Tiger tram 622 escapes threat of extinction!

In a shock development, Blackpool Brush Railcoach 622 was transported back to Rigby Road depot on Thursday 7th November, having been forced out of its former home at the Lancastrian Transport Trust’s base at Brinwell Road. Although 622 is not expected to rejoin Blackpool’s resident tram fleet, temporary sanctuary for the tram was needed before it moves to a more permanent home at Anchorsholme Primary School, after being evicted from the LTT premises.

The LTT’s storage depot at Marton now has a new owner; yet another blow to an organisation which has had a very difficult year. Whilst some of the vehicles on site may be allowed to remain there for a little while longer, the space occupied by Brush car 622 was reportedly needed by the new owners of the building. It may be recalled that 622 was originally acquired by the Totally Transport Community Interest Company back in 2010 to provide useful parts for various other LTT trams, and has been stored at Brinwell Road since September that year. Ownership of the car is thought to have passed over to BusWorks after the aforementioned firm went into liquidation, and it was then sold for use as a static classroom at the local school. A considerable amount of work has already been carried out on 622 to prepare it for its new role, including a full repaint in a striking blue and yellow livery with black tiger stripes on its roof sides, inspired by the famous ‘Tigeriffic’ design it carried to advertise Blackpool Zoo in 1975, which was of course the first of many Brush car all-over adverts.

Unfortunately, the tram had to be removed from the former LTT depot before its transformation could be completed, and as such it has yet to receive the graphics required to complete its livery. With the school seemingly not yet able to accept the tram, emergency arrangements for its temporary storage were made at short notice, resulting in the car being returned to Blackpool Transport’s own tram depot at Rigby Road. With transportation provided as usual by Scotts Heavy Haulage, the car made the short trip back to its old home during the morning of November 7th (not the 8th as reported on the LTT news website!) and once off-loaded, was shunted into the depot. This left Coronation 663 as the sole tramcar remaining at the Brinwell Road site, and there must be some doubt as to how long this car will be able to remain in situ.

The project involving 622 was supported by funds from the local Council. Anchorsholme Councillor Paul Galley said that Councillor Williams has led the charge on this project as he is the governor of Anchorsholme Academy, or Primary as it was at the time when the decision was made, and that he is therefore not aware of all the details surrounding the deal for the purchase of the tram.

Although 622 will be safe for the moment thanks to BTS’ generousity in agreeing to accommodate the tram, it remains to be seen how the outstanding work required will be undertaken as outsiders are not allowed access to the Rigby Road site. One possibility could be that BTS will finish the job, presumably with its previous owners footing the bill. However, for now 622 is back home – something we never expected to see again, and proof that just about anything is possible in Blackpool!

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42 Responses to Tiger tram 622 escapes threat of extinction!

  1. Chris says:

    Nothing rarely surprises me anymore… The tram that should have been delivered Easter arriving at Rigby Road unfinished… Mental…

  2. Steve Jones says:

    Andrew,

    One small correction.

    Contrary to statements made by various people, TTCIC (Totally Transport Community Intererest Company) has never been formally liquidated, and as of today is still shown as an “active” company on Companies House website. It does therefore raise the question of the basis on which an asset from TTCIC (a community interest company which have rules and restrictions regarding asset disposal) was transferred to a “replacement” company started by the same people which is not a CIC. Presumably 622 is being sold by CBNW to the school at a profit? Perhaps this will become clear in due course, when CBNW accounts are submitted to Companies House?

    For those interested in LTT in the fate of the proceeds of Boat 233 sale to the US and the donation for the cosmetic restoration of 663, it is noted that as of today the LTT accounts are 69 days late in their submission to the Charity Commission according to the CC website! Those interested and involved in preservation can only wonder about what is going on with the LTT and its associated commercial operation.

    Somehow I have a feeling that 622′s stay at Rigby Rd may be longer than anticipated. The LTT do have a history of “squatting” and outstaying their welcome.

  3. Steve Jones says:

    Andrew,

    Your posting on the move of 622 raises a couple more points, after further consideration.

    Given the tram has had to move “temporarily” to Rigby Rd as a result of eviction from the former LTT depot, who will pick up the not inconsiderable cost of this unexected move I wonder. Will it be CBNW/LTT? It certainly should not be the school and/or Blackpool ratepayers!

    As you say, the funding for this project has “been supplied by the local council”. As the project has been championed by councillor Williams, perhaps he will be making a public statement on how much the project has cost and profit made by CBNW, to assure ratepayers they and the school have had value for money vs other options for providing extra classroom space? Reassurance that the provenance of 622′s ownership has been thoroughly checked would also be appropriate, given this asset passed from a cic to a “replacement” company before the former had been liquidated.

