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Civil War within the RCTS?

Posted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:15 am
by Peter Hall
I have had to read the 'Over the Points' editorial in the January RO several times. It is very critical of the Management Committee (MC), of which the writer is a member, implying this is also the view of virtually all the editorial team. I am thus left with an impression, rightly or wrongly, that the editorial team are now at war with the other members of the MC.

Having now read the editors recollections of the December MC meeting it is now the right time to reveal the other side of the story, which I understand is the view of at least half of the MC. I received the following from a MC member shortly after the meeting. "The MC very much likes the B5 RO and the reasons behind the initiative. They are willing to go into production with it PROVIDED that the membership agrees to the idea at the AGM. If they concur with the change then it would/will be given the go ahead from January 2018. Furthermore the MC asked that sample copies of the proposed magazine be printed up and circulated to all branch secretaries asking them to show it to the membership and record the numbers from a vote they will be asked to conduct. This would be ahead of the AGM. This is considered a most democratic approach and to seek the views of the membership has been the view of the MC from the very start. However the editor is breaking his neck to put this out from January 2017 come what may. Because the views of the membership have not been maximised the MC thought that it should be held back until they are better known. In a paper to this weekend's MC he proposed that B5 be accepted and asked for the MC to agree a 2017 launch. Following the discussion a proposition was put to the vote worded " That the B5 be adopted and that it be published from this coming January". The outcome was hung and the Chairman had the casting vote. The proposition only failed because of the reference to the January 2017 launch. I cannot be stressed enough that the entirety of MC very much likes the B5 but wishes to define whether or not the members are in full support of the idea. Very clearly the editor has not come to terms with this very sensible approach and his note on the Forum was NOT what the MC agreed. It has been GROSSLY misrepresented and treated with a level of contempt."

Rightly, in my view the final decision rests with the membership through the AGM. Someone who has studied the new constitution believes that is exactly how major decisions such as this should now be made. Unfortunately this has echoes of the decision to cease production of a printed version of the RO index, something I will be requesting be added for discussion at the AGM in the next few days.

Sadly, I have not read anything with regard to progress with the Web4 Project or Leatherhead Society Library in the January RO. These topics were I understand discussed at the December MC meeting and important decisions made. What were those decisions?

Re: Civil War within the RCTS?

Posted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 2:14 pm
by MisterC
I have also read "Over the Points" quite a few times, but my original intention was not to comment here.

A split Management Committee vote cannot be described as overwhelming, and in the circumstances any decent Chair knows that it is their responsibility to make the casting vote for the status quo, irrespective of their own personal views. It is also the responsibility of the RO Editor to articulate what he assesses is the view of his production team, each will have their own opinion on whether "Over the Points" is the right place for that. But disagreement is not "civil war".

What concerns me is that the size of the RO is a secondary issue, when the primary focus should be on a publications strategy for for the digital age, embracing internet and paper publications. In that context the lack of news about the website development is disappointing.

I have drafted a letter for "Talking Points" about publications strategy, in response to "Over the Points", but I have not decided whether to send it yet!

Re: Civil War within the RCTS?

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:12 am
by Peter Hall
Interesting to see that yet again there has been no response from members of the MC. My fear is that, as with the locomotive disposals crisis of 2013-15, they are adopting a sealed lips policy even towards those who might be able to help and have the best interests of the Society at heart.

I am in total agreement with Mister C in that the primary focus should be on a publications strategy for the digital age. To be fair to the RO editor and his team, great strides have been made in that direction, although the needs of those who do not, for whatever reason, embrace the digital age have not been given proper consideration.

With regard to the website, something close to my heart on which I do updates almost daily with regard to the various features I look after, it can best be described as a rudderless ship lacking key qualified crew. Although being heavily involved I am not formally a member of Web-Committee or the WEB4 Project although I have been present at some of their meetings. In anticipation of the new website the Acting Webmaster has being doing essential work only prior to his final retirement. Thus, development has ceased and the consequent impression of staleness. My powers are limited and tinkering often results in disasters and botch temporary fixes which are not ideal. The last I heard about the WEB4 Project was this from a MC member just after the December meeting "Putting it bluntly it (WEB4 Project) has stopped. David Kelso formally told the MC that he now has too much work on his hands and at the ripe old age of 82 he has decided that he should now give up some of his duties. In this respect he specifically asked that he be relieved of the running of Web4 and that we find another project leader." This I would have hoped had been relayed to the membership in the January RO.

When it comes to the various web projects, my fear is that within in the Society we have a very limited number of members who are abreast and keeping up with the latest developments. Those that are probably too busy with it professionally to help or are already burdened elsewhere. Others, like me, are constantly infuriated by continually moving goal posts, consequently no sooner have you got conversant and brought everything up to date it all changes and you are back to square one. I really hope that by the time of the AGM in April the Society will be back on track embracing the digital age but I am far from optimistic. In the meantime I will keep updating almost everyday knowing that a few people do appreciate my efforts and are grateful for them.

Re: Civil War within the RCTS?

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 7:24 am
by D3796
Peter Hall wrote:Interesting to see that yet again there has been no response from members of the MC.
Maybe a case of having "Their Heads in the Sand" and "I hear nothing and I see nothing"?

Re: Civil War within the RCTS?

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:45 pm
by Ian Prince
D3796 wrote:
Peter Hall wrote:Interesting to see that yet again there has been no response from members of the MC.
Maybe a case of having "Their Heads in the Sand" and "I hear nothing and I see nothing"?
Hardly a responsible or accountable attitude for those now managing a charity?

Re: Civil War within the RCTS?

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 9:52 pm
by Peter Hall
I have left off making further comment for a month to see how things developed. I must say the fact that only three others have made comment on this topic does support the 'Dead or Dying Already?' topic and perhaps also that the claim of being Britain's leading railway society is somewhat open to debate.

So what has happened in the last month? Well it took five days before I received my first and only response from a member of the MC. This came by email and started with "A member of the MC has just pointed me in the direction of the Forum." This immediately supports the hypotheses that members of the MC rarely if ever look at their own website. Not surprisingly, the email was not complimenting me on raising the issue. Other than that I have heard nothing but of course the February RO contained another editorial that was hardly complimentary of the MC and their actions regarding the RO.

Two ROs later and still no update regarding the RO from the MC neither have we been given any information regarding progress with the library or Web4 project. Curiously though 'Over the Points' in the March RO asks for members ideas of what new products and services they would like to see the Society provide. I will join the 99% in expressing what I would like to see provided.