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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. WSSRTcandidates

    WSSRTcandidates Member

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    Something can certainly be sniffed. I think more important is the question of why the existing WSSRT board didn't speak out against the eviction when the move was almost universally condemned (just stating the facts here, not suggesting a collective opinion). I am not sure we have ever had a proper response to that from either the WSRA or the WSSRT board. As we have said, 14th November is the moment for WSSRT members to express their views, amongst other things, about the position of apparent neutrality taken by the WSSRT board with respect to the S&DRT issue.
     
  2. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    How dare you question my moral integrity.

    No new posts you stated you would make this morning, and now we have a stream of ill thought out posts this evening that by their timeline I cannot see how all of you can have agreed the text of each and every post within a few minutes!
     
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  3. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    I suspect that the eviction of the S&DRT will hang round the neck of the WSR like the Albatross in the Ancient Mariner for years to come - assuming of course that the WSR survives which I suggest is far from guaranteed
     
  4. echap

    echap Member

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    A genuine question for the "WSSRTCandidates". I think I read that 4 of the candidates are existing WSRA Board Members. If that is so, then they must know the reason that the WSRA did not speak out about the S&DRT eviction, which therefore does not entirely agree with your last posting above. I am a little confused. Please could you explain. Thank you.
     
  5. WSSRTcandidates

    WSSRTcandidates Member

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    Only two of the members of our group were WSRA board members at the time of the S&DRT eviction notice being served. The other two have only recently become WSRA board members. The two that were WSRA board members at the time of the eviction may well have been party to the reasons why the WSRA did not speak out, but they haven't shared that with the rest of us, nor would we have expected them to. On the basis of corporate responsibility, you'd best e-mail the WSRA Chairman, Mike Sherwood, to ask why the WSRA adopted the stance they did, or similarly direct your question to the WSSRT (Acting) Chairman, Steve Williams.
     
  6. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    Can I point out that the WSSRT trustees, board, did not engineer the eviction of the S&DRT. They did not at the time, nor since, endorse, support or praise the eviction of the S&DRT.
    Neither did the WSRA.
    Neither set of trustees comes out particularly well over that particular episode, (and I know everyone is going to lambast me 'because silence is condoning evil', which I partially agree with), but the fact that neither of these major shareholding charities was able or inclined to speak in support of the S&DRT suggests there may have been common reasons. We might not agree with those reasons, but reasons were there.
    Fact is, we are now in late October- the S&DRT issue is not an issue for the WSSRT right now.
    If the 10/12 want to use the power of hindsight to launch a new bout of unpleasantness in all this, well, I guess that will make some people happy. The trustees from last winter will respond, and we will all have a thoroughly bitter few days. Or we can remember that everything now at stake is about how we all move forward
     
  7. WSSRTcandidates

    WSSRTcandidates Member

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    Thanks Ross, I think you have put that better than we could. Time to concentrate on making a better future and ensuring that the voice of the members is well and truly valued.
     
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  8. John Palmer

    John Palmer Member

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    Sorry, but I don't think that should be left unchallenged.

    “Following discussion, the WSRA and the WSRST (sic) expressed their support for the PLC, while regretting the concern caused to the members of the S & D Trust, which seemed to be partly as a result of the S & D Trust’s unwillingness to engage in discussions.”

    These words appeared in the joint statement from the WSR plc, the WSRA and the WSSRT that was published on 1 May 2020 in relation to the plc's termination of the the S&DRT's lease of the Washford site. So far as I am aware, that statement of support for the plc's action has not subsequently been withdrawn or modified, and thus represents the position still adopted by both the WSRA and the WSSRT in relation to the lease's termination. In view of what @WSSRTcandidates have said, there appears to be no likelihood of any change of the WSSRT's position following its forthcoming AGM. It appears that the subject was not even mentioned at the WSRA AGM.

    I could understand the WSRA and the WSSRT wishing to remain neutral about the termination rather than condemning it, but by the same token I never expected them actively to take the plc's side via their expression of support for it in the 1 May joint statement. The fact that neither the WSRA nor the WSSRT have subsequently shown any sign of distancing themselves from that expression of support continues to influence my perception of both of these bodies and my views, as one of its members, on the S&DRT's future relations with them.
     
