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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. Woof Mk2

    Woof Mk2 New Member

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    I have no links to the WSR at all........ Please can you show where 14 new trustees have been forced into the existing group of 7.
    I thought there was a voting process to go through first and it would be the members to decide...
    I see no evidence from all the BS that has been on this thread and in my view, unless proved wrong, you are talking BULL!
     
  2. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    Absolutely. The candidates have made clear that they are united on what they are trying to achieve and they have provided a collective email address by which they can be contacted by anyone who wishes. If I wished to query some aspect of their plan (which at present I don't) I could use that address and I have a reasonable expectation that I would get an answer. There is no need whatsoever for their personal email or postal addresses to be made public unless they personally choose to do so.

    Possibly the present WSSRT Trustees are doing their best in the interests of the Trust as they perceive those interests, but if so then their best is not good enough when they take legal advice before meeting their legal obligation to provide members' addresses to the candidates but then they publicly release personal data that they are legally obliged to protect. If that had been an honest mistake it might be morally (though not legally) excusable, but in the context of the Trustees' openly declared hostility to the candidates I can't see it as excusable in any way.
     
  3. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    I note your comment includes the 3 candidates who were seconded by the current board and were first made known through an update at Companies House. This would have been many days after their appointment. How can you point the finger ?
     
  4. Mike S

    Mike S Member

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  5. QB Cook

    QB Cook Guest

    One of the things I am picking up reading these posts is language. Mr Coleby's bully boy tactics, baggage, personalities, Mr Bailey's references to Charities being duty bound to do the best for the Trust and ignore, yes that's correct, ignore their membership, commonly the life blood of the Trust. But for me, the best read of all is the appalling News Letter sent out by WSSRT in the last few days. We put in a correct "request" for a members list, as we are legally entitled to do. It is referred to by the Chairman in every communication since as a "demand". The Chairman also states that he has been accused of lying and reiterates that he would have welcomed prior notice and discussion. He has also said this publicly in press releases. For clarity, we have an email trail demonstrating that we approached the Chairman at a very early stage to offer a meeting to discuss our intentions but were met with a refusal. " I am not available for a meeting, whose purpose is unclear to me." 7th of September. Surely the meeting is to make the purpose clear. All our subsequent communications were roundly ignored.
    Take a minute or two to look back at our conduct. I think you will find it has been very measured in the face of obstruction, potential defamation, personal insults, coercion, bullying, I could go on.
    Now of course, we have the serious issue of GDPR breaches, leaving some of our number wide open to abuse, not to mention a significant number of members whose personal data has also been shared on multiple occasions. I still don't really believe that the Trust understands that the law has been broken and that the Trustees are jointly and severally responsible! And yet, somehow, I expect it will all be the fault of our merry band trying to be elected as trustees through a democratic process.
    How much is your personal guarantee worth now Mr Coleby?
     
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  6. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    The poor bloody infantry tend to get on with stuff, no matter what the generals do. In the context of the WSR, I find it interesting that the majority of these appear to have had to be organised from the bottom up, and that there has been little evidence of the PLC providing leadership in this crisis. The versions I hear (and not on this thread) suggest that the tolerance of volunteers for the behaviour of the PLC is finite, and that the fund of goodwill that any volunteer based operation relies upon is dangerously depleted. No organisation, let alone one reliant on volunteers, can survive long without that goodwill.

    In terms of the core objectives of WSSRT, it appears to have had a "good crisis". Progress has been made on it's projects, and it could reasonably be considered to have minimised the harm to itself from Covid. That deserves recognition, and I fully support those who want to protect delivery of those objectives. Unfortunately, due to the existence of it's shareholding, it's been dragged into the politics of the PLC and the Trustees have chosen for WSSRT to take a highly partisan position by supporting a PLC board that, bluntly, appears to have failed the railway this year for reasons discussed ad nauseam on this thread.

    To that extent, given the politics of the WSR, it was inevitable that the Trust would become a combatant, not an innocent bystander. The present board of the Trust have chosen not just to support a particular implementation of the Bailey Report (like others, I question the logic of that particular conclusion, but accept it as legitimate) but to ally themselves strongly to the PLC. The response to the candidacies was of similar tone to that of the plc to opponents, notably over Washford, and the decision not just to back Bailey but to co-opt the person leading on the plc's plan for Bailey as a trustee suggested an unhealthy closeness - especially as he should recuse himself from any discussions within the Trust over Bailey due to his conflict of interest. That the Trust board then put the future of the Trust at risk by crassly breaching data protection laws suggests that, as a group, they are actually a threat to the objects of the Trust - precisely the reverse of the charge they make against "the 10".
     
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  7. Mike S

    Mike S Member

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    Have a little think why that may be....

    I know enough WSR folk to know what many are feeling like. That they continue to offer their services is to their utmost credit.
     
