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Held at Neuadd Pendre Social Centre, Tywyn, Gwynedd on September 30th, 2017 

On the platform were David Mitchell, President, TRPS; Ian Drummond, Chairman, TRPS; David Ventry, Chairman, TR Co; John Robinson, Hon. Secretary, TRPS and Secretary, TR Co and Garry Mumford, Hon Treasurer, TRPS and Accountant, TR Co. There were some 150 members present. 

David Mitchell opened the meeting at 3.30 pm, noting that Tony Randall would be taking the minutes and thanking Philip Sayers for undertaking this task in recent years. Mr. Mitchellindicated where Stuart Williams, the new General Manager, was sitting and said that he would be introducing himself later in the meeting.

The meeting stood in silence in memory of members who had died over the past year, including Walter Crowe, Howard Fuller, Audrey Hope and David Woodhouse.

1. Apologies

Apologies for absence had been received from Vice-President Alan Holmes, Independent Examiner Peter Silver of Silver & Co and seven other members.

Ian Drummond then launched an appeal with the aim of raising £200,000 over four years to rebuild the Railway’s four open carriages with refurbished chassis and new wheelchair-accessible bodies with a traditional appearance to make them fit for the future. He said that if every member donated £10 a year for four years the target would be reached. Garry Mumford explained that the envelopes and Appeal forms would be collected later in the meeting and urged members to complete the Gift Aid declarations if they were eligible to do so. David Mitchell announced that there would be an auction of various railway-related items after the meeting, the proceeds of which would passed to the Open Carriages Appeal. (The auction raised £172).

2. Minutes of the 66th AGM

The Minutes of the 66th AGM of the Society, held at Tywyn on September 24th, 2016, having been circulated to members of the Society at that date, were proposed by David Mitchell to be taken as read. The minutes were approved without dissent and David Mitchell duly signed them as being a true record.

3. Matters arising from the Minutes

Mike Davies noted the comments about the car park and asked for an update. David Ventry replied that the Town Council did not move as quickly as the Railway and although a form of words had been agreed with the Council’s solicitor it was a source of frustration that the Council had not yet agreed to the arrangements.

4. Election of President

Ian Drummond took the chair and asked the meeting to endorse the Council’s nomination of David Mitchell as President. This was agreed without dissent. David Mitchell resumed the Chair.

5. Appointment of Independent Examiner

David Mitchell called for nominations for the Society’s Independent Examiner. The appointment of Peter Silver of Silver & Co was proposed by Rob Cambridge and agreed by the meeting. Mr. Mitchell thanked Paul Silver for his work on behalf of the TR, and asked him to convey the thanks also to his father.

6. Election of Honorary Treasurer

Garry Mumford had been nominated in accordance with the Rules; this was put to the meeting by David Mitchell and agreed without dissent.

7. Election of nine members of Council

David Mitchell asked the candidates who had been nominated to come to the front of the hall and stand in front of the stage. John Robinson then read out the names of the ten candidates. Ballot papers were then collected.

Later in the meeting Paul Silver announced the results. 167 valid papers (there were none void) had been returned with the votes being cast as follows:

Lisa Bryan 37, Matt Dawson 139, Ian Drummond 148, Josh Green 121, Mike Green 101, David Jones 124, Jon Mann 146, David Rowbotham 108, Rebecca Sharpe 151, Matthew Wear 134.

Ms. Sharpe and Messrs Dawson, Drummond, J. Green, M. Green, Jones, Mann, Rowbotham and Wear were declared elected. Permission was given to destroy the ballot papers in the usual way.

8Amendments to the Constitution and Rules of the Society

David Mitchell asked John Robinson to introduce the proposal to amend Rules 10 and 29. John Robinson explained that the proposal had been published in the June, 2017 issue of the Talyllyn News and repeated on page AR22 of the Annual Report. He added that a two-thirds majority was necessary for the proposal to be carried and then asked for questions, but there were none.

David Mitchell put the proposal to the meeting and it was carried by a large majority, there being two votes against.

