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'The Masterplan'

Meetings Between The SVR Holdings Representatives, Bridgnorth Project Leader and The Plan B Team

Since the first meeting of the above group was held on 6th March (see the report at the right), two further meetings have taken place, on 27th March and 5th April 2013, summaries of which appear below for information.

27th March 2013

The purpose of the meeting was to continue to develop ideas about the way in which future development could be best managed with particular reference to proposals for Bridgnorth and also the wider issues of conservation and heritage on the railway as a whole.

It was noted that the SVR Holdings Board had agreed to set up a Conservation and Heritage Committee and had also agreed the Terms of Reference for it (a noticeboard issue was posted on 20th March 2013 with the details). The Committee has been charged with producing a policy for conservation and heritage on the railway as a whole, and it is the aim of the Committee to produce the first draft of this document by the time of the SVR Holdings Board AGM in June.

One of the first steps the Chairman of the Committee will take will be to hold an open forum meeting on Saturday 4th May at Bridgnorth and Saturday 11th May at Kidderminster (exact times and venues to be announced).  The purposes of these forums will be to explain how it is envisaged that the Committee will work in both its advisory role and as a grant-giving body. It is also intended to give to those attending the same presentation that was given to the joint SVR/Plan B team meeting on 6th March, which ultimately led to the proposals for the establishment of the Committee and other methods of working to ensure that the railway’s heritage would be of paramount importance in any future development. It is also intended in the near future to meet with all the individual stationmasters and their staff to explore ways in which the Committee might be of help to them in the work they do at their stations.

One of the decisions made at the SVR Holdings Board meeting on 19th March was to follow a more rigorous and structured process in any future major development project. As part of this, they agreed to reassess the needs related to the Bridgnorth project. The two forums on 4th May are intended to be very informal and after the work of the Committee has been described, the meeting will be open for those attending to discuss any ideas they might wish to share with regard to the proposals at Bridgnorth. These will be given to the Bridgnorth Project Team for their use in reassessing how the project should move forward. 

The meeting looked at the way in which the Bridgnorth project, in a form and scale that will satisfy the identified needs of the railway as a whole, could be achieved by 2015 so as to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the SVR. It was felt that with the new working arrangements, this could be achieved.

It was proposed that once the Conservation Policy is further advanced, meetings will be held with Members of Parliament, and with government organisations such as English Heritage, and the local Councils, to try and work together towards a common strategy with regard to heritage on the SVR, and possibly at a later stage encompassing a national strategy for preserved railways.

It was recognised that most of the work which was identified as being necessary in the short-term, such as the Conservation Policy and the Bridgnorth Project, were within the remit of either the new Conservation and Heritage Committee or the Bridgnorth Project Team. However, it was agreed to hold one more meeting of the joint SVR/Plan B group to discuss what core values the SVR should be aiming to achieve in the future and to feed this back into the Company’s Strategic Plan. This meeting is scheduled for April 5th 2013.

It was also recognised that communication is a vital part of major project delivery on the SVR and steps are being taken to improve the ways in which members of the railway can be kept informed and consulted.

Once again the meeting was held in a most constructive manner. Work will continue on establishing the structures, and identifying those working within these structures, necessary to ensure an efficient and responsive way in which future development will be carried out, and in particular at Bridgnorth over the next two years. It is hoped that details of these structures will be taken to the April meeting of the SVR Holdings Board for discussion and agreement.

5th April 2013

The purpose of the meeting was twofold –

1.  to discuss and re-assess what it is that the SVR should aim to be in the future and to provide a direction in this respect that can be incorporated into the next update of the strategic plan. 

2.  to continue the discussion about the procedures and structures which are needed to implement conservation and heritage in general throughout the railway and the Bridgnorth development project in particular.

Two presentations were made to the meeting on those values which were considered should be upheld in ensuring that the SVR remains one of the most important heritage railways in the country, and furthermore develops into a railway where consistent and high quality values are promoted and achieved. There was unanimous agreement in the meeting that

a. operating a working steam railway within a historic framework, whether that framework relates to the built environment, rolling stock or working practices,

b. recognising that proper conservation of the railway’s heritage should be an asset on which to market the future,

c. promoting the role that the SVR can play in a wider context, and

d. at the same time running a professional railway in a safe, solvent and reliable manner, were all important aspirations amongst many others discussed. 

