High Noon

by

Pyskowice – Please help!

Abandoned by his townspeople, Marshall Will Kane (Gary Cooper) sets out alone to meet Frank Miller, his deadly enemy. Original publicity photo.

(Click image to learn more about High Noon on the IMDb website.)

BTWT was set up as a campaigning blog, and over the years our readers have responded generously to our various appeals. Now it really is ‘high noon’ for Pyskowice and I would urge everyone who has enjoyed our blog to write to Maria Wasiak, the head of PKP, and most important of all, send a copy of your letter to Andrzej Massel, the Minister responsible for Poland’s railways.

A a guide, a copy of John Savery’s own letter is reproduced below, but please write your own letters in your own words. Many thanks to everybody who responds to this appeal.

Dyspozytor


Maria Wasiak
Prezes
Polskie Koleje Panstwowe S.A.
Centrala
ul. Szczesliwicka 62
00-973 Warszawa
Poland

Copy to:

Andrzej Massel
Podsekretarz Stanu
Ministerstwo Transportu, Budownictwa i Gospodarki Morskiej
ul. Chalubinskiego 4/6
00-928 Warszawa
Poland

1 March 2012

Dear Madam Wasiak,

I am writing you to express my concern with the actions of PKP SA against Towarzystwo Ochrony Zabytków Kolejnictwa i Organizacji Skansenów in Pyskowice (TOZKiOS). My understanding is that PKP are currently engaged in a legal dispute with TOZKiOS, and are attempting to evict them from their base at the former locomotive depot at Pyskowice.

I visit Poland regularly to use, and view its railways and railway preservation societies. The current legal dispute, and the actions of PKP disturb me. TOZKiOS had an agreement in place with the local PKP management team to use the shed area for a nominal rent. By demanding a commercial rent, and back payments of rent dating back a number of years, the actions of PKP threaten the very existence of TOZKiOS, undoing the fantastic work that they have achieved over the last 14 years, in establishing a railway museum in the old depot at Pyskowice.

Not only do the actions of PKP threaten the existence of the society, they also threaten the existence of the remaining buildings at Pyskowice, which are on the register of historic buildings and monuments.

The museum at Pyskowice is well known to fans of Polish railways, both in Poland and abroad. It has the potential to be an excellent tourist attraction in the area, preserving historical artifacts. The actions of PKP threaten this.

I understand that PKP has a liability to pay taxes to the local authority for occupying the land, and that the payment of rent is designed to cover these taxes. I also understand that PKP is legally obliged to act in a commercial manner. The land at Pyskowice has an extremely limited commercial value, due to its location in a desolate industrial area. The lack of road access limits alternative uses.

The simplest solution would be to grant the title of the land to TOZKiOS, removing the obligation from PKP to pay the taxes to the local authority. This would reduce the tax liability on PKP, and provide the security of tenure that the society deserves and requires in order to be successful. I realise that in some localities that the transfer of redundant PKP assets has been done to the local authority, however my understanding of the Polish law is that there is nothing to stop the transfer taking place to a society or museum.

To me, this would result in a win-win situation. PKP wins and can be seen to be acting commercially by reducing its tax liability and disposing of land that has little commercial value. The society wins by having the security of tenure and a permenant base.

The next round of the court case is set for 21 April, in Gliwice. I would urge you to intervene before this date, drop the demand for a commercial rental on the buildings and land area, and grant TOZKiOS the tenure of the land and buildings free of charge.

Yours sincerely,

John Savery

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4 Responses to “High Noon”

  1. David Hughes Says:

    Good luck with the campaign: I hope to add my own letter to the pile. Meanwhile, it would really help me push this among friends if there was a Facebook ‘share’ button on this and similar BTWT articles.

    • Dyspozytor Says:

      Dear David,

      Yes please do add your own letter. I’ve implemented the Facebook button as you requested.

      Best wishes

      D.

  2. John Says:

    These buildings really must be saved. I hope others also write letters. The stamp is 68p – worth making an effort.

  3. Ed Beale Says:

    Hi John,

    I wrote letters and sent them off on 2 March. As you say, it is worth the price of a couple of stamps if it might make a difference for TOZKiOS and the future of Pyskowice. Preservation groups must have local authority and railway company support otherwise their task seems impossible.

    Best wishes,
    Ed

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