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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    There were certainly things that they could have done better, and that I'd have done differently if I'd been involved. However, the fact that the defeat was so large suggested to me that it was a hopeless cause, and that even if it had been a squeaky clean campaign, it would have played out much the same. As a supporter of change, I'd have been a lot more cross if the result was closer but we still lost, as then it could have been put down to "My side's" failings!
     
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  2. Maverick

    Maverick Member

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    Todays announcement may be of interest.

    https://www.sdrt.org/museum-agreeme...to-a-formal-collaboration-for-the-first-time/
     
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  3. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I would be interested to know how many voters joined the Trust between submitting the candidacies and the meeting. While there were own goals that cost votes (including, I strongly suspect, from those recruited by the “ten”), I suspect that the rumoured scrambling for support by the Trust at the very least took a close result to the overwhelming outcome we saw.


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  4. 62440

    62440 New Member

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    I hope you are not suggesting that it is a case of “we was robbed” rather than “we was wrong”.

    About 200 years ago in NP years but probably a couple of days in the real world, I believe Mr Edge suggested that the campaign of the “10” might actually have put back the cause of structural reform. I wonder what support that view might have within the wider WSR “family”.
     
  5. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    I think "Genius" is a bit wide of the mark.

    If you check the PLC Articles there first has to be a vacancy on the board ( which could be because of the requirement that one third of the directors retire but can stand for re-lection each year) or because a 50% plus majority of voting shareholders have succeeded in amasssing enough votes to call an EGM and then voting one or more directors out of office. Unless the best part of two months notice is given in advance of an AGM or EGM to appoint someone as a director the Articles provide, as is quite common, that no one can be appointed unless they are recommended for appointment by the existing directors.

    So if you're going down the withold volunteer labour until the two or three months involved has elapsed I suspect the railway would go under well before the objective could be achieved.
     
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  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    AIUI, SCC own the freehold of the land - but “the railway” is considerably more than that, important as it is.

    As an outsider, I have no particularly great idea about how to “save the railway” (though pace @Steve Edge the “play softly until everything aligns” strategy hasn’t been a shining success for the last forty years).

    The two points worth coming back to though: Firstly, the plc as an entity has to survive whatever structural realignment takes place, at least for as long as it takes for there to be an orderly transfer of the operating licence to a putative new organisation. I think that was implicit in @Lineisclear proposal of an overarching charitable membership body, with the plc as the operating subsidiary, wholly owned by the new overarching charity.

    The second point is - does anyone actually have a viable business plan to make the whole railway work? While I believe that structural change is necessary for several reasons, of which fundraising is one, it is naive to imagine that an organisation that has historically done badly at fundraising relative to its size will suddenly achieve annual £1m results. Equally, what is the commercial business plan to increase and diversify revenue streams?

    In other words - the structural reform is necessary, but not an end in itself. Whoever wins that particular game of pass the parcel will find itself with the same financial conundrum of how to run a 20 mile heritage line as the current and previous incumbents. Being a bit nicer to loco owning groups will only go so far in solving that particular puzzle.

    Tom
     
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  7. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    I enjoyed a ride over the WSR yesterday, and the trains were well supported. Good humour throughout and even the train/ bus changeover at Dunster seemed a smooth operation, with staff making sure that everyone was OK.
     
  8. ross

    ross Well-Known Member

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    So... Change to the board of the PLC can be effected if 50% of the shares vote to call for that change. 50% remain unsold. Of the "active" shares, 40% are in the hands of two WSR support groups, one of which is entirely aligned with the current board. 10% are in the hands of SCC who don't tend to interfere. The other 50% is in the hands of a large number of supporters, many of whom are AWOL/deceased. It would not be possible for anyone outside the PLC to obtain contact information (confidentiality/legality or similar, is that correct?) to be able to appeal for support for a change.
    Otherwise, one has to wait for the PLC board to invite someone to join the board. And they are hardly likely to invite someone who is not in agreement with the current chairman's politic.
    Is that about right?
     
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  9. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    I agree completely. Whilst no-one would wish there to have to be a bus link, the Wsr appears to have made a virtue out of the problem. The heritage buses are very popular and going down very well with passengers. The day I traveled on them everybody seemed very happy indeed. An excellent solution, though of course I hope trains are running again as soon as they can be.
    It does show the real world outside of NP.
    Ian C
     
  10. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    One of those who stood was indeed a key volunteer but was none the less disposed of.
     
