BLUEBELL RAILWAY PRESERVATION SOCIETY
Minutes of the 41st Annual General Meeting held at Clare Hall, Haywards Heath held on Saturday 19th May 2001
Bernard Holden, President
Roy Watts, Chairman
Richard Parfitt, Vice Chairman
Roger Price, Hon. General Secretary
Peter Saaler, Hon Membership Secretary
Graham Flight, Chairman Bluebell Railway PLC
11 Trustees and 261 members
Before taking the first item on the agenda the Chairman asked members to stand in memory of those who had passed away during the year.
1. Apologies for Absence.
Twenty one apologies were received from members.
2. Minutes of the 2000 Meeting
The minutes , previously circulated, were adopted and signed by the Chairman.
3. Chairman's Report for the Year
The Chairman reviewed 2000 noting that the screening of the Railway Children at Easter helped to boost visitors. The bus event between East Grinstead and Kingscote had resulted in Kingscote's busiest day on record. The weather had aided good attendances at the Toy and Collectors Fair and the Steam Fair. In recognition of the latter the Chairman presented Tim Baker with a "cake". Attendances at the Thomas weekends vindicated the decision to have two Thomas events. Blackmore Vale and 92 Squadron put on a fine display at Giants of Steam. In the autumn the three Isle of Wight Terriers and one from the K&ESR made a popular appearance. The Chairman thanked the Isle of Wight Railway for allowing their Terriers an extended stay on the Bluebell over the winter. Fenchurch's subsequent appearance looking magnificent was a credit to Lewis Nodes, Russell Pearce, Clive Emsley, Andy Wickens and their team.
The Chairman announced the completion of private land purchases north of Kingscote during the year. Then the rains came, but the landslip did not stop the best ever Santa season.
The Chairman said it was a pleasure for him to walk around a chat to the various groups on the railway. The key thing is that we are all passionate about our railway. The key ingredient is people.
For the year ahead the Chairman hoped that progress on drafting new Society Rule Book will come to fruition. The Chairman intends to introduce new subcommittees to enable members to take a more active part in the running of the railway. In 2001 there has already been a down turn in visitor numbers however Thomas bookings were encouraging, being some £20,000 up on the same time last year. The Chairman congratulated the Bluebell News team , the six language web site and our establishment of NVQ training ahead of other heritage railways.
4. Northern Extension Report
Jim Turtle reported on the progress made to clear the route to Imberhorne Lane cutting. He reported that 80% of the route had been cleared to date and 70% of the route fenced. Jim also outlined efforts to secure funding under the Landfill Tax Credits scheme for the clearance of the tip. A contractor had offered a scheme to fund removal over a four year period. Jim hopes to form a consortium of contractors to reduce this time scale.
Robin Elliott enquired about the ownership of the site at East Grinstead. Jim reported that Railtrack had agreed to Bluebll's title to the land.
Eddie Senior asked if the single track route North of Kingscote had clearance from Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate. Jim replied that following clearance and surveys he was awaiting a final positive response from HMRI.
Eddie Senior asked what would happen if permission to operate was not granted, within the limited period of the Light Railway Order. Jim said a time limited LRO was unprecedented and if an extension was not granted we would have to apply under the Transport and Works Act which would create paper work, but a public enquiry was unlikely.
Phil Barnes asked for breakdown of work to be done on Hill Place Viaduct. Jim explained that volunteers had strengthened arches 1 and 10 in 1995-7. there was still work to be done in repairing masonry and in providing new drainage inside the structure and waterproofing the trackbed.
Eddie Firman asked if Jim intended to run a shuttle service as far as Imberhorne Lane. Jim explained in detail the costs that would be involved. Roger Resch voiced the view that such a service could not be justified on revenue grounds.
5. Bluebell Railway Trust Report
Eric Earnshaw highlighted the gifts made by the trust to the railway in 2000 by reference to the accounts.
