The AGM and public meeting of action group Connect Bude took place this morning at the Falcon Hotel in Bude. The AGM was opened by Chairman, Richard Wolfenden-Brown, after a slight delay to source more chairs to cope with the unexpected extra numbers. Over fifty people attended.
The objectives of Connect Bude are:
- To campaign to reconnect Bude and Holsworthy to the National Rail Network, initially via Okehampton.
- To promote an improved Rail service between Okehampton and Exeter and beyond.
- To ensure the track-bed of the former railway is protected against further development.
- To garner the widespread community support of individuals, elected representatives and businesses in order to achieve the first three objectives.
After introducing members of the committee, minuting apologies received and voting the minutes of the last AGM as read, Richard proposed the Falcon Hotel was made an honorary Business Member. The Falcon kindly hosts the groups meetings at no cost and a quick vote proved this to be a popular proposal.
The re-election of the committee was a simple exercise. There are still positions vacant on the committee, no new nominations and no-one has stood down, so the committee remains the same. At the committee meeting prior to the AGM, Jude Reynolds was voted in to compile a quarterly newsletter for distribution to members. Group members need to be kept informed and not everyone uses the internet.
There was a brief membership and financial report from Mike Moore. As of 30th June 2018, Connect Bude has eighty-four fully paid members, eighty seven supporters and funds in the account stand at £1334.36. A paper copy of the full report was given to each person attending the meeting. Mike went on to mention since the 1st July 2018, the group had gained another ten members, another fourteen supporters and now had £1350.26 in the account.
Richard stated it would be good to reach the target set last year, of having a hundred fully paid members by the end of this meeting. A show of hands from the assembled audience indicated this could be a distinct possibility. There being no further business to discuss, the AGM was closed at 11.20 am.
The public meeting followed.
Richard read the text for a proposed recruitment pamphlet which illustrated problems faced by the group and any progress so far. This was well received. Richard carried on with an informative progress report on the group’s activities over the last twelve months. There have been meetings with Bude and Stratton Town Council, meetings with Scott Mann, (MP for North Cornwall), a well supported chartered train from Okehampton, fully supported by the Great Western Railway and numerous talks and membership drives.
Plans for the future include:
- Improve communications with members via a regular newsletter.
- Make use of the ‘Rail Reopening Toolkit,’ a resource provided by the Countryside Agency.
- Campaign for a fast, direct coach to Exeter station from Bude, Holsworthy and Hallwill.
- Investigate the possibility of a Holsworthy Parkway.
- Re-open the line from Okehampton to Plymouth via Tavistock.
- Re-open the line to Bude.
Richard spoke of the pamphlet briefly, with sections covering the Past, Present and Future of the of the Bude line, emphasising the history of the line, problems encountered today travelling to and from Exeter using public transport and the recent revival in rail travel, which is rapidly gathering momentum.
Richard then handed over to Dr Michael Ireland from OkeRail, who is also a councillor in Okehampton and a member of the Connect Bude committee.
Dr Ireland provided a detailed presentation on the problems faced by OkeRail and what the group have achieved so far. The success of OkeRail is beneficial to Connect Bude, as we need to connect with the National Rail Network at Okehampton. OkeRail managed to secure a Sunday passenger service throughout the summer of 2018 with a promise from the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, who announced the reintroduction of rail services between Okehampton and Exeter should be introduced as soon as reasonably possible. This is a massive achievement for everyone involved with OkeRail and can only assist the reintroduction of the Tavistock line and hopefully a line to Bude. At the GWR Stakeholder’s Conference earlier this year, Mathew Golton, (deputy MD of GWR), stated the permanent reopening of Okehampton was second on the GWR list of viable studies. He was also quoted as saying of GWR: ‘We will know we have succeeded when we have got adverts in Bude and Bridport,’ which backs up evidence the GWR has Okehampton top of its list for adding to the GWR network.
Dr Ireland finished his presentation reiterating success for Okehampton would depend on FAST coordinated coach links from North Cornwall and West Devon and all community groups in the area working together to achieve success.
There was a brief question and answer session, in which the following items were raised:
- A letter writing campaign be organised to councils supporting the fast coach links.
- Younger people need to be recruited by using social media.
- Bude Coastal Community are willing to work with Connect Bude to reconnect the railway line.
- The timings stated to get to Plymouth, Exeter, Barnstaple and Okehampton by road in Dr Ireland’s presentation may require revising. It takes much longer now due to increased traffic and road works across the region.
- The services to and from Okehampton are not a trial and will probably begin in 2020 as the present lease on sixteen miles of the line expires then.
- The major areas requiring infrastructure modification on the Okehampton line are three half-mile stretches.
Richard thanked everyone for attending and the meeting closed at midday.
The group gained ten new members after the meeting.