Friday, 25 March 2016

Most recent Plc Board meeting

At a recent Plc Board meeting, our first job was to welcome representatives of our Accountants and Solicitors who had been heavily involved with our Financial director Chris Bristow in the preparation of the new EIS approved Share Issue. It is a legal requirement of the scheme that all directors take personal responsibility for the accuracy of the information in the Offer documents, so we necessarily spent some time reviewing all the details and then signing to confirm that all was in good order. Only then were our advisors able to leave, and take the final steps to allow the Share Issue to go ahead.

Subsequent to that, we welcomed our new director colleague Alan Miller who has been a P/Way volunteer for many years. Thereafter as usual, we moved on to discuss a wide range of matters.

Health & safety matters are always high on our agenda; quite properly. Chris Webb our Safety Manager has completed his initial safety surveys of all departments, and flagged a number of points which require attention. Arrangements were put in hand to ensure that they are all catalogued so that plans can be made to deal with them. We also took steps to ensure that the necessary statutory health & safety arrangements are in place for the rebuilding of Hayles Abbey Halt.

We were pleased to hear that James Edwards had been nominated as a potential new head of the Guards department, and we made arrangements for him to be interviewed. (Subsequently we were very pleased to hear that he had been appointed to that post.)

We had been aware that following the resignation of Val Owen, we needed to complete the appointment of a Safeguarding Officer to ensure that children, young people and vulnerable adults were safe whilst on the railway. We were very pleased to hear that Claudette Oddy had agreed to take on the position on an interim basis, with Richard Scott as her deputy pending a permanent appointment later in the year.

We discussed what to do about the structure of our Building Services Department, following the loss of Ron Brislin last year. It was agreed that we should advertise for a new head, to report to our Civil Engineer, Peter Muir. The position is to be advertised shortly. It is hoped that the department can be expanded by the introduction of new members, as there are a wide range of potential projects coming up which will require the input and support of that department.

We had a long discussion about the two planned projects at Winchcombe; the new Elf Centre and the Toilet block on P2. We are already well into the new year and the estimate from building contractors was that the Elf Centre would take at least 6 months to build. To start in about early May as was proposed, would seriously impact on our themed events this year, and if there was an overrun would disrupt our Santa trains. So, we decided to defer it to a start in January next year. We decided to concentrate this year on the proposed new toilet block, and were advised that we should receive tenders by the time of our next meeting.

Chris Bristow had prepared a full Strategic Report to go with the annual accounts this year, and it was agreed that in view of the very successful year we had last year, that it would be appropriate for it to be published in full on this blog.We are conscious of the fact that this blog is very much for public consumption, whereas annual reports would normally be for shareholders, but felt that the news was such that it should be widely circulated.

A suggestion had been made that we should hold another open forum for all volunteers in the Spring, but it was felt that it was not necessary at the moment in view of the forthcoming Share Issue and all the publicity surrounding that. Volunteers who are not shareholders will be invited to attend the Plc AGM on a non-voting basis, as there will be an open forum afterwards when questions can be asked.

We received written reports from all directors, updating us on progress withing their particular areas of responsibility. Most of the departments now have active blogs and a great deal of information about current work is disseminated this way. Progress with the extension to Broadway is very much dependent upon the success of the Share Issue, as all available funds have already been committed in reaching the current stage.

It was agreed that the formal launch of the Share Issue would be on 6th April when Pete Waterman has confirmed that he is available to attend. Arrangements are being made to publicise it as widely as possible. Sufficient copies of the Cornishman magazine have been made available by GWRT to be sent to all shareholders who are not members, to try and encourage them to participate in the Share Issue.

It was another very full and successful meeting, and a lot of ground was covered.

Richard Johnson
Company Secretary

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