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Bluebell Railway Preservation Society
Summary of the Committee meeting
held on 25th July 2008

Internal Communication - not for publication

The Committee met from 7:28pm until 10:50pm. Roger Kelly was welcomed to his first Committee meeting as was Richard Salmon who was attending his first meeting as Trust representative.

Membership: Membership numbers stood at 10,154. Some members have already taken advantage of the new Senior Life category. Work on Direct Debits continues though certain tasks need to be speeded up in the light of impeding changes in the Finance Office.

Society Finance: Society income for the first six months was just over £85k, above the figure for 2007 and within a whisker of that for 2006. Land Purchase donations amounted to £6k. Cash transfers to the plc for the first six months totalled £85,150.

Company Finance: We were holding our heads above water but trading was difficult and there were signs that people were cutting back on expenditure, such as the recent Family Fun Weekends where the was a noticeable increase in the number of people bringing their own picnics. Not running a Thomas event had resulted in a £48k drop in fare income but for the most part this was offset by the avoidance of costs, such as licence fees/ commission, engine movements and steaming costs. However there was a need for more volunteers to help out at these events, particularly on the stalls.

Funding: Roger Kelly reported on progress with the share issue and the distribution of the prospectus. A publicity event is planned on the East Grinstead Station site. The professional fund raiser (Paul Leader), funded by the Trust, starts on 4th August and a Capital Appeal is planned for 2009 under the banner Bluebell 50th Anniversary Appeal. Setting up the new charity, as agreed by Trustees in October 2007, will now be progressed. The Committee debated the merits and timing of a Deferred Share Scheme and a proposal will be developed in time for the next meeting. The issue of donating via the Trust was again discussed but there was some uncertainty as to whether the Trust would be permitted to accept donations which were given specifically for removal of the tip as this was outside its charitable objects. This is being checked. In the meantime, there is still plenty of opportunity for people to give to the Trust for the Northern Extension.

Operation Undercover: The Steering Group had met the previous week and was trying to address the funding gap of up to £200k. Key issues to be resolved were the Loco Lobby and the bat removal - the survey for this will be carried out in November. The ticket presses needed to be relocated and although a site by the Loco Works had been identified, there were objections to this on the grounds that in took up parking spaces. The matter was therefore remitted to the SPAR sub-committee for discussion and for a firm proposal to be submitted back to the Committee. Discussions will also take place with the Bulleid Society on their requirements for a bookshop once these are known.

Youth Protection: The Committee discussed the impending legislative changes which tighten up the existing child protection laws. For the purpose of the law, a child is anyone under 18 years old and thus this will have an impact on the Society and railway and new procedures will be needed in due course. A useful seminar on the subject had been attended by Russell Pearce and Gavin Bennett and representatives from other tourist attractions in Sussex and Surrey. Work continues on assessing the impact these changes will have on the railway.

Access to Locomotive Footplates: The Committee agreed an outline scheme to provide easy access to locomotive footplates at the north end of the Running Shed. The proposal will be developed and costed with a view to starting this next year.

Repainting of Loco 9017:   The Committee had been urged to reconsider its refusal to allow this loco to be re-painted into black livery in time for its visit to the Llangollen in 2009. Whilst there could be advantages to us in running in black for a short time on its return from the Llangollen, it was felt that repainting the engine to black and then back to green would increase the length of time it is out of service or unavailable to us. Moreover, with the current locomotive shortage, we did not have to spare capacity to do this, even if the costs of doing so were fully met elsewhere. Consequently, the Committee decided to reject the requests for the loco to be painted black.

Horsted Keynes Active Review:   The Committee agreed a new sub-committee to look at the demands for developments at Horsted Keynes and to produce a plan for approval by the Committee. Like SPAR, the sub-committee will not have the power to take decisions. The HK plan will take into account the objectives in the Long Term Plan and in the developing preservation standards manual.

Application to seek Trust Funding: The Committee agreed a request to seek Trust funding to cover the cost of training six volunteers to use the scissor lifts in the C&W works.

Bluebell News: The Committee was disappointed that the summer issue had included the article from Clive Groome about the demise of his Footplate Days and Ways courses without the railway being given the opportunity to put its side of the story. The Company had previously regarded its arrangements with Clive Groome as a commercial matter and so had not therefore commented on the reasons behind the cessation of these courses. As this is now in the public domain, a full response will be published in the next issue but in the meantime, a note will be circulated around the railway and published on the website. For the future, whilst not wishing to suppress opposing views or to prevent debate, it was felt that new arrangements would have to be put in place to ensure that one-sided comments like this do not occur again. To this end, the Society Chairman and a Director would attend the next editorial team meeting. There was also concern that the magazine had included a book advert from Ian Allen and book reviews which suggested they could be purchased direct from the publishers rather than from Bluebell bookshop or the on-line shop.

Bluebell Trust: Richard Salmon gave an update on Trust projects and also reported that the Crosley Regis Car (previously owned by the late Peter Cox and by the late Handel Kardas before that) would be going to the Bentley Motor Museum on long term loan. Before funding apprentices for the railway, the Trust needed to be assured that there was a claw-back clause in their contract of employment so that we got some benefit from their training or recompense if they left early.

Next meeting: The next meeting will be held on 12th September

Gavin Bennett
General Secretary


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