Update from the Boardroom
There have been two Plc Board Meetings in the last couple of months, and it is time that I gave you all an update on what we discussed and decided upon. the notes are necessarily brief, but I trust give a flavour of all the various matters we have to deal with constantly, to keep the railway moving forwards.
In September, we met at our now familiar time of Monday afternoon. The first decision we had to make was to consider and agree upon a proposal that our Young Volunteers Group be renamed The Youth Group. This is because all our volunteers are considered 'employees' for the purposes of Health & Safety legislation, and there are major restrictions on activities by young employees; thus the term 'Volunteer' should not be used in relation to them.
The final version of our in house GWR Safety Video has now been made, and it will be shown to as many volunteers as possible throughout the coming winter months.
We agreed a draft Job Description for the Station Management Groups, and those who are to be appointed as Heads of what will now be departments. This will make the overall reporting structure much clearer and easier to follow.
We received a report from Alan Bielby in his capacity as Projects Director about the unstable embankment between Childswickham Road and Evesham road. It appears that the best solution will be to remove all the loose excess ash which was dumped by BR, and then re-grade the embankment to make the slope shallower. If we deal with the problem on this basis, we shall try and get it done in Spring 2017 so as not to interfere too much with P/way. We do not yet have a cost, but were warned that it is going to be expensive.
There is a continuing amount of necessary work to be done to maintain our bridges, and we considered how best to introduce a bridge maintenance team to carry out routine work, such as weed clearance and repointing.
We were told that we would shortly be receiving minutes from the Volunteer Consultation Group, and would be asked to formalise replies to queries which are going to be raised. This is a very necessary way of trying to deal with and answer queries that the departmental representatives have.
We agreed to appoint Gary Cheetham as our Data Protection Officer.
At our meeting in October, we started as we always do by considering a list of outstanding actions which are carried forward from previous meetings. This is to ensure that nothing is 'lost', and that individuals who are tasked with dealing with certain items do actually do so. There are often well over 20 items on the list each month, before we start the actual agenda.
This month, we had received confirmation that the repair work on the Evesham Road bridge at Broadway was complete after lorry strikes. The works have cost us over £16,000 and we agreed to instruct solicitors to recover the money from those who are responsible.
We have agreed to trial new platform access ramps for use with our disabled coaches, and we agreed to buy one to use as an initial trial.
Colin Fewell our Commercial Director raised the issue of car parking capacity. On many mid week (and other days) now, the car park at Toddington is full, and there is no-where else to park. This may be exacerbated when we open to Broadway. There is no immediate solution, save to try and make better use of the space we have. The field behind P2 is only available to us for a very limited number of days each year.
Our Disciplinary & Grievance procedure is some years old and needs to be updated. A small sub-committee will consider necessary changes.
We received confirmation that all is in hand for work to start on the dismantling of the existing Elf Centre immediately after the end of the season, in readiness for the new building.
We had still not received any costings for the necessary work to stabilise the embankment at Broadway, and were assured that we should receive them shortly.
We were concerned to find that we had lost an estimated £7,000 due to the chaos surrounding the Cheltenham marathon clashing with our last THOMAS event. That said, it was accepted that we are never going to be able to recover that loss from anyone. It is disturbing that there is likely to be another clash next year, as we have already made the booking for the loco and timetables are being printed.
We agreed that as a thank you to our volunteers, that there would be another volunteers fish & chip train next year. The format will be the same as before.
We were told that the extension work was going to plan, and that we are about to cross the boundary from Gloucestershire into Worcestershire. A ceremony similar to crossing the equator for the first time was proposed for P/way! If the works to the unstable embankment have to take place in the Spring, a contingency plan is in place to ensure that momentum is not lost. In that event, P/way will begin working back from the north end of Broadway towards that embankment.
It was agreed that two directors would arrange to meet the owner of Peasebrook Farm Stud to see if the issues surrounding the proposed crossing there could be resolved satisfactorily before track is laid. (They subsequently have been).
It was pointed out to us that the use of the proposed new longer disabled access ramps, would potentially impact upon where the disabled coaches were in the rake, to avoid conflict with station fixtures.That in turn could impact upon the overall makeup of the rakes, so is something for further consideration before the new season starts. So often, dealing with one issue leads to others.
We were told that new safety arrangements were going to be brought in with relation to line-side photographic passes, to stop people wandering all over the place. All applicants would in future have to attend for PTS training, and all departmental heads would be issued with plans showing precisely where those with the passes could, and could not go.
It was confirmed that the charitable Santa event for the childrens hospices was to be on Sunday 27th November. This will take children from Acorns Hospice and Winston's Wish to visit Santa.