Letting off steam

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Things seem a bit tense at Chasewater – and there’s no call for it.

I think most readers of the blog who have visited the Chasewater Transport Show over the last few years have found it to be a fun, well organised and lovely event. I always attend, and find it relaxed, enjoyable and safe. Organiser Helen Borton works incredibly hard to stage this free event, and presents a show which is diverse, entertaining and very professionally run.

In short, the Chasewater Transport Show is an asset to Chasewater and the local area. It pulls in a huge number of exhibitors and spectators, all of whom get to see the park and the attractions it holds – including the Cafes, Chasewater Railway and so forth.

[Added 27th April 1:14am] Helen says ‘We raised £1526.26 in donations to be split 75% to Epilepsy Action and 25% to Brownhills detachment of the Army Cadet Force.’

It is my belief that we should be encouraging this type of enterprise to best stimulate use of the country park, and to show people that there’s more to this area than many folk believe.

With that it mind, I was saddened to receive from Helen yesterday a copy of a mail she’s sent to Chasewater Park Manager John Smith, an employee of Lichfield District Council, as well as other interested parties.

It seems there’s some friction over the Transport Show. This saddens me greatly – I would have imagined the Railway and classic vehicles to be natural bedfellows, and mutually beneficial to each other. I wandered up to the railway on Sunday and it was very busy indeed. Perhaps my money isn’t the sort they want up there…

I also echo Helen’s concerns about antisocial behaviour up at Chasewater in the evenings and at night. Some evenings you can get high just cycling along the dam. This needs police action as a matter of priority.

I’ll let Helen explain. I’ve removed some names, which I can provide on request.

Comment is invited from all parties, but please be aware that I reserve the right to edit comments for legal reasons. Your understanding is appreciated.

Helen wrote:

To Park Manager John Smith & all persons involved with the event yesterday.

The event was again very sucessful all on levels and we received plenty of positive comments from exhibitors, traders and public. Some of which were first time visitors to the park and local residents who rarely utilise the parks facilities. One gentleman actually said to me (which I found amusing) that he hasn’t got a dog, he doesn’t like boats or trains and he doesn’t like walking, so why would he come to Chasewater any other day of the year? After finding his comment slightly funny, I thought deeper into his comment. He is in my mind absolutely right. 

The main objectives of the event are firstly to organise a transport show with the aim to raise funds for a nominated charity each year, to provide the local community with a free admission event suitable for the entire family and finally to increase the local and national awareness and usage of Chasewater Country Park and its facilities. 

Again, we have met all of our objectives and the event was a success.

Firstly, I have a major complaint regarding the staff/volunteers at Chasewater Railway.

Whilst I was directing the exhibitors, I was aided by a companion.

A volunteer from the railway, came to us and began swearing. She was abusive, rude and as she drove away, she put her arm out of the window and put her fingers up at us. All because she had been in a short queue.

There were also several other members of the railway who were rude to us.

Secondly, again railway related, an official at the railway stopped to speak with me. He said the ‘calibre’ of visitors he has at ‘his’ railway during my event were ‘different’ to his usual clientele. He also said that on my event day, it is the worst day of the year for his railway as the public do not visit and his takings are reduced compared to a normal weekend.

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I find the statement about visitors to the railway to be odd; it was packed when I went up there, and the Railway made this entry on their Facebook page the day after the show. Click for a larger version.

He also said, after a meeting last week, the railway has put an official objection in to Staffordshire County Council opposing the event. He then went on to say that an attendee at a recent meeting said that my event is not something that Staffordshire County Council want for the park.

In response to his comment, I can only assume that the gentleman does not live in the local area. If he does, he is clearly discriminatory to people who reside or originate from the areas surrounding the park.

I feel that the park attendance may be suffering due to his views and this is a concern which I have also raised with Staffordshire County Council.

There were no event related accidents or incidents which resulted in injury or harm. 

