Minutes, Rail for Herefordshire AGM March 12 2015: Shire Hall, Hereford
- 17 people attended. Apologies for absence were received from Les Lumsdon, John Thorne and Naomi Bell.
- The Minutes of the 2014 AGM were proposed, seconded and accepted.
Report by Membership Secretary (Naomi Bell):
Membership of RfH has fallen slightly from 98 in February 2014 to 92 in February 2015. Most members have paid their subscription for the coming year; if you haven’t, please pay promptly.
Report by Treasurer (Rachel Allum)
The total income of £734 was made up of 89 subscriptions @ £8 and £22 of additional donations.
The increase in room hire charges reflected the additional meetings in the year. The speakers’ fees of £9 refer to books donated to Arrivat Trains Wales speakers.
There was a surplus of income over expenditure of £380.
The bank balance at 31 January 2015 was £1722. Our finances remain in a healthy state as we enter the 2015/6 year.
Accounts for the Year ended 31st January 2015
|Subscriptions & Donations||734||708|
|Stationery and Postage||130||183|
|Hire of Room||138||94|
|Calendars (net cost)||–||5|
|Rail Future Sub.||21||–|
|Hay Tourism Group||20||–|
|Net Surplus of Income Over Expenditure||£380||£379|
|Balance Sheet at 31.01.2015||£||£|
|Cash in Hand||17||17|
|Balance b/f 01.02.2014||1342||963|
|Equity at 31.01.2015||£1722||£1342|
A note for the 2015 RFH AGM from the Chairman (Les Lumsdon)
Mike Ledlie will provide details of our main achievements during the past year and I do not wish to duplicate his report. However, I would like to make a few pertinent comments about our increasing influence as a lobbying group on behalf of public transport users in Herefordshire. There are three key issues that come to mind:
Firstly, we have gained a reputation for being forward thinking group. This is important, but at the same time, we have been realistic in our appraisal of upcoming projects or campaigns. A good example is the matter of additional infrastructure at Rotherwas. While the committee is supportive of rail development in the county we have to be realistic about whether or not it makes good sense. Thus we demand that in every case that there has to be a strong business case. In relation to calls for a station at Pontrilas, for example, we understand why people are keen to see one there, but we fear that it will not be supported by a strong business case.
Secondly, we have been working for the past two years to get all the Marches line rail user groups together and this has come to fruition with the Marches Rail Users Alliance, a strong and unified body fighting for a better deal for users on the line. Rail for Herefordshire remains at the cutting edge here, working closely with others to prepare for the upcoming Wales and Border Alliance. I have had meetings with the Transport portfolio holders of Shropshire and Herefordshire councils to engage their interest and commitment. This month I am booked to see the MD of Arriva Trains Wales and the key development manager of the Welsh franchise later in the month.
Thirdly, we have had to work even harder on resisting cuts to bus services from Hereford Railway Station railhead and elsewhere. As part of this process Rail for Herefordshire is working with the Hay Tourism Group and Herefordshire Ramblers in making the Hay Ho! Community bus a success. As a result we have gained credence with the public transport officers and local bus companies in doing so. Until a Bus Users group is established we’ll continue to fight for bus users and press for an integrated transport system.
To the future…three key issues face us:
- The re-signalling of the Marches line is crucial. Rumour has it that this might be delayed. We have to press hard for it to implemented within the current deadlines. Furthermore, we have to ensure that the right specification for improvement is progressed so that we can increase trains, flows and hence reliability. What gain is there if the signalling blocks or sections remain as they are. You know how painful it is when a train breaks down!
- The likelihood of dual track between Hereford and Ledbury is increasing so we must keep pressure to ensure that this is factored more firmly into the Network Rail plans for our part of the world. Improved reliability, timetabling and the retention of trains to London rely on it. We need to run a sustained campaign in the run up to the First Great Western Franchise…there can be no let up.
- The proposal for an interchange at the railway station is now more likely too. Mike, Andrew Pearson and I have already had an input into the early design stages. Our fear is that it will not be given the investment and design panache necessary to make it an interchange that is both functional and pleasing to the eye. It could never be as beautiful as the original station facade, but we must do our best to ensure that we get the best deal for rail and bus users, and for that matter pedestrians and cyclists too.
Final thoughts are about the team. Many thanks to the committee, including our distant committee member Jim Davies, who keeps our website up to date.
Report by Secretary (Mike Ledlie)
Since the last AGM, we’ve had 4 meetings. In May Becky Roseff gave a clear and informative account of It’s Our County’s developing Transport policy; details of this have now been published in their Manifesto, which emphasises the importance of reducing urban congestion, promoting rail travel and providing access to affordable public transport. In June we had a meeting to discuss our response to the Consultation on the Great Western franchise specification; i In the end a direct award was made to First Group to continue to run the Great Western franchise until at least March 2019, and maybe 2020; although this meant that the time that we and no doubt many other groups and organisations spent considering the terms of a new franchise was rather wasted, one consequence is that the current FGW service is likely to continue for several years. In September David Whitley from London Midland came to our meeting, and Councillor Adrian Bridges also attended this meeting and spoke about his hopes that London Midland would be able to extend their Hereford service to a new station at Rotherwas. In October Tom Pierpoint, who had only recently taken over as Regional Development manager with First Great Western, spoke about their activities, and made reassuring comments about the direct service to London. We also had an outing in December on the Hay Ho! 39A bus to Hay-on-Wye, and a tour around some of the places in Hay with former public transport associations, such as the old railway track.
Les’s report has already mentioned the Marches Rail Users Alliance (MRUA), which eventually got off the ground. We’re hoping to get it running smoothly in good time for the new Wales and Borders franchise, which starts in 2018; this may not be a normal franchise, as the Welsh Assembly are keen to have a close involvement with the way train services in Wales, including the border regions, are run after 2018.
During the past year, I’ve also attended meetings of Leominster Rail Users, Worcestershire Rail User Groups, London Midland and Passenger Focus.
On the bus front, we’ve been active in three different ways. Firstly, we played a major part, together with the Hay Tourism Group, in getting the Hay Ho! bus running on Sundays between Hereford and Hay, and in telling as many people as possible who live on the route about it. A good number of people and businesses have now signed up as supporters of the bus. In cooperation with Herefordshire Ramblers we’re organising regular walks using the bus. Secondly we, together with most of the local bus operators, attended a workshop organised by Herefordshire Council to consider the preliminary plans for a bus interchange at Hereford Railway Station to fit in with the new link road. We submitted comments after this event emphasising how important it is for an interchange to have proper facilities for passengers as well as for bus operators. Our third involvement in buses was to write to Councillors urging them to resist any further cuts to the bus network following the substantial reductions in bus services implemented last September. We were glad to see that some extra funds have been found for buses, and we wrote again to some Councillors urging them not agree to the proposal to divert these funds to a pay for a feasibililty study for the Rotherwas link. We understand that although the feasibility study is going ahead, funds for it have been made available from reserves, and not from buses.
RfH has contributed to three other organisations, MRUA (see above) (£50), Rail Future (£21) and the Cotswold Line Promotion Group (£10). Further information about the last two of these can be obtained from their websites.
- The sum of £8 was approved for next year’s subscription.
- All the current officers and committee were re-elected:
Chair: Les Lumsdon, Treasurer: Rachel Allum, Membership Secretary: Naomi Bell Secretary: Michael Ledlie
Committee: Michael Sullivan, Sue Warren, John Thorne, Philip Bauer, Roger Lind. No further nominations were received.