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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. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Well-Known Member

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    Michael

    You in my opinion have overstepped the mark with your comments regarding “grubby plots”. Mike (@aldfort) has on behalf of the WSRA stated 3 or 4 times here that any member can discuss in detail why your close friend and the other WSRA Trustee were removed.

    I took that opportunity as a WSRA Member and as somebody working closely with both Boards on a number of projects currently. I have discussed it with him in detail. In my opinion having had the facts it is very clear that the WSRA were totally correct in taking the action that they did. In fact, in my view they had no other option. A process was followed correctly and an action taken, this was in my view a demonstration of good governance and a difficult decision correctly taken.

    The WSRA have followed a process and are open and transparent to its members offering a full disclosure and justification to them, perhaps the current PLC Board should do the same thing now and stop the speculation. We are no closer to knowing why Ian was removed and why those same people did not then elect your close friend as Chairman when he ‘offered’ after Ian was removed ?

    The WSR will come through this, its not a war of sides and there are no big splits with the WSRA & PLC at war. Most people are aligned in taking the WSR forward and the last couple of years has seen big positive steps forward with many people coming together as volunteers, employees, WSRA & PLC. Its just a few people who want their own way and will push others aside to get it, whilst I don't doubt the people concerns passion for the WSR (as I don't doubt yours either Micheal) their application and management style is exclusive not inclusive.

    The WSR is a Community project, by the people for the people with the people. It only works when the people make it work and believe in it. Whilst you can’t please all the people all of the time if individuals are not open and can’t justify their actions to Shareholders, Members and Stakeholders then the WSR Community won’t work with them, I would have thought that some people close to you would have learned that lesson from the last time they had to resign.
     
  2. Faol

    Faol Well-Known Member

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    The last line is the best bit of news I have had all week.
     
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  3. Faol

    Faol Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely correct Andy and well put. The togetherness between groups has moved forward with positive steps. All 3 Chairmen, Chris , Paul and Ian are fully committed to making one railway. Despite all this rhetoric from one source the WSR is emerging from its rocky path and is moving forward. I, like Michael, will need to go quiet as a lot of the information that is coming out is from my time as a director and I will not comment. However we are becoming One Railway and we are moving forward, we do have financial problems but there are plans and they were about in Alan N's time. I love this railway and am one of the very few left alive that was there at the start. It will not fail as We are the WSR, our colleagues across the whole railway will see to that, the steam trust will continue its work restoring wonderful GWR coaches, the WSRA will continue with the Locomotive Restoration Fund, and the Company will shake itself free of the interlopers and get back on course and we will make it. The green shoots are showing, the steam trust has won its Heritage Lottery Grant, There is a great possibility of winning a grant from the Hinkley Fund. We CANNOT allow misguided, inept characters to get into positions of influence and knock us off course, Together We Are Strong.
     
  4. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    I had intended saying nothing more but "your overstepped the mark" deserves a reply

    Messrs Courtenay and Greenway issued the following statement (see wsr.org) 15/8/2018

    "We have been offered by Chairman Paul Whitehouse, who was a 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 we both have to resign from the Association"
    and THE PLC BOARD. " (excuse the capitals but it needs emphasising

    "We have to give an indication of this to Chairman Whitehouse by 23.59 tonight."

    The WSRA was taking upon itself not only to vexatiously remove two of its own Trustees but
    lever them off ( by bribery, ie ' go quietly and we will be nice to you') the Plc Board

    It is quite clear to me that the Plc Chair connived with the WSRA Chair to do his dirty work &
    then dissembled to his own Board.

    Regarding Beachcombers comments: I do know that in April Mr Courtenay presented to the
    Plc Board an action plan which sought to introduce immediately a planned set of initiatives aimed
    at increasing revenue whilst simultaneously reducing overheads. My understanding is the
    Chair considered such actions were unnecessary at that time.

    Mr Greenway was praised several times by the Chairman at the Plc AGM for all his work and
    energy wrt volunteer recruitment.

    Yes Andy it was a 'grubby little plot' and IMHO the WSRA Chair (and Ms White ?) should
    fall on his sword.