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  9. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    True. Fair point. I'm not going to edit my previous post, I will leave it incorrect.
    I still don't think there is much to be gained 6 months on except acrimony.
     
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  10. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    In that statement quoted, the WSRA and WSSRT expressed support for the WSR plc generally. That does not imply support for every single decision made and the statement did say they expressed regret about the concern caused to the members of the S&DRT. In my involvement with heritage railways, over time there are lots of decisions made which I don't agree with, sometimes quite strongly. However, this does not mean that I have to fall out with those making them and bring about their downfall. In any case, the present events concerning the WSSRT have nothing to do with what is happening to the S&DRT and they have, quite rightly, endeavoured to stay neutral to the general problems of the WSR and simply concern themselves with their own charitable activities. Is there anything wrong with that?
    .
     
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  11. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Nothing at all. However, it’s the eviction of the S&DRT that has catalysed previous discomfort into a conviction that the WSR is being wrongly led. That in turn has an effect on how politics within the WSR are seen, and the approach to S&DRT will for many be the litmus test of whether people are “good” or “bad”.

    My own view is that the candidates are right to avoid making this about the S&DRT; they have much to do to convince the WSSRT membership that it’s future lies in greater formal engagement* with the WSR as a whole, rather than splendid isolation.

    * - the irony is of course that the WSSRT is deeply engaged within WSR politics, having chosen to align closely with the board as evidenced by the style of PR and cross directorships.


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  12. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    If the notice to Quit Washford was withdrawn would the S&DRT want to stay?

    Not only because of the way it has been treated, but it seems to me that the likelihood of the railway reopening doesnt strike me as that high
     
  13. thequantocks

    thequantocks New Member

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    Has the fat lady sung?
     
  14. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    I often wonder what people expect. Today the plc run the show. They hold the lease of the line and they have the operators license. Any organisation that wishes to be based on the line has little option but to "align itself" with the one that runs things. You are hardly going to achieve your objectives if you if you set yourself up in opposition. But it isn't as clear cut as that. The WSSRT broadly supports the plc. Doesn't mean that we support every action but we are not going to shout that from the rooftops. You can be a "critical friend" and that's what we try to be. We must focus on our charitable objectives but we are human beings and friends and we do talk and assist more broadly.
    It is not a binary issue. It is not full wholehearted support for everything or daggers drawn on everything. There can be a middle line and that's where we should all be. If you dont agree with what others are doing you talk to them, try to understand why and try to change things carefully. For some people on the wsr, the immediate action is to get out the sledge hammers and try and just bludgeon them into submission. That doesn't work.
    And as for cross-directorships, it was ever thus. For as long as I can remember (And that's 37 years of volunteering on the wsr) people have sat on more than one board. In fact I cannot think of a time when the three boards didn't have anyone in common. It's not a bad thing, it is managed and it's fine. I have not checked other railways but my bet is that it's the same on every heritage line.
    Ian Coleby
     
  15. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I expect little different. I do, however, struggle with the degree of that alignment just now when it comes to structural matters.

    As a previous poster has commented, the acting Chair has multiple roles across the railway; so much so I am surprised that as a volunteer he has time to discharge any of them as fully as they deserve. One of of the recent co optees is leading for the plc on their vision of implementing Bailey.

    The WSSRT has declared its intention to remain independent through this process, yet is aligning very closely to the approach chosen by the plc. These two feel in grave tension to me, and I seriously question how a board can be effective when two members are subject to such conflict of interest at this stage. Regardless of the candidacies of “the 10”, or the merits of either, I would be inclined to vote against them purely because they are cup tied.


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  16. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    Ian, Yes, it is a matter for the WSSRT and, as yet, the 10 are not in any formal position in the WSSRT to make any such statement. How can anyone tell what the WSSRT Board will decide after the election when we can't even guess at what the make-up of Board members will be? Until (if) the 10 become formally elected members of the WSSRT Board they would simply be expressing personal opinions and not an official position. I'm sure we all have our personal opinions but

    FS123 - I agree that the time for the WSSRT to state their position and possibly help influence the Plc's decision has long passed. Perhaps they consider the joint statement to be the end of it? If that is so then they and the WSRA deserve everything they get as far as I'm concerned. They failed to use their powers to a least force the Plc to justify its actions and simply sat back and watched a member of the WSR family being thrown out. There was talk of "Things happening behind the scenes..." but it looks to me as though that just meant both Boards were running scared of the Plc - and still are as far as I can see.
     
