The Committee met from 7:15pm to 9:45pm. Richard Salmon and Jan Kozminski (Society reps to the Bluebell Railway Trust) were in attendance to report on the Trust's activities in 2005.
Bluebell Railway Trust: Richard and Jan presented their report on the Trust's activities in 2005. The Trust has received an increasing number of bequests, some for specific projects. In return, the Trust has been able to release substantial funding to projects such as the Atlantic loco and erection shed, the Loco Shed wall, and the extension (Ballast etc): these projects alone receiving just under £200k in total. Smaller funding was provided for the excellent poster boards adorning the shop wall and station building and to various C&W and Loco projects. Full details of the Trust receipts and expenditure will be presented at the AGM when the published accounts will be available. The improved relationship between the Society and the Trust was noted and credit for much of this was down to the late Dave Ratcliffe as well as the effort put in by the Society's Representatives on the Trust. A new Trust leaflet was planned for this year. Richard and Jan were thanked for their efforts and for the work they put in on Trust matters.
Membership Matters: Membership numbers currently stood at just under 9,400. The Committee are thinking about a prize for the 10,000th membership and possibly also for the person who recruited them. Gerry Brown is to seek additional admin assistance to help with processing of the renewal letters as these were consuming an increasing and unacceptable amount of time. Using a mailing house for these may be one solution but there will be a cost in doing so.
Direct Debits: The imminence of Direct Debits for Society Subscriptions envisaged in the January report was more than a little premature. It was noted that company had only agreed in principle to support the Society's quest for Direct Debits, although there were no legal or audit problems in doing so. Negotiations between the company, the Society and the bank will be starting shortly, but there are a quite a few administrative hoops to jump through and safeguards to put in place. it will be some time therefore before the scheme can be launched.
Finance: Society subscription/donation income for the first two months amounted to £46k compared to £39k in 2005 but it was too early in the year to read anything into this. For the first time, the Society accounts for 2005 will include administration costs and these amount to approximately £10k.
Pullman Car "Doris": The vehicle (a Kitchen First) was expected to arrive before Easter and will stored under tarpaulin at Horsted Keynes until funding and capacity in the works can be allocated for its overhaul. The vehicle will be on display for a short time before being stored. Acquisition of this vehicle was in accordance with Society policy and will complete the Pullman Car collection.
Society AGM: Four nominations had been received for the three Trustee posts and thus an election will be held. Nominees are: Simon Baker Chris Cooper Neil Glaskin Lewis Nodes.
Volunteer Recruitment: The Chairman had written an article for the next issue of Bluebell News and an insert seeking skilled volunteers for the Loco & C&W workshops will also be included. Sinclair Vincent had been asked to rejoin the Volunteer Recruitment team and will resurrect the work he did previously.
Volunteer Sleeping Accommodation: The Committee agreed to seek funding for the costs of upgrading the "Queen of Scots" sleeping car to provide heating and an upgraded fire alarm system. All the sleeping cars at Sheffield Park are scheduled to move to their new location before Easter.
Disabled toilet at Sheffield Park: The Committee agreed a proposal from the SPRAT team to convert the former lamp room at Sheffield Park into a disabled toilet in the same manner as Kingscote. Improvements and repairs will also be made at the same time to the roof which also covers the Gents toilet. The project will be funded from SPRAT's own funds.
HRA Representative Report: The Committee received a written report from Roger Price, our HRA rep, on its activities for 2005. Roger had attended 5 meetings and had also attended the FEDECRAIL (a European Heritage Railway body) conference in France. The HRA spent much of its time on the new Railway Regulations and Safety Procedures. The HRA's Carriage and Wagon Competition takes place this year.
Repaint of Loco No 32473: The Committee agreed a sponsorship proposal for this loco to be repainted to Stroudley passenger livery and to remain in this livery for the remainder of its boiler certificate (2 years). When next operational, the loco will be returned to traffic in early Southern livery as B473. If the sponsorship offer failed to materialise, the loco would probably remain in its current livery as it was not in need of a repaint.
Social Sub-Committee: The SSC's report and accounts for 2005 were noted and the team thanked for their efforts during the year. The Committee felt that SSC events were one way of attracting volunteers by providing a social side to the railway. Lack of patronage for the Bessemer Arms on a Saturday night was still a major problem and there was often considerable wastage of food. This was not sustainable and unless patronage improved and volunteers could be found to run the bar, it was likely that it would have to close on Saturday nights.
Next Meeting: The next Committee meeting will be held on 21st April.
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