Ted Oades encouraged those wishing to donate funds to any Bluebell project to do so via the Trust using Gift Aid whereby the railway obtains up to 28% extra from the government.
6. Receive and Adopt the Society Accounts
Peter Saaler reported an increase in membership to 8450 over the past year. This resulted in an an increase in income of 2.8% on 1999. Peter rejoined members to donate generously to the Society. He outlined with figures how little each member appeared to give to the Society.
Ben Hillman considered Peter Saaler had been too hard in his criticism of the paucity of giving from members. Ben pointed out that many gave of their labour and were not always able to make donations of money. The meeting supported Ben's remarks.
Roger Resch was disappointed at Peter's remarks, which he found offensive to the members. Peter apologised if his remarks had caused any offence.
The Membership Secretary was asked when the payment of subscriptions by Direct Debit would be introduced. Peter Saaler said that direct debits were too difficult and that the best way of paying subscriptions was by cheque. Gavin Bennett expressed the view that if many other smaller Societies managed to cope with direct debits he was sure Bluebell could. What was wanted was a "can do" attitude from the Society.
Ian Dimmer asked if subscriptions were increased with inflation? He also asked if a donation aspect could be added to the subscription? Peter Saaler said subscriptions kept abreast with inflation.
Russell Pearce pointed out that there were many donations to specific causes on the railway. He also considered that as members wanted to pay by direct debit it was essential that the Society complied.
Bill Pickup asked if there was to be a subscription increase? Peter replied that none was needed this year.
The adoption of the accounts were Proposed C. Vigor, seconded P. Cooper, and carried by the meeting.
7. Presentation of the Accounts for the Bluebell Railway PLC
David Foale highlighted some of the items in the Accounts previously circulated. David noted that there had been a Railway Children factor that had boosted revenue in 2000. As a result there was an increase in capital expenditure notably for land purchase and the carriage works extension which also benefited from grants from the Bluebell Railway Trust. David thanked all those who contributed and collected funds for the Railway, notably self help projects at all three locations.The catering contribution continued to be significant. David indicated that the landslip in December was repaired using the surplus from 2000. He asked for discern for 2001 as it was unlikely that revenue would be as high as 2000 and therefore costs would have to be restrained. David indicated that there is a constant pressure to increase Administrative Expenses that is being resisted.
Colin Burgess asked if there were proper contracts for filming work on the railway? David Foale indicated that there was, and supported by Tim Baker indicated the importance on ensuring that all contact with film companies must be made solely through the Operations Manager.
Alan Knight asked if there was any prospect of reducing the railways indebtedness. David Foale explained how this was reducing each year and that it did not represent a significant debt when compared with the size of the railway's turnover.
Roger Williams enquired as to the allocation in the accounts of car 64 repairs. David indicated these were charged to Carriage and Wagon Maintenance. There then followed a discussion on the allocation of costs to the Catering budget. David Foale promised to review such allocations.
Russell Pearce was dismayed at the reference to 'they' in the foregoing discussion. He pointed out that we are all Bluebell Railway and that the Golden Arrow, of which we should all be proud, contributes to the railway's profits and that Catering were part of the railway.
Tom Simcock asked why if Catering gross revenue increased by £39,000 the net revenue only increased by £1,000? He also remarked on the high value of retail goods in stock at the end of the year after the Christmas season. Tom wondered why administrative costs included maintenance costs? Tom asked if the investment on Horsted Keynes station house was worthwhile in view of the rent being received. Finally he asked if the railway should appoint a management accountant to the staff? David Foale said changes in the accountancy of the railway would come later this year following as staff retirement and that the actual cost of making Horsted Keynes Station house habitable was only one element of the figure in the accounts. David also explained the maintenance costs allocation.
8. Appointment of Auditors
Tony Andrews proposed that Messrs Knill James be appointed the Society Auditors. Seconded by Mike Mason the meeting carried the motion with five members against.
