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West Somerset Railway General Discussion

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

  1. patriarch

    patriarch New Member

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    Yes, I'm pretty certain that the 100K has been raised by a comparatively small number of individuals (probably less than 100). But that has been achieved in a very short time and with modest publicity activity. Just think what can be achieved with greater publicity, should 4110 Ltd acquire ownership. The WSRA seems simply to juggle assets while making little or no progress. I wonder why ?
     
  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Post no. 15455 says the £120k was pledged by 105 people, so as you say not far off £1200 per person on average. The restoration costs as you say are likely to be several multiples of that.

    Tom
     
  3. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    If I put it out to bid would you:

    Tender to render a slender tender tender fender bender blender lender mender sender?
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
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  4. Colin Allcars

    Colin Allcars Member

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    The WSRA seems to have a lot on its plate already and progress is slow. Diverting funds away from ongoing projects will slow them further.
    I am a shareholder in 2 current projects and shared ownership of a loco, however small, is a key point for me. Anyone who has pledged a significant amount to 4110 ltd probably has this in mind too. Handing that amount over and then seeing that ownership transferred away from the donor to the WSRA does not have the same appeal.
    The WSRA seems in good hands in general but it doesn't seem to take much to provoke an outburst of "politics". 4110 ltd does not have this baggage.
    If the WSRA had mounted this appeal, the response would not have been anywhere as good.
     
  5. Wenlock

    Wenlock Well-Known Member Friend

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    You are quite right, the purchase is often the easiest part. Restoration can be a real slog.

    6989 Wightwick Hall group are ready to "launch" their loco at BRC this March, I believe they've been working on it at Quainton Rd for about 30 years.

    6619 was purchased by a company formed for the purpose by a group of KESR volunteers, it was complete and had a year left on its ticket. After the ticket was slightly extended the loco has now joined the restoration queue as part of the KESR core fleet for "Ready for Robertbridge". Once the purchase had been completed the KESR contributed to the ongoing costs, but fundraising has slowed right down.

    4253 which had lingered in ex-Barry condition for many years was bought by another group/company formed for the purpose. Shares were sold, and fundraising continues enthusiastically. Enthusiastic response from volunteers who presumably feel they "own" a piece of the loco means that restoration is proceeding well. Indeed I understand that on days when more volunteers are available than can comfortably work together on 4253 then small jobs are carried out on the other KESR fleet locos, these volunteers would probably not have been there unless they had been enthused by the "big project".
     
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  6. aldfort

    aldfort Part of the furniture

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    I note that many pages of speculation have again resulted from the situation surrounding 4110.
    I am making this post with the approval of the chairmen of both the WSR plc and the WSRA.
    Before I start I would remind everybody that there are official sources of information available if one seeks to understand more about what is actually happening on the WSR.

    I was involved in the very first meeting about "saving 4110" for the West Somerset Railway. At that meeting I offered WSRA support for the project and reminded those present that 4110 was a named locomotive in the WSRA Locomotive Restoration Fund. This meeting took place in 2018, at Minehead, in the training room. The WSRA have maintained a dialogue with the group that was formed ever since. (I have even pledged money.)

    It has been clearly pointed out more than once that forming a new owning group for the locomotive that is not a charity is fraught with risk. A charity can hold donations ring fence them, and, if necessary, return them to the donors if the appeal fails. A ltd company is under no obligation to do this. At this point 4110 ltd have not issued a prospectus so there are no shares to buy in locomotive 4110. There are also other commercial bidders for 4110 who may up the stakes.

    What the WSR plc have agreed to do is to sell the locomotive to the WSRA for the fixed sum of £100,000, assuming that sum can be raised by donations. For clarity that means if the majority of those who would like to donate are UK tax payers the charity only needs to collect in £80,000 (and claim the resulting gift aid). Any more money collected can go towards the fund to restore 4110 and donors can be confident that the money will only be used for this purpose.

