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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. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    I am sure that should the West Somerset Railway plc fail the Somerset County Council being the Landlord and wanting to protect the tourism generated by the WSR would become very interested - they could hardly ignore it could they?

    However we all share the hope that matters will be resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned
     
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  2. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    So Robin are you saying that Frank Courtney did not come up with the strategy and implement a very cleverly conceived outmanoeuvre as Chairman on his own? Although unable to attend in person I thought it was something of a masterstroke getting the confidence of the six and then bringing matters to a conclusion. I was unaware that any other individual or we as a collective could have achieved that feat? Correct me if I am wrong please.
     
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  3. Robin Moira White

    Robin Moira White Nat Pres stalwart

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    As always, life is rather more complex than that rather simple analysis. I am not going to get into a long explanation of the detail of what happened or the alternatives then available to achieve the result. The important point is that there was no single ‘masterstroke’ by any one person, rather a collective effort by a number of folk, not least the 1600-plus members who voted, which achieved the result.

    That is the important lesson for the position in which the Railway now finds itself.

    Robin
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
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  4. Roger Small

    Roger Small New Member

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    Memories dim somewhat over time but was it not one Rodney Greenaway who obtained the freedom of information request that blew the unhealthy connection between the WSRAs agent the Property developer his dealings with a member of the council who was later called to account. It may have not been the masterstroke but it was pretty dammed close it was the whistle that started the match.

    I am sad to see rightly or wrongly that members of that orginal group with which there would be no WRSA have been removed from office. A little more jaw jaw than war war is required otherwise you have all leaned nothing.


    Roger
     
  5. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    As an outsider with an interest in the WSR - albeit from a great distance - it seems to me that the basic action centres on the situation that 2 people sought co-option onto the PLC board as representatives of the WSRA. When the PLC chairman checked with the WSRA chairman if such was the case - and discovered it was not - then it is clear that the 2 persons concerned were not acting in good faith.

    As such the WSRA chairman was right to seek their removal from the WSRA board for abusing their position as trustees (to act in the best interests of the WSRA) and the PLC was right to remove them from the PLC board for obtaining their role under false pretences (by claiming to represent the WSRA).

    Irrespective of the whys and the wherefores it seems to this outsider that 2 people failed to use proper process to obtain a benefit (i.e. directorship on the PLC board) and therefore must bear the consequences of that error. It appears to me that both parties and their supporters feel aggrieved that such is the case - especially after their earlier contributions to the development of both WSR and WSRA - but principles were used to gain earlier successes and therefore must be used to mark current failures.

    In effect those who live by the sword (of principles) must die by the sword (of principles).
     
  6. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    Mike I welcome Mike Lea's Co-option and hope you will all now redress the perilous state of the WSRA's finances or many of us will not be rejoining in 2019 as it would appear you no longer are a Supportive Organization in the strictest sense of the word. Perhaps Mike will persuade you to avoid any possible adventures in the courts as well.
     
  7. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    It has been ever thus! There has been Political ******** of one form or another since the Beginning as Ken Davidge will confirm although sadly I do not remember him from the early days.

    This nonsense has to stop and NOW or otherwise we will lose everything
     
  8. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    I am sure that pretty much everyone would agree that 'this nonsense has to stop and NOW', but clearly opinions may differ as to what (or rather who) triggered this latest outbreak of 'nonsense' and how removing a popular WSRplc Chairman was anything other than further 'nonsense', especially as such details as have emerged as to the reasons seem confused, and at least part based in a desire to settle old scores with others who need to be key players in 'One Railway', if, indeed, that is what the present WSRplc actually want.

    It is undoubtedly what the West Somerset Railway needs.

    Steven
     
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  9. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    I am glad we are in agreement Steven

    In view of your perceived formal life in business you will know that nice people do not make good businessmen and I believe we will need to take some tough decisions to make both the WSR plc and the WSRA viable.

    I find it more interesting that those who are credited with the removal of the Chairman are not taking any interest in acquiring the Chairmanship themselves. This leads me to think that the board which still includes the former Chairman may be actively seeking someone to lead them who has no previous connection with the WSR or has any vested interest. Such a strong person would then be able to lead the Board out of the mess that its predecessors have failed to address and that is financial planning for the long term maintenance of the infrastructure of our railway and the provision of management to handle it. That may or may not require drastic surgery but will most certainly involve significant change in way in which the Railway is run
     
  10. Thompson1706

    Thompson1706 Member

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    If you're looking for a new Chairman then hang on for a short while & Donald Trump will be available. He seems to be the same sort of person as some of your current board members.

    Bob.
     
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  11. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    Rather surprised at that contribution & only hope it is frivolous?
     
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  12. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    I am a Chartered Certified Accountant, so I suspect you have perceived my line of business correctly!

    I would not necessarily agree with your sentiment about 'nice people' - though if you added 'not not necessarily make' I might be in more agreement. Tough decisions are sometimes necessary but the more humanely they are taken and enacted, the more successful they are likely to be. I would consider this to be especially important in a largely volunteer environment.

