The Yorkshire Coast CRP aims to promote travel on the Yorkshire Coast railway line (Kingston upon Hull-Scarborough) and to connect the Line with local communities for mutual benefit.
In Autumn 2003, the Driffield ATP Co-ordinator put me in touch with the YCCRP Officer, who worked in the same building. I was informed that the YCCRP had discussed splitting the Secretary's role. After a discussion, I joined the YCCRP, and started taking minutes at its Management Committee meeting of December 2003. I became an elected member of the Committee at the 2005 Annual General Meeting, when I first stood for election.
Soon after joining the Partnership, I invited bus operators to join. I later invited recruitment agencies, sports organisations and holiday accommodation.
In the Spring or Summer of 2004, I helped with the Beer & Quiz Train, which the Partnership organised; my work included helping to set the questions. At around the same time, I attended three meetings of the Partnership's Development Committee, a comparatively informal group.
The Partnership had a reshuffle at the 2004 AGM, electing a new Chairman. Unfortunately, the new Chairman seemed to want to defer everything until she was convinced the Partnership would continue, even though there was nothing to say the Partnership would fold (The Humber & Wolds Rural Community Council, who employ the YCCRP Officer, were to expand the Officer's catchment area in March 2005 and to set up Community Rail Humber; however, it did not follow that CRH would replace the Partnership). I was therefore not sorry when the Chairman announced that at the end of March 2005, she would stand down.
The Partnership held marketing events from Summer 2005. From stalls set up at railway stations, members would hand out train timetables and tourist information, thereby promoting travel to places on the Yorkshire Coast Line and to the (historic) East Riding. In February 2007, I and the other regular participants were given Good Mark of the Month awards.
After taking and typing up the minutes, I would E-mail them to those Partnership members who wanted to receive them direct. At one point, however, the Officer asked me to send them only to him, the Chairman and the Secretary, so they could be checked before being forwarded to the relevant members (those who were eligible to attend the meeting). I therefore raised this matter at the April 2006 meeting. My view is that the agenda item Minutes of the Last Meeting provides a sufficient mechanism for the checking of minutes; furthermore, sending minutes to members who are not on the Management Committee at least gives them the chance to comment on matters raised at meetings. However, the majority of those who spoke agreed with the Officer, so I agreed to comply.
When I informed those on my E-mail list of the outcome, the Officer questioned my version of events, although he did not give his own. And the Chairman said the Secretary had been unable to do his job, although he did not say how I was preventing the Secretary from doing his job or how I could have been doing so.
I stood down as Minute Secretary at the 2007 AGM, deciding it was time to let someone else take over. In August that year, I was presented with a Good Mark of the Month award for my services.
For approximately a week in February 2008, maintenance work was carried out on the Yorkshire Coast Line, and a bus service replaced the train between Beverley and Scarborough. However, due to road works in the local area, Bempton was bypassed by the replacement bus service and connected to Bridlington by a separate shuttle service.
Following this, comments from a member of the Partnership were printed in a local newspaper; he identified a route into Bempton that he believed could have been used by the replacement bus service. In response, the Chairman had an E-mail message distributed proposing that the member be expelled from the Management Committee at its March 2008 meeting. After reading the newspaper article on the Internet, I replied saying I disagree with the Chairman; I copied my reply to the member in question, who had not been sent the original message.
The Chairman's case was that the other member's comments were inaccurate, that he had been asked to send comments to a named contact at the train operator, and that he had undermined both the Partnership and the rail industry. But whether the member's comments were inaccurate or not, I do not believe he knowingly sent inaccuracies or that he had any malicious intent; it is more likely that he was merely saying what he thinks. In an E-mail to me, which I read out at the March meeting, the member said the reporter came to him (not the other way round) while he was working at Filey Station, so he gave his own experiences and opinions. Incidentally, he gave his comments in a personal capacity, not as a member of the Partnership. Also at the March meeting, I suggested a letter be sent to the newspaper replying to the member's comments; despite all the talk about countering negative news stories, and the apparent concern about public perception of the railways, this idea was rejected on the grounds that the letter would not be printed.
At the meeting, it was asked whether the member would be even more of a "loose cannon" if he were expelled from the Committee. The motion was therefore watered down to one of suspension, which was passed. I, of course, voted against exclusion every time.
It may be said that Community Rail Partnerships exist to support the railways. But as the member put it, that depends on any problems being addressed and any criticisms answered. The only reason why I remained in the Partnership after the March meeting was because there was a chance that the suspension would be overturned. Instead, the member was expelled from the Committee at the following month's meeting. Then at the 2008 AGM, which was held not long afterwards, he was not re-elected. I therefore left the Partnership after the AGM.
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