    Again, for the sake of clarity, a director of 4110 ltd has estimated that the restoration cost of the locomotive 4110 will be a further £500,000 over and above the purchase price. The company 4110 ltd have no current plan about how to raise this money and have, in fact, previously discussed (with me) the WSRA raising this money and helping to find both the volunteers and the storage space for the loco if they acquire it.

    The chairman of the WSR plc (Jon Jones-Pratt) has also made the following unequivocal statement about the future of 4110 for what I believe are well thought out and good reasons.


    "It appears that I need to make clear that if 4110 is to have a future as a West Somerset Railway locomotive, that can only be in the ownership of the West Somerset Railway Association. The Railway needs to establish a core stable of locomotives owned either by the WSR plc or WSRA on which resources are to be focused in future. Locomotives in the core cannot be owned by special interest companies outside the control of the WSR plc or WSRA.

    The advantages of ownership by the WSRA were set out in the joint statement made by the WSRA and WSR plc on 11 January 2019. We are very grateful to the efforts of those who have raised the pledges which mean that there is the opportunity for 4110 to remain on the Railway. It has been made clear to the potential directors of 4110 Ltd that the locomotive will not be made available to them and it is disappointing to see that they have been suggesting that funds should be sent to them. Supporters who wish to save the locomotive for the West Somerset Railway should now send their pledged donation to the WSRA where it will be held securely until the locomotive can be purchased from the WSR plc by the WSRA. "

    This is not a time for the railway to indulge in another fight. The Association and the WSR plc have now been working closely together for many months now. We are agreed on clearly defined roles going forward. The WSR plc runs the railway and the WSRA raises the heritage funding and preserves the heritage of the railway.

    Do we need more members - yes, and in fact if you donate £100 or more to 4110 we'll give you a membership free for a year so that you have a voice.
    Do we need more volunteers - yes, we need skilled volunteers to work on all of our loco's and roiling stock, but we'll take you in and support you and train you if you are keen.
    Do we need your money - yes, ticket revenues alone will not support the WSR in the future. Constant fund raising is essential in the 21st century.

    If you are a supporter of the WSR then please support the official charity (the WSRA) or the operating company (the WSR plc) directly. We need less competing groups so that the railway can focus on a single vision for its future. As a supporter of the charity you get a democratic say in what happens to the money you help to raise and regular information about what is happening on your railway. For most people this is the best and easiest way to support your railway.

    Mike Sherwood
    WSRA vice chairman

    Note - while I am happy to answer specific questions on the above (please PM me or write to me at the WSRA) I will not be posting further comments or engaging in speculation on Nat Pres. I will commit to keeping you up to date with actual cash received for the 4110 appeal please go here to donate.

    https://www.wsra.org.uk/2019/01/11/wsr-plc-and-wsra-issue-joint-statement-regarding-locomotive-4110/
     
  7. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    Leaving aside the innuendo perhaps a look at the WSRA's position might be apposite ?

    Year end December 2017 (published accounts, see WSRA web site, documentation)
    Cash £318K ( in 2016 £272K )
    ie even though the total stated grants/donations made was only £500 in 2017,
    cash balances only improved by £46K.

    (During 2018 commitments/donations known have been £10K (as a result of the Rally
    Committee complaining the monies they generated were not being specifically used )
    and £20K as per the notes of the last Trustee meeting posted on inter alia wsr.ork.uk.)

    I suggest that current cash reserves are c.£400K at the most (probably <£350K ) and
    likely to fall during the next three months (no trains)

    Although the Charity (WSRA) is required to carry reserves to cover three months costs
    including salaries in practice the WSRA has always aimed at having six months covered.
    ie there is no spare cash to 'bail out the PLC.

    I am afraid the days when the WSRA was cash rich have long since passed ( the actions
    of the 'ex6' undoubtedly hastened the fall from grace). The PLC and the WSRA have
    both in recent years run down their reserves. Hence the current challenges, one of
    which is a sale of assets by the Plc.