Finally, I was still at the park until 11pm last night litter picking. I feel I need to raise a major security issue with you about Chasewater Park. Whilst I was there, several cars were coming into the park and were parking on the public car park. The smell of marajuana coming from the vehicles was horrendous.

I watched one vehicle drive up to the exit electronic floor ramp, get out of his car with a small metal box and he placed the metal box onto the floor of the exit barrier to activate the sensors beneath the concrete.

Maybe this is something the park needs to address.

Please contact me if you should need to.

Helen Borton.

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18 Responses to Letting off steam

  1. Peter says:

    Evening all…….. This years carshow was bigger and better than ever, a very enjoyable few hours, well done to all who organised it and supported it, long may it continue.
    With respect to the reported incidents involving members of the railway, it would be good to get some balance and hear their side of the story before making any judgements…….
    Anti-social behavoir up at Chasewater? Whatever next? Sadly not a new problem, and one that is very difficult to police and deter, but does need attention.
    Helen, Keep your chin up, make it bigger and better again next year and the crowds will flock to it.

    Mind how you go…….Peter.

  2. fred butler says:

    Hi all.
    I find the attitude expressed by the railway staff to be most dissapointing, especialy if they are the views of the hierachy of the railway, Chasewater is at last comming alive again, the boats are back, investment is taking place by the council, are the railway people getting jel, do they not also like the new food and bar facilities at the speed boat club ? Or do they wish that the lake had not been refilled so they had no competition whatso ever, come on trainmen the ‘pool’ is a facility to be enjoyed by all people with lots of varying interests. With regard to the smokin of the weed, many things have taken place over there over the years and this is not the worse offence, and it takes place at night, I myself find this far less of a problem than the folks who let their dogs crap all over the place, weed or dog crap ? I know where my priorities would be as a ‘ policing’ issue..

  3. Helen Borton says:

    I am the organiser of this event and I would like to thank each and every one of the people involved. The past 5 years of my life has been dedicated wholly to organising this event and it has been a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding venture and adventure. The event has grown considerably and I am proud to say I have been a part of it. I am shortly going to be calling a meeting with all of the volunteer staff and fellow members of the organising team to wind up the organisation. This is a decision I have made after many hours of thought and reflection on the last 5 years. However all is not lost and this is certainly not going to be my final curtain call. I have future plans for bigger and better things not only for my personal future but for the future of transport related events. Watch this space. Kindest regards to Brownhills Bob and everyone who has supported and been involved with the event. Helen Borton

  4. Rob says:

    There was an impatient “snobby” attitude amongst some of the railway enthusiasts when they just had a couple of locomotives on a bit of track behind the power boat club forty years ago.
    Back then one of them became apoplectic with rage while having to wait behind a tractor leaving one of the small fields on Hednesford Road when the track between these fields was their main point of access.
    Maybe railway enthusiasm generates a bit of a complex?

    • Peter says:

      Evening all…… I left a comment last week suggesting that we hear the “other side of the story” however theres been no comment made by the railway, maybe they want to promote the type of attitude that Helen describes, foul mouthed, rude, impatient, and aggressive nature, they certianly don’t seem keen to say otherwise.
      I for one won’t be spending anymore of my money on the railway. I shall enjoy Chasewater and all that it offers but not the railway.

      Mind how you go……
      Peter.

  5. Richard says:

    I am a volunteer at the railway, but did not go on the Sunday of the event. I don’t see this blog routinely and only have it as it was forwarded. I have to say that it is disappointing that a letter to the park, which has a large element of complaint, is in the public domain. If Helen and her colleagues have made a complaint to the chairman of the railway this should be private until the matter is resolved. As it is now public I assume no formal complaint has or will be made. Helen could have made an approach to the railway board by any acceptable method to voice her concerns. As it seems that this direction has not been taken I can only assume that the issue has been inflated out of proportion.

    • Peter says:

      A volunteer from the railway, came to us and began swearing. She was abusive, rude and as she drove away, she put her arm out of the window and put her fingers up at us. All because she had been in a short queue.

