Present: John Hunt (in the chair), Martin Lloyd, Michael Chyriwsky, John Hall, Nigel Hall, Chris Lawson and Richard Wheeler.
John Hunt declared an interest as an employee of West Coast Railway Company.
This being the first meeting of the Committee after the AGM, officers were elected for 2016/17
Chairman – John Hunt
Vice Chairman –Martin Lloyd did not wish to continue in this role, and was thanked by the Chairman for the support he had provided for a number of years. Chris Lawson was nominated as Martin’s successor, but wished to consider the implications of accepting appointment for his continuing role as Secretary. No appointment was made therefore. It was pointed out that a formal appointment was not required by the Articles of Association and that meetings could be chaired by a member of the Committee on an ad hoc basis in the absence of the Chairman. Against that, it was suggested that having a Vice-Chairman should be regarded as an integral part of our succession planning as the post holder could work closely with the Chairman and find out what the job entailed. He would also learn the ropes as far as procedural matters were concerned and therefore would be better able to stand in for the Chairman when he could not attend Committee meetings as well as providing continuity. An appointment was held over to the next meeting.
Secretary – Chris Lawson
Treasurer – Richard Wheeler
As matters arising, the Committee re-affirmed its previous full and enthusiastic support for Dave Whitfield’s informal meeting initiative, and agreed his draft article for News should be published without the need for any amendment. The Secretary reported that efforts to secure funding for the proposed event with Locomotion in September 2017 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the end of steam in the North East had been unsuccessful. Although the original project could not now be pursued, the possibility of a reduced event at NRM Locomotion would be discussed with Pam Porter in due course. Following completion of the external refurbishment work at Hopetown, a sign identifying the building as ‘Darlington Locomotive Works’ had now been erected on the outside of the central block. In the circumstances, the Committee agreed that our formal address would have to be changed to ‘NELPG, Darlington Locomotive Works’ to avoid confusion. Discussion with Colin Bowman about the fire alarm upgrade at Hopetown and the need for a separate phone line, was being pursued as a priority and discussions would be held with WCRC to establish the responsibility for analysing the OTMR data from the K1.
The Monthly Financial Report was noted, with the Wensleydale Railway having now cleared last year’s outstanding balance for the J72 hire. There had been no response however, to requests for a further standing order to be set up for this year’s invoices, nor for contact details for the Finance Officer’s successor. These would be pursued urgently. The transfer of reserves to higher interest savings accounts was still pending, and the company supplying gas to Hopetown was still issuing bills for a meter we no longer had. It should be taking meter readings remotely from the new meter. A presentation would be prepared on finance issues for the next Committee meeting and an article on financial arrangements included in the June issue of News following the presentation given to the AGM. A monthly spreadsheet of comparative financial data would be provided in future to the Committee as part of the monthly financial report, and the locomotive DMF data circulated to the locomotive caretakers at the same time that it was circulated to the Committee.
A review of the AGM identified the need for further discussion with Colin Smith about the formula that had been developed for calculating the life membership cost and its application. There would inevitably be an element of rough justice, but clarity was needed on the approach to be taken. The need to advise Colin of the State Pension Age to be applied before the issue of subscription renewal requests each year was also noted. It was agreed that a life membership application received after the AGM, but to which a commitment had been given in March, should be accepted at the pre AGM rate.
Appreciative comments had been received about the way the memory of those members who had died since the last AGM was marked, and it was agreed this should continue in future. It was important though to make sure that in year notifications of members’ deaths were handled sensitively and in a co-ordinated way to avoid
embarrassment. There was a need to consider how information about deaths was handled and any announcements made, in terms of how, where, by whom and in what terms. It was agreed that Nigel Hall should discuss these issues with Bryan Orange and Colin Smith, as the normal first recipients of such information, to establish an appropriate procedure.
A draft NELPG Conservation Policy was endorsed subject to a small number of amendments. Once these had been made, it would then be circulated to locomotive caretakers for their comments, following which it would be added to the governance documents on the website.
The Secretary gave an update on the NELPG 50 events. The Darlington Exhibition was now open and thanks were due to Ted Parker, Andrew Scott, Nigel Hall and Maurice Burns for their help in its preparation and setting up. Ted Parker was also going to be involved with the Railway Art Exhibition at Hartlepool Art Gallery in August.
Efforts were now being made to establish the current whereabouts of the 19 individuals who had attended the first meeting of the Group on 28 October 1966 so they could be invited to attend the 50th anniversary meeting. The whereabouts of eight were known, three had died, but eight had still to be tracked down.
Paul Brown from the NYMR had indicated that he was happy to arrange for some form of special train for NELPG guests over the 29/30 October 50th Anniversary event on the Railway, to compensate for what he regarded as the rather poor offering on the 9 April Tea Train. The Committee was invited to consider potential guests for this, and also for the dinner on the evening of 29 October, and advise the Secretary of names. The NYMR had agreed in principle to photo charters for two days after the end of the October special event: the detail had yet to be arranged.
An A5 flyer inviting subscribers for the 50th Anniversary book would be included in the next issues of NELPG News and NYMR Moors Line.
After a short discussion of succession planning, it was agreed that all Committee members should prepare job descriptions for their own individual responsibilities, including paperwork and records (where held and by whom). It should then be extended to other post holders in the Group. Advice had been received that the Redcar Task Force, along with the trade unions Unite and Community, should be approached about opportunities for volunteers with engineering expertise but, before doing so, our intentions should be discussed with Darrin Crone of the SNGLT.
On health and safety, an updated document on Safe Working arrangements at Fort William had been received from WCRC. This incorporated sections extracted from our own Jacobite Manual, but the WCRC document would be reviewed and any necessary amendments incorporated in the 2016 version of our Manual, to be available in time for the start of this year’s running season for the K1. Martin Lloyd was separately revising the weekly documents.
Nigel Hall reported briefly on the Health and Safety Audit at Hopetown by Darlington Borough Council on 5 May. This had gone reasonably well, with praise for certain aspects, but recommendations for some improvements elsewhere, particularly on the need for risk assessments. A full report is expected from the Council and will be circulated to the Committee.
In the light of this, concern was expressed about the provision of risk assessments. It was agreed that these needed to be reviewed, identifying those already in existence, where they were held, any needing updating, and where gaps needed filling. These need not be very onerous to prepare, but could simply reflect the individual risk judgements we all took subconsciously every day. In this context, the Secretary also reminded members of the requirement to develop a risk register for the Group as part of the Committee’s ongoing management responsibilities.
The normal locomotive updates were provided, and the latest position is reported in the current issue of NELPG News. On locomotive hire, social media were reporting that the K1 would not be going to Scotland this season for a variety of reasons, none of which were correct. A note would be prepared for the website about the K1’s current position to counter this inaccurate gossip.
There was no any other business.
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