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  17. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    To be fair to the behind the scenes crowd, I understand it was them that got Mr Bailey involved. At the time we all thought an independent person would clearly see the rights and wrongs of the matter. How wrong we were...
     
  18. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Part of the furniture

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    I have to disagree with you that the PLC run the show, they don’t, they answer to the PLC Shareholders so the WSSRT & WSRA and the other PLC Shareholders run the show. The Boards should carry out the direction set (within the various laws of course) and because of the impact on the WSR the S&DRT Eviction has and will continue to have, we all as Shareholders should have influenced the direction the PLC Board took on our behalf in this case, we didn't, we failed. Ultimately the PLC Shareholders let this happen, all of us failed to influence it, we as the owners of the PLC allowed our Board to do what they have done so I can’t accept your argument that the WSSRT Board (and the rest of us) could not influence the outcome and you were forced to “align itself with the one that runs things”.

    The S&DRT Eviction was a pivotal moment and a big decision for a couple of people on one Board to take on behalf of their Shareholders, when you say: “For some people on the wsr, the immediate action is to get out the sledge hammers and try and just bludgeon them into submission. That doesn't work”. I agree that’s not always the right thing to do and neither is appeasement always the right thing to do. In this case appeasement didn’t work but perhaps a sledge hammer would have done, but now we will never know.

    We as Members expect much of our Trustees including diplomacy skills, so we should all recognise being a Trustee/Director is tough and not always clear cut but on the other hand if you take the job you must be prepared for the responsibility and stand up to the decisions you took often with the benefit of hindsight. It’s now for the Members of the WSSRT to look at what their Trustees have done in their name and make a decision to back, support, influence or remove them (through the democratic process of AGM’s, EGM’s, votes of no confidence or lobbying).

    Focusing just on the WSSRT (we all failed not just the WSSRT), this happened on your watch as a Board, so own it and accept it, please don’t infer could not have affected the outcome or try and drag the WSSRT Candidates into this as it didn’t happen on their watch.

    Has the fat lady sung? Well the PLC have said they are being evicted, the PLC have also said they will not honour 88’s run and repair contract, the S&DRT have said they are going, 88 has already gone and the S&DRT are asking Members if they can help with moving out. So whilst there is rumour of some talks still it’s not looking good. Of course being the eternal optimist I am this in theory could still all be undone but I think that’s now a very tough thing to do in turning the PLC around and convincing the S&DRT to want to stay, the second one is the biggest issue because how could anybody now give the S&DRT the assurances it would need to stay?. Unfortunately its not made better looking at it based on the negotiating skills used all the way round so far which I’ve seen both in front of and behind the scenes unless somebody significantly ups their game.

    So let’s move back to the Candidates wanting to stand for election to join the WSSRT Board. I’ve asked about the 2 new candidates who seem to be both new and fresh to the WSR and who I don’t know anything about. I’ve heard about the background of one, Dan Lehmann and have a summary of this CV now. Looking at it why on earth would you not want him on your Board ? His background in various things including ensuring Charity Governance and as a Treasurer plus other very relevant stuff is impressive, I would welcome your views on why you won’t let him even stand for Members to decide, on paper he looks like a great potential asset to the WSSRT ?
     
  19. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    Andy I think the problem is inherent conflict in the WSSRT Articles. They require that 21 clear days notice of the AGM is given to members. On the other hand they also provide that not less than 14 days notice of intention to stand as a Trustee is required. As I understand it the nominations were received after the notice of meeting based on 21 clear days had gone out.
    In cases of conflict like this you have to use common sense. If you allow applications after the 21 day deadline the meeting could be delayed indefinitely by further nominations. Bearing in mind Charity Commission guidance that around 10 should be the maximum for a trustee board the exclusion of further candidates seems a reasonable decision. I don’t believe it’s any reflection on what appears to be eminent suitability.
     
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  20. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    There seem to be a number of problems with the WSSRT articles. Not prescribing a maximum number of trustees for example seems a bit unusual?
     
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