Both prior to the AGM and using the Q&A facility on Zoom, we received a number of questions. Our members views have always remained important to us. We had a good Q&A session which concluded the meeting, and we promised we would publish all of the questions submitted along with the answers given.
Would the NTET committee and or members be interested in increasing ties with the Steam Boat Association in order to promote live steam, attract new members, and work on shared issues such as a continued supply of good quality coal?
David Smith: “The NTET was a founding member of the Heritage Fuels Alliance and it was through that alliance that we invited anyone who represented an organisation who was burning coal to raise steam for heritage purposes, and that included the Steam Boat Association. I am not sure who in that organisation was contacted, but I am not sure that we had a direct response from them. That door is always open, and we would encourage anyone who’s burning coal for heritage purposes to become a member of the HFA; it doesn’t cost you anything and it is part of the debating and lobbying organisation that’s trying to move things forward.”
Have you had any feedback from the new NTET approved insurance brokers ‘One Broker’?
David Smith: “I did say in my report that I had invited all three of the insurers who ‘broker’ into us to give us some indication of what they wanted us to say, and Shaun Lenton sent me a lengthy reply. He knows that we are less than happy. We understand some of the circumstances – Covid we’ve got to blame for lots of things – but there is an underlying issue; customer relationship is important, and I’ve reminded him very strongly of that; as much as we want the thing to work, we don’t want to be damned by association, so I have asked them politely to pull their socks up and he has promised to do so.”
How much conversation has the NTET had with the Heritage Fuels Alliance over the past year, have we found that to be forthcoming or productive?
David Smith: “Prior to Covid, the HFA met face-to-face three times and formulated its policy; individual groups of us met with various offices of government with Heritage England and with DCMS and so-forth. Since Covid, we haven’t met face-to-face but have exchanged lots of conversations over email, and quite recently I was speaking via email to James Hervey-Bathurst who is the Chair of the HFA. He, myself and Steve Oates of the Heritage Railway Association are deciding how we next lobby government because they made promise to us in all the conversations that we’ve had that they would not directly set anything running that would affect heritage burning of coal, but we have seen accidental or unintended consequences of legislation in the past, and we need to keep the pressure on them so that they remember their promise to us on that respect. The second thing that the HFA is involved with is talking with coal suppliers along with the Heritage Railway Association to secure continuity of supply of the type of coal that suits our interest. In my presentation I suggested that we burn coal that other users don’t want, which is good for us; but that source of supply is going, so we need to secure supply for heritage road use. So we’re starting those conversations with Hargreaves and with others as well. We might be forward-buying, we might even be stock-piling, but I am not sure about the latter, but all of those are being explored.”
Since the end of Lockdown 1, many organisations across the country have received financial boosts from a Culture Recovery Fund to help them through the Covid-19 pandemic. This has included many heritage railways who have received grants of various sizes to help with their recovery.
Many NTET Affiliated Clubs and Authorised Events are going to encounter new challenges in 2021 and beyond. For many, one challenge will be finding a cost effective method of moving to a way of digital trading, especially where the majority of income comes in over a 2-3 day period each year, but the costs of digital trading continue for the full year.
Can the NTET investigate whether any funding can be obtained to assist affiliated clubs and authorised events to transition to what will become the new normal for payment?
Tom Allen: “With regards to finding funding for it, I don’t think the funding is necessarily for that purpose, however there are many systems already around which are a lot cheaper than the old ways of having annual sign-ups whether it’s going from a card machine which links to a mobile phone, through to a large-scaled ticketing system; but because all events are different it really has to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis – so it is a decision based on the event itself; however, we will be happy to look into the different options and provide a reference document for the events through the authorised events portal.”
Bob Siddall: “We did, at the beginning, look into whether there was any money that would come our way from the government for the NTET, but we didn’t qualify on a number of criteria, the main criteria being that the money had to be spent by the end of March next year; so we did look actively whether there would be any gains from the grants that were being given out.”
Can the NTET provide some guidance on what control measures would need to be in place to run a COVID-19 secure event for the 2021 rally season?
Charlie Cribbes: “Yes, we can.. We haven’t drawn up our own document, but if we did it would be based on the information that is already out there. There’s two sources for information on how to run a Covid-safe event. They come from the Local Government Association, and the Event Industries Forum. You need to be aware that the information is changing almost on a daily basis because of the situation and your event can be closed down at very short notice. One show was told it could not go ahead the night before it was due to open; so you are running a risk if you set yourself out with your event that it may not happen even though you think you are going to be fine. So you must take that on-board if you are thinking of running a Covid-safe event, because of the nature of Covid, things can change very quickly and you may find yourself, with everything paid out for, and then you not being able to run your event, so please take that on-board if you are considering to try and run your own event next year.”
Why do the accounts only show £300 income for rally authorisation as at 31/03/2020 there were 71 authorised events paid up at £120 per event?
Julie Smith: “We did receive £7,100 for the rallies in the period up to the end of March, however because most of those rallies were at the time being cancelled, it was agreed that the rally authorisation would be carried forward to the 2021 year, and therefore the income has been carried forward to be matched against the costs that are incurred at that time.”
Is there any reason why committee meetings are not held online to save over £2,000 of society funds and time?
Bob Siddall: “All the meetings this year have been held online since March.”
How many people signed into this Zoom event?
“We peaked at 62 attendees plus the 11 panellists who are presenting.”
Do the 3,000 owners [mentioned in the engine owner report] include miniatures?
Bob Siddall: “No, the 3,000 engines that I mentioned are full-sized engines, not including miniatures.”
Have we tried recruiting members/supporters at steam rallies?
Kathy Smith: “Yes, we have when the exhibition unit is at steam rallies, and also when I have a marquee at rallies as well, and I am also sure that other council members do this in conversation when they are on the steam rally sites as well and we will continue to do this in the future.”