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  11. Paulthehitch

    Paulthehitch Member

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    On both ''sides''. Lessons appear to have been taken from the Trump Administration. :rolleyes::rolleyes:
     
  12. ikcdab

    ikcdab Well-Known Member

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    20%
    5% (I think)
    Aren't we all? Shouldn't we think of all volunteers as equal?
    Ian C
     
  13. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I’m suggesting that both may have been involved; it was far from the template for a clean fight. However, regardless of whether the trustees deserved their win, the result stands and we are where we are.

    As for the cause of structural reform, I don’t believe it changed anything. Rumours of controlling behaviour were prevalent beforehand; the last year has seen that controlling behaviour evidenced along with the determination to fight by any means.


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  14. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Correct me if I am wrong, but I dont think that the WSR's 'Business' is fundamentally different to most other railways ie a significant shortfall between 'trading' income and expenditure, or perhaps the expenditure that needs to be undertaken. The difference of course is that 'Other' lines have a structure that facilitates fundraising and of course are much better at it.

    While I dont 'follow' the NYMR because its so far from home its pretty obvious that major bridge replacement work has been done over the last few years which I suspect wasnt funded through the farebox, on the other hand the WSR seems to have significant 'issues' with the state of the track never mind whats supporting the track.
     
  15. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    With regard to the 10/14. There are many things in the recent history of the WSR that can be looked back on with hindsight as could have, should have but didn't. Those involved with the WSR were offered an alternative path by the 10, they actively chose to reject it. Moreover, some have supported retribution being carried out against the 10. In the end those involved with the WSR have made their choices and now they have to live with the consequences.

    Has anyone got an update on how the appeal is going?
     
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  16. 62440

    62440 New Member

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    I wasn’t aware that sanctions had been applied to all of the ten.
     
  17. Lineisclear

    Lineisclear Member

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    Not quite. Any authorised but unissued/sold shares are irrelevant. Only the issued voting shares count. Ian is about right with his figures I believe i.e that the two charities have less than 20% between them and the SCC less than 5% . So even if the two charities could agree their ability to secure a 50 % plus voting majority is highly questionable. It depends on how many holders of the issued shares have died, are untraceable or can't be bothered. Even allowing for a fairly high percentage in that non voting category it's still seems likely that there would be sufficient to defeat any radical initiative. There are provisions enabling access to the register of shareholders but they do not confer an absolute right. The applicants need to be able to show a justified reason.
    The last two sentences of the above quote are a pretty accurate summary of the position. I would put it in slightly less provocative terms. Any board has to function as a cohesive unit. There can, and ideally should be, strong disagreement inside the four walls of the boardroom. Outside members are subject to cabinet rules i.e either they publicly support what a majority have decided or they resign. There's not much point in recruiting directors who disagree fundamentally with their colleagues policies and decisions. If they are unable to persuade a majority of their colleagues to change course, and cannot bring themselves to support the majority view, it can only end in tears. There's merit in having board members who do not always agree with its chairman's position so long as they are prepared publicly to support majority decisions whatever they may think in private.
     
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  18. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    Just turning in after a long day’s railway (and other) work.

    For those able to find a moral accommodation with the standards of behaviour set by the WSR plc’s leadership and its acolytes and apologists, your consciences and the consequences are your own to wrestle with.

    Robin
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2021
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  19. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    Perhaps there was only enough money available to persecute four ?

    The minutes of the support organisations are always a good place to keep up with developments, and thanks go to Mr Edge for his excellent website.

    I see in the latest minutes issued by the WSRA that JJP has intervened in the long requested discussion with the plc head of finance, stopping it in its' tracks. A company in deep financial trouble refusing to talk to one of their largest shareholders would be astonishing in the real world.
     
  20. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    Tom's description seems accurate, as usual; and if it is accurate the WSR seems doomed to certain failure, with the only uncertainty how fast or slowly that will happen.

    For years the total income (fares plus donations etc) has been sufficient to cover day-to-day operating costs but not maintenance of the track nor, apparently, maintenance of some of the motive power. The distributed and inefficient structure, with multiple organisations, has been highlighted as an impediment to obtaining grants, though some have been obtained despite that. Over the last year or two the situation has been greatly worsened by several factors. Covid is of course one of them, but there have also been the delay over the crossing and the reluctance of potential donors to donate because of the PLC's reputation for vindictiveness, apparently squandering money, and general incompetence.

    None of the recent discussion identifies any way out of this mess with much prospect of success. A short and sharp strike by volunteers, which would be hard to organise and with an uncertain chance of success, is perhaps the least worst idea.
     

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