8 January 2018
Present were John Hunt (in the Chair), Richard Wheeler, Martin Lloyd, Michael Chyriwsky, Nigel Hall, Paul Hutchinson and Richard Pearson (joined from 8.30pm).
Also in attendance as observers were Bill Dobson, Fred Ramshaw, Ian Storey, Colin Foxton and Roy Marshall.
Apologies for Absence were received from Chris Lawson.
John Hunt declared an interest as an employee of WCRC and Ian Storey declared an interest in Storey Engineering. Paul Hutchinson declared that he too was to become a temporary employee of WCRC at some point in the future.
The minutes of the previous meeting were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Under Matters Arising, it was reported that the Secretary and Paul Hutchinson had both submitted their comments on the proposals for the revised Articles of Association. The Treasurer had dealt with outstanding Jacobite expense issues and also spoken to the remaining contributor to the now closed J27 Appeal, and clarified his intentions.
The Monthly Finance Report noted that net funds were down to £359K. No funds had yet been transferred for the Q6 and J27 following the SGM votes, but an operating deficit of £48k had been incurred for 2017, because of the £60k spent on the Q6 and the £79k spent on the J27, both for no return in the year. No invoice had yet been received from Ian Matthews for painting the J27 tender. A further £2900 (£3480 with VAT) had been identified as owing from the Wensleydale Railway. The Treasurer had a meeting planned with Ribchesters for the next day to discuss the 2017 accounts and the Annual Report.
The Fundraising Sub Committee had recommended pursuit of the CCLA investment – it was approved by the Charities Commission and felt to be less risky than other suggestions. After discussion, it was agreed unanimously by the Trustees present that £100K should be transferred into the CCLA COIF Charities Global Equity Income Fund investment, and that this would constitute the Group’s Reserve.
Concern was expressed about the costs of producing News. Suggestions included limiting production to 32 pages; producing 1 document for the AGM, rather than 2; asking for a contribution from those Life Members who were not Patrons; and bringing the Membership fee for Senior Members into line with that for Ordinary Members. No conclusion was reached and the issues will be considered further at a future meeting.
There was an extensive Locomotive Update, which had been brought up the agenda to allow sufficient time for discussion, particularly of the possible future arrangements for completion of the J27 overhaul.
Firstly, Bill Dobson reported on a conversation with Terry Newman about a date for the first meeting of the Locomotive Sub Committee, in which Terry had expressed some doubt as to his taking on the Chairman’s role. Bill would follow up. Further comments had been received on the draft Locomotive Overhaul and Maintenance Policy. A second draft would now be prepared.
In preparation for the Committee meeting, and following Paul Middleton’s visit to Hopetown and offer of help with completion of the J27, Richard Pearson had set out 3 options for the way forward: carry on at Hopetown, with the prospect of completion delayed until the summer; use NYMR assistance at Hopetown; move the locomotive to Grosmont to take full advantage of NYMR skills and facilities, with the expectation of completion by Easter. Considerable concern was expressed about the impact of the latter 2 options on the Hopetown volunteers. There should be no suggestion that the delays with reassembly were attributed to them, rather to the inability to provide specific allocated continuous and skilled leadership for the project. Richard Pearson’s arrival at the meeting was delayed because he had visited Hopetown to talk to the Monday night volunteers about the options. Nigel Hall had similarly spoken to the Thursday volunteers. Their reaction had been mixed: a minority had expressed strong feelings against option 3; rather more of them were disappointed, but could see the sense in that option; there were a few who felt that the J27 was their last job; some others might decide to “walk away” – in this it was recognised that travelling to Grosmont was a factor. There had also been some feeling that it was a “done deal”, but it was emphasised that this was not the case.
It was pointed out that, had everything gone according to plan, the J27 would be moving to Grosmont very soon anyway, whereas, without additional assistance of expertise and project management, the alternative would be that we missed the opportunity for NYMR mileage in the early part of the season. There was some consideration of what work might be allocated to Hopetown to keep volunteers meaningfully employed: winter maintenance on the J72 in the short term; essential maintenance on the DRPS shunter, on which we rely heavily; work on the bottom end of Number 5; preparation of a replacement for the K1 tender were all mooted. The meeting also considered whether reduced mileage might result for the Q6, along with Bill Dobson’s concern that NELPG efforts should not be diverted away from the Q6 on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It was also appreciated that NYMR costs might be expected to rise above initial estimates of £17,800. Helpfully, it had been agreed with the boiler inspector that the boiler clock could be restarted following a further successful hydraulic test. Lastly there was consideration of what work might be available for the J27 in the summer: train sizes were known to be of concern to NYMR, which might allow more mileage than expected; there should be no conflict with the J72 at the Wensleydale, given its planned move to KWVR in July; the Aln Valley Railway’s enquiry was also noted. Taking account of all of this, the meeting voted unanimously in favour of option 3 and the discussion turned to communicating this news and practical arrangements for the move. It was agreed that face to face communication of the decision to Hopetown volunteers was the first priority, to be followed up by an email for wider distribution.