    Michael Rowe
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
  5. Barrie the Beer

    Barrie the Beer Well-Known Member

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    Still hoping for sight of the promised 2018 WSR plc draft minutes.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
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  6. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    Had a pleasant day on the WSR recently. Chose to leave the visiting charter, spend time at Bishops Lydeard and join the regular services that were a joy in every respect especially the stylish management of 7822 by the crew in question.

    Just dropped into this thread to check, through a skim read, that nothing untoward (in terms of Forum Rules) was happening. But to say that nothing untoward is happening at the WSR would be as far from reality as possible.

    Without taking sides as to which version of events is a) correct or b) signals a possible improvement in the relationship across WSRA and WSR plc management, it does strike me that a number of heads need banging together. There is definitely something 'in the water' in West Somerset that seems to result in individuals thinking that their way is best, their importance is greatest and others are not to be trusted.

    Get a grip everyone. You have a railway to run and also to maintain on a better financial footing, so it seems.
     
  7. fergusmacg

    fergusmacg Well-Known Member

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    Humm - whilst not really wanting to get involved I can't help feeling the saying "give him enough rope and he will hang himself" comes to mind when reading Michael Rowe's latest outburst, perhaps he should reflect on what he said earlier about keeping his trap shut!

    Having served on a committee of a railway charity I can also agree with Andy's comments about the WSRA actions on the two trustees - "no grubby plot" just practicing good governance something that was lacking only a few years ago. As for the rest - don't know - nowt to do with me.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  8. Andy Norman

    Andy Norman Well-Known Member

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    Michael

    Thanks for your reply, we clearly won't agree and thats fine as it would be a boring world if everybody always agreed.

    Its why its important for open and factual communication, the WSRA have offered the facts to its Members in full, so therefore each person can make up their own mind. You and I individually not agreeing on things is not important, its whether the WSR Community buy into the way forward that's important. The facts from the recent events will help people make up their own minds and we can then all move forward.
     
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  9. QB Cook

    QB Cook Member

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    Michael...your statement is irrefutably wrong. I can categorically state that the one you refer to as elected unanimously certainly was not. I did not consider the candidate suitable to act in the best interests of the railway as a whole. Recent events have only served to harden my opinion on this.
     
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  10. Poolbrook

    Poolbrook New Member Friend

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    I have no inside knowledge of the people involved except as an interested observer at some WSR and WSRA general meetings but hopefully people in all camps will soon stop throwing toys and swinging handbags to concentrate on working together.

    If the One Railway is in a difficult financial position, then a firm recovery plan will need to be developed involving all factions to varying degrees. This will need to be owned and promoted by a strong plc chair who may perhaps be a fresh face with no baggage or we will go around the same issues ad infinitum. This may not be popular with some of the long serving establishment whether volunteers or paid ranks but they must pull together to ensure the long term survival of the WSR in a form that they love.

    An outbreak of constructive peace is required.
     
  11. Snifter

    Snifter Part of the furniture

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    Where the number of candidates is not greater than the number of seats, the WSRA BL station cat could have secured the same result and been more successful at following the behavioural guidelines.
     
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  12. Maunsell907

    Maunsell907 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you. As the Chair of the meeting decided (he made a point of it in reply to a query from the floor) to
    not disclose any paper votes or proxies in his possession, I can only base my comment on the fact that the
    show of hands, from where I sat, from the floor was unanimous.

    Sorry if I have in any way undermined your vote.

    Michael Rowe
     
  13. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    As a point of information, from where I sat, the vote was not unanimous.

    Robin
     
  14. nick813

    nick813 Well-Known Member Loco Owner

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    Jeff, I have been in Poole all weekend have spoken/ emailed/telephoned no one on the WSR. Some might call it insight, others .........!
     
  15. aldfort

    aldfort Part of the furniture

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    As I posted, the correct term that Michael should have used was overwhelming majority. From where I was sat that was also clear.
     
  16. Barrie the Beer

    Barrie the Beer Well-Known Member

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    If Minehead were to acquire a station cat we could swap them from time to time.