9. Adoption of Long Term Plan
The Chairman sought adoption of the Long term plan as circulated to the membership, from the meeting. Proposed by Trevor Bance and seconded by Ben Hillman the meeting carried the adoption with three abstentions.
In discussion on the Long Term Plan Nigel Ogden asked if Carriage and Wagon maintenance would be solely based at Horsted Keynes? The Chairman said it would form the central base. Ray Orpin asked if there would be improvements in staff accommodation and messing? Chris Cooper said the matter was being looked into by him. Bill Pickup considered some of the items to be short term rather than long term.
10. Presentation of Awards
Forty year Service awards were presented to : Mick Blackburn, Chris Saunders, Mike and Marjorie Mason, David Wallis and George Ray
Twenty five year service awards were presented to : Jonathan Burley, Roger Dudman, Colin Tomlins, Eric Earnshaw, Howard Strongitharm, Dennis Burfoot, Stuart Harman, David Rider, Neil Bridle and Chris White.
Roger Price received an engraved wallet ( containing a good luck token) from the Chairman for his seven years service a Hon. General Secretary. The Chairman thanked Roger for his hard work. Roger replied that this two main objectives to improve volunteer recruitment and to improve Bluebell News had been achieved during his tenure.
Ian Johnson John Padgham will receive tankards for their services as a Trustee. Both were absent from the meeting.
11. Stroudley Group Presentation
Peter Clarke outlined the groups plans to authentically restore a rake of four Stroudley four wheel coaches to 1880-1900 condition. The project is planned over a period of ten years.
12. Fenchurch's Group Presentation
Russell Pearce outlined the history of the group and remarked on the fact that they had raised £16,0000 over the restoration of the locomotive. They now intended to turn their attention to 27, the Shed Master's favourite locomotive, and another small engine suited to our fleet of Stroudley and Metropolitain coaches.
13. Brighton Atlantic Presentation.
Terry Cole outlined this major task of reconstruction. He considered the skills and knowledge to be gained from this project would be an invaluable resource to the Bluebell's ability to repair and restore locomotives. he indicated that a recent appeal for funds had raised £50,000.
14. Presentation on Revised Rules
Russell Pearce gave a presentation on progress in revising the Society rules to reflect the current and future relationships between the Society, its members, the PLC, and the Bluebell Railway Trust. He announced that the draft rules would be published with the summer Bluebell News and a members' forum held in late September to enable members views to be incorporated into new rules to be presented to an Extraordinary General Meeting next May prior to the AGM.
15. Proposal from Michael D Hardy.
As the proposer was not present Robin Elliott moved that this item should not be taken by the meeting. The meeting agreed with Robin and the matter was not debated.
16. Election Results for Officers and Trustees
The Chairman announced that there was a tied vote for the fourth trustee.
The Chairman explained that there were three options: we could declare all the Trustee elections null and void and hold the elections again at another date; or elect the three clear winners and hold another election for the remaining post; or, exceptionally, allow five trustees to be elected, with both tied trustees and three others seeking re-election next year. Roger Resch proposed, seconded by Trevor Bance, that the third option be pursued. The meeting carried this proposal.
M. Lock 181 votes elected J. Turtle 176 votes elected C. Hudson 173 votes elected R. Pearce 98 votes elected R. White 98 votes elected R. Harwood 82 votes not elected
17. Teas and Retiring Collection
The Chairman reported that £203.25 had been taken by the teas team in aid of the Carriage Works Extension and that there would also be a retiring collection for this project. Later it was announced that the retiring collection raised a further £301.75.
18. Vote of Thanks
Geoffrey Cope proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman and the Committee. The meeting showed their appreciation.
The meeting closed at 10.21 pm.
Following this meeting, Mr. W.J. Brophy resigned as a Trustee on grounds of ill health. The Society Committee now consisting of 14 Trustees as required by the Rules intend to hold elections in 2002 in accordance with the normal procedues laid out in the Society Rules.
This version is as at 5pm 27th May 2001