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Bluebell Railway Preservation Society
held on on 27th July 2007

Internal Communication - not for publication

I am sorry for the delay in producing this summary but it was a difficult meeting to minute and there were several items which could not be reported straight away.

The Committee met from 7:04pm to 10:30pm with a nineteen item agenda. Chris Saunders was welcomed to his first meeting since his election and Paul Churchman was welcomed in his new role as Operations Director now that David Tutt had resigned as a Director.

Membership: Membership has edged tantalisingly closer to the 10,000 member target but there were still 198 renewals outstanding for July and some of these might not renew.

Society Finance: Subscription / donation income at £65k for the first four months is still around 6% below that received in the same period in 2006. £64k has been loaned to the plc so far this year. Authorities for the Direct Debit bank mandates were agreed, another step towards the introduction of Direct Debits for Society subscriptions.

Company Finance: Trading continues to be tough in the current economic climate. The £30k downturn in 'Thomas' bookings made a dent in our income for the year and we still had to absorb all the costs of staging the event.

Operation Undercover: Additional environmental and flood risk surveys had been undertaken or use made of information already obtained by an adjacent landowner. Design information and issues were being discussed around the railway on a departmental basis. Tenders had been received from the four consultants invited to design the museum interior and these were being assessed by the Museum Management Committee. Contact had been made with the ticket printing group and the owners of the vehicles currently in Turner's as these would all have to be relocated by Easter 2008.

Society Constitutional Issues: Recent events had highlighted weaknesses in the Society's constitution and it may be that rules changes were necessary to address the problems. Although it has been custom and practice over the years for any Trustee who stood down to also relinquish other posts they may hold as a consequence of being a Trustee, this year we were faced with the problem of a retiring Trustee refusing to stand down as a Director, despite the fact that the Society nominated some-one else for his post. The rules may need to be changed to make it explicit for the Society to use its majority shareholding to secure its wishes. The creation of the Museum Management Committee as a 'Joint Venture' between the Society and the Trust was not catered for in the rules and a new rule was required to ensure that the Society reviewed the work of the MMC to make sure that it coincided with the Society's aims and plans.

Trust Fund Proposal: A recent disability issue vis-à-vis Society joint membership resulted in a suggestion that we should have a Trust Fund to cater for such needs, using monies collected from the public. It could also be used to fund a second disabled coach. The Committee supported the idea but did not want a plethora of collecting boxes around the railway. The matter was referred to the Trust for a view.

Bluebell News: Concern was expressed at the publication of the letter from Tony Deller in the last Bluebell News which it seems was not intended for publication, nor had the company been given the opportunity to respond. The use of the washout pit had in any case been risk assessed and the assessment had since been reviewed and found to be valid.

NRM T9 Loco No 120: The decision was taken to ask NRM to take back this engine as space was becoming critical (with the need to empty Turner's Siding) and there was little prospect of the engine being restored to running order in the medium term. We were told that NRM was moving away from restoring locomotives to running order as replacement parts were no longer original (and thus the engine was not 'as preserved'). The Trust would need to contact anyone who had donated to the Greyhound Loco Fund to see what they wanted to do with their donation.

4 VEP unit No 3417 'Gordon Pettit': The railway had been asked to find a home for this unit which would shortly have to vacate Bournemouth depot. It was proposed that it would be put on display at East Grinstead with trackwork being laid to get it from Network Rail onto our site. Fencing would also be provided. The Committee was divided on this with concern as to future liability and the lack of undercover storage which the unit would need if it were not to deteriorate. Further information was sought and obtained in which it was made clear that it would be up to us to decide what to do with the unit once we had reached East Grinstead. The Committee was consulted again and we have now agreed to this proposal. More details about this will be provided later.

Support for the Severn Valley Railway: The Committee agreed to ask the Trust to fund, up to a ceiling of £1,500, the travel and accommodation costs of any Bluebell volunteers who might be needed to help the SVR restore their line to running order.

Applications for seek Trust Funding: The Committee agreed to refer to the Trust applications for Trust Funding for frame components for the Class 2 Project and for audio-visual equipment for the C&W viewing area. The Committee also agreed to ask the Trust for its views on supporting infrastructure improvements for the Loco works (heating, new staff facilities and a new machine shop).

Gavin Bennett
General Secretary


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