9. Membership Subscriptions

David Mitchell asked Ian Drummond to introduce the proposal from Council to amend subscription rates. Ian Drummond said that there had been no increase for twelve years. comparisons had been made with similar organisations and the benefits offered when deciding on the proposed subscription rates. The proposal was for an increase of £5 for Ordinary, Associate and Senior members (to £30, £15 and £25 respectively) and a corresponding increase in Life membership rates using the established multiplier. No change was being proposed to Junior membership rates. Ian Drummond then asked for questions from the floor.

Gerald Grudgings said that in comparison with other societies the proposed rates were still a bargain and suggested that the rates are reviewed on a more regular basis, such that a worthwhile increase could be achieved in the next five years or so. Robin Webb observed that even with the increase, for a full member this would only be £11 more than the donated fare for a day rover ticket, and supported Mr. Grudgings’ view.

Barbara Tinsley believed the proposed Senior Life Member rate did not offer value for money. Gerald Grudgings said that he felt the Life Membership rates had probably reached a plateau and that further increases in these rates might be counter-productive. Jon Richmond asked if the Membership Secretaries could advise how many new Life Members there had been in the last 12 months. Peter Featherstone said he did not have the information readily available in the meeting.

Shirley Atkinson asked whether the difference in Ordinary membership rates and Day Rover fares could be kept as a fixed percentage, as when working as a Booking Clerk she had observed passengers weighing up the pros and cons of travel tickets against membership.

John Appleford asked whether a separate vote could be taken for the Senior Life Membership rate. Mike Davies said that at previous AGMs amendments to proposals had led to confusion, and that even he was in favour of this proposal. John Richmond proposed an amendment that the subscription rate for Senior Life and Associate Senior Life Membership should remain unchanged. Lawrence Garvey referred to the Constitution and Rules and said that any amendment to a published proposal must be advised in advance. John Robinson clarified that this only applied to changes to the Constitution and Rules and that amendments to a proposal to change subscription rates could be taken at the meeting. David Mitchell put to the meeting the amendment from Jon Richmond not to change the Senior Life and Associate Senior Life Membership rates. The amendment was not carried.

David Mitchell then put to the meeting the proposal, as published, that the subscriptions for the various categories of membership should be Life £600, Associate Life £300, Senior Life £500, Associate Senior Life £250, Ordinary £30, Senior £25, Associate £15, Junior £15, Associate Junior £5. This was carried by a large majority, with only a handful against.

10. Reception, Approval and Adoption of Reports

David Mitchell called on Ian Drummond to present the report of Council. Ian Drummond referred to the report printed in The Talyllyn Railway in 2016 bound into the September, 2017 issue of the Talyllyn News and with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation illustrated the highlights of the last twelve months. He added that those attending an Open Forum held at Easter 2017 had helped to identify what makes the TR special, and the matters raised will help towards preparing the vision for the future. He said the new website should be in place for next season, and was hopeful that it would be available earlier. Mr. Drummond finished by thanking everybody for what they had done to help the Railway in the last twelve months.

Garry Mumford said that last year’s financial results had been published, but he wished to talk about what had happened this year. There had been a glimmer of change in the TR’s financial fortunes, highlighted by the fact that the operating surplus to the end of August this year was more than double the corresponding figure for 2016. The biggest change had been in catering, where a surplus last year had followed a couple of years of losses, and a much greater surplus was likely this year. Strict control over expenditure had also helped to achieve the current rosy position. The Railway still needed more people to visit, and the aim should be to encourage them to spend more both on fares and in the commercial outlets.

David Ventry reported on the 2017 year-to-date figures, which showed public bookings were down by 0.9% when compared with last year, but revenue on train operations was up by 3.5%. Visitors’ secondary spend in the shop was up by 0.8%, and catering revenue was up by 22.7% or £45,000. Mr. Ventry stressed that the change in the Railway’s performance had been achieved by attention to detail, but more could still be done to reduce costs and increase income.