    Given that public money and Blackpool council have been involved in the project, it is worthwhile to note that interested parties can through the Freedom of Information Act make an application to look at all correspondence between various bodies relating to the matter. They can also write directly to councillor Williams on the matter.

  4. Chris says:

    Have to agree with Steve absolutely spot on assessment. Questions should and must be put to the Councillor & to the Trust members responsible for applying for the grant etc…

    Appears no interior works has taken place. A thin base coat has been applied with very similar colour scheme. And now its been stored (presumably for free) at Rigby Road.

    Like many interested to see the response and facts emerge. Id like to know how much they recieved in “grant” and what if any is left of it. Because clearly the tram is not finished….

  5. Steve Jones says:

    Blackpool Council website gives full details of how to make a Freedom of Information request. Contact details for councillor Williams and all other Blackpool councillors are also available on the Council website.

  6. Mark says:

    Oh look, another tram not finished by the Lancastrian Tram Traders… Words fail me.

  7. Philip Higgs says:

    A few facts for you all:-
    1. 622 was not “forced out” but it was agreed by Matthews Engineering that now own the Brinwell Road site formerly occupied by LTT that it could stay until the repaint was complete. It is complete and we have therefore removed it from their premises. Similarly, Coronation 663 can remain there until Christmas. Nothing sinister I’m afraid – no eviction.
    2. Because Anchorsholme school are not ready to accept it, the tram is temporarily stored with Blackpool Transport. A Council owned tram in a Council owned building. Again nothing sinister folks – sorry!
    3. 622 was purchased originally by “Totally Transport CIC” but was purchased by “Classic Bus North West” on 31 March 2012. It was subsequently sold to Blackpool Council’s Anchorsholme School for use as an outdoor classroom. Documentary evidence of this was made available to the new owners.
    4. It is a pity British Trams Online never appear to get the facts correct.
    5. Why is it any of your business in this particular case?
    6. The use of a tram represents excellent value for money and is a worthy use of a heritage, un-motorised tramcar body that was originally purchased simply to provide a decent set of bogies for tram 632. For reference a bespoke outside classroom can cost as much as £200k!!!

    • Gareth Prior says:

      True it might not be “any of our business” regarding this particular case but people are still interested in the fate of various Blackpool trams and it wouldn’t exactly hurt to let people know what is going on, and being a little bit open may actually help to repair your reputation a little bit but you obviously don’t want that. I’m sure you had an interest in what Blackpool Transport were doing to their trams before the upgrade but that wasn’t really “your business” was it? But at least we all know what you truly think about tram enthusiasts now.

      By the way as a shareholder in Boat 233 I’m still waiting to be officially told (asked to vote would have been nice too but that sure weren’t going to happen!) that the tram has been sold to San Francisco but I won’t hold my breath on that one either…

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Well done Mr Higgs for responding to an article and making yourself look even worse than you did before! I also find it incredible that you can find the time to respond to articles such as this one, yet cannot respond to emails sent to you months ago from people who have helped to fund the preservation of the vehicles you collected. This is sending out a very clear message about how much you value people who have supported your past projects, so is it any wonder that most of them have failed due to lack of support?
      I also find the comment that British Trams Online ‘never appear to get the facts correct’ very insulting, as both myself and Gareth always make sure to check our facts, and when errors do rarely occur and are pointed out we are keen to correct them. In this case I don’t believe that has happened however, as you have confirmed that you had to remove 622 from Brinwell Road.
      Incidentally, your comment about 663 is far from reassuring… would you like to state how much of the £45,000 the LTT were donated towards restoring this tram will have been used by Christmas, and what will happen to this car when it too has to find alternative accommodation? Or will this investment also be a complete waste of time and money?

    • The Enthusiast says:

      Grateful for taking the time to respond. But sadly your response (or is some cases total lack of them) create yet more difficult questions for you and your former Trust. Perhaps your time has been consumed rescuing bendy buses from the M61…. Certainly wont have spent much of counting revenue from the service…..

      Nobody can be under any illusion the hurt and damage and shame you as an individual has brought on this wonderful hobby. Your betrayed people who defended you till the proverbial cows came home. You left them humiliated and deeply hurt.

      The Boat saga will live long in the memory. How can a charitable asset be sold without consulting shareholders. How can a charitable asset be sold without telling many (if not all) of the other key stakeholders. Then to compound the issue where is the money. Where did the 17K go… Because its public record what the trusts intentions were. (143 in case you had forgot). So where is the money… Until the boat money (£17k+)is in Blackpool Trust Account to fund 143 as the press release says the money is intended.

      How do you intend to complete 622 whilst its stored in council premises (that naturally none staff cannot access). Interior & Vinyls remain incomplete….

