Previous Wecome Pages
Welcome to your members web site.
This is the third incarnation of our welcome to your members web site which first appeared early in 2015. The purpose of this site is to open a dialogue with the Quainton Railway Society (QRS) membership that is immediate and informative so that the problem of lacking communication is eliminated. Lacking communication was the most important deficiency highlighted in the independent consultations chaired by an outside expert in 2014.
Regrettably, since the resignation of Peter Mitchell, (and for that matter the writer), it would seem the Trustees no longer wish to support this avenue of communication and prefer to filter out such information as they wish the members to receive by post or a restricted e-mail circulation list.
A recently issued of News from Quainton (NfQ) studiously avoided any mention of your web site and this has also been similarly practised in the QEL newsletter and for that matter Quainton News. One might like to ask why? The likely short answer is that the web site is not under their direct control and neither should it be. In our last welcome note we suggested how responsibility should be attributed within a society like QRS, (See paragraph six onwards of 10/08/15), and like a free press somewhere within the Society there should be room for interactive discussion that can hold the Trustees to account. It should not be necessary for the Trustees to "get their story straight" before a General Meeting while otherwise keeping quiet.
So far as the writer's experience is concerned when first elected to the Executive Committee the first edict given was that nothing discussed in Committee was to be divulged to anyone! Why? Obviously there would be items that were commercially sensitive but most of the stuff then discussed was about the day to day arrangements of the Society but no one was allowed to know until bits were filtered out to individual active members. This form of management fostered rumours, disquiet and dissent and is not a healthy way to run a largely volunteering organisation.
Now we are promised Empirical Communication and although this may be an improvement the reader may question this definition that derives from the word Empire (see below for the definition of Empire). Empirical actually means 1 based or acting on observation or experiment, not on theory, 2 deriving knowledge from experience alone. We are not quite sure how this fits in with the latest scheme of things but it does imply the wisdom of the Executive will be handed down. The idea of readers' forums for both Quainton News and NfQ sounds nice but what does this mean especially as one is promised a reply although it may not be published. Probably something like the Lance Adlam initiative which was a sort of forum that returned some thirty-eight replies from members who CARE.
One might have thought that the Trustee would have by now considered in some detail the response to the Lance Adlam forum and at least come to some intermediate conclusions that could have been published in this latest NfQ. But no, we might as well regard this last publication as Views from Chairman (Acting) as it is disappointingly introverted and clearly based upon David Aplin's ideas as to how QRS should be managed in the future. This is not to say we disagree with most of the content as it is standard stuff and not rocket science but it does call into question several important aspects of the QRS and its future.
Questions that come to mind regarding the content of this NfQ are those which are noticeably missing. Just who are the people who make up the mentioned Sub Committees and how are they selected. For that matter who are the current members of the Executive Committee that, having lost three of the contingent from last April including the Chairman, now comprises one or two extra co-opted individuals. Furthermore, how do sub committees self perpetuate and on what basis? For a while the Museum Sub-Committee resisted the acquisition of the T Stock coaches whereas this was diametrically opposed to the published Forward Plan. Where does the approval of these appointments emanate from as they are not elected nor paid employment positions. This is not to say the persons do not do a grand job but it is not exactly transparent.
Another vital element that seems to be passing us by is that of the whole Forward Plan. One of the prime motivations in setting up the Member's Web site was that of publishing this plan for the members instead of sending out dozens of copies at significant postal cost. The Forward Plan is now over a year old and should have been reviewed by last November but there is no news of this event. It is quite evident that parts of the Forward Plan published on this site are out of date in particular the Work Force Chart. It is incumbent upon the Executive Committee to comply with the Forward Plan and the responsibility of the Shareholding members to hold the Trustees to account on this issue.
So far as the Shareholding members are concerned another proposal that should be given serious consideration is that of the Election of Officers whereby Mr Aplin suggests we should change to previous practice of allowing the Trustees to choose the Officers from within their own ranks. It is, perhaps, worthy of note that a couple of years ago we were without a Chairman for about six months until Peter Mitchell reluctantly took over this task. The same held true for the position of Honorary Treasurer for a longer period. This was not a good situation to repeat and it really should be the responsibility of the Shareholding Members to appoint these positions directly and assess the merit of nominees for themselves. The details of each nominee should be published well before the AGM including their own written address to the members.
It is a cop-out for members to allow the Committee to sort out the job for themselves with the inevitable result in that the present incumbent with the strongest personality becomes the King Maker if not the King themselves.
What is needed in a Chairman is not someone who is necessarily good with accounts or engineering or marketing but someone with VISION. The Chairman's job is to represent the members and ensure that the broader interest of the Society's members are adhered to and to square the circle of interests throughout the organisation. In our case this is not just the narrow interests of Steam Locomotion as our Forward Plan encompasses a much broader spectrum of Museum interest. The list is virtually endless ranging from Diesel and Electric locomotion, Coaching Stock including our Mail Exhibits, the listed buildings etc. etc. We have important neglected exhibits like the Sentinel Rail Cars entrusted to us years ago and the Class 115 Multiple Unit that suffers almost criminal disinterest after all the restoration work carried out on it by previous volunteers (as published in our own booklet of the same name). The Class 115 should feature strongly on our Diesel Days but moulders unloved next to the nearly equally disregarded COP cars of Metropolitan vintage.
We really need a Chairman who is outward looking who can seek out teams of volunteers to take on some of these projects in the way our 6989, 7200 and Royal Mail devotees have taken their interests forward. It probably also requires this person to seek out external sponsorship and make contact with local businesses and organisations who might be willing to help, Men in Sheds, The Buckinghamshire Museum, London Transport Museum, Chiltern Railways. Even the local Calvert Waste disposal people were willing to help with spare Head Shunt facilities when approached last year by yours truly. (Just imagine if our Class 115 was roadworthy to Rail-Track standard we could be running our own service from Aylesbury Town every Sunday. Pipe Dream it needn't be!)
Out there, beyond the readership of QEL, but within the circulation of Quainton News and NfQ are potentially dozens of experienced people who need to be excited about what can be done at Quainton. We will not excite their interest with bland NfQ edicts missing the logo or illustrations nor will QEL by its own admission acting as a recruiting Sergeant at times of almost last resort.
The Trustees of the Quainton Railway Society can and should use the facilities of this sponsored Member's web site to reach out and encourage other to join us, for managing an Accredited Museum goes beyond just being a hobby for a bunch of enthusiasts who like playing trains.
By using this web site, without fear or prejudice of constructive criticism, Trustees, Group Leaders and Active Volunteers will prove to prospective supporters of the Museum that QRS is on the right track and all those other, seemingly overwhelming, restoration projects may attract willing hands to complete the tasks.
The cost of this communication is trivial compared with paper based newsletters and magazines although one would not advocate their replacement but, given a second class letter costs 54p and a large letter under 100 grams is 74p with say a membership of 950 the respective postage cost are £513.00 and £703.00. The last issue of Quainton News weighed in at 112 grams pushing the postal cost to £1.19 per copy resulting in an estimated overall distribution cost of £1,130.50 which is about equal to the Gate receipts on an average Sunday opening. This may be a bit less if a franking machine is used but quite clearly these costs restrict the amount of postal communication that can be achieved with the members not counting all the office work also involved.
Definition of Empire: 1 an extensive group of States or Countries under a single supreme authority 2 Supreme domination 3 a large commercial organisation etc. owned or directed by a single person also Empire-builder A person who deliberately acquires extra authority etc. especially unnecessarily. (Source The Oxford Modern English Dictionary)