Raymond W L Powell

Document Archive 2014-2015

 

Name of document - Andrew Bratton - Address to Quainton Railway Society AGM 2014

Format of original document - Text saved in MS Word 2000/ME

Date of document - 26 April 2014

Return to Quainton First Page

RWLP Election Address to AGM 2014

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Business Report to Executive Committee June 2015

Honorary Treasurer's objections to Business Report

Rebuttal e-mail to Honorary Treasurer's Objections

Catering e-mails to Officers of QRS
June 2nd
June 4th

Audit trail of e-mails regarding Commercial Manager's refusal to acknowledge seniority of Trustees
May 2015
March 2015
June 2014

David Aplin's interventions
May 2015

 

Presented verbally by Andrew Bratton at 2014 QRS AGM

As most of you know I have been heavily involved with the society since its formation in 1970, serving as Chairman for 24 years up to 2008.

I am concerned for the future of the Society but no longer wish to manage it; it needs new blood to succeed.

I am a semi-retired chartered accountant who has been involved with scores of businesses over the years. I can easily recognise the winners from the losers.

I regret to say QRS is very much a business which is in decline. It is losing money. It has to generate over £405k gate money per annum (£1100 per day over 365 days) to stand still. Last year it generated £265k a shortfall of £140,000. With 27000 visitors per annum, quite a few of which come in cheap through Groupon, it will not survive. We need at least 40000 full paying visitors per annum to be viable. We were at this level from 2001 to 2007.

The business it currently being ‘milked’, more is being taken out than being put in; things are decaying. We will eventually run out of steam-able locos and this building, {Rewley Road], will rot if not maintained.

With the loss of Steve Jenkins today we are left, to the best of my knowledge with no suitably qualified professionals on the executive. We are also losing our safety director with Charlie Jones standing down. We have a group of well meaning individuals but without professionals it is unlikely to succeed. The subcommittees have disappeared and the executive are bogged down with trivia. Important issues are not being addressed. Without a creditable business plan the HLF application will fail.

I‘m sure you have all noticed the decline of the Co-op over the years and its financial problems. Its a mutual society run by well meaning individuals. QRS is also a mutual society, we must not go the same way.

For many years we employed professional marketing and commercial persons starting with Mark Toynbee in 1984, followed by Allan Baker, Graham Petts, Dave Jenner, Robert Winter and Ian Trew. We then made the mistake of employing a museum professional, Janet Small, who did not think money and the decline started.

For even longer we have employed engineers. John Carter was our first employee, then Peter Bristow, John Clarke, and latterly Adrian Corke and Dave Horsley.

We are now left with employing Adrian Aylward as Commercial Manager, Office Manager, Volunteer Head of Engineering, Volunteer Head of Operations and in charge of the safety management system which must not be underestimated. In short he is required to do almost everything but is stretched so far he cannot do it all properly.

The Executive has persued a cost cutting strategy. I’m not saying this was wrong with a recession but it cannot go on. A loss making organisation that cuts costs invariable reduces the loss but does not return to profit without radical change.

We have lost opportunities to make or save money. The Executive has been almost totally risk averse and business is all about taking risks but the homework must be done first to minimise the risk of failure.

The Society is now too financially weak to recruit more paid staff but I am sure we have suitably qualified professionals among our membership.

My plea is for them to come forward and offer their services, either to sit on the Executive or on subcommittees.

We must be more entrepreneurial.

In my opinion we desperately need a Marketing Expert, a Commercial Lawyer, a Management Accountant, a Web Maintainer and somebody to manage the social networks – facebook, twitter, trip advisor etc.. As soon as funds permit we need to recruit a full time engineer.

In short if you are suitably qualified or know anybody who is please make yourself or them known to the Executive.

Please don’t leave it to others or the days of the Centre are numbered.

Andrew Bratton
(Vice President - Quaintone Railway Society Ltd)