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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    It's not the notional value of the WSSRT shareholding but the cosy relationship with the WSR plc as to how they acquired them to offset the WSRA shareholding that has been going on for years behind the scenes.

    Currently, the WSR plc board have the WSSRT over a barrel. And this will unfortunately now continue, and with 2 trustees also on the WSR plc board.

    I don't think either side comes out of this at all well. Picking over the bones in the WSR trash bin is pointless.

    What many are crying out for is a resolution to the Seaward Way crossing debacle, and still more the formal withdrawal of the 'Notice to Quit' over Washford.

    A clear commitment by the WSR plc board to acknowledge they will pay for the overhaul of SDRT loco '88' and adjust it's last accounts accordingly is also now well overdue. Another concern of many of us.
     
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  2. mvpeters

    mvpeters Member

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    & without the Plc being involved in any legal actions or having to pay compensation...........
     
  3. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Have we not more or less had that, at least for now, with a new 10 year lease on Washford yard? My personal prediction on that is that when that 10 year lease comes towards its end, one way or another, current management won't be in charge and more sympathetic heads will be at the top and sense will prevail. If the S&DT so wish by then, I suspect they will be allowed to stay.
     
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  4. 5914

    5914 Member

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    The answer is a little more complicated, but in terms of the reasons that charities are generally allowed to hold shares are as follows:
    1. As investments - in which case the trustees have a duty to ensure that the best return on the investment is achieved (either through capital growth or dividend payments); or
    2. As a direct part of their charitable activity and furthers an identified public benefit - in which case the trustees should have a reasonable ability to ensure that the body in which they hold shares fulfils the charitable objectives, that is not run for gain (other than reinvestment), and does not have the effect of providing financial aid in supporting an otherwise independent entity (in reality, the easiest way to ensure these conditions are met is by holding a controlling share in a subsidiary company or investment in specific projects - often used in social venture projects ).

    I'm not sure which of these is seen to apply in the case of WSRA or WSSRT, but imagine it is the second - but I am unclear (not knowing the exact nature of the holding) how they fulfil the conditions of holding shares in order to fulfil their public benefit clauses.

    However, the main difference for a charity (as opposed to individual enthusiast shareholder) is that it cannot just hold shares, but has to hold shares either for return on investment or to fulfil its charitable aims and objectives. There has to be a 'return' for the charity whether it is in financial terms or fulfilling charitable objectives.
     
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  5. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Who is the Plc mediating with, and on what issue?
     
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  6. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    It might be a little bit late by then though.
     
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  7. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Indeed, hence my caveat at the end!
     
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  8. mvpeters

    mvpeters Member

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    Would one of you with the detailed WSSRT election results be so kind as to send me a copy, please?
    I should point out that I am not currently a WSSRT member & have no intent to re-distribute the results, I'm just curious to see the details.
    Next time I'm allowed out of the USA & into the UK, I suspect I'll be joining the WSRHT!
     
  9. Dunfanaghy Road

    Dunfanaghy Road Member

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    Thanks for that. I see that for the charities it isn't so simple.
    However, my question has been lurking within me for a while, as occasionally individuals raise the matter of their shares' value. I just don't get that viewpoint, I'm afraid.
    Pat
     
  10. jma1009

    jma1009 Well-Known Member

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    Far from it! There are ongoing discussions, but the Damocles sword of the not yet withdrawn 'Notice to Quit' still is present, and will otherwise take effect come 10th February 2021 for the SDRT at Washford.

    Now that the WSR plc board is emboldened by now being able to rely on the WSSRT shareholding again , I wouldn't be so sure until everything is signed sealed and delivered.

    We haven't had a squeak out of the WSR plc board as to the significant financial liability concerning SDRT loco '88' recently. I think I put a figure on this of well over £200,000. The WSR plc board have already written this down in the last published accounts, as they have also done during JJP's tenure in office for 44422.
     
  11. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think the difficulty is that if they are shares, you can't second guess the motivation of those who bought them. In the vast majority of cases people may have bought them as a convenient way of making a donation - but you can't assume that is the case. A share is a form of investment, and a company can't unilaterally wipe out the value of the investment made by the shareholders. (If they could, it would be a very slippery slope).

    If the end point is a single charity that controls all of the shares, getting there will I suspect be one of the technically (as opposed to emotionally) complicated bits of the whole process. If you offer financial compensation - even at pennies in the pound - it leaches money out of the wider "railway family" which is money that simply seems not to be there. You could offer some sliding scale of benefits in the new organisation (for example, membership, or life membership for larger shareholders), which might be OK for individual shareholders but doesn't work for institutional shareholders, of which there are several apart from the WSSRT and WSRA.

    Even with good will on all sides (not exactly a given), the technical path to the desired end goal doesn't seem obvious to me.

