The Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust has sent RailAdvent another statement regarding their position with their Washford site and the dispute between themselves and the West Somerset Railway.
Since the last update, which is available to read here, the railway has received no reply from the West Somerset Railway regarding the number of questions the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust (SDRT) had about the Notice to Quit.
Now, the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust has appointed solicitors to deal with this situation.
The SDRT has said, “We are disappointed by the attitude of the WSR plc towards an organisation that has invested so much time and money at Washford on both track and buildings on what was a brown-field site.”
During the last season, the SDRT’s shop and museum were open on all days that the WSR was running. The SDRT has said that it isn’t true that they were asked to be open more frequently.
The WSR plc has put part of the reason for the Notice to Quit down to the SDRT’s lack of contribution towards their financial difficulties. However, the Trust’s charitable objectives would make donations unlawful.
However, the SDRT has said that they have assisted the WSR in other ways, such as providing most of the proceeds from the 2019 Beer Festival to them and purchasing items from them.
It has also been said that the SDRT has refused to help with the fundraising for a new tender top for S&D 7F No. 53808, which has been hired to the WSR for the last 33 years.
In response to this, the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust (SDRT) has said that this is not the case. However, under the agreement, this is the responsibility of the WSR PLC – although the SDRT had indicated that they were prepared to help with the fundraising.
The SDRT has continued to say that there were apparently safety concerns at the site; however, the Trust complies with the WSR’s requirements as laid down in their SMS (Safety Management System) for Washford.
On the Light Railway Order that the WSR mentioned, the Trust says that they had only looked at that in outline. There were no definite plans.
Steam Railway Magazine had claimed that someone, who wanted to stay anonymous, that the Trust would accept having WSR ID cards, however, the SDRT already have them.
The WSR has previously stated that they want to pursue their own agenda at the Washford site. However, the SDRT’s agenda is to promote the memory of the S&D through exhibits, locomotives and carriages, just as they have done since forming in January 1966.
Following on from this, the SDRT has said that “the refusal of the WSR plc to engage with the Trust on these serious issues means that we have no alternative but to step up our efforts to challenge this eviction order.”
The SDRT will be setting up an appeal for fundraising to ensure that the Trust can secure its future and safeguard the heritage they have been entrusted with over the last fifty years.
What do you think of this? Let us know in the comments below.
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