David Mitchell then invited questions on the Report and Accounts. Gerry Young asked if Locomotive No. 6 would feature in any of the RAF Centenary celebrations next year. David Ventry replied that there were a number of prospective opportunities; discussion about the detail was continuing. Mike Davies said that next year will be Locomotive No. 3’s 140th anniversary – a return to service in 2018 might mean it would not be available for its 150th anniversary and he urged that thought should be given to this now. He added that the Corris coach was now looking tired and suggested a complete repaint in time for Locomotive No. 4’s centenary. Sue Whitehouse asked if any use was being made of the information gathered following the introduction of the signing-in procedure. David Ventry replied that one reason for implementing it was to have the information to hand for grant applications which required match-funding. Roger Whitehouse said 2016 was the 75th anniversary of Locomotive No. 5, not its 70th as shown in the Annual Report. John Appleford asked if Gift Aid on tickets was to be made available at Abergynolwyn next season. Garry Mumford replied that there was already a process in place, and he was mindful that the Traffic volunteers at Abergynolwyn tended not to want to work with a computer. An alternative way of achieving this was being considered, which might in place late next season. Noel Williams asked if a second credit card machine could be provided for Abergynolwyn. Garry Mumford replied that he was currently looking at this.

David Mitchell asked the meeting to indicate its acceptance of the report of Council and Society financial statements, which occurred without dissent.

11. Presentation by the General Manager

David Mitchell introduced Stuart Williams, the new General Manager. Stuart Williams said he had been in the job for two full weeks and gave an illustrated presentation on his background, his initial thoughts and observations about the Railway and its organisation. Stuart Williams introduced a video-recording featuring Chris Smith, introducing himself as the new Engineering Manager, having been in post for seven weeks. The video described his background and experience, featured some of the work in progress at Pendre and how he sees the future of the Engineering Department.

David Mitchell asked if there were any questions for Stuart Williams. Chris Parrott asked if the series of open forum meetings initiated by the previous General Manager would be revived. Stuart Williams replied that this was a possibility.

12. Miscellaneous Announcements

Justin Adams announced the result of the Traffic & Operating Committee election. There had been three candidates for two places in each department. 126 ballot papers had been returned. In the Locomotive Department the votes cast were as follows: Matt James 42, Paul Cottrell 78, Josh Green 83. Paul Cottrell and Josh Green were therefore declared elected. In the Traffic Department the votes cast were as follows: Simon Carey 76, Charlotte Jones 35, Will Smith 105. Simon Carey and Will Smith were therefore declared elected. Justin Adams thanked Ray Reid for printing and distributing the ballot papers.

Becky Sharpe announced that the Young Members’ Group election had not been contested. There had been five candidates for the five places, and she therefore declared Ed Crabb, Adam Davies, Paul Edwards, Matt James and Morgan Price elected.

The collection for the Open Carriages Appeal was taken and passed to Garry Mumford.

Josh Green announced the evening’s activities at Wharf Station.

Ian Drummond sought further volunteers to assist on the sales and publicity stand at the Warley exhibition on 25th and 26th November.

Ian Drummond announced a visit to the Vale of Rheidol Railway’s works at Aberystwyth the following morning to view the progress on Locomotive No. 3.

Tony Randall announced the London and Southern Counties Area Group dinner on Monday 4th December. He added that a new venue for Steampipes had been found at the William Booth College, Denmark Hill, and was hopeful that the event would return in its traditional pre-Christmas slot in 2018.

13. Any Other Competent Business

Keith Theobald said that in view of the dismal weather expected tomorrow the planned fishplate oiling had been cancelled, but that he would be at Pendre by 0900 to talk to anybody interested in the work of the outdoor gangs.

Barbara Fuller said that there was a sales stand at the rear of the hall with Christmas cards, calendars etc.

There being no further business, David Mitchell closed the meeting at 1705 saying that it was his pleasant duty to thank all the staff and volunteers for their efforts over the past 12 months, and he looked forward to Stuart Williams taking us all forward to enjoy another 150 years.