I'm told there is a lot of gossip and criticism by some of me and the Board in relation to the Flag & Whistle. I don't normally want to discuss commercial matters on a blog but sense there is a need for some to have the facts and stop fantasising.
The Board has given notice to the present franchise holder of termination of the franchise at 31 January next.
The present arrangement is based from an agreement in 2006 so it is way overdue for reassessment. From the Railway's perspective it is not a comfortable arrangement in financial terms. The fee the Plc receives is based on turnover such that if it is £70,000 in a year it gets £7,000 and upwards at 10%.
However, the deal makes the Plc responsible for all but operating costs ie the Plc pays for heating, lighting, cooking energy, repair and maintenance, decoration. Council tax, building insurance and renewal of equipment. This frankly means that the Railway makes nothing from the operation of the Flag - indeed it loses money every day it operates. The Board has a duty to react to such situations.
The Board (and I dont take such decisions alone) plans to hold a competitive tender exercise working to a modern specification which will also look at operational style, quality and flexibility to see if we can create a better arrangement. What is wrong with that?
This is nothing personal with the present franchise holder and she has been assured that she is welcome to tender.
To kill the final piece of silliness, the decision was first discussed by the Board 18 months ago and was confirmed at its meeting on 23rd April. This was before the Wartime Weekend and had nothing to do with queues thereat
Some need to appreciate that Directors and Chairmen sometimes have to take hard and difficult decisions. Walk a mile in my shoes.