  8. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Indeed. I find it especially interesting that it's suggested those 3 co-optees would not have been appointed had it not been for @WSSRTcandidates candidatures; I'm sure they are delighted to be portrayed in that light.
     
  9. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    John with respect I think you are confusing responsibilities here.

    The Public Benefit Rules are made up of the Articles of a Charity plus a set of guidelines to adhere too as you will be aware. The Articles are of course set by the ‘Owners’ of the Charity and the Guidelines (rules) are set by The Charities Commission as a set of principles to adhere to in order to keep Charitable Status with the benefits that brings as you have described.

    This is a disagreement at a level above that you describe as ‘Trustees have to follow the rules’. The current Trustees are looking to change the Articles not abide by those already in place. In fact they are looking to change not only the Articles but also the name and the direction the WSSRT takes in the future.

    Any Charity can of course change or amend its Articles within the Charities Commissions guidelines and it is the ‘owners’ (for want of a better word) of the Trust who put the Articles in place (within of course again the rules of Charity law and the guidelines Charities Commission). Neither the Charities Commission nor the Trustees of a Charity set the Articles because neither are the owners, it is the Members of the Trust who ‘own’ it for the purposes of a ‘public benefit’ as defined.

    Whatever the legal requirements are the Trustees are only there at the behest of the Members who set the Strategy and direction for the Trustees to carry out in accordance with their wishes.

    Unfortunately the Trustees of the WSSRT appear to have forgotten they answer to the Members, a fact reinforced by todays post from @ikcdab stating: “I also think that trying to force 14 new trustees on an existing group of 7 is bullyboy tactics and shows little regard for conciliation”. He as a WSSRT Trustee is in effect saying: We do not respect the WSSRT Articles and will do whatever we can to stop the Articles being applied. In my opinion this one comment alone in a normal environment would lead to calls for a Trustee to resign, because the Trustee indicated he will not respect the Articles and therefore also the Public Benefit rules.

    We then move onto duties of Trustees. Are you seriously still defending the current Trustees repeatedly stopping the democratic process as set out in the Articles and openly saying in public they are justified to do it? You say that Trustees have to stick to the Articles of the Trust & Public Benefit rules whether the Members like it or not, yet you skirt over their actions in:
    • Deferring the AGM because some Members stood for election they don’t agree with.
    • Deciding that Trustees must disclose standing for election to them first (in effect asking for permission to stand).
    • Demanding that Members who wish to stand for election first subject themselves for ‘interview’ to see if the current Trustee’s will allow them to stand for election, etc, etc.
    These things are not in the Articles so the current Trustees are not acting in accordance with the Trusts Articles and therefore by default they cannot be acting in accordance with The Public Benefit rules or the statutory duties which you rightly say must always prevail?.

    You can then move onto the other alleged actions that the current Trustees have taken which include:
    • Negative press releases against their own Members,
    • Breaking of GDPR in disclosing Members personal details in order to gain electoral advantage,
    • Involving a Commercial Business to support them in ensuring only they as individuals are voted in at an AGM.
    • Making false statements in saying only they can gain grant funding and it will stop if other Trustees are voted in and stating the Members have already decided a direction/Article change when they haven’t.
    These alleged actions may not necessarily break the Trusts Articles but could be defined as bringing the Trust into disrepute and using their position to effect the outcome of an AGM election and vote on changes to the Articles mentioned above.

    I haven’t read the Articles in detail but no-doubt there is likely to be a mention of removing anybody who brings the WSSRT into dispute if needed, and that is the point I think @The Dainton Banker is making. It is for the Members to step up and not accept bad behaviour and hold people to account for their actions because if they don’t then you will always end up with a free for all where anybody can do anything without consequences, and that is a major reason the WSR is where it is today: Broken and bleeding badly.

    Sorry @FrankC long post again, but this is important and the future of the WSR is worth all the words.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
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  10. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    Surely having new trustees with a proven capability in logistics would help stop the WSSRT from continually shooting itself in both feet.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
  11. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    So suggesting a ‘roll around’ on the platform at Minehead isn’t ‘bullyboy tactics?’
     
  12. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    If you insist on this line of reasoning, which I maintain is flawed, that trustees/directors are only answerable to their legal obligations, then they have failed spectacularly on that front by breaching GDPR rules. What's left if a trustee isn't interested in their members' opinions or their legal obligations?..
     
  13. Piggy

    Piggy Member

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    Sometimes a child needs its legs slapped !
     
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  14. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    Brian, umm no. The 14 I refer to are the group that nominated themselves on 4 Sept. The group that is now 10. Ian
     
  15. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    In another thread, about jury service, a comment was made about a room of jurors. The poster said it was interesting how other people viewed the same case. For some reason I immediately thought of this thread. :D:D
     
  16. John Palmer

    John Palmer Member

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    John, you need to reflect upon how you became involved in this disaster area. There was an outcry when the S&DRT's eviction was announced, and it was this that led to your appointment as facilitator. A major reason for battle lines being drawn between the WSR plc and others is the discontent with the decision of the plc to eject from the Railway a group that has been supporting it directly and indirectly for the last 45 years.