      Richard, Hi. Sometimes the indefensible is ………… well indefensible, but good try anyway.
      The above sentence has been copied and pasted from Helen’s original entry. In assuming that the issue has been inflated out of proportion, as you state here, I think just enforces the belief that perhaps some people connected with the railway are quite arrogant and rude.

      You’ve just lost a customer.

    • Hello Richard

      I’d be grateful if you desisted from casting aspersions on the integrity of Helen or I who are both acting in good faith.

      Helen has sent a version of this email to several involved parties, and felt the content was clear and relevant enough to share with the public via the blog. I’m happy to do that, and as everyone here knows, you have full right of reply.

      Your ability to comment on the veracity of a complaint about issues you weren’t there to witness must be a bit limited.

      If the Railway would like to reply I’ll give them all the space they need. That is always the case.

      Issues such as this are best aired in the open, as neither party has anything to hide and clearing the air publicly can be no bad thing. I have advertised and posted stuff supportive of the railway many times, and it is indeed an asset to Chasewater, staffed by many fine folk.

      However, this isn’t the first time such conflict has been brought to my notice and for the interests of all, it needs addressing.

      Chasewater is a public space, and a great one, at that. There has been friction between various user groups for decades – watersports/wildlife/railway/cyclists etc. – for the whole thing to work, there needs to be give and take on all sides and strong, positive management, something occasionally lacking.

      Cheers
      Bob

    • stymaster says:

      I don’t see a problem with the letter being in the public domain- Richard, you, and anyone else at the railway have right of reply here, and Bob won’t edit or remove posts unless they’re abusive or illegal. If the allegations made are untrue, then say so.

      I’m sure that if the chairman of the railway were to issue a statement Bob would make sure it gets seen.

  6. Terry B. says:

    When I see my ‘little Angels’ (Grand Children) at the Chasewater Transport show it makes me smile. When I remember the Angels who used to frequent the park in the 70’s, it made me sad…
    There’s a simple answer to the Steam Railway concerns….. Dampen down your fire box, open yer drain cocks, get rid of the hot air you’re emitting, shut up shop & take the day off !

  7. Richard says:

    Hello Bob.
    Firstly I haven’t cast any aspersions on anybody. As you say in your post the issues need addressing. This can only be done in the correct way, ie directly with the organisation or person involved. By sending a copy to several unconnected individuals/organisations has only put the issue from one side only in the public domain. I am not suggesting that yours or Helen’s integrity is not good-only there are ways to resolve issues and the way that has been chosen is not the best.
    Unless the railway is approached with a complaint, there is no complaint is there. I will inform the board of our bit of correspondence who I have no doubt will respond appropriately when the time comes.
    Richard

    • Richard.

      ‘As it seems that this direction has not been taken I can only assume that the issue has been inflated out of proportion.’

      Regarding an event that by your own admission, you were not present to witness, at the conclusion of a comment which is mainly berating Helen and I for publishing the complaint publicly.

      As I say, this is open to all. I was hoping for a reasoned, reasonable response from someone in a senior position.

      Bob

  8. Richard says:

    Hello Bob.
    I have informed our Chairperson of this. I have to say I don’t understand the content of the last post. I made it perfectly clear from the outset that I was not at the park on Sunday and I don’t agree with the making the complaint public without contacting the railway directly by a reasonable means, that is my right.
    If you want a response from someone in a senior position you need to contact them. It was only someone forwarding the blog to me that I saw it. I don’t suppose that anybody on the board have seen it yet and they may yet decide that as you are not an injured party it is not appropriate to comment on your blog.
    Regards
    Richard

    • Richard

      Chasewater Railway either comment or they don’t – that”s up to them.

      What you agree with or otherwise is your prerogative.

      I’ve been supporting the residents of Brownhills and Walsall Wood – a large part of that being Chasewater – for four years now. Around 9-10,000 readers a week read the blog. There’s a reasonable audience there for any side to get their point over.

      I will continue to take issues that clearly concern my readership and put them out.

