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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

Conon Bridge Hotel, 11:30, 31 May 2014


Present - Richard Ardern, Bob Barnes-Watts, John Brandon, David Bull, Stewart Campbell, Alasdair Cameron, Alastair Christie, Janetta Christie, Sandy Colley, Pamela Draper, Frank Faulkner, Iain MacDonald, John Melling, Richard Morris, Oliver Rackham, Frank Roach, Leslie Rowe, Gavin Sinclair, Rolf Schmidt, Angus Stewart, Janice Stewart, Martin Stillwell, Malcolm Wood, Highland Railway Society.

Apologies - Arran Aird, Peter Beck, Mike Lunan, JM Mackie, Angela MacLean, Roger Piercy, David Start, Mr & Mrs Duncan Stewart, John Thurso MP.

Minutes of 2013 AGM (previously circulated) were agreed. Proposed by Frank Faulkner and seconded by Bob Barnes-Watts.

Matters arising - none.

Chairman's Report - see below.

Membership Report - this report was provided by the Membership Secretary: 148 members with 3 community councils.

Treasurer's Report -this was provided in writing owing to the absence of the Treasurer:

"The accounts for the year ended 31st December 2013 are presented for consideration and acceptance at the AGM. Our receipts show two exceptional items. Firstly the maturity of our Halifax Bond of £3773.23 and the legacy from our former Secretary the late Keith Tyler of £4925.32. Membership and donations were in line with expectation. The figure of £132.00 was monies received for the buffet at our 2013 AGM. Most existing accounts for small societies and clubs are limited and the availability of any paying interest on deposit is now very scarce in the current market conditions. I have spent some considerable time and effort in an attempt to find a suitable deposit account to invest these monies. The minimum is often a figure well in excess of the funds we currently have. I also feel should the need arise when we may wish to draw down funds no penalty should be incurred on withdrawal of monies prior to the date of maturity of a fixed term product. I would however suggest that we aggregate the two amounts above into an investment of £9000.00 and seek an appropriate account paying interest. I commend this report to the Annual General Meeting."

Proposed by Richard Morris and seconded by Bob Barnes-Watts.

Constitution Changes - Changes to the constitution were advised to the membership in advance of the AGM. There being no proposer or seconder, the changes were not adopted.

Election of Office-bearers:

Convener. No candidates came forward for this role and this position is vacant.
Secretary. There being no other candidates, Malcolm Wood (proposed by Alasdair Cameron and seconded by Richard Ardern) was elected Secretary.
Membership Secretary. There being no other candidates, Angus Stewart (proposed by Bob Barnes-Watts and seconded by Sandy Colley) was elected Membership Secretary.
Treasurer. There being no other candidates, David Start (proposed by Angus Stewart and seconded by Stewart Campbell) was elected Treasurer.
Newsletter Editor. No candidates came forward for this role and this position remains vacant.

Election of two Committee Members:

A vote was held to elect two Committee Members:

Sandy Colley was nominated by Iain MacDonald and Bob Barnes-Watts and received 4 votes;
Iain MacDonald was nominated by Sandy Colley and Richard Ardern and received 17 votes; and
Bob Barnes-Watts was nominated by Richard Ardern and John Melling and received 19 votes.

Iain MacDonald and Bob Barnes-Watts were elected to the Committee.

AOCB - None.

Meeting closed at 12:15.

2014 FoFNL AGM Convener's Report

This is my fifth and last annual report to the Friends of the Far North Line. In the past twelve months we have seen Invitations to Tender issued for all three franchises that affect us: East Coast, Caledonian Sleepers and, most pertinently, ScotRail. We were invited to meet some of the bidders for the last two, although sadly not all of them, and we reiterated the views of FoFNL in respect of on-board comfort and facilities, journey times and train frequencies, amongst other things. After some considerable waiting, we finally received a response from Transport Scotland on the enhancements to the train services that we had proposed within the existing resources and I am disappointed to report that this was negative; we reported on this in Far North Express 61. It remains FoFNL's policy to press for these and then move on further to an hourly service between Inverness and Tain, initially with existing journey times but ultimately with reduced ones; the current level of service north of Tain would be maintained but would also benefit from the faster journeys south of Tain. It also remains FoFNL's policy to increase the capacity of the line by the restoration of double-track and passing loops.

The society joined with Transform Scotland, the Railfreight Group, Capital Rail Action Group and the Scottish Association for Public Transport in launching a campaign to improve journey times between all seven Scottish cities, namely, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth and Stirling. Amongst other things, journey times between Inverness and Edinburgh could be reduced by up to 35 minutes and the Highland Main Line would be electrified. We reported on this in Far North Express 62. The aforementioned Far North Express was produced three times since the last Annual General Meeting but without the post of Editor being filled. I would like to thank those who contributed to the newsletter and Iain Macdonald who collected them from the printer in Inverness each time, then stuffed them into envelopes and posted them, using labels supplied by our Membership Secretary, Angus Stewart, who also supplied the relevant renewal notices and membership cards.

Following last year's AGM, the committee co-opted three additional members as allowed by the constitution but with the Editor's post being vacant, we ran one person down for the year. As required under the constitution, we met three times, twice in Inverness and once in Edinburgh. We are very grateful to our co-opted member, Richard Ardern, and his wife for organising the room in Inverness, along with lunch, and to Network Rail, which has continued to allow us to use a room at Waverley station.

As we will hear in a moment, the finances of the society remain buoyant. This has been helped by a legacy from the late Keith Tyler. This will mean that the membership fees should not have to rise again for some years yet.

Committee members continued to represent the society by attending various meetings around the country and I thank them for giving up their time to do this.

As you all know, I am standing down as your Convener after today's proceedings and Gavin Sinclair is doing likewise as Secretary although he will be producing the minutes of this meeting and the report of this afternoon's Conference. Along with the still vacant Editor's post, that means that there will be at least three new office-holders after today. When we come to that part of the Agenda, I hope we will get the necessary nominations to enable the society to continue to campaign for rail north of Inverness. Both Gavin and I will, of course, continue to be ordinary members.

May I take this opportunity to thank all of you who have supported me over the past five years. I wish you and the society well for the future.