Chapter 5: Is Pittencrieff Park safe with a Trust that can’t spell it?
Taking notes under pressure at Trust HQ.
When in August 2006 I had viewed the draft supplementary charter in the boardroom of the Trust—under the watchful eye of a member of staff who cautioned me that I should only take brief notes of any of the Trust’s charters—I had sat at the table taking notes, while she stood nearby like a teacher scrutinising school-children at an exam. Under such circumstances mistakes were inevitable.
In addition to this, the time available to view the documents was limited, and I was not surprised when I typed up the hand written notes to notice that repeated spelling errors were evident. I put this down to my bad spelling, which is a result of my leaving school at the age of 15 with nothing more than a leaving certificate to my name.
The spelling errors in the draft charter surely could not have been down to the drafters—aided by the professional advice of highly educated lawyers whose knowledge I have since been advised by the Trust’s CEO was imparted to the trustees—could they?
Did the trustees see the supplemental terms?
How could such spelling errors escape the scrutiny of the trustees if they considered the supplemental terms in detail?
Pittencrieff—can’t even spell it.
When in November 2006 I purchased a copy of the Supplementary Charter from the Registers of Scotland I was astonished to see that the errors that I had perceived in the draft document were still in the final Charter! The Charter which begins by telling us how Elizabeth The Second acknowledges that a “Humber Petition” (I am familiar with humble petitions but Humber is not a term that I am familiar with other than the Yorkshire river) has been presented and then goes on to detail the new terms of the Supplementary Charter which mentions the Glen specifically on 11 occasions.
On every occasion the Glen is given the title of “Pittencreiff”! Not once is the correct spelling of Pittencrieff used! This suggested to me that–contrary to the statements made by the Trust’s CEO–the draft and the final charter cannot have been, seen, checked, properly discussed or reviewed by those tasked with stewarding the Glen for the people—the trustees.
Trustees can’t talk—CEO can but doesn’t.
I had wished to discuss the process by which the terms of the Draft Supplementary Charter were agreed, and perhaps develop this discourse further into the 6 references to the “core” Glen with individual trustees—as the Chairman and C.E.O. refused to enter into any meaningful dialogue on these matters—and as a first step had written to all of the trustees who had held office when the draft document was approved.
I asked all trustees several simple questions regarding the process of determining the supplemental terms. In doing so on a personal level I had hoped to strike up a dialogue with a trustee. Unfortunately although I wrote to every trustee personally, at their home addresses—including a first class stamped address envelope for reply—the replies I received to my letter were identical letters on Trust letterhead paper signed by the trustee stating that the trustee was “passing my letter to the Chief Executive who would respond on my behalf”.
With control that would do credit to a Maoist dictator, the CEO apparently controlled the trustees like glove puppets, and then, after promising via the trustees, to respond to my questions regarding the process of changing the charter, she failed to do this in a satisfactory manner but did complain that the trustees were upset that their privacy was invaded.
Changes to charter are not just tweaking.
Those trustees who I was able to talk to—off the record—were adamant that the terms of the supplementary charter were not contentious and did not merit a special meeting, as they consisted of nothing more than a modernisation of the charter to reflect current charity legislation.
This mantra was in line with the statement of C.E.O. Nora Rundell who categorically told a deputation from PPS that the changes were nothing more than “tweaking to bring them into line with current legislation” and Angus Hogg who parroted this canard in press statements. Quite simply such assertions are patently untrue, as can be seen by a comparison of the old and the new charter terms.
No detail of the changes given before, during, or after change.
The CEO of the Trust has denied that the charter changes were carried out in a secretive manner and states that they [the changes] were detailed in the Report and Accounts of 2004. The Report of 2004 states in the Introduction that among other business which has been major priorities throughout the year are: “The modernisation of the Royal Charter“.
The notice in the Edinburgh Gazette gave no details of the changes and the Introduction to the 2006 Report simply states: “During 2006 a supplementary Royal Charter to modernise the statutory and management process of the Trust was granted by the Privy Council”
One Glen becomes two.
Speaking as a layman, it is obvious to me from even a cursory glance at the Supplementary Charter that the changes made to the terms of the original Trust Deed and the Royal Charter are massive. The obvious major change being the re-defining of the Glen into two separate entities, the core and the fringes each with different status—such a split was never mentioned in the original charter documents. There are other significant changes such as the removal of the mandatory representation of members from the council and the apparent removal of the separate status of the Hero Fund Trust. However there are other potentially drastic supplemental terms that are repugnant to the original Trust Deed and Royal Charter and I have identified 11 obvious examples which are set out below:
Has the Hero Fund disappeared?
1/ The preamble, “Page Second” of the supplemental terms indicates that the original Charter is to be taken as if they read in the terms of the seventeen pages of amendments that follow. The seventeen pages therefore replace the original Royal Charter of 1919 which incorporated the Trust Deed and Letter of 1908 and the Original Trust Deed and Letter of 1903. These 2 Deeds and 2 Letters set up the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, and the Hero Fund Trust respectively were appended to the Royal Charter of 1919 and were the basis of the Incorporation.
It seems to me that what follows in the seventeen pages that replace the original Charter repeat and modify much of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust but are silent on the terms of the Hero Fund Trust. The very specific requirement that the Hero Fund Trust with its separate accounts and Fund, which can only be spent in accordance with the very specific terms that relate to the award of sums and pensions to heroes and their dependants would seem to have been deleted entirely. It seems as if the Hero Fund Trust is being wound up to bail out the Dunfermline Trust and this would seem to be borne out by the Audited Accounts for 2006 which state with regard to hero awards: “no new cases were recognised during the year”! For the first time ever in the 98-year history of the Hero Trust (during which period 4,439 heroes or on average 45 a year have been honoured) no heroes have been recognised—where have all the heroes gone? Article 7 of the original Hero Fund Trust made it clear that when the Sovereign awarded a medal for civil heroism the Trustees had a duty to make immediate and careful enquiries into the circumstances of the recipient so that they may be considered for recognition by the Hero Fund Trust. Are we to believe that HM The Queen has made no awards for civilian heroism in recent years?
I am not saying that the Trust will never again honour a hero, but rather