The Committee met from 7:35pm to 10:45pm.
Former Fire Dept: A member had come forward and offered to maintain the extinguishers and first aid equipment. This would be on a commercial basis but costs would be reduced. The defunct Fire Station will be demolished as soon as possible.
Membership Matters: Membership numbers currently stand at 9,486. David Mills was standing down as an Assistant Membership Secretary. David had kept a firm hand on the Standing Order Subscriptions and had championed the move to Direct Debits. The Committee thanked him for his efforts over the years and it was regrettable that he was going, just as Direct Debits would be appearing on the scene. Eddie Fairman had offered to take on this task.
Finance: Society subscription/donation income to the end of the year amounted to £111,517 together with nearly £12k in donations to the Land Purchase Fund. During 2005, the Society had loaned the Company £111,650.
Society AGM: This would be held on 13th May at Burgess Hill and the notice for this had been published It was noted that Clair Hall (Haywards Heath) was scheduled for demolition (and replacement) during 2007 - 2009. We would need to look for other large halls that were near to the railway and public transport.
Woodpax: A meeting with the HLF would be held shortly. The proposal to build a new washout pit to the west of the existing one had been dropped as this was likely to trigger environmental and planning objections. A new location was being considered.
Extension: The Committee heard that the Company had decided to go ahead with option of using the Fund Raising Consultants to assist with the final fund raising push. The possibility of using the Trust as a channel for fund raising would be considered if there was a cast iron guarantee that this would not affect the status of the Trust. The General Secretary drew the Committee's attention to the papers published on the Mid Sussex District Council website which set out, in the Draft Master Plan for East Grinstead, a provisional timetable for redevelopment of the East Grinstead Station site (2007-9) and their preference for a combined station. Contracts had been received from WSCC and Network Rail but there was a lot of work to do before these could be agreed to and this would delay the share issue even further. A vote of thanks was passed to Nicholas Pryor and Chris White for all their continuing efforts on this thankless task.
PLC Reports: A replacement H&S Director was still being sought and it was agreed to trawl the Membership database to see if we had a suitable member who might be willing to take this on. The recent Board Summary had highlighted the difficulties that lay ahead with locomotives and rolling stock as the extra mileage and more frequent service (generated in part by the spoil trains) was having an impact.
Locomotive No 31178: The Committee agreed that this locomotive should be re-purchased and would ask the Trust if it could assist.
Museum: The Committee approved the Agreement which, if also approved by the Company and Trust, would allow the Trust to become the governing body of the Museum. This will enable the Museum to proceed to full registration under the Museum Registration Scheme. The Society Chairman was authorised to sign on behalf of the Society.
Volunteers: A shortage of volunteers with suitable skills in the Loco Works and C &W works was highlighted and the Committee agreed to try and recruit skilled volunteers, though recognising that there was a general shortage of skills anyway. This led to a lively discussion on the recruitment of volunteers and the need to be more proactive in recruiting and keeping volunteers.
Sheffield Park Master Plan: The Committee looked at the first set plans to emerge from SPAR (Sheffield Park Activity Review) and discussed some of the proposals. Much of the work would result in improved parking facilities for our visitors and this was welcomed. It was noted that the company planned to move all the sleeping cars at SP (including the one in the top Car Park) to a new location next to the Up Siding before Easter. This move had not been approved by the Committee and was presented as a fait accompli. Assurances were given by some Directors that a safe walking route (behind the buffer stops) to these would be in place before the coaches were moved and that the green sleeping coach would be connected to the sewer. The logic of moving the Green sleeping car was questioned as this would require a crane to move it (unnecessary expenditure) and that the occupants would then have to navigate their way through the loco yard to get to the coach or back to the station.
Benefactors Board: It was noted that this (and the Friends of Bluebell Board) had been moved from the Booking Hall to the, less public, George Harmer meeting room in the Station House. Its absence from the booking hall had been noticed by a subscriber. It was agreed to look at the options for replacing the Board with a more up to date version and to find a more public location.
Water Tower at Hosted Keynes: A cast iron water tank which would be suitable for the Water Tower had been located and the Committee agreed to approach Network Rail with a view to acquiring this.
Friends of Kingscote Accounts: These were noted with thanks to FoK for all their efforts during 2005. The Committee was reminded that all sub-committees and fund raising groups were supposed to present their accounts to the Committee each year. A reminder would be sent to all such groups.
Society Computer: The Committee was advised that a number of volunteers had been seeking access to the General Office to use the computers and that this was not always for railway business. It was agreed to acquire another computer for use by volunteers, subject to the needs and usage requirements being obtained. An Internet usage policy would be put in place to prevent abuse and frivolous use.
Disabled Coach Interior: It was agreed to ask the Trust to fund the acquisition of a set of seats, doors and fittings from a former 4 CIG unit for an (eventual) second Disabled Coach. This would match the seats etc currently in 5034. Next Meeting:
Next Meeting: The next Committee meeting will be held on 17th March.
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