    Tom
     
  12. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    You have a private message.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  13. D1039

    D1039 Well-Known Member

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    Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves! I enquired as to the position of the trustees should the time come and the WSR reorganisation call upon them to donate plc shares (and that very much depends how the reorganisation plays out).

    The book value of all their investments is around £5k in the WSSRT accounts. Shares are worth what you can get for them (WSRA and 4160 Ltd being a case in point!)

    Patrick
     
  14. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    The £5k is the value of the shares the WSSRT holds in 4160 Ltd. The book value of the plc shares is nil. We also used to hold a few shares in the festiniog but we recently donated those back to our Welsh friends.
    Ian
     
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  15. Bayard

    Bayard Part of the furniture

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    However, you do raise an interesting point, there. Given that the book value of the Plc shares to the WSSRT is £nil, and given what @5914 says above, if someone were to offer a monetary sum to the trustees for them, say par, how could they refuse to sell them without going against their duty to advance their charitable aims by converting worthless shares into useful cash?
     
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  16. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    I find the second part of your argument strange. If a town councillor stands for election in the parish or county elections and loses no one demands that they give up their other roles.

    The reality is that the WSRA trustees were subject to a very recent election and have a significant mandate (if memory serves me correctly more people voted in the WSRA elections than in the WSSRT elections so the WSRA trustees are more representative of the WSR supporters than the WSSRT trustees).

    If they were to resign this would rob a significant slice of WSR supporters of a voice in the direction of the WSR.
     
  17. brauntonians

    brauntonians New Member

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    just a mute point, if the Minehead station site is sold off how will will you get from the other side of the crossing where as now you get off the train in the ideal place, turn right you are at the beach, turn left and in a few minutes walk and you are in the main drag for shopping and pubs bringing in money that is needed in that town.
     
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  18. gwilialan

    gwilialan Part of the furniture

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    That was why I was asking. Why print an article saying something's happening and then not say what is happening or to whom, by whom and how...

    This is typical WSR (Note, not any particular group). One clearly stated piece of information and then everything else just glossed over. Then whoever it is will moan like mad about NP starting rumours as more details are revealed.

    If it's true and not just press speculation then I can't understand why they don't just say what's happening and promise a follow up (and deliver), when they are able, in order to stop all the rumours?

    Honesty, openness and integrity... Remember them?
     
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  19. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Whilst I suspect the WSRA saga will roll on down its newly chosen path part me hopes / trusts the rebellion is over . A journey that started with the removal of the ex6 from the WSRA seems resoundingly kicked into touch

    The challenge of course is the stage is in part set for a WSRA vs PLC battle or collection of skirmishes especially given those involved in the WSRA,
     
  20. Faol

    Faol Well-Known Member

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    I am obliged to @Jamessquared for his explanation of charity shareholding, a complete mystery to me, but I can shed some light on how they came about. The holding details of shares as outlined by @Jamessquared is relatively new, say the last 10 years. Previously to that the PLC would hand over shares to the WSRA for works funded on the railway which as far as I know was pretty normal across the Heritage sector. The Charities Commission changed it and the flow stopped. Therefore the WSRA received the bulk of its shares from the PLC direct and some bequests.
    The SteamTrust has never been a great investor in cash or kind terms to the PLC as it simply was never big enough but has always encouraged donations to itself in cash or shares and this large holding has built up over 40 odd years.
    Therefore these shares have no effective residual value but do have an enormous impact when voting. This was never a problem until some bright spark decided that the combined value of the WSRA and WSSRT share holding could possible manipulate the PLC at AGMs. You have to take into account that most shares held in the PLC are what has been termined 'moribund'. The owner bought the shares by way of donating cash to the PLC not an investment. Lots of these shares certificates are probably lost and the share register shows many shareholders as never having returned a proxy and it is a fair assumption that many are in fact deceased. It did not take a stroke of genius to work out that the WSRA and WSSRT combined would probably be a strong majority. This could lead to the removal of certain directors and the voting in bright sparks. Now the question you should really be asking is do you want your railway run by a small group of oddly elected directors who think they can run a railway? The new board of the PLC has only been in existence for a matter of months. You have turned towards the level crossing, I have already said the County Council moved it back a year and I suspect they were in the lop for moving it back another. The team is relatively new and the WSR have never tackled a job this big on such an important road. This is very much a case of slowly, slowly catchee monkey. I don't think it will do much harm if the WSR runs from BL to BA for a year while it gets going again, express BL to BA hour shuttle BA to WN in between.
    So lets slow down the rhetoric as it definitely is not helping. I therefore would like to set each of you a task. Please come up with 1 good idea, reasonably set out so it can be considered. I will find a few judges and we will pick a winner. I will personally take the winner on the Quantock Belle Dining train for Breakfast as my treat when it restarts, and it will. Any area you like but please make it positive, the dear old girl could do with some TLC and your ideas, if positive ,do help and do get thought about. I proviso if I am still around and there is some doubt. Good luck Ken
     

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