Dissident Members’ Statement Trustees’ Reply WSRA+ comments
In particular, in 2013 the WSRA board sprang a bid for the freehold of the Railway on WSR Plc despite the fact that the Plc was negotiating for an extended lease. NOT TRUE. The WSR Plc had been negotiating an extended lease with the SCC for over two years before the WSRA began the bid for the freehold. Why has this taken so long when it should have been very straightforward? NOT ANSWERED. No clarity given on the sudden announcement of the freehold bid, and no mention of any talks with the Plc ahead of the announcement. The “answer” just slags off the Plc.
There was no consultation with the membership and not every Trustee was told in advance. NOT TRUE. Every current Trustee during the negotiations was aware of the progress. NOT ANSWERED. Clearly the Trustees had no wish to consult the membership. And whilst “every current Trustee” might have been aware, that suggests not all Trustees at the time were aware.
Some of the trustees appointed a representative to negotiate with Somerset County Council (SCC). This person conducted an improper relationship with a senior cabinet member of the county council. The SCC Standards Committee found the cabinet member acted improperly and disciplined him. NOT TRUE. The Trustees categorically deny any wrongdoing or those of our representative in our negotiations with the SCC. Neither the Trustees, nor our employees, nor our representative were interviewed or even contacted by the investigating officer. ANSWERED. There is no evidence in the public domain to link the cabinet member with the WSRA’s rep in any wrongdoing. BUT. The documents released under the Freedom of Information request revealed exchanges between the representative and the cabinet member which clearly showed how the two were planning to manipulate the situation to favour the WSRA’s bid. The Trustees have never publicly commented on these exchanges.
Communications between the WSRA and its members has been dreadful. Members questions and emails go unanswered, and the statements by the Trustees are littered with misrepresentations, half-truths or downright lies. NOT TRUE. Communications can always be improved. The Trustees take communications very seriously and the answers to questions are always truthful. We welcome constructive criticism and new ideas in whatever form they are presented. NOT FULLY ANSWERED. Let’s take the website – it could usefully have the attention of a volunteer webmaster – to improve the look and feel and to add information in a timely fashion. If matters are taken “very seriously” then why have the Trustees turned down an offer from a well qualified member to look after the website?
General meetings have been a disaster. Members have been shouted at, had questions ignored or have been insulted. For example, one member asked a perfectly valid question and was asked “What’s it got to do with you?” A Trustee swore at members, calling them a “f***ing rabble”. At the 2014 AGM, most members walked out in disgust, yet David Williams later wrote the 160 members left to catch a train (the train left with 11 on board) NOT TRUE. Reform group members have done their best to disrupt the last AGM, its continuation and the recent General Meeting, by a series of procedural tactics and manoeuvring when the results did not go their way. This has led to deliberate and unnecessary confusion, delay and expense. The meeting remained quorate after the ‘staged’ walk out. NOT ANSWERED. So the membership might therefore assume the comments in the first column are, in fact, correct.   WSRA+ does not condone some of the tactics used by the Reform Group (and its predecessors) but it is clear from listening to the audio recording of these meetings, that the Trustees reactions left much to be desired and certainly did little to control and diffuse the situation.
The organisation of the meeting [EGM 10 May] was abysmal. NOT TRUE. There was a delay in admitting members to the hall due to the large number of persons, who, having submitted proxy votes, then turned up at the meeting. Another disruptive tactic encouraged by the dissidents. A TERRIBLE ANSWER and a smack in the teeth from the Trustees for the member of the Association who are perfectly entitled to turn up, even if a proxy form has been submitted. It seems members are a bit of a nuisance for the Trustees?
The proxy voting forms sent to members were poorly worded, unclear on who the member’s proxy was being given to and how to use the form. NOT TRUE. Subsequent analysis of the forms showed that showed that [sic] practically all members DID understand exactly what was asked of them. This is the same form that has been issued by the WSRA for many years. A TERRIBLE AND WORRYING ANSWER. So, it seems someone looked at “practically” all proxy forms? We don’t think so. And how on earth would anyone be able to deduce that members did understand what was asked of them? Did the analyst contact all of those voters and ask them? Absolute rubbish answer, Trustees.

We are just short of halfway through our analysis of the “NOT TRUE” document issued to members with the AGM papers.

We felt it necessary to alert members and we suggest the Trustees’ replies should carefully looked at to see if they do, in fact, answer the statements in a way that supports the rather loud “NOT TRUE” starters.

Members have a truly difficult task wading through the rather poor quality AGM papers, we reckon.

More to follow.