Boardroom Update – We have held two Board meetings in a space of 4 days covering our normal meeting at the end of November and a special meeting on the 1st December.
General Manager – We had a long debate about the way forward for our railway and how a new manager would lead and drive the business, whilst protecting the heritage and culture of the railway. It was decided not to change the title of General Manager. A recruitment for a new GM will start early in January.
IT/Admin Infrastructure – It was agreed that some additional resources were required both paid and voluntary to help modernise our ‘back office’ processes. This will include centralising our HR/Admin functions supported by a new IT architecture which would reduce the use and dependency on paper files and improve our record keeping and further help in meeting our legal obligations on data protection, storage and retrieval processes.
Commercial – The growth of the railway continues a pace and we will end the end year with a string of records covering revenue, visitor numbers, events, social media. The sting in the tail is that our expenditure is also at record levels. I will do a year position in a future Blog. Our Diners are still No.1 on Trip Advisor.
Flying Scotsman – We also heard there will be no return visit from the Flying Scotsman in 2017. As a result, it will be important to keep a tight control on our expenditure and maximise our revenue.
Ramsbottom Gates – The Board received an update which advised that Siemens have now produced an outline proposal which would look to install and use electric motors to open and close the gates. A series of further meetings are planned to drill down into the detail before we can make any decisions as to whether this is a solution which not only ensures the safe operation of the gates, but also reduces maintenance.
Horncliffe – I think we all breathed a sigh of relief that there had been no further erosion to the embankment, following the very heavy and prolonged rain a couple of weeks back. However, we are still waiting to get the all clear from the Environment Agency. Hopefully this will come through before too long.
Volunteers Charter – The Board unanimously agreed the draft charter, which will now be published as a consultation document in the January Edition of the ELR news. All comments/suggestions welcomed.
Roland Hatton – I made a presentation to Roland to thank him for his many years of loyal and dedicated service to the East Lancs Railway both as one of the pioneers and as a Director of Carriage and Wagon which has been transformed under his leadership. Roland of course will continue as a working volunteer.
Rawtenstall Station – Following an earlier internal meeting of interested groups, The Board received an updated layout for the station which includes some new buildings. We will now discuss informally these revisions with Rossendale Council. Phil Bailey advises if we get planning permission and funding is available (a big ‘if’ at this stage) the construction of the 1st phase (install the rest of the canopy rescued from Oldham Mumps) could start in January 2018.
Corporate Governance – A special meeting of the Board, including the 4 Trustees from ELRPS was held on the 1st December. This was an historic meeting in so far as the decision to scrap the two Board system in favour of the Company applying for Charitable status in its own right is concerned. This was unanimously agreed.
What are the benefits of a single Board?
- ELLRCo becomes a registered charity, with a trading subsidiary;
- Establishment of a separate Trading subsidiary (controlled by ELLRCo) – managing retail; catering; pubs etc . All profits would be GiftAid-ed up to ELLRCo.
- The new Board, can raise funds from external sources in a way that is currently not possible
- Board Directors must re-apply for their positions after 3 years
- 4 nominees representing ELRPS to serve on the new Boar
ELR Board Members – I have, during my first 11 months as Chair of the ELR, met a great many volunteers and staff and thanked them personally and expressed my appreciation for the work they do to keep our railway going forward, many of you have ended up on Twitter.
I would now like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Board Directors and those who stood down this year, all of who serve as working volunteers, many of who, like myself, spend a great many hours working on the railway but also behind the scenes to ensure our great railway is looked after both as a business but also protect it’s heritage and culture, not just for now but for future generations.