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West Somerset Railway - Removal of the PLC Chairman and related matters

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by rodders154, Aug 14, 2018.

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  1. rodders154

    rodders154 Member

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    Statement by Frank Courtney and Rodney Greenway

    We two were, yesterday evening, dismissed as trustees of the West Somerset Railway Association (by a majority of 5-2, and one abstention). We have been offered by Chairman Paul Whitehouse, who was proposer of the resolution to sack us, seconded by Robin White, the option for the Trustees to issue a statement saying “Frank Courtney (or Rodney Greenway respectively) has decided to resign from the Association Trustees. We thank him for his service”. For the Association to issue this statement we each have to resign from the Association trustees and the PLC Board. We have to give an indication of this to Chairman Whitehouse by 2359 (sic) tonight. If we do not then Chairman Whitehouse will issue a different statement further impugning our reputations. He has shown us this statement, which contains a series of half-truths and innuendo. Doubtless he will now put a version of this in the public domain.

    It seems that the WSRA trustees have moved the Association from being a support group for the railway to being a pressure group. When Whitehouse took responsibility for the Chair (from Frank Courtney) two years ago he was handed a Development Plan which the membership had fully endorsed. He chose to ignore this. The finances of the Association had been laboured over in 2016 and reached a new state of clarity, which the trustees now deny. Meanwhile the Restorations part of the Promotions trading subsidiary is now unviable and losing money, and Chairman Whitehouse commented at the recent WSRA AGM that “if the Association ceased to exist then no-one would really notice”. Sadly with a continuing decline in membership this all too true. Whitehouse and White are obsessed with the continuing battle with the owners of locomotive 4160, over which they continue to spend several thousand pounds of the members subscriptions in lawyers fees (Reports to the association board envisage around another £22,000 could be incurred if the proposed action goes ahead and the trustees lose – nothing is certain in law) and only postponing the day when the restored locomotive returns to the WSR.

    We two had an intention to try to develop the Association in a positive way in close collaboration with the PLC. Both Whitehouse and White made various attempts to persuade Frank not to stand, before the election to the WSRA took place, to which Frank was elected by an overwhelming majority.

    The last battle between the PLC and the Association – three years ago - was hugely damaging, and last thing we want to do is to re-run that. We are quite certain that Whitehouse and White will come back with various further allegations, and assertions. In our view there is no point in responding to everything line by line: our interest is in supporting a railway, not fighting low level personality based criticisms. Once again the Trustees of the Association seem to have lost sight of this, but we are not going to spend further time fighting a public battle, and we know that our many friends in the West Somerset Railway community will be able to make their own judgments and form their own conclusions.
     
  2. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    Unbelievable, just unbelievable. I've long thought it was more endemic than just the old rogue trustees, and this confirms it. Clearly the whole structure of the railway needs a radical shakeup as no one knows or can agree what the WSRA should be or do. If I was a member I'd be feeling really let down, as it is as an enthusiast I feel frustrated that yet again all this is getting in the way of a wonderful railway.

    Aimed at no one in particular other than as a general "aaarrgghh!"
     
  3. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    There must be something in the water down there, as people keep saying.
     
  4. Paul Kibbey

    Paul Kibbey Well-Known Member

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    Oh no , not again . I can't tell you how let down I feel .
     
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  5. Greenway

    Greenway Well-Known Member

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    The WSRA History web site has been ridiculed by some WSRA Members here on NP, but it does look like some of the 'history' has become the present.
    It does seem that the one of the biggest problems the PLC have is the WSRA administration. It is a shame, as so many WSRA Members are highly committed to the WSR, volunteering and giving support where they can. Dwindling membership does suggest that many could see which was the wind has been blowing.
     
  6. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    Time for an EGM?
     
  7. Dennis John Brooks

    Dennis John Brooks Member

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    In my opinion the wrong trutees's have been dismissed, I forecast 3 years ago the end was nigh. I have not bought membership for the last 2 years because I could see where things were heading & put my money into another organisation on the WSR.

    DJB.
     
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  8. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    What we really need to know is the terms of the motion for dismissal and a statemeent from the WSRA Board needs producing PDQ.
     
  9. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    Well, it's only a couple of hours until 2359. Assuming he meant 2359 BST - it would be awfully sloppy to try to sound legalistically precise but omit the timezone.
     
  10. Bayard

    Bayard Well-Known Member

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    My thoughts exactly.
     
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  11. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    The only point I might make is that the trustees are in rather difficult situation over 4160, while I am only able to comment based on what is on the public domain, there may be an issue if they were to decide not to pursue recovery of the shares.
     
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  12. Paul Kibbey

    Paul Kibbey Well-Known Member

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    I can't dissagree with you Dennis but at a distance I thought now was all hunky dory and we were " all one railway ". Let's hope we hear from the other side soon so we can make our minds up . Yes , the Trustees are under tremendous pressure and it can't be easy especially with the in-fighting or have I got it wrong ? If anyone could send me a private message , say someone closer to the railway ( I don't mean physically closer ) I would much appreciate it . Thank you .
     
  13. Paul Whitehouse

    Paul Whitehouse Well-Known Member

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    As you would expect, we wrote first to the two people affected by our decision. Here is the Association's Board statement.

    Edit: We omitted to include this sentence in the statement:
    "Rodney’s proposal was carried by three votes to two at the Plc Board meeting on 21 July, and the register at Companies House was updated accordingly, but the Plc have not yet publicised this fact."
    A new version of the statement is attached with this sentence included.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
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  14. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    How bizarre.
     
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  15. granmaree

    granmaree Member

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    I'd have thought that a Statement from the board of the Association would have been published in the first instance on the Association web site, with an explanation, long before it got thrown into a social media forum.
     
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  16. Paul Whitehouse

    Paul Whitehouse Well-Known Member

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    It will be published on our website tomorrow, and I have asked Steve Edge to publish it on his as well.
     
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  17. Paul Kibbey

    Paul Kibbey Well-Known Member

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    At this moment all I can do is quote Flying Scotsman 's post . How bizarre .
     
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  18. baldbazza

    baldbazza Member

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    Sounds like a return to the values of the ex-6. So sad.


    Sent from my Nexus 9 using Tapatalk
     
  19. jnc

    jnc Member

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    Oh, L-rd.....
    I get the sense, from this and the later statement, that perhaps both sides want to draw a line under this, and not have a long public dust-up. If that's true, I will be greatly relieved, although much saddened that it apparently had to come to this.

    Noel
     
  20. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    Reading that statement, I can't help feeling that the statement is the visible part of the iceberg and there is an awful lot submerged in the murk. It doesn't really provide any information at all as to why anybody concerned has done the things they have.
     
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