    An unrelated query: Who is the Mr Courtenay that Michael R keeps referring to?
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
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  17. Faol

    Faol Well-Known Member

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    I think it is the A version of Mr Courtney, you would think Michael would know how to spell it, wouldn't you?
     
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  18. lochness8

    lochness8 Member

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    I daresay a cat could have made more of a success of running this business than other residents of Minehead station. MEIOW.
     
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  19. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    I feel some of the mist is clearing and the motives, and what certainly some individuals are looking to get out of this, become clearer, as does who is genuinely interested in 'One Railway' and who might see such a mantra as being an obstacle to the 'settling of old scores and other ambitions!

    I do have remaining questions and observations and shall aim to be brief by using bullet point:
    1. Is it accurate that the two former WSRA Trustees were only on WSRplc Board to give representation to the WSRA, and that (in theory though, for one of them, not in practice) they were nominated for co-option by the WSRA Board as representing that organisation?
    2. If this is the case, then it would appear natural to the WSRA Board that, if they were to be removed as WSRA Trustees, then they could not represent the WSRA on the WSRplc Board and hence their original reason for membership had ceased. This is clearly implicit in the WSRA Statement on the issue (it is not directly for the WSRA to make appointments to the WSRplc Board between General Meetings, although of course, as, I believe, the largest single shareholder, it clearly has an influence through voting at General Meetings.
    3. That said, it was open to the WSRplc Board to ask then to remain (effectively leave and be immediately re-co-opted in their own right) but to seek a replacement as WSRA Rep - is this what has, in fact, happened?
    4. Your claim that the WSRplc Chairman at the time felt that an action plan was unnecessary seems extremely strange, given how at odds this is with the same Chairman's address to the WSRplc AGM just 2 months later - http://www.wsr.org.uk/plc- chairman-address-agm2018.pdf. Indeed, this document states that a review of Management Structures was agreed to be undertaken by the Board in May. This would seem odd if the Chairman had stated 'such actions were unnecessary' just a month earlier - perhaps any problem was not with whether action was needed but with the specific proposals that were presented in April?
    5. It equally seems odd that the Chairman is claimed to have been so persuasive a presence in April that he was a 'block to progress', yet by August, the same WSRplc Board 'dared' to remove him as Chairman? What changed? Of course, it wasn't exactly the same Board as their had been I think 4 departures and 3 appointments ( 2 of which were actually amongst the 4 departures) between April and August. In April, the Chairman was one of 8 Directors, so presumably at least 4 others either convinced by the Chairman or unconvinced by the proposals.
    6. Can you confirm the comment made by @Andy Norman that an offer was made immediately after Ian's removal by another WSRplc Director to become Chairman? If so, why did the fellow Directors not accept the offer but preferred to remain Chairman-less and start what looks like a process to bring a new person on to the Board as Chairman?
    Enjoy your time away - I fear that questions and concerns may remain unanswered by the time you return but live in hope!
     
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  20. jnc

    jnc Member

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    Hopefully they're more organized on this than they were on the matter of a replacement chairman.

    Indeed - and perhaps more than you thought (see below). "It is quite clear to me that the Plc Chair connived with the WSRA Chair to do his dirty work & then dissembled to his own Board" is extraordinarily explicit about what he thinks actually happened. (The dirtiest of washing!)

    I won't analyze this view of what happened (@Bean-counter has already done an admirable job; @Jeff Price's corrections didn't affect that part of the post), because I'd rather comment on an aspect which might not be obvious to everyone, which is what this may well say about Mr. Rowe's own methods.

    It has been my observation that when people attempt to understand a situation, they often assume that people are acting as they themselves would have acted; i.e. they bring their own existing mind-set 'to the party'. So in saying "the Plc Chair connived with the WSRA Chair.. & then dissembled to his own Board", there's a good chance that Mr. Rowe is, in effect, saying 'this is what I would have done in those circumstances'.

    Something to keep in mind in watching the goings-on (and, for those in a position of responsibility on the WSR, perhaps a useful insight into an influential participant).

    Noel
     
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