    If certain comments on here are accurate (and we have had no comment one way or the other but the lack of a denial makes them appear accurate), then an offer to be Chairman was made from amongst the other Directors. I agree that the report it was declined is very interesting!

    I also find interesting the appearance of urgency about Ian's removal, yet seeming lack of urgency about finding this replacement upon whom so much store may be going to be placed. Surely, if the Board felt they needed a tough outsider to see through difficult decisions, then it would have made sense to seek Ian's agreement that he continued in office until such a person was found. Urgent action appears to be needed, but I fail to see how creating a power vacuum assists it in the short term. Of course, Ian would have had every right not to agree but I suggest that the limited statements that have been made would be rather differently worded if the situation had been Ian has been asked to step down when a suitable, external candidate had been identified and declined to do so.

    Hence, I cannot help but wonder if, while the Board, having removed its existing Chairman, may have decided to seek an external appointee to the role, this actually the outcome originally intended by those who moved the motion to remove Ian.

    I would add that, although it is claimed Ian was a one man block to certain plans, in fact responsibility for addressing the situation that the WSRplc appear to be in is a Board responsibility and the Directors who removed Ian (we have no idea as to the numbers of the vote - who voted which way should rightly remain confidential) along with the rest of the Board will at some point, probably sooner rather than later, have to agree to these 'tough actions' - a new Chairman may propose them but the whole Board will have to be willing to sign up to them for them to become a reality and stand any chance of working. Certain comments from Ian's predecessor, and what we are told is a lack of action since, make me wonder whether a reluctance to take difficult decisions from the Board as a whole has been the 'block to progress'.

    Steven
     
  13. Yorkshireman

    Yorkshireman Part of the furniture

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    What it seems we really need at the WSR PLC is a no nonsense businessman with more than a few NVQs or a diploma from a USA university. In other words someone with first hand commercial experience rather than an engine driver promoted well beyond their level of competence or a rail historian.
     
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  14. aldfort

    aldfort Part of the furniture

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    Thank you. You will be aware we are continuing to work hard to restore the charity to good health. Including bringing key skills onto the trustee board. The objectivity Mike brings is certainly welcome. As I have stated before I am happy to discuss Association matters in greater detail with Members who correspond via the WSRA. I find members often have ideas which can inform the trustee board thinking and welcome the correspondence as it often provides a fresh perspective.
     
  15. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    Indeed, the WSR needs people with the right competence to run the business. Whether first hand commercial experience is an asset, I am less certain.

    Much has been made of the virtues of that experience, yet my experience working for a large company is of limited relevance in other aspects of my life where I volunteer.

    This is especially important where volunteers are concerned. Paid staff may choose to leave, and be hard to replace, but volunteers leaving are far more of an issue. No nonsense businessmen, in my experience, tend to know the cost of much, and the value of little.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  16. Herald

    Herald Member

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    Would a no nonsense businessman actually be appropriate for a fundamentally inefficient business employing elderly heritage assets and working practices?

    I would think an experienced diplomat might be more use to try and negotiate compromises between the factions consistent with developing "one railway" whilst inspiring others to come on board and get involved.
     
  17. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    But a no nonsense businessman with an understanding of how volunteers operate would be a tremendous asset

    But the volunteers must have a viable business in which to volunteer which is where the successful businessman or woman for that matter comes into play
     
  18. Triumph 2500S

    Triumph 2500S Member

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    A businessman is businessman whatever he or she works with to make it a commercial success and we need one urgently to lead us.

    Commercial Success and Heritage allowing us to indulge in our hobbies can be a success. Man Management skills as well as Financial propriety are required and at the moment they seem sadly lacking!
     
  19. Barrie the Beer

    Barrie the Beer Well-Known Member

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    Isn't that what we thought we had in Professor John Irven's chairmanship (resigned 28 June 2017, Alan's predecessor)?
     
  20. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    As I read further it appears that the WSR has reached that point where "playing trains" has to surrender to "commercial reality" and many find this a difficult gap to bridge. Agreed that in the early days of the WSR volunteers provided much start-up capital but the guarantee of long term survival now needs the base of paid staff and income streams from other than fare-paying passengers on the "normal services hence the value of dining trains and gala events where extra income is generated.
    It is still the case, however, that you can only spend what you earn and the extra finance provided by volunteers - whether by actual work or financial donations - cannot be taken as guaranteed hence the need for both a financial plan and support of the directors to follow in an agreed direction to stabilise the current financial storm.

    If this is indeed that transition phase from "playing trains" to "commercial reality" then I hope it succeeds and that those involved understand - and accept - the new reality that is needed to maintain the successful operation of the WSR. Other heritage lines have made that transition and there seems no reason why the WSR shouldn't follow - subject to all parties supporting the short term changes needed to preserve the long term viability.
     
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