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 Held at Neuadd Pendre Social Centre, Tywyn, Gwynedd on September 29th, 2018

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 130 members present.

David Mitchell opened the meeting at 3.30 pm, noting that Tony Randall would be taking the minutes and asking those speaking from the floor to announce themselves clearly for the benefit of the minute-taker.

The meeting stood in silence in memory of members who had died over the past year, including Colin Bassett, Don Brydon, Keith Gregory, John Groom, Bob Hailes, Bob Hully, Graham Overton, Richard Pearce, Martin Riley, Mike Sheppard, Peter Tysoe and Adrian Woodhall.

1. Apologies

Apologies for absence had been received from Vice-Presidents Peter Austin, Alan Holmes and Richard Hope, Council Member Matt Dawson, retiring Council Member Andrew Robinson and seven other members.

Keith Theobald then explained that the collection at the meeting would be put towards the purchase of grass strimmers (costing £880 each) which would help keep vegetation growth in check and leaf blowers (costing £450 each) to remove the accumulation of leaves from the permanent way and reduce the number of sleepers needing to be replaced prematurely. Garry Mumford explained that the envelopes 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 Corris Coach Appeal. (The auction was postponed to another time because of the extended discussion during the meeting).

2. Minutes of the 67th AGM

The Minutes of the 67th AGM of the Society, held at Tywyn on September 30th, 2017, 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. There were no Matters arising from the Minutes

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. Election of a Vice-President

DavidMitchellexplained that Philip Sayers had been an active volunteer for many years, but a decline in his health meant that he was not as able to participate as previously and he had been nominated for election as a Vice-President. This was put to the meeting by David Mitchell, agreed without dissent and greeted with applause.

David Mitchell explained that some items would be taken in a slightly different order to the printed Agenda in order to present matters in a more logical sequence.

6. Election of Honorary Secretary

John S. Robinson had been nominated in accordance with the Rules; this was put to the meeting by David Mitchell and agreed without dissent. David Mitchell thanked John Robinson for his efforts behind the scenes on behalf of the Railway.

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 Roger Whitehouse announced the results. 147 valid papers had been returned with the votes being cast as follows:

Andrew Crookell 66, Jane Garvey 85, Keith Hayes 117, Bill Heynes 112, Charlotte Jones 87, Gareth Jones 121, Lis Mann 124, Keith Theobald 129, David Ventry 139 Andrew Vick 110.

Mesdames. Garvey, Jones and Mann and Messrs Hayes, Heynes, Jones, Theobald, Ventry and Vick were declared elected. Permission was given to destroy the ballot papers in the usual way.

8. 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 2017 bound into the September, 2018 issue of the Talyllyn News and with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation illustrated the highlights of the last twelve months. He added that the organisation of the Talyllyn group was a little complicated with each of the Society, the Company and Talyllyn Holdings Limited having specific responsibilities, and that a review of the arrangements had been carried out on which David Ventry would be reporting later in the meeting.

Garry Mumford said that the last few months had been his busiest time on TR work since he took over as Accountant in 2005. The combined income of Talyllyn Holdings Limited and the Talyllyn Railway Company now exceeded £1 million so a full statutory audit was required, but as the appointed firm of Silver and Co is not registered as Auditors, McBrides Accountants LLP undertook the audit, which was more intensive and involved greater scrutiny looking at accounting policies and procedures and starting to capitalise fixed assets. He added that last year’s financial results had been published and commented that the upbeat picture he painted last year had continued this year. Passenger figures were 10.2% higher than at the same time last year and the cash balance, which normally peaked at the end of September was £351,000 in 2018, some £67,000 higher than in 2017. He concluded his report by thanking those people whose support made his job possible.

David Mitchell thanked Garry Mumford and his team for taking forward the major changes in accounting practices and then invited questions on the Report and Accounts, but there were none.

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

9. Appointment of Auditors to the Society

David Mitchell called for nominations for the Society’s Auditors. The appointment of McBrides Accountants LLP was proposed by Gareth Jones, seconded by Nigel Adams and agreed by the meeting.

10. Proposed major developments.

David Mitchell asked Stuart Williams, General Manager and Chris Smith, Engineering Manager to report on proposed major developments.

Stuart Williams spoke to a PowerPoint presentation which detailed the improved traffic, shop and catering income, all of which showed significant increases. He then covered the marketing effort referring to the special events featuring locomotive No. 6 Douglas and its RAF connections in the RAF Centenary year, the new website, attendance at events as part of the Great Little Trains of Wales marketing team and promotion of the Railway locally with Residents’ Discount Cards and a “Welcome Day” for B&B and similar establishments in the local area.

Chris Smith outlined recent engineering achievements including the return to service of Carriage No. 22, all locomotives available for the “Anything Goes” gala, Permanent Way, Signalling & Telegraph, vegetation control work, particularly in Wharf Cutting, the purchase of new tools and equipment for Pendre works and the employment of two apprentices.

Stuart Williams then outlined future possible developments. It was intended that the open carriages would be built in a unit being leased on Pendre Industrial Estate where Martin Turner would be based. An appeal to fund rebuilding the Corris Coach had been launched, and this would also be done in the unit on the Industrial Estate. A trial selling tickets from the Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) terminal in the café at Abergynolwyn was to take place from the start of October to try to increase the take-up of Gift Aid on tickets bought there, as it was about 7%, compared to 70% at Wharf. Abergynolwyn station was very busy at the height of the season and the possibility of doing things differently there would be considered in the next couple of years. A working group led by Matt Dawson had been considering options for the Pendre site and was looking at a preferred option of acquiring approximately 2.2 acres on the Industrial Estate near to Tŷ Mawr bridge to build a works while leaving the daily running facility at Pendre station.