    £100K is not enough, it is a help ? The saga (if you mean the Plc recovery plan, I am
    sure there is one) is only just beginning I suggest ?

    Michael Rowe
     
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  8. Miff

    Miff Well-Known Member Friend

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    I wish the WSRA every success in this new funding appeal and I will contribute. After years of uncertainty it is a real opportunity for the WSRA to prove that:
    1. It can raise large sums of money for the benefit of the railway as a whole; and claim the gift aid on it too.
    2. It is capable of delivering a large and exciting project (i.e. restoration, not just purchase).

    It is such a shame that plc/WSRA/4110 group communication seems to have been so poor that the group genuinely thought their plan had legs and went to a great deal of effort which seems to have been wasted. It’s a very poor start to what I hope will soon be relaunched as the official ‘West Somerset Railway’ 4110 appeal.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  9. Colin Allcars

    Colin Allcars Member

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    Thanks for this.
    But.
    This should have been released a month ago and "many pages of speculation" could have been avoided.
    None of this was apparent from"official sources" and at no time was there any suggestion that the appeal by 4110 ltd was not a runner.
    By all means gives us a weekly running total and that may encourage former pledgers to support the WSRA.
     
  10. staffordian

    staffordian Well-Known Member

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    Mike Sherwood's post sets out quite clearly what seems to me the ideal way forward.

    It is just a pity that this position was not clarified before the 4110 group sought pledges for their purchase.

    As others have said, the position now is muddied because it is not at all clear that all potential contributors will wish to give their donations to the WSRA. Not necessarily because of any perceived issue with the WSRA but because they will not feel the same sense of ownership.

    The saving grace is that, AIUI, £80k to the WSRA will provide the plc with the same £100k which would otherwise cost the 4110 group £125k.
     
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  11. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    I find it interesting that only locos owned by the WSR Plc or WSRA will be considered for inclusion in the "core fleet" - where does that leave 53809, 44422, 6695, 6960 or 4953 or 7027? No doubt the answer will be that some or all of these are or will be the subject of long term agreements, but if that is the case why couldn't 4110 be on a similar agreement. Is the WSRA wasting time and money trying to recover its shareholding in 4160 when it will still not control the locomotive even if it wins.

    This is a management organisation that looks like it is in real turmoil to an outsider, and alienating supporters have have just raised 120K in the space of a couple of weeks does not seem to be a great way of encouraging those supporters.
     
  12. Ian Monkton

    Ian Monkton Member

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    A couple of wrong numbers there - I expect you meant 53808 not 53809 - and 4953? It visited for galas in 2009 and 2010 but is not a resident on the WSR.
     
  13. garth manor

    garth manor Member

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    You could argue that the speculation has swiftly raised a much needed £ 100k for WSR and can thus be justified, would that amount have materialised otherwise ?
     
  14. jnc

    jnc Part of the furniture

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    Further evidence that there is something seriously wrong in Somerset!

    The PLC and WSRA are going to have to put their heads together and work out how to deal with this. The railway cannot survive without a healthy support organization (preferably a charity - although that brings with it limitations, the financial upside is considerable), one which is trusted and supported by the vast majority of individuals who support the WSR.

    Either the two organizations can find a way to make this happen with the existing organizations, or the WSRA will have to be replaced by another organization which everyone will trust - although frankly I'm not sure a new charity will help much, I suspect some people will likely just see it as 'the WSRA reborn'.

    Noel
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  15. stephenvane

    stephenvane Member

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    Except that £100k has not materialised. It has merely been pledged to the proposed 4110 loco company to buy a share ofthe loco.

    Now that the goalposts have moved, it doesn’t necessarily translate into the £100k donation that the WSRA are after.
     
  16. jnc

    jnc Part of the furniture

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    That, at least, is one piece of very good news out of all of this. The two organizations must function as one for the railway to succeed; obviously, legally, they must remain separate, but all discussions about paths forward, etc must be fully joint. And the roles are appropriately divided.