      You suggest these things simply “aren’t our business”. It is our business (as is our right as citizens) to open charities and government to scrutiny. In these difficult times it important that Charities & Local government are held to account. Significant money has been given to your (former?? or not) organisation.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Another fact for you all, I have just been given confirmation that the school in question is now an Academy and is therefore nothing to do with the Council anymore, hence it is not a Council-owned tram!

      • Transparency says:

        Interesting. Certainly not the end of this. Will be making Freedom of Information Requests. And will ensure all the facts come out….

    • Chris says:

      Be interesting to see (which we will via company accounts) that purchase…. For how much etc….

      And how the sale was conducted….

      • David L says:

        http://www.portakabin.co.uk/educationprices

        This site suggests a price of £1000-£1500 per sq m for education buildings, depending on the level of fitting out,

        I would guess 622 is about 15m x 3m giving 45 sq m, so we would be looking at £45-70K not quite the £200k Mr. Higgs is suggesting.

        If the reasoning is to save money, why use a tram shell, surely a bus shell would be even cheaper, the students using it wont care about the history,
        Perhaps mr Higgs knows of some suitable single deckers, which he could sell them next, something about 18m long with big windows and 3 sets of doors would be ideal.

  8. Ken Walker says:

    Well said Gareth. But at least we have had the novelty of some feedback from LTT!
    Asking former financial contributors what business the fate of the trams is of theirs says it all really! POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTORS TO LTT TAKE NOTE – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!! Keep up the good work Gareth and Andrew, we’re right behind you!

    • Chris says:

      Couldn’t have put it better myself…

      • Steve Jones says:

        Ken,

        LTT website is still offering the following membership:

        £15 ordinary membership
        £100 Contributor
        £250 Supporter
        £500 Sponsor
        £1000 Benefactor

        The website does not specify whether the above are annual rates.

        At least somebody in the LTT “management” (let’s assume there is more than one) still has a sense of humour. The queue is probably as long for LTT membership as it is for the next Red Rocket departure!

  9. Steve Jones says:

    Gareth,

    We probably should be grateful to Mr Higgs for at least coming forward with some sort of response.

    It’s interesting that he still seems to be acting as spokesman for LTT and CBNW. This is despite the fact he resigned as an LTT trustee in quite a high profile way two or three months ago. Companies House indicates he has also resigned as director of Classic Bus North West, and quite recently as director of the insolvent but still registered active TTCIC. CBNW now only has one director, and TTCIC now only has the Company Secretary left, the other directors having stood down. The two listed LTT trustees and the sole director of CBNW seem to have chosen to remain silent during the recent turmoil.

    However the LTT/CBNW response, on the rare occaision they choose to make one, seems to be consistent ie ignore certain “uncomfortable” points, and adopt an attitude of “mind your own business”. They cannot seem to grasp some fundamentals such as LTT as a charity has enjoyed the benefits of considerable public money, running into many thousands of pounds, in the form of Gift Aid, business rate relief on their premises, Lottery Grants in addition to donations. With the benefits of charity status comes the responsibility of openness with supporters, donors and the public. Regarding CBNW (and TTCIC before it), these have been positioned as LTT’s “associated commercial arm”, though this association has been emphasised or downplayed at different times depending on circumstance. It is not unreasonable therefore that the relationship, financial and otherwise between LTT as a charity and its commercial arm are fully understood by supporters, enthusiasts and the general public.

    On the specifics mentioned by Mr Higgs regarding tram 622, he seems to think the matter is CBNW’s own affair and nothing to do with anyone else. For me a number of questions remain:

    1. Tram 622 was originally owned by TTCIC, a company still registered as “active” but not trading. As a CIC (Community Interest Company) what were the circumstances that led to 622 being sold to another company with the same directors? Was the CIC Regulator informed and permission given for the asset disposal?
    2. Tram 622, owned by CBNW, resided and was refurbished in the LTT depot. LTT is a charity and as a legal right can enjoy 80% business rate relief on its premises. A proviso of the business rate relief if the building is not used for commercial purposes. How can this be reconciled with 622 being owned by a commercial company, being refurbished on a charity’s premises, and being subsequently sold for profit?
    3. Tram 622 was bought for £1k from BTS (a company wholly owned by Blackpool Council) by a CIC, sold on to another commercial company with the same director, refurbished and sold back to Blackpool Council for (presumably) more than the £1k original purchase price? Blackpool Council is responsible to the town’s citizens for wise spending. It is only right that not only enthusiasts but the general public are fully aware that the purchase of 622 represents real value for money, and not excessive profit for a company that obtained the tram for a nominal sum.
    4. Mr Higgs states 622 being converted to a classroom represents real value fo money compared to a bespoke outide classroom costing circa £200k. He carefully omits to mention the cost of purchase and conversion of 622. He is of course not comparing like with like. 622 is in effect a temporary building, and a more reasonable comparison would be a Portakabin type structure, which can be adapted to a number of purposes including classroom use. There are companies which specialise in providing and adapting second hand buildings like this, and at a fraction of the cost quoted by Mr Higgs.
    5. It is unclear at what point in time 622 was purchased by Blackpool Council. Was it purchased and then CBNW/Busworks commissioned to do the refurbishment? If so were other quotes obtained before giving the commission to CBNW/Busworks? Or alternatively did the purchase price include refurbishment? If so, what is the position now as the work (the vinyls at least!) have not been completed?

