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Bluebell Railway Preservation Society
Summary of the Committee meetings
held on 12th September 2008 and 24th October 2008

Internal Communication - not for publication

12th September: 

The Committee met from 7:30pm until 10:30pm. Tim Baker and Roger Kelly were absent, the latter with 'flu. Jan Kozminski attended as Society Trust Representative.

Membership: Membership numbers had dropped back to 9,987. 264 Direct Debits were now set up on the system.

Society Finance: Society income for the first eight months stood at £104k, about £8k ahead of last year. Land Purchase donations amounted to £8k. The Committee agreed to set up a Deferred Share Scheme in 2009 to allow members to purchase by instalments shares from the Society's own shareholding. To reduce the administrative work involved, the minimum monthly payment was set at £25 with a minimum shareholding of 250 shares. Existing member shareholders would be able to top-up their existing shareholding to the new minimum.

Funding: The low level of response from members to the share issue was a concern. Whilst the current economic climate did not help, there was speculation that members might be suffering from share issue fatigue, having been told so many times and for so long that it would be launched 'shortly'. It was agreed to try and re-generate interest in the share issue before it closes on 31st December.

The meeting also confirmed that whilst it would be interested to hear of sponsorship proposals as part of the fund raising drive, it remained firmly opposed to sponsorship plaques mounted on or in rolling stock.

Operation Undercover: A proposal would be submitted to the Trust. A useful meeting with the Museum designers had been held. The meeting considered a proposal to acquire a GUV to use as temporary storage for Museum items but rejected this option as sidings were already overfull and too much time was wasted moving stock around to try and get to a particular vehicle. A land based temporary building was suggested as an alternative but the matter was referred to SPAR for a decision.

Repainting of Loco 9017: This matter was brought back to the table again as we had been guaranteed a minimum income from steaming fees and charters at the Llangollen. There was also the risk that the Society would be viewed as self centred and could attract bad publicity as a result. There was concern that the increased time the Loco would be unavailable to us could occur when we did not have the spare capacity to cover its absence. A long discussion resulted in a decision to allow the engine to be painted in black at the Llangollen and to be returned to us in black so that we could run our own charters. The engine would be repainted back to green at Sheffield Park. It was also agreed to defer releasing this news so that Steam Railway (who were funding the repaint) could have an exclusive.

Application to seek Trust Funding: The Committee agreed a request to seek Trust funding to purchase a quantity of mahogany (subject to provenance) and a request for the Trust to fund the repair of H Class 263.

Disposal of Museum Items: The Committee agreed to the disposal of further items from the Museum which were surplus to the collection or outside its collection policy.

Ashford Weigh tables: An enquiry had been made about the location of the weigh tables and it was reported that these were located near the salt yard at Horsted Keynes. It was not clear whether these were owned by the railway or someone else and enquiries would be made. In the meantime, there was a need to ensure that they were safeguarded until ownership could be established and a decision made as to their future.

24th October:

The Committee met from 7:30pm to 10:30pm. Paul Churchman and Neil Glaskin were absent. Jan Kozminski attended as Society Trust Representative. Alan Baisden, Dave Deeks, Larry Lamb and Malcolm Saker from the C&W Dept gave a presentation at the start of the meeting.

Presentation from C&W Volunteers: A good quality outline proposal for an extension to the Carriage Shed to provide further undercover accommodation and storage was presented to the Committee. The first stage would be to carry out soil tests at a cost of around £15k to see if the proposed eastern extension is feasible. It was agreed that the group could proceed with this stage subject to Board approval and, if successful, to develop a more detailed proposal, including costings and project management proposals. It was emphasised that we could not agree to a major fund-raising effort for this phase of Operation Undercover until we had completed the existing two major projects.

Membership: Membership numbers had risen to 10,081. 309 Direct debits had now been set up on the system and a further 427 invitations to switch to Direct Debit would be set to those who renew by Standing Order in January. The Committee agreed that a Direct Debit mandate should be included in the Membership application form.

Society Finance: Society income for the first eight months stood at £112k and Land Purchase donations amounted to £9k. £104k had been transferred to the plc.

Company Finance: It was proving to be a difficult year and will be a difficult winter. Budgets had been revised to reduce expenditure. The recent gala had done better than expected; Santa bookings were down on last year but the Christmas Pullmans were now fully booked. Coal has increased to £186 a tonne and another £63k will be needed for the coal bill next year. Fewer trains would run in 2009 and the bus service reduced so as to save costs. It was also planned to open the kiosk at Kingscote during mid-week running rather than the buffet at Horsted Keynes so as to provide refreshment facilities during the layover at Kingscote.

Funding: Mr Kelly reported that the share offer had now raised £400k. The shareholder benefits had now been sent out and he recorded his thanks to volunteers Michael Brimacombe and John & Mary Sisley for doing this. The Chairman added that there was no fixed date for the 4VEP as engineering works were preventing its movement.

Museum Personnel: Don Phillips has resigned as Curator due to increased responsibilities at work. Tony Drake has agreed to be the new Curator assisted by Kris Roberts. As Klaus Marx had moved further away from the railway, he becomes the Historian with Roger Price taking over the Archivist role.

SPAR sub-committee: The Committee agreed some recommendations from SPAR affecting Sheffield Park as follows:

AGM 2009: The AGM will be held on 16th May 2009 at Oakmeads Community College, Burgess Hill. A revised form of words for the AGM Notice was agreed.

Next meeting: The next meeting will be held on 21st November

Gavin Bennett
General Secretary


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