scotland (4K)
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

Minutes of the Committee Meeting, Alness 12th April 2015

Present: Mike Lunan (ML); Richard Ardern (RA); Bob Barnes-Watts (BBW); Stewart Campbell (SC); Iain MacDonald (IM); David Start (DS); Malcolm Wood (MW). Apologies for Absence: Ian Budd (IB); Angus Stewart (AS).

(1) SC opened the meeting by suggesting that a proposal be made to co-opt ML onto the committee and ask him to act as Convener until the AGM. This was duly proposed by DS and seconded by BBW. There was unanimous agreement and ML chaired the meeting from that point.

(2) The minutes of the previous two committee meetings were approved.

(3) DS told the committee of the ineptitude of the Bank of Scotland in dealing with the recent new mandates. The Bank had lost these. Duplicate new mandates were signed by BBW and MW. The problems which AS had experienced with pay-ins were now solved. Our account now comes under the auspices of their Business Banking section and DS will be sending the mandates to Birmingham. After 4 years of dispute, another quibble has been agreed admitted, and compensation offered by the Bank.

There is presently £8,350.00 in the current account, which includes the second bequest. The first bequest is in a bond in the Scottish Building Society. ML asked that DS bring forward a proposal to the next meeting regarding the transfer of the more recent bequest into a different bond so that the two bequests remain identifiably different.

BBW proposed that the Treasurer should not be out of pocket over expenses incurred in sorting out the Bank's mistakes and failures.

DS reported that Current Membership figures stood at 84 paid by cheque, 63 paid into bank and 15 still to pay.

There was a discussion regarding the sending of newsletters to non-payers. It was decided that in future, for the spring Newsletter, AS would be asked to send labels to IM only for those who had paid and AS to send no newsletter, but a letter of reminder to those who had not paid.

RA - on behalf of IB - reported that the copy date for the next newsletter would be 27th April. Regarding IB's design of the new logo, the Convener agreed to convey to IB the results of our discussion - something that looks good in black and white as well as colour, probably green and purple but not mustard. The committee wished to have minuted their opinion that IB does a very fine job on the newsletter and the website.

New franchise holders are to be asked to submit articles for the autumn newsletter. This is likely to happen after the AGM, and will depend on who comes to address us. ML has a meeting with the Serco MD Peter Strachan 13th May.

RA will put something into the next newsletter re a possible trip for interested members to Altnabreac during the summer with John Thurso.

Discussion on a new membership leaflet was deferred to the next meeting.

ML then introduced some "bullet points":

AGM - John Thurso will probably be there.

"Harnessing political clout" is the name of the game. Whoever becomes MP be asked to stand as President. Rhona Grant is impressive and asks lots of questions, and comes from a party other than that of the new MP (whoever he might be). Vice President?

Abellio will appoint two CLPs (Community Liaison Partners) - one for South Scotland and one for North Scotland. We should seek a meeting with the North appointee in due course. Committee was not enthusiastic about forming a CRP on FNL, but would hear what the CLP had to say.

FoFNL must be focused. We may have enough clout to get one thing more delivered. ML asked that all committee members write an email (to all other committee members) listing three things that they think we can reasonably ask for in CP6. The timetable for CP6 was short: NR will produce the Draft Scotland Route Strategy "at the end of 2015 [NR's words]". It will be too late to get anything substantive into the process then: the likelihood is that things will disappear between Draft and Final. The focus must be on getting our ideas into NR's thinking well before they sit down to prepare the Draft.

We already know that NR have identified 23 things worth looking at on FNL (although which two of the original 25 have already been culled remains unknown) - we must settle on a limited number of these (at least one big one, but a variety of smaller do-in-CP5 ones to show we're on our toes and watching) and get them to NR in good time, certainly no later than late summer.

FoFNL should tread slowly in the first few months with Abellio and keep an optimistic look on things.

ML undertook to review all policy documents on the website, and suggested that Frank be invited to Committee meetings as a matter of course. There was discussion on the speeding up of end-to-end journey times. ML insisted that we must not be scared of using the phrase "station closures" in discussions.

BBW volunteered to put out a press release for the AGM.

Details for AGM day . . .
Friday 19th June 2015. Glen Mhor Hotel, 8-15 Ness Bank, Inverness, IV2 4SG . (Hotel has its own large car park accessed from Haugh Road.) Coffee and biscuits for members at 10.30. AGM at 11:00am. Public Meeting at 11:45 (Abellio speaker). Lunch 12:45 (to be booked by MW for ten to twelve people - committee and guests - and paid for out of central funds). Others to be informed of hotel menus to choose or opt out. 14:00 re-start: Sleepers/East Coast/Frank. 15:45 Tea & Biscuits before departure.