    It is of course quite possible 622 conversion to a classroom does represent real value for money. The council may well have thoroughly evaluated options and checked the provenance of 622′s ownership before giving the go-ahead for the project. The key point is the public, as ratepayers and enthusiasts, have a right to know this is the case. The Freedom of Information Act does at least provide a mechanism whereby full facts and comunication on a contract between a commercial organisation and a public body can be accessed by the public.

    The LTT could, by better communication have made this project a positive, which as Gareth says could have helped repair its tarnished image. As has been the case so many times for LTT and its associated commercial arm(s), secrecy and silence has meant another opportunity missed, a PR disaster – and the decline continues!

  10. Deckerman says:

    Nice of Mr Higgs to finally respond in some way to all that his “former” organisation has been doing. Shame he chose to just answer his choice of points and not all the ones that the tram world would REALLY like answering. But perhaps there’s nothing new there then.

    I just hope that the threats of finding out if any laws have been breached, broken or bent, are taken up, as I for one think that enough wrong doing has been purport-rated in recent times by the LTT and it’s directors, to face some form of ethical, if not criminal charges.

    If nothing else, I’d think that some rules relating to CIC funding via the Council of Tax payers funds, have been fractured, if not worse.

    I will certainly be chasing up with my local Councillor and the Financial directors of the Council, just what may have been wrongly done here.

    And if I knew where to look and what to look for, I’d happily chase up if any actual charity or funding laws have been broken. High time this bunch were called to account. To be balanced, if everything IS in order, then I will be the first to say that’s fine, but if not, I’m sorry, but they deserve everything they get.

  11. Mark Evans says:

    I think we all need to take a breather on this and on the attacks on the LTT and anyone associated with them. Had the LTT not been around I cannot help but wonder how many of the Trams we are now using against them would have survived, I well remember seeing 143 as a burnt out shell which no one wanted. I have also known Philip decades and know that he like the others in the LTT is a man of honour. People ask why the LTT stays quiet. Well frankly I do not blame them as at every turn they are attacked by people who should know better.

    • Mark says:

      But that is exactly the problem, they’ve stayed quiet. Things needn’t have got this far if they had been open and honest in the first place. And I’m sorry but “LTT” and “Honour” do NOT belong in the same sentence. They are an absolute disgrace to the preservation movement.

    • Ken Walker says:

      How should people ‘know better’ Mark? Know better than to ask a charity for information about projects to which they personally have contributed financially, and expect an answer? Know better than to challenge actions which on the face of it look at least irregular if not illegal? Know better than to challenge the open display of contempt by the Trustees to benefactors, some of whom have possibly contributed considerable sums of money – £1500 from BTO to boat 233 springs to mind? Know better than to challenge the Trustees’ apparent refusal point blank to regard themselves in any way accountable in line with charity law – ie submitting their accounts on time?
      I don’t begrudge you your comments, I suppose SOMEBODY has to find something good to say about them, but I think your long term association with Mr Higgs may have clouded your judgement. (We’ll disregard the oft-mentioned fact of Mr Higgs apparently speaking as a Trustee despite resigning from said post months ago). As has been said above, when the LTT were acting in an honourable way, their efforts and achievements were duly praised by most if not all. So it is only fair that now that they treat their supporters with open contempt that suitable opinions are reflected.

  12. Steve Jones says:

    Mr Evans,

    Please feel free to take the floor, read the comments above and what has been said before, and then share the reasons behind your assertion that the LTT and its officers are “people of honour”.

    Unfortunately the facts do not seem to bear this out. It’s all very well repeating the same old point that certain trams like 143 would not exist if it wasn’t for the LTT etc etc. This is true and has been acknowledged by a number of LTT’s critics over the recent difficult times. It is also true the LTT was once a respected preservation charity, and a credit to the movement, But you cannot keep living on past glory. Nor can you expect as a charity and public limited company not to be immune from scrutiny and sometimes criticism. Hiding and expecting to be left alone is not an option – you are accountable and have to understand this and behave accordingly.