It was recognised that because the nature of the workforce and the railway itself has changed over nearly fifty years of existence, the values which were held when the SVR first started might not be those which the current workforce adhere to.It was felt that the values which were discussed and agreed at the meeting should be disseminated in a number of ways, so that there is a consistent approach to running the railway, staffing the railway and undertaking projects. It was agreed that the presentations should in the first instance be shown to a joint meeting of the Holdings Board, the Guarantee Board, the Charitable Trust and the SVR Association. A provisional date of April 30th has been set for this to take place. This will be followed by a presentation to a managers’ meeting (date to be announced) which will include both paid and volunteer staff.  At the same time, the Conservation and Heritage Committee will meet informally with staff, and in particular the stationmasters, as described in the notes of the previous meeting above.

Following these presentations, and any feedback arising from them, the strategic plan will be amended to incorporate any changes in the stated aims of the railway that are deemed to be desirable.

The Bridgnorth development proposals were then discussed and in particular the process by which the work should be continued. The role of the Project Team and the Conservation and Heritage Committee was clarified, and proposals will be taken to the Holdings Board at their meeting on 16th April regarding the methods of working.  The way in which the development needs at Bridgnorth could be identified was also discussed, ensuring that those who might have an input into the debate should be given the opportunity to do so. This process will start with the open forums on May 4th and 11th.

It was reiterated that the Conservation and Heritage Policy should be written in draft form by the date of the Holdings Company AGM in June. Similarly, work on identifying the needs relating to the Bridgnorth project should also be completed by that time.  It is also hoped that a pilot project will be identified and work started under the new grants scheme to be operated by the Conservation and Heritage Committee by the same date.

It was agreed that the work now required to produce the Conservation and Heritage Policy and to further the Bridgnorth development project would be best done under the due process of the respective organisations (the C&H Committee and the Bridgnorth Project Team), subject to ratification of the Holdings Board on 16th April.

David Postle (Chairman)
Nick Paul, Mike Ball, Nick Ralls, Paul Taylor (SVR Holdings Company representatives)
Ian Baxter, Bob Marrows, Kevin Simpson, Ced Jameson, David Redfern ('Plan B' team)

Meeting between the SVR Holdings Representatives, Bridgnorth Project Leader and the Plan B Team
on 6th March 2013

The purpose of the meeting was to share ideas and concerns about the proposed development at Bridgnorth and, as stated in the noticeboard issue of 18th February, to explore how the project can be moved forward by working together as a team.
The meeting was conducted in a very constructive way and each person around the table was able to express his own ideas about the way forward. There was unanimous agreement about many of the discussion points, starting with the wider view of conservation within the railway as a whole and then coming back to the Bridgnorth project:

1.There is a commitment by all parties to set up a Conservation and Heritage Committee as soon as possible and to obtain Holdings Board ratification on March 19th. This Committee will be charged with overseeing and advising on conservation and heritage aspects of all projects dealing with the built environment.

2.There is an urgent need to produce a Conservation Plan for the whole railway by which new projects can be assessed.

3. There is a need to conduct a survey of the whole railway to identify areas where the heritage image could be improved.

4. This is all done to re-establish the core values of what the SVR stands for in terms of heritage, preservation and history.

5. The Bridgnorth project should be looked at within the context of the railway as a whole. Work should now be undertaken to re-assess the needs of that location and develop an updated project brief, to ensure that any proposals are related to that defined need, to prepare a business plan to prove that any development is sustainable, and to look at the availability of finance to support this project.

6. The design of any new works should be compatible with the existing environment and use principles and details that would have been used by the railway companies of the period at that location.

7. The meeting recognised the invaluable input that the volunteer workforce makes to the railway. In particular it recognised that the skills of SVR volunteers, including those who attended this meeting, are such as to enable a scheme to be delivered that would be appropriate, and which would address most of the criticisms that have been aired recently.

The Board meeting of the 19th February stated that the presentation of the plans for Bridgnorth would be shown to the Plan B team first and then released to SVRLive. However, such progress has been made since that Board meeting, and bearing in mind the points listed above, that it was considered that there was now no value in releasing information that was already out of date. It was therefore decided that further work would be undertaken by this group on the way forward with the Bridgnorth development. A new joint presentation will now be prepared which will reflect the latest position and which the group will then release for further consultation.

The meeting largely dealt with strategic level ideas and concerns. Matters of detail were purposely not addressed until the matters of strategy had been discussed. It was agreed that a further meeting should be held to continue the discussion and examine some of the more detailed issues relating to conservation and the Bridgnorth project in particular. This meeting has been scheduled for 27th March, where hopefully the momentum which has been started by this important and constructive meeting can be continued.
David Postle (Chairman)
Nick Paul, Mike Ball, Nick Ralls, Paul Taylor (SVR Holdings Company representatives)
Ian Baxter, Bob Marrows, Kevin Simpson, Ced Jameson, David Redfern ('Plan B' team)