however respect these signatories wishes.

    The 137 outside the above criteria are addresses across the UK and indeed there are signatures from Canada, USA and Australia.

    The Open Letter remains active: http://chng.it/pDnhNvw9
     
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  12. ghost

    ghost Well-Known Member

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    Yes it is depressing, however I can't see any other way to look at it. People don't want to contribute because of the structural problems, but the WSR don't want to address that problem.
    I made no suggestions regarding people jumping on business opportunities, please don't suggest/infer otherwise.

    Keith
     
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  13. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B Member

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    Just out of interest. How do you place PLC shareholders and support group members in this? Do you consider them to have a direct connection or not? To some extent they're the ones that have to be taken on board to effect change as happened at the WRSA EGM.
     
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  14. fb1969

    fb1969 New Member

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    For what its worth, I signed the letter. Regular visitor to the area and Life Member of the WSRA since the early 1990s, shareholder since the early 2000s and live 100-150 miles from BL
     
  15. 242A1

    242A1 Member

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    You may well value your preserved railway or whatever. Others don't and see you as an opportunity and a naive one at that. Remember 34092 and the stolen axleboxes? You might not like to see yourselves as easy pickings for the unscrupulous but you will be seen that way. Indolent sheep waiting to be fleeced. It is not how we see ourselves but rather as others see us.
     
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  16. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry, Steve, but you keep implying that nothing can be done until the present close-down crisis is resolved. This is most emphatically not the case. The reform of the WSR could start tomorrow. Now is a very good time to start, when people have more time to do stuff. What possible reason is there for waiting until the railway is up and running again, when all concerned are going to be a lot busier?
    Basically this is a game of chicken. One side is saying "we won't support the Plc unless it makes changes" and the other side is saying "If you don't support us, the Plc will go bust and everyone will lose out". It's the kid who threatens to kick the ball over the fence rather than let another kid play with it.
     
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  17. Steve Edge

    Steve Edge Member

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    No, that's not what I am saying at all. Reform could start today (my choice!), tomorrow, whenever, but it will take time. Loads of stuff to be done. And done properly. Not everyone has time on their hands. I know I don't. There's also the small matter that reform can only start if all parties agree to it, and also agree on what kind of reform. There are welcome signs of support for change - but where it really matters I don't think we are at that stage. In the meantime there is a real threat to the Plc and we need the Plc (at least until/if change is effected). Sure, I can understand why folks do not wish to chip in. On the other hand, some folks see it as necessary.

    Steve
     
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  18. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    There is a lot the WSR Plc board could do, tomorrow, Steve...

    1. Withdraw the Notice to Quit over the SDRT re Washford

    2. Agree to retract the 1st May 'Position Statement' not to honour the agreement with the SDRT over S&D loco '88'

    3. Re-instate (and retrospectively) the HR policies for volunteers that allow a grievance proceedure etc.

    This is not an exhaustive list; I would like to see WSRA appointments to the WSR PLC board as nominated by the WSRA board, and quite a few other matters; but the above 3 matters would be an excellent start, and would go some way to persuade me to get my cheque book out again.

    Cheers,

    Julian
     
  19. mvpeters

    mvpeters Member

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    ..... & this has been patently obvious for several months .....
     
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  20. Piggy

    Piggy Member

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    Well now, if circa 240 people wish to remain anonymous isn't that somewhat significant ? It might be that those people are concerned about summary withdrawal of their membership cards if their names are disclosed and, thereby, a damning indictment of the attitude of the plc to criticism from its own members.
     
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