    The fact is of recent times the LTT trustees and its associated commercial arms directors (largely the same people) have made some appalling decisions, and have treated supporters and the preservation movement very badly. This has been compounded by secrecy, silence, and a distinct lack of acknowledgement that any mistakes have been made. A personal judgement is the rot started when the LTT decided to enter into the commercial arena with TTCIC/Busworks, lost focus on what its objectives once were, and became a career option for certain trustees. Sadly this still seems to be the case!

    So Mr Evans by all means, the invite is there, take the floor and gives us your defence on why you feel the term “honourable” is deserved. Detailed factual analysis would be far better than the platitudes in your initial posting if possible.

    • David Lloyd says:

      I do wonder if this whole tram/classroom idea was just a vanity project by some local polititions and it’s now fizzling out and the tram itself will end up stored in the back of Rigby Road.
      It’s 15 months since the school got planning permission,and the site has not yet been prepared,
      The trams destiny has been known for a similar length of time and to date all that seems to have happened is a half hearted attempt at a repaint,no major interior work seems to have taken place,which is very odd given that the funding to do the work must be present.
      There seems to be no urgency on the part of the vendors or the school to complete this project,are one or the other hoping this whole idea will be quietly forgotten?

    • Deckerman says:

      I fully agree with Steve Jones and to take further issue with Mark’s points, please define “survived”. Granted 143 is looking better than it did, but it’s common knowledge from BTS that just about every car offered for sale was oversubscribed for a buyer, so someone just as deserving if not more so, would have protected them all.
      So it is perhaps now open to conjecture as to whether several of the LTT’s “survivors” languishing in an open yard with broken windows, water ingress and peeling paint is actually survival, or perhaps just putting off the inevitable by a little bit. Jury’s perhaps still out on that one, but in my book at least, whilst the LTT started out with all the right intentions, they should now all be very ashamed to even think to call themselves preservationists.

      Sorry Mark, but rightly or wrongly, if you are trying to get support for the LTT from on here, I think you’ve more chance getting Children In Need to support funding a statue to Jimmy Saville!!

  13. David Wheelwright says:

    BTO used to be a site of honour, now I’m afraid to say it is allowing sniping, attacks and misuse of the facts. Along way from being the premier news site that it once was. What went wrong Gareth?

    • Chris says:

      Actually think its improving. Digging deeper and uncovering the truth. Just because its getting some hot under the collar does not mean its a bad article..

      They simply highlighting an organisation that has been ran into the ground by one persons actions. Over the coming months we will all be looking back and saying BTO called it right. And in 4 years time people wont even remember Higgs name. Will be distant memory…

      • David Wheelwright says:

        I am not being dragged into the LTT argument. All I wish to say was that BTO once took a much needed neutral stance on tramway news.

        The entire 605 saga demonstrates that this is now gone in favour of puerile opinion where the site was simply turned into a blog for one persons opinions that “everyone had to agree with”.

        • Gareth Prior says:

          No one has to agree with our viewpoints and we have never said that they should. In fact we don’t even agree within ourselves over certain things and you will often see articles on similar subjects from either myself or Andrew which come from the completely opposite viewpoint.

          It has been very difficult to stay positive about the 233 situation when we put forward £1500 (a not insignificant sum I am sure you will agree) towards its repaint and then it is sold abroad without even being informed about it from the owning group which common decency would suggest would be the thing to do.

          A full official British Trams Online statement will be released in the next few days about the future of this section.

        • Ken Walker says:

          Gareth has published your posting and others that agree with you alongside ones that criticise LTT. That’s what being neutral is! This despite the fact that having been effectively relieved of £1500 under false pretences Gareth and Andrew have every reason to be biased over this particular argument. I am wondering what your definition of ‘neutral’ is?

  14. Mark Evans says:

    I remember a time when there was only the FTS in Blackpool, since they were not activily involved in preservation, there was a need for a tramway group, this group grew into the LTT, I am sure Mr Higg’s name will be remembered everytime 304 runs and by looking at the bookshelves as the printed word and deed will last long after online publications have expired. It is regret though that I have to echo David’s Comments and am amazed at the extremely bad taste comment Re Jimmy Saville.

  15. Steve Jones says:

    Gareth/ Andrew,

    Please be assured that most enthusiasts consider BTO a very professional site, which manages to tread a fine balance between reasoned and objective comment, and allowing followers to express their views on what are sometimes contraversial subjects.