David Mitchell asked for questions on the presentation.

Pete Mintoft believed it was a mistake to consider the Tŷ Mawr site and the Railway should maximise what it has at Pendre – even with a move to Tŷ Mawr the Pendre site would still need to be sorted out. Operating multiple locations such as a works site and running shed would create inefficiencies. He was concerned that a decision had been made without looking at what could be done with existing resources.

Chris Price said that the cost base must not be allowed to get out of control as had happened when he was Chairman of Council and he felt there was little potential to increase the engineering department revenue for the Railway from taking in outside work.

Ian Howitt commented that he ran an engineering business of comparable scope to the Talyllyn Railway and agreed with Pete Mintoft that operating on multiple sites was a nuisance. He added that some types of work were required so infrequently that they should be put out to outside tender and contract.

Mike Davies said that at last year’s meeting Chris Parrott had asked whether the open forum meetings that had been held in 2017 would continue. He added that they have not continued, but would have been a suitable place to discuss this subject.

Chris Parrott said he had an open mind on the matter, but he calculated that locomotive mileage was 5% higher than at the same stage last year, which was itself 10% more than the 1976 figure. Carriage mileage was also greater than in 1976 and he observed that the Railway must have the facilities to maintain these assets which are now more than 40 years older than they were in 1976.

Stuart Williams said that the status quo could not be maintained, and that although Tŷ Mawr was the working group’s preferred option, nothing had yet been decided or committed, and the way to influence the decision was to get involved with the working group.

Robin Webb expressed his opinion that moving ticket sales at Abergynolwyn to the café would remove the heritage feel of the site, and the proposed arrangements would lead to difficulties with passengers when there was a long queue for refreshments or if passengers arrived late. He also asked why a separate EPOS terminal could not be provided for Abergynolwyn Booking Office.

Lorraine Simkiss reiterated that it was a trial to establish the feasibility of such an arrangement; she hoped for the support of Abergynolwyn Station Masters in giving her feedback on how the trial was working. A separate EPOS terminal had not been considered for Abergynolwyn as when they were introduced at Wharf Booking Office some volunteers did not wish to use the new system so undertook more duties at Abergynolwyn station.

Chris Price said that 45% of ticket sales on the North York Moors Railway were made on line, and he was disappointed when people condemned something before it was tried. He suggested that the trial should go ahead, and management be trusted to deal with its results.

11. Possible changes to the Governance of the Railway

David Mitchell asked David Ventry, Chairman of the Talyllyn Railway Company to report on the review of Governance.

David Ventry spoke to a PowerPoint presentation outlining the work and findings of the group appointed by Council in 2017 to review the Governance of the railway. Actions already taken meant there was a clearer distinction between the responsibilities of the Council and of the Boards, in particular the arrangements for appointing committees and defining their reporting lines and appointments to Society and Company positions. The appointment of Directors only from elected Council representatives might mean that the Board suffered from a skill or knowledge shortfall. To alleviate this, it was proposed to increase the size of the Board of Talyllyn Holdings to allow the appointment of Directors with the requisite knowledge and skills from outside Council. The Governance Review Group would consider the matter further and report back to Council.

David Mitchell asked for questions on the presentation.

Roger Whitehouse said the he felt that in the last couple of years changes had been made to the detriment of the running of the organisation, such as departmental managers no longer being invited to meetings of Council and not having access to its papers. He believed the changes made in the last year had drawn a distinct line between the two entities of Council and Board and that transferring the responsibility of some roles away from Council to the Board is in danger of creating a split between the two bodies. He said he looked forward to reading the expected article on Governance.

12. Miscellaneous Announcements

Jane Garvey gave details of a Long Service Award scheme which would recognise volunteers with 10, 15, 25, 40, 50 and 60 years’ service and which she would initially administer. Volunteers needed to apply with evidence of their eligibility. Application forms were available in the meeting room.

Justin Adams announced that only one candidate had been nominated for each department for the Traffic & Operating Committee, and therefore John Simner was declared elected for the Traffic Department and Bill Heynes was declared elected for the Locomotive Department.

Becky Sharpe announced that there had been six nominations for five places on the Young Members’ Committee. In the election the votes cast were: Ed Crabb 10, Adam Davies 14, Matt James 7, Bethan Price 12, Matthew Tarry 9 and Jason Wells 9.

Therefore Ed Crabb, Adam Davies, Bethan Price, Matthew Tarry and Jason Wells were declared elected.

John S. Robinson announced the evening’s activities at Wharf station and that this year’s Bonfire party would be on Saturday 27th. October.

Tony Randall announced that bookings for Steampipes at the William Booth College, Denmark Hill on Wednesday 28th November were open, and the London and Southern Counties Area Group dinner would be on Monday 3rd December at The Founder’s Arms, Blackfriars.

Keith Theobald appealed for volunteers to increase the pool of attendants who man the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum. He also sought volunteers to join him the following day to help in removing stone from Cynfal stream.

The collection for the strimmers and leaf blowers was taken and passed to Keith Theobald. (Subsequentto the meeting the amount raised was notified as being £3,405.95 before any eligible Gift Aid was added.)

13. Any Other Competent Business

David Mitchell said that Stuart Williams (General Manager), Chris Smith (Engineering Manager) and Dave Scotson (Operating Manager) were in the hall ready to answer questions, but there were none.

There being no further business, David Mitchell closed the meeting at 1755 and thanked all the staff and volunteers for their efforts over the past 12 months. He added that he looked forward to seeing everybody at the Annual General Meeting next year.