      Stick around, read a little.

      Bob

    • Peter says:

      Hi Richard, It’s interesting to see that the only person from the railway making any comments is yourself, by your admission someone who wasn’t there on the day and wasn’t aware that more senior people at the railway had been approached with a complaint already. I think as Bob points out it perhaps needs someone more senior to address the issue of rude, arrogant and aggressive volunteers from the railway. I would like to point out that the only injured party here is the Railway, the negativity is directed towards the Railway and not the Car Show.
      Mind how you go……..

      Peter.

  9. Helen Borton says:

    To all concerned
    The original email was sent to several individuals and relevant parties INCLUDING the management of the railway on 23/04/13. This email was sent to info@chasewaterrailway.co.uk. I have had no response from them as yet.

    Therefore I can confirm that the ‘board’ at the railway have been sent the information and are clearly not responding.

    As I had no response, I felt it was perfectly acceptable to publicise the points raised in my email.
    I feel adequate time had passed to receive a response from the persons concerned.

    I have sent another email today and once again await their reply.

    I have also been collating evidence to prove beyond all doubt that the railway benefit greatly from my event.

    The management at the railway are welcome to see this.
    Helen.

  10. Terry B says:

    Hi all.. I maybe wrong (I usually am) but doesnt Staffs County Council manage the Country Park? Doesnt the Transport show gain permission with SCC to stage the show on the Country Park, & therefore must abile by terms & conditions as laid down by SCC. And surely the Railway has a lease from SCC to run their enterprise within rules & regs. Then I would assume (dangerous thing to do, I know) that it would be right & correct for the Railway to lodge any issue whether it be against the Transport show or any other event, with SCC. And if the Transport show fully complied with their terms & conditions, as laid down by SCC… Then there is no issue to answer !! As you can see I am saying that Staffs County Council (SCC) have a key part to play in resolving this matter, hopefully through mediation between the parties concerned & one that is of benefit to everyone, especially to the visiting public. Afterall it is a facility for the general public, isnt it ? Plus one that enables an enhanced Transport show, & other events to take place at Chasewater this & in future years, that maybe even integrates the steam facility, if thats what they want ! Or as I said previously, lock up & take the day off.
    Terry B.

  11. PorkTorta says:

    I’ll be honest, I’m a little disappointed by this whole affiair.

    I’m a Brownhills bloke, living in Texas for the last decade or so, and it’s SOLELY through the support for the Chasewater Steam Railway by Bob, on his blog, that I was excited to explore their facilities on my last trip home.

    I paid for my wife and daughter, my brother and his wife and son, and my parents to take a trip on the train, I bought us all a splendid lunch, and I made sure that my now train mad nephew got a couple of great gifts from the gift shop. In all, I must have spent close to a hundred pounds or so, and I thought it well spent: a great afternoon with my whole family, the smell and sound of the trains, and good, wholesome fun for all.

    My brother and I would spend huge chunks of our time at Chasewater as kids – fishing, swimming, walking the dogs, catching crayfish, playing frisbee, watching windsurfers and speedboats, running until we dropped….it was sad to see how run down the place had become in the last few years before I moved away.

    The great success of Helen’s show seems to echo the apparent rebirth of Chasewater as a family afternoon out in the sun, with waves breaking on the shore, and the sound of happy kids in the air – the return of the Brownhills riviera!

    How sad that the organization that I gladly supported, thanks wholly to Bob’s posts regarding their good work, seems to be too engrossed in their own coal-fired agenda to embrace the big picture.

    I was planning on dragging the whole family out again this Christmas, when I’m back next, to enjoy the Railway’s holiday programme…maybe I won’t bother. Maybe we’ll feed the ducks and geese, and try and avoid being the wrong sort of clientele. God forbid we should get in their way.

    I’m hoping this all blows over, and that everybody plays nicely. I really would like a repeat of our fun day out, but more importantly, I want Chasewater to be allowed to be all that it CAN be, so that future generations can enjoy it the way that my brother and I used to.

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