    Transport enthusiasts are mostly passionate about their hobby, and sometimes this passion results in the expression of strong views and opinions – long may you continue to offer a forum for people to debate issues, share, and yes argue these points! In saying BTO once displayed a “neutral” stance, David Wheelwright completely misses the point about the value of BTO. Most of us do not want a “neutral” stance. We want you to continue with factual reporting as best you know it, combined with your views as committed and respected tramway enthusiasts who have something to say. In the broader context of current affairs this is what quality newspapers do, and you provide the same in the transport arena. My own view is David Wheelwright should look at some other transport sites where puerile comments, biased opinion, and personal attacks are the order of the day. And if he still thinks BTO isn’t what it used to be, he can go elsewhere and let the rest of us enjoy what you both offer on your valued site.

    You both should be commended for being prepared to publish views from all sides. In particular you were prepared to publish posting supporting the sale of Boat 233 to the US, despite the way BTO was treated having sponsored the tram and bought shares in it. I find it annoying that despite the raising of many questions supported by researched facts surrounding the sale of 622 to a local school, postings full of platitudes and “all our yesterdays” comments about LTT still have appeared fom a couple of individuals. No reasoned counter-argument, no critique of the analysis. But you were right to publish these postings, because that is what debate is about.

    So in a nutshell Gareth and Andrew, keep up the good work. We like what you do, and we are right behind you.

  16. I have read with interest the comments in respect of the EVICTION of Tram 622 from our premises in Brinwell Road, Blackpool. As an interested party I would like to clarify the situation in respect of the removal of that vehicle.

    In December 2012 the Heatons Engineering Group purchased the premises at Brinwell Road which was leased by Lancastrian Transport Trust. On the 7th January, 2013 a new 3 year lease was agreed between L.T.T. and H.E.Group which included a six months notice termination agreement acceptable to both parties in goodwill.

    On 4th April 2013 the trustees of L.T.T. gave 6 months notice to terminate the lease. This request was duly acknowledged with the agreed termination date being 7 October 2013. Incidentally the rent arrears on the premises stood at £11,671.00 despite repeated requests for payment.

    Regretfully the rent arrears escalated over the following months resulting in legal action being required to get some response from L.T.T. Payment schedules were agreed to reduce the arrears but payments were not made as agreed.

    To cut a long story short the purchase of the premises by H.E.L has been disastrous to say the least in as much as no real attempt has been made over the last six months to make the hand-over of the premises as smooth as possible. No action was taken to remove the mass of general bus and tram parts and rubbish which littered the workshop – the task of removing the above has been carried out by H.E. staff in order to gain access to carry out electrical overhaul of cranes and installation of electrical distribution systems which are essential to our operations. This remains an ongoing issue.

    In conclusion I would like to state the following: H.E.G. has NOT evicted L.L.T. from the premises – in fact H.E.G has bent over backwards to accommodate L.T.T. in respect of the trams in the premises.

    The current situation is that one tram is still in the works and it has been agreed that it will be removed no later than 15 December 2013. If however this latest agreement is not adhered to, H.E.G. has given notice to the Trustees of L.T.T. that H.E.G. will invoke clause 4:6:1 of the lease in respect of property or equipment left on the premises and will invite tenders for the disposal of the vehicle to cover outstanding rents due.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Thanks very much for taking the time to clarify the situation Mr Dunne, I am sure that many of our readers will be pleased to hear an official response in regard of the situation involving LTT-owned vehicles and other objects which remain at Brinwell Road. I also feel that we owe you a big thank-you for trying so hard to help the LTT and ensure that their trams and buses remain safe, which you did not have to do.

    • Chris says:

      Thankyou Mr Dune for taking the time to respond.

      Thoughts are with your company. Nobody would accuse your company of anything. You have bent over backwards for that man. And been burnt as a result. Were not all like him… Hope your able to finally get him and his stuff out and you are able to make up for lost time and your business goes from strength to strength

      He fooled many of his dearest friends for so long. Appears the more people dig the more victims of his actions people stumble across. Hope you are able to recoup your money but fear your money will be as illusive as the sale money of one of the charities collections (boat tram)

  17. Alan Kirkman says:

    I really want to thank Mr Heaton for the full explanation. The situation is worse than even I feared. I am now ashamed of my previous friendship with Philip Higgs he has totally disgraced us all. I say that despite my gratitude for the restoration of 304 my personal favourite of all time and as One of the people responsible for it’s original purchase when there wasn’t a queue of buyers and it was under real threat as Blackpool were keeping 660. I agree the rot set in when Bus Works became his career as well as hobby. While he was working for TAS he was somehow more responsible since being a full time business owner and without his late father’s wise guidance he has changed and frankly slid downhill, or perhaps simply one side of him has taken over completely. Well we now know where 605s money went, if they haven’t paid the rent they must have used it to pay wages or tax. I’d be worried if I’d put up this alleged money for 663. I wouldn’t be too cut up if 663 is sadly it is pretty far gone, but ideally I’d like it sold by the Building owner to San Francisco and reequipped with their standard Brookville reengineered PCC trucks and controls.