    You've banged on before about the 'unenviable duty' of the plc's directors to make decisions in the best interest of the railway even if they are to the disadvantage of the S&DRT. But the directors were never under an obligation, statutory or otherwise, to eject the Trust from Washford. In the light of your acknowledgement that part of their duty to act in the company's best interest consists of keeping members 'on side', producing howls of discontent by ousting the Trust is scarcely consistent with the proper discharge of that duty.

    Moreover, I assume you accept that a further part of the directors' duty to act in a company's best interest involves not acting in such a way as to create doubt about the company's readiness to perform its legal obligations. Given the plc's disregard of such obligations under its 2018 agreement with the S&DRT, any third party now contemplating a contract with the plc can have little confidence that commitments by the company contained in that contract will be honoured. In this respect too the directors' conduct was inconsistent with the duty to act in the company's best interest.

    So I reject your claim that a mistaken view about the responsibility of company directors is at the heart of the West Somerset angst. The real cause of that angst is the prosecution by the plc directors of an eviction process that was ill advisedly directed against a valuable member of the so-called railway family, and to boot was a breach of the contract formed with that member. It was never part of the directors' 'unenviable duty' to pursue such a course, and action by outraged members to rectify their board's error is entirely to be expected.
     
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  17. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    Really, John, you should stop tilting at this straw man. It is unbecoming for somebody of your intelligence.
    Nowhere have I suggested that Trustees could or should act outside of the bounds of Charity Law, or Directors outside of Company Law, and I am not aware of any of the other serious commentators on this thread doing so either. Where is this "conflict between what the members want and the Directors/Trustees statutory duties" that you refer to ?
    With over fifty years experience as a Trustee and/or Director of both Charities and Companies, I have been involved in all sorts of changes and challenges, always carried out within the appropriate legal framework, and with the full support of the majority of the members or shareholders of the organisations concerned.
    As I see it this is a simple matter of a series of democratic decisions to be taken within the Trust. I have no opinion about the options offered and am not a member of the Trust. What I do have a strong opinion about is that the issues should be placed before the members in a fair and sensible manner and that those members be left to vote as they see fit, anything else is a denial of the members rights.
    Nobody has the right to interfere with the voting process and any attempt to do so, by any party, is unconcionable. I am astounded that a number of people on here seem to think otherwise.
    Mike
     
  18. Mike S

    Mike S Member

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    Post of the month.

    Someone will soon be along to yet again say it is all legally sound though and boil my p*ss further....
     
  19. WSSRTcandidates

    WSSRTcandidates Member

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    The following letter has been sent to the Chairman of the WSSRT:

    In your role as Chairman of the WSSRT I regret to have to inform you that the group of eleven prospective trustees standing for election at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting have serious concerns regarding the integrity and potential validity of the proposed election procedure.
    • It has been brought to our attention by several sources that WSSRT members, in particular those in the employ of the West Somerset Railway Plc and WSR volunteers who have been recent recruits to the Trust, have been subjected to improper and unethical pressure regarding their votes at the meeting. We also note the recent refusal by the Trust board to accept the proper nomination of Dan Lehmann as a candidate for election, in contravention of the WSSRT Articles of Association.
    • Given all of the circumstances surrounding this election procedure, we feel sure that you would wish for it to be conducted in conditions of demonstrable transparency and integrity. Should this prove not to be the case then it is inevitable that the results will be subject of legal challenge and referral to the Charity Commission.
    • In order to avoid such an impasse, the prospective candidates wish to offer a compromise that will respect the integrity of all parties involved in this election. We propose that the election be supervised, in all of its aspects, by a mutually agreed third-party mediator. In particular we assert the right to a secret ballot, free from improper pressure.
    • We are available to discuss the specifics of such a procedure at any time you see to be reasonably fit. We feel sure that you will wish to avoid the ongoing rancour, legal uncertainty and potential expense that would surround a contested election result.
    On behalf of the eleven election candidates I await your early response to this proposal.

    Worth noting that we have also had an apology from the Chairman of the WSSRT for the data breach, which is appreciated.
     
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  20. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    For heaven's sake Andy, I've said no such thing whatsoever! My point was that there were 7 trustees. A group of 14 members wishes the trust to change direction. A conciliatory approach would have been to talk to the 7 trustees and peacefully discuss things. But no. It was thought better to swamp the board with 14 new appointments which would clearly out vote and force the existing 7 to change direction. So whilst that approach is perfectly in accordance with the articles, it smacks of "forcing" and in no way is conciliatory.
     

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