    It's unfortunate that this clarification about 4110 emerged publicly late in the process; I hope that lessons have been learnt from that!

    My very best wishes indeed that your joint efforts will get the WSR to a healthy place. I know there is a lot of residual mistrust which will make this harder; to this I can only offer Socrates' dictum: 'Be what you wish to seem'. If the two organizations act as one at all times (in private, as well as in public), eventually people will come to accept the truth of it.

    Noel
     
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  17. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    Despite regular statements that things are now different on the WSR, some of the recent posts and official statements suggest, to me anyway, that they are not.
    Cries of it was all the former trustees (ex-6) fault has worn out its validity by now. However one thing seems to be apparent that the former trustees did manage a healthy financial contributions to the running of the line in one way or another. As one poster here said he doubts, due to age, he will ever see 4110 running operationally. That, I believe, applies to a few of us. But, given the efforts made by the 4110 Ltd group, I might have considered a donation towards any restoration they proposed. (I usually support motor vehicle restorations). I would not consider any other appeal. If you want evidence of how appeals work on the WSR look how the poor efforts with the present three loco appeal (which actually includes 4110) has gone. And that was inaugurated after the ex-6 went.
    The whole set up, for some time now, seems to revolve around personalities; that's fine in Show Biz, but not heritage railways.
     
  18. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Which is the tragedy of the situation.

    When this all kicked off, my reaction (as an outsider whose wife would not allow donations to more projects, and whose selections of projects rarely if ever involve Swindon), was that the appeal was a good idea, and offered the best odds of success in keeping 4110 on WSR metals. To the extent that I thought about what was said about a 4110 company, I merely thought that an ownership structure would be required, and that the timelines wouldn't allow creation of a charity in sufficient time.

    At the same time, it is evident that a charitable structure is a much more financially efficient way to use a given amount of money. While I'd never assume that all donations attract Gift Aid - my church experience suggests that across all donations Gift Aid reclaims will net 15-20% rather than 25% - this would still be a 5 figure some of money available for restoration rather than going to HM Treasury. That it may also help avoid professional fees can only be a good thing.

    What I - and it appears most others - were not aware of were the discussions between plc and Association on the theme of 4110. It is clear from @aldfort that senior members of 4110 Ltd were aware of this; it is not clear whether or not, and if not why not, 4110 Ltd itself was not aware of the WSRA interest. The result of this, and the plc's decision to go with the WSRA rather than 4110 Ltd that has been visible in the postings of the last 24 hours. A barely concealed mistrust in and around the WSR has revealed itself yet again. The good news of posotive joint working between plc and Association, unimaginable not that long ago, is being lost sight of in claim and counterclaim.

    My hope is that those who have pledged to 4110 will transfer their pledges to the WSRA, and that the WSRA will - formally, as a body - put measures in place to reassure those for whom this is a blow. I suggest that in the short term creation of a restricted fund for 4110 with confirmation that all donations for 4110 will be placed in that fund would be appropriate. Longer term, and something that it is clear that 4110 Ltd would have had to do themselves, I would hope to see a clearer plan for restorations of WSRA owned locomotives.
     
  19. DragonHandler

    DragonHandler Well-Known Member

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    There have been a few suggestions made here that any donations sent to the WSRA for the purchase of 4110 should be put in a restricted fund for that loco.
    If people download and read the donation form the WSRA provided they will see this paragraph on it:

    "I understand this donation will be restricted to the purchase of Locomotive 4110, unless more than the purchase price is received, in which case any balance will be restricted to the Locomotive Restoration Fund (currently 4561, 7892 and 4110)."

    (Although I must admit that I've not heard of 7892, unless it's a typo for 7821.)
     
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  20. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Precisely what I'd hoped would have happened, and something that needs shouting from the rooftops.
     
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