Trust Accused Of Arrogance And Betraying Its Founding Principles 2009: Announcement National

Trust accused of arrogance and betraying its founding principles

The announcement by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) that it would close or partially close 11 properties and make 90 staff redundant to
help make up a &pound3m shortfall sent shockwaves through its staff and 300,000-strong membership. Accusations of a betrayal of its founding principles and a stream of sharply-worded letters to newspapers followed swiftly from long-standing members. Now Prospect, the union that represents National Trust employees, has produced a detailed analysis of the proposals, due to come into effect this month, which amounts to a charge of long-term mismanagement and a warning that the emergency measures announced in March will fail to make significant savings. More serious, because it goes to the heart of the trust’s role, is the claim that the effects of the recession have been exacerbated because fundraising which would otherwise have gone towards the trust’s existing properties has been directed towards raising its &pound3.8m share of the new &pound21m Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway. Prospect describes it as “the sort of thing the trust would jump at under normal circumstances” and is critical only because the Burns museum is siphoning both money and staff energy away from the needs of the trust as a whole. This is the trust’s dilemma in a nutshell. It is simultaneously a charity and the owner of a vast portfolio of properties and land. It employs around 450 permanent staff and a large number of seasonal workers, but also depends on the unpaid work of dedicated volunteers. It must maintain the goodwill of its members because its income is mainly derived from subscriptions, donations and legacies, yet it must be run on a sound business basis.
As Scotland’s major conservation charity, it also has considerable expertise, which makes it the first port of call for a historic or cultural property in need of care, attention and a new owner.

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