  18. Fr John Ridgeway-Wood says:

    First I would like to congratulate Andrew and Gareth for their work on BTO, and for allowing this debate to take place without the “editorial castration” of certain other groups. As we all know, debates can get rather heated, and sometimes get out of hand, but (the Jimmy Saville comment excepted) I think this thread has produced some good and reasonable arguments.

    I have never been a member of LTT, so some may say that I should keep my thoughts to myself, but I have been interested in trams since I was very small (I went on the last tram in Leeds at the age of four) and I am involved in tramway preservation at Heaton Park. However, it seems to me that a pretty monumental amount of underhand dealing has been going on by the top brass of LTT. The sudden sale of 233/605 to the USA without consulting shareholders, subscribers, and ordinary members beggars belief, and now the business with 622 and Brinwell Road does seem to be the last gasp of what started out as a worthy preservation group.

    I would be interested to know how many people who have given money to LTT have been in touch with the Charity Commissioners to complain about the disposal of assets, and misuse of money. I ask this because a couple of years ago the trustees of a Church of England charity had (bar one) become members of the Roman Catholic Church and voted to give £1 million to a RC charity without consulting the members. Basically they had voted to give themselves a million quid! Many members complained to the Charity Commissioners that this was contrary to the statutes of the charity, and the Commissioners agreed with the complainants that this was unlawful, and insisted that the money be returned forthwith – with interest – and new trustees had to be appointed.

    If I was a member of LTT, and had given money to a specific project, I would now be writing to the Charity Commissioners and trying to get some answers. It is not too late to act, but don’t leave it too long or whatever money is left may be spirited away!

  19. Steve Jones says:

    I would like to add my thanks to Mr Dunne for taking the trouble to clarify the situation regarding the former LTT depot at Brinwell Rd. I would also like to say how grateful most of us are at the patience and understanding he has shown in trying to do the best for the LTT and its trams, despite being let down and the broken promises. Please be assured Mr Dunne most preservation groups are honourable and considerate, and would not have behaved in this way. Please accept my good wishes for the success of your company.

    Also a note of thanks to Alan Kirkman and Fr John. Alan has previously been a vociferous supporter of the LTT, and has tried to defend the organisation against some fierce criticisms over the last few years. He must now be feeling very let down and it must have been difficult for him to acknowledge this publicly. As for Fr John, his is a very salutory warning about what can happen when charity funds are spirited away to areas other than where they were intended. .

    As for the debate originally about 622, it has certainly broadened to a much wider area of concern. It is a reasonable conclusion the LTT is in serious financial trouble and may in fact be insolvent. If so it may well have been for some time. If it is not insolvent, why did it not meet its obligations on Brinwell Rd rent? What other debts has it incurred which have not been paid? It is of course illegal for a charity to continue with its activities when insolvent, such as accepting donations and claiming Gift Aid. The trustees may well have some serious questions to answer. As for the monies from the sale of Boat 233 to the US going to 143, and the donation from a sponsor towards the cosmetic restoration of 663, it is questionable whether much if any will go towards the stated causes.

    It has been previously mentioned that the LTT returns are now 74 days overdue in their submission to the Charity Commission. Very late submissions by LTT have been the pattern for a number of years, and of course we are now wondering exactly what the reasons have been for the delays. Has there been something to hide for a number of years? Just how intertwined are the finances of LTT and the failed TTCIC and later CBNW? Can financial manipulation be the reason?

    As Fr John says the time has come to inform the Charity Commission of our individual concerns about the LTT finances. The more people that make the CC aware of the situation, the more likely they are to initiate a full financial investigation in the affairs of the LTT. It simply is not acceptable for a charity to continue to function, claim public money in the form of Gift Aid, seek donations etc when it clearly has not the funds to meet its debts. It also goes without saying any remaining donors to LTT should consider the wisdom of continuing to support an organsiation that is not behaving in a way expected of a reputable charity.

  20. Alan Kirkman says:

    I fear that the whole Charity Commissioners thing is simply too late. If we’d done it several years ago maybe but now if they’re bust they’re bust end of. And people do remember that for any Charity Gift Aid is only claimed against Money RECEIVED. If they are not getting any money coming in there is no claim. From what I heard virtually all regular subscribers stopped theirs when I did as soon as news of the 605 debacle emerged. So now there is no claim and there was no impropriety in claiming while they were getting Subscriptions. So Gift Aid is a Total red herring. I know you all want stick to beat Philip with but there really isn’t one I just hope he remains responsible for the debts etc. and doesn’t slide out and leave his staff holding the rough end. Yes I do feel totally betrayed but realism is still required.

