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It is with deep regret that this opening WELCOME PAGE for the QRS members web site has to report the circumstances which have now been revealed by a QEL edition in reference to Peter Mitchell. However, the following text was written before the QEL announcement which in the opinion of the author further calls into question the efficacy of the members of the Executive Committee who are the responsible Trustees of our Society in terms of it's charitable status. Members must draw their own conclusions about these issues as we look forward to a resolution to the matters detailed in the QEL.
It came to the notice of this publication a little while ago that a long standing member of the Society is being called to account for alleged harassment or bullying of another long standing member. This involves the barring of the alleged perpetrator from the Quainton Centre until a hearing takes place at the next scheduled Trustee's Executive Committee Meeting. Since this decision was taken at a previous Executive Committee Meeting and these meetings are now *quarterly events it seems somewhat inappropriate that any member should be subject to these actions for such a prolonged period. This is especially true if a member should have a locomotive, rolling stock or other equipment stables or stored at the Centre.
These arbitrary arrangements call into question the accountability of the Executive Committee acting as Trustees of this Society in respect of it's status as a Charity. Whatever the rights or wrongs of this case may be it might be inappropriate for the whole panoply of the Executive Committee to be brought to bear on what may be a serious misdemeanours on the part of the alleged perpetrator. It could also be a case of six of one and half a dozen of another which is often found between individuals working together where opinions differ over aspects of their working arrangements.
It seems in this case the first indication that the accused had of being subject to this disciplinary action was in the form of a letter received at the persons home which effectively constrained this person's ability to attend the QRS site. It is doubtful that this form of action could be instigated within any similar commercial environment without some investigation by senior managers or directors which would have involved interviews with the parties involved. In normal circumstances the first action of management after such an interview would be to issue a formal warning letter. Thereafter, if the perpetrator continued to ignore this warning then a disciplinary hearing would be arranged between the manager's and maybe a director and the alleged perpetrator who would be entitled to be accompanied by representation of some other person. It is unlikely that a whole board of directors would be involved in a straight forward disciplinary hearing not least because it could be construed as an unfair intimidatory practice against an individual.
It seems to the author of this column that questionable management practice is evident in connection with this case. Firstly, because it could probably have been dealt with swiftly and effectively initially by the Honorary Secretary and Chairman. This would have precluded a protracted period of suffering and inconvenience for the alleged perpetrator between Executive Meeting which, in the event of the circumstances being held as minor or unfounded, will have been unfair on the accused. Secondly, this is not the first instance where a metaphorical sledgehammer has been used to crack a nut. It seems that almost any member may become bared from the Centre on the accusation of one member against another especially if one is personally favoured by the Trustees. The danger of mismanaging these situations is that outside bodies may become involved like the Charity Commission which could discredit the reputation of the Quainton Railway Society.
Meanwhile, the reader may have noted the content of an earlier Member's Views column where a slightly intellectual argument is presented on the dangers of oligarchies and self perpetuating committees that can erode the progress of organisations. Within this argument it is contended the Quainton Railway Society does not score well. With the case in hand reader might well wish to refer to the Society Rules where they will be hard pressed to find any empowerment for the Trustees to take action such as that described above where the only reference to disciplinary process are contained in Rule 14. This illustrates the inherent weakness of the existing rules that were formed forty-seven years ago and the world of work and social discrimination have moved on since then.
NOTE - We would make it clear that in no way has Peter Mitchell sought the support of this web site nor has he ever made a contribution to any part of the content since its first publication. The original text given in green above, that studiously refrained from identifying Peter, resulted from another members reporting the circumstances that were and are unfolding within the organisation of the Quainton Railway Society. It is to be regretted that the Honorary Secretary has seen fit to make his announcement through the medium of QEL in what must be regarded as an implicit defamatory statement.
* ADDENDUM - It seems from the latest QEL that the quarterly Executive Meetings propounded in the "News From Quainton" dated 10th January 2016 have not been implemented but a July to September period is still too long for resolutions of problems between members which we understand is the case with the Peter Mitchel enquiry.