Richard Pearson reported that Andrew Goodman had quoted £1800 for a J27 move. He would intend using one low loader, which would mean that the tender might be outside Hopetown overnight – overnight security could be arranged for about £100. Although many of the unfitted J27 parts could be moved with the locomotive and the tender, the NYMR flatbed truck could be used to collect any overflow, possibly including the cab roof. A careful inventory of parts would be needed to ensure completeness. The move would need to be timed for arrival at New Bridge in the week beginning 12th February, before NYMR PW staff resumed track possession in the next week. NYMR would arrange movement of the locomotive and tender after arrival at New Bridge, to check bearings before the move to Grosmont. Technical assistance to NYMR would be provided by Richard Pearson, Paul Hutchinson and John Graham, but the Group would need to provide project management and financial control. Richard Pearson was thanked for his efforts in respect of the J27 and asked to confirm the arrangements for the move.
Winter maintenance of the K1 was now in progress and, although attendances at Carnforth had been reasonable, Steve Gibson’s unavoidable absence was regretted. An appeal for volunteers with engineering skills would be made. Whilst the schedule had slipped slightly, the engine’s first booked work was not until 14th May, which allowed some elbow room. Removing the trailing wheelset was planned for the next weekend and the boiler inspector was due soon to examine the firebox.
The small tubes for the Q6 were due for delivery later in the week. NYMR boiler work had stopped temporarily, but 5428’s hydraulic test was due by the end of January, which should free up more of Mark O’Brien’s time. It was felt that some 2-3 weeks slippage had occurred, but that this was recoverable.
The J72 had returned to Hopetown on 4th January. The firebox tubeplate had continued to weep beyond 130psi and a potential partial re-tube option had been dismissed. A proposal had been put to the boiler inspector (agreed by him after the Committee meeting) that the same approach be adopted as for the Q6 - i.e. to remove all the tubes to allow a full internal inspection (including the firebox tubeplate in particular – to consider the dimensions of bridges and whether copper ferrules might remedy any problems). If all went well with the inspection and remedial work, including a full re-tube, succeeding steps would follow as for the Q6, allowing further running up to 25th August, when a full external inspection of the boiler would take place, etc, as part of the next overhaul. A quote of £9056 for the removal of the tubes and their replacement and refitting had been obtained from Mathew Storey (the cost of any ferrules would need to be added). Costs of this extent were recoverable within the expected hire fees from the Wensleydale Railway up to August. If the internal inspection revealed problems however, there would have been no nugatory work or expenditure. Completion of any work would be required before 3rd April and Adam Dalgleish was known to be available to help Mathew Storey with the work. The meeting considered the potential diversion of Wensleydale hire fees to the J27, when its NYMR operation paused after the early part of the season, but this was not felt to be an obstacle. The meeting decided unanimously to go ahead along these lines.
Paul Hutchinson reported that gas checks would be undertaken on the Support Coach. There was some deterioration on 2 of the axles. There had been no progress on finding a replacement for the NELPG car.
Hire charges for the Q6, J27 and J72 were discussed on the basis of a note circulated by the Secretary before his departure to Australia. Whilst it was agreed that no increase would be sought for the J72, confirmation of the other charges would be deferred.
The SGM and Open Meeting were reviewed, with discussion centring on the concerns expressed at the Open Meeting about the perceived conflict of interest for the Chairman in his meetings with WCRC, attention being drawn to the advice in Charity Commission document CC3 at paragraph 6.3. No pecuniary interest was alleged and it was clear that the Chairman’s experience brought something to the table. Paul Hutchinson was always in attendance. In addition, a meeting note was always prepared and any issues were invariably brought back to the Committee for ratification. There was potential to provide authority for the Chairman’s involvement through specific coverage in the Articles of Association, though this was not included currently. It was noted that Paul Hutchinson’s intended temporary employment by WCRC would, in any case, necessitate the presence of another representative from the Group at any meetings.
On other issues, it was reported that support from the ORR was enabling WCRC to take up responsibility for the facilities at Fort William, and this should lead to improvements in the facilities. Bill Dobson questioned whether the publication of the Committee minutes on the website would address some of the complaints about communication, though it was noted that there were some sensitive issues with publishing the VAMOS meeting notes, which were to be taken up with Dave Whitfield by the Chairman.
The 2017 Trustees Annual Report was discussed. Some simplification would result from the winding up of NELPG Enterprises and there would be only one list of Directors. It was hoped to produce a simplified, more concise document than previously, demonstrating how the Group’s charitable aims were being met. Brevity would be encouraged from contributors.
Under Health & Safety, PTS arrangements were discussed. It was agreed that courses should be organised to give best value for money, taking account of the numbers of members involved, their location, the location of the training (Grosmont or Carnforth) and the provider’s costs. The recommendation to wear bump caps, following a recent head injury, was reaffirmed, and the Skills Matrix questionnaire would now be issued, having been held back to avoid confusion with the Fort William support crew questionnaire.
Finally, a number of issues were raised as Any Other Business - Paul Hutchinson had circulated a well-meaning but unfortunate post from the Unofficial NELPG Facebook page – the post had given the wrong impression and had been removed; any draft motions for the AGM and nominations from the Committee would need to be tabled at the next meeting; a query was raised as to whether the meeting venue had Wi-Fi facilities to perhaps allow attendance using Skype; Fred Ramshaw advised that 2 new pinch bars were required at Hopetown and Nigel Hall agreed to pursue their acquisition
The meeting closed at 10.15pm
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