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The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

Friends of The Far North Line AGM at 1230 in Dingwall on 11 June 2012


The AGM was chaired by FoFNL President John Thurso MP owing to the absence of Convener John Brandon who was recovering from a recent operation.

Present - Richard Ardern, Bob Barnes-Watts, Stewart Campbell, Alasdair Cameron, Sandy Colley, Pamela Draper, Frank Faulkner, Keith Fenwick, Ann Glen, Mrs G Hart, Geoff Hinder, S Hurst, Tony Jervis, Michael Keats, Cllr Angela Maclean, Iain MacDonald, Richard Morris, Judy Morris, A Parrott, Roger Piercy, Oliver Rackman, Frank Roach, Leslie Rowe, Iain Shand, Gavin Sinclair, David Start, Angus Stewart, Janice Stewart, Martin Stillwell, Anne-Mary Wharton, Chris Williams, Andrew Wright, Chris Wright, John Thurso, Les Turner, John Yellowlees

Apologies - John Brandon, Arran Aird, Daniel Brittain-Catlin, Ian Budd, Alastair Christie, J Christie, John Ellis, P Hardyman, Chris Heaps, John Melling, Mike Lunan, JM Mackie, Gordon Pettitt, Mr & Mrs Duncan Stewart

Minutes of 2011 AGM (previously circulated) were agreed.

Matters arising - none.

Convener's Report - see below. This was read out to the AGM by Richard Ardern as the Convener John Brandon was absent.

Membership Report - 179 members with 5 community councils.

Treasurer Report -
The accounts for the year ending December 31st 2011 are presented for consideration and acceptance. The increase in the annual membership fee has been justified due to the requirement to source a new printer for our newsletter and inherent costs associated with this and increase in postage. The postage costs are well in excess of known previous increases and your Committee took the correct decision to purchase a large quantity of stamps to act as a buffer for future postings of the newsletter for the year ahead. The massive percentage increase in postage costs was not expected or desirable for societies and clubs of our size. Interest is no longer payable on our current account (Treasurers Account) which is now classed as a Business Account with Bank of Scotland. The nature of this account is not an improvement in my view and a decision to apply for telephone banking and internet banking facilities is under review. The usual element of additional form and documents to be completed is required for this to happen. All known notified expenses have been actioned although some Committee members prefer not to submit their total expenses as their additional contribution to FOFNL. The bond investments tick over with much reduced yearly interest but the market would suggest little improvement in the immediate future. I commend this report to the Annual General Meeting.

Election of Office-bearers:

Chairman. John Brandon was nominated by and seconded by Bob Barnes-Watts. There being no other candidates, John Brandon was elected Chairman.
Secretary. There being no other candidates, Gavin Sinclair (proposed by John Thurso and seconded by Bob Barnes-Watts) was elected Secretary.
Membership Secretary. There being no other candidates, Angus Stewart (proposed by John Thurso and seconded by Bob Barnes-Watts) was elected Membership Secretary.
Treasurer. There being no other candidates, David Start (proposed by John Thurso and seconded by Bob Barnes-Watts) was elected Treasurer.
Newsletter Editor. Iain Shand was nominated by Gavin Sinclair and seconded by David Start. There being no other candidates, Iain Shand was elected Newsletter Editor

Election of 2 Committee Members:

Bob Barnes-Watts was nominated by Gavin Sinclair and seconded by Roger Piercy; Richard Ardern was nominated by Gavin Sinclair and seconded by Stewart Campbell.

AOCB - A one minute silence was observed for the late Keith Tyler, member and former Secretary of the Friends of the Far North Line. A vote of thanks was recorded to Richard Ardern for chairing proceedings today owing to the absence of John Brandon. President John Thurso offered a vote of thanks to all members of Friends of the Far North Line for their continued support.

Meeting closed at 1245.

Draft minutes for approval at 2013 AGM - Approved, 3rd June 2013

2012 FoFNL AGM Convener's Report

We went into the year just gone without Conon Bridge station and we are still without it. Another one hundred thousand pounds is now being spent on detailed design and, who knows, by this time next year, we may have evidence of something actually happening. We will continue to campaign for the station's reopening. We will also continue campaigning for the enhancements of train services not only on the Far North Line itself but also on the routes into Inverness from the south and the east. Sadly, the hopes which we had that we would be able to obtain a reduced-rate business case for the hourly Inverness - Tain service did not come to fruition so this is still stalled. However, we have proved to the rail industry that it is possible to run a near-hourly service and we challenge them to get on and actually do it. Further, with some modest infrastructure improvements, it could be a true hourly service.

Following last year's Annual General Meeting, the committee co-opted three additional members as the constitution allows.

As the constitution requires, we held three committee meetings in the year just gone, two in Edinburgh and one in Inverness. We attempted telephone conferencing but we had to abort it for technical reasons. We are most grateful to Network Rail for allowing use of a meeting room on Edinburgh Waverley station, which has helped to keep down the administrative costs of running the society. One of the Edinburgh meetings was unique in that it was on a single subject: Rail 2014. In November, 2011, through Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government began a consultation process with rail users and stakeholders to ask them to play their part in shaping Scotland's rail services with passenger interests at their heart. In 2014, both the current contract for rail passenger services (ScotRail) and the funding arrangements for Network Rail in Scotland are due to come to an end and new arrangements have to be in place. The consultation document provided details of how the railway in Scotland operates today and set out the questions and options being considered for the future. The Friends of the Far North Line made a full response to this consultation document following that Edinburgh committee meeting. Subsequent to this, FoFNL was invited to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee on 14th March this year. We provided an advance submission to it which outlined the way in which we felt we would wish Scotland's railways to develop in the future and, at the meeting, answered questions posed by the Members. We were the only route-specific user group invited to give evidence to the Committee. Full details of our input to the process have been posted on our website and copies of the various documents are available here.

As members are aware, the retirement of our long-standing newsletter editor, Roger Piercy, at last year's AGM meant that we had to put new arrangements in place. I am sure that members will join me in thanking the new editor, Tony Jervis, for the high standard of the newsletters. Tony, as you will know, is unable to continue in the role long term. This is most unfortunate and I'm sure that members will join me in wishing him well for the future. I would also like to thank other committee members who have been involved in the distribution of the newsletter, in particular, Iain MacDonald, who has collected them from the printer, stuffed them into envelopes and then posted them. The success of the newsletters is down to the contributors and I repeat my plea of the past to keep the articles coming in, please.

Committee members have continued to further the interests of the society by attending various meetings around the country and I thank them for this. We have tried to keep the society and its aims in the public spotlight and will continue to do so in the forthcoming year.