The Friends of the Babbacombe Cliff Railway (FBCR) was set up in 2005 as a response to the rumours that the Cliff railway was to close as it was in need of an investment of over £500,000 to make sure it complied with current regulations. This sum was eventually found from the sale of St Marychurch Town Hall and a complete refurbishment of the mechanical parts was carried out in the winters of 2005 and 2006.
Despite a previous failed attempt to sell the railway the FBCR was asked if they would become responsible for the operation and negotiations began in 2006. These proceeded very well and by September a draft lease had been prepared. At the same time various other organisations were consulted about the most suitable structure for the organisation that was to run the railway. The Consensus was to register the FBCR as a charity and to set up a Community Interest Company to carry out the running of the attraction. These processes were successful completed with the Company being set up finally in March 2008. The takeover of the railway was later beset with legal problems and eventually took place on 1 August 2009.
A CIC is a not for profit company set up as either Limited by Guarantee or with Shareholders. We chose the former. In common with other Companies the CIC was registered at Companies House and in addition CIC’s have to be approved by a Registrar. As well as the name of the Company the registration details have to include the purpose and objectives of the Company, the range of activities, and details of the beneficiaries.
The Directors have to be chosen from the membership and work voluntarily. All surpluses and profits have to be re-invested into the assets which are locked so that they have to be used for the stated objective of the Company and cannot be assigned to any individual or other organisation. All decisions have to be taken by the Board and these decisions have to be recorded including the voting details. When necessary Directors have to declare and interest in any of the business being transacted. An Annual report has to be made to the Registrar as to how the objectives have been met and how the beneficiaries have been taken care of. CIC’s have access to funds from HLF and other similar organisations.
An invitation was sent to the membership of the FBCR and all applications received were scrutinised by a panel who subsequently interviewed the applicants and from this process a Board was set up. At a later date the Council’s Consultant, David Cooper, an expert in the design and maintenance of cable railways, requested to join the Board. We therefore have 7 Directors who each have taken responsibility for 1 facet of the business. – Marketing, Sales, Operations, Finance, and Technical.