  21. Steve Jones says:

    Notification to the Charity Commission of the LTT situation is not too late, and as many people as possible should contact them to express their concerns.

    The LTT has not been wound up, and as far as is known is still functioning in some manner. This could include acceptance of donations, regular or one-off, claims for Gift Aid, claims for business rate reduction on premises and so on. We should remember a “donation” of £37000 has recently been made for the cosmetic restoration of Coronation 663. With 20% Gift Aid this would come to over £44,000. Has this money already passed to the LTT? Has Gift Aid already been claimed? This is not historical as Alan seems to suggest – it is in the last few weeks this has happened! Similarly, although Gift Aid cannot be claimed on it, what has happened to the proceeds from the sale of Boat 233?

    Alan seems to suggest it is too late to involve the Charity Commission, and we should just hope Mr Higgs will settle the debts. If I interpret his comments correctly this seems a very naive viewpoint, and certainly isn’t supported by recent experience. The Charity Commission has the powers to carry out a financial audit over a number of years, if they so wish. The past returns of the LTT since 2007 raise a number of questions. These are too extensive and detailed to list here, but a specific example is the reason why the LTT Trustees in 2008 decided to invest £5000 in TTCIC, despite the fact that the auditors of the company explicitly state in the TTCIC returns that the company was insolvent. The £5000 “shares” in TTCIC since that time have been listed as an LTT asset in their returns to Companies House. This despite the fact that TTCIC was declared by its directors (wrongly) as insolvent. How can the worthless shares from an insolvent company be listed as an asset, and help create the illusion the LTT itself was still solvent? The sort of detailed audit can only be undertaken by a regulatory body with the expertise and powers to access and analyse all the financial information. Past contributors, volunteers and understanding service providers like Mr Dunne who are owed money deserve answers. The Charity Commission should be obliged to act if enough people register their concerns.

    One other point that seems to have had little mention is the LTT trams, both those at Rigby Rd and those still in outside storage. It is assumed the Rigby Rd trams are now “safe”. Is this the case? As far as is known the signing of the agreement for the LTT trams to be handed over to a new charitable trust still has not happened. So technically they still belong to the LTT. A still active LTT could refuse to sign. When BTS discover the true extent of the LTT’s financial situation, they could refuse to enter the agreement. Will the sullied reputation of the LTT get in the way of the new heritage body being given charity status? If the LTT is dissolved (as an insolvent charity should be) what would a future liquidator decide on the fate of its preserved trams and buses? Would he or she insist they are sold to offset the LTT’s debts? If a resolution is found, will the LTT insist they have a representative on the new charitable trust? I’m sure there would be a huge outcry if any of the discredited LTT trustees had a presence a a trustee on the new board, not least from Blackpool Transport and Blackpool Council. BTS could well be saddled once again with housing trams it does not own, and because of legal issues can do nothing with them.

    Frankly the whole situation looks a mess, and surely cannot continue without official investigation, which should certainly be the Charity Commission, and possibly HMRC.The LTT and its past and present trustees certainly have some questions to answer.

    • Ken Walker says:

      I would say that most of the proceeds from the sale of 233 have gone on paying debts and that 143 will get very little benefit from the sale. As Steve says, in the absence of a legal signed agreement the whole of the LTT collection must be regarded as at risk. Perhaps the absence of responses from LTT should now be regarded as unimportant as the integrity of any comments would be doubtful after the latest revelations, for which we owe Mr. Dunne our gratitude.

  22. Fr John Ridgeway-Wood says:

    Alan Kirkman, it is not too late to petition the Charity Commissioners about the affairs of the LTT, and as for wanting to beat Philip Higgs with a stick I don’t even know the man! What I am trying to say is that even though the LTT might be bankrupt, there is still a moral duty to pursue the cause of this disaster, and if that means bringing Mr Higgs (and any other trustees) to book then so be it, but it can only be done by subscribers/benefactors to the LTT getting in touch with the Charity Commissioners. To sit back and say, “Well…that’s it then!”, is akin to the Nuremburg Trials saying, “OK…Goering’s stopped bombing us – so that’s OK then!”!!

    It is obvious that a lot of people feel hurt and betrayed, but if you want to see any redress in this matter you have to do something about it. If I were, or had been, a member of the LTT the Charity Commissioners would now be reading my letter. Purely out of curiosity I would love to know where the money has gone, and how the LTT got into this mess, but I am a “not interested party” so can’t do anything about it. If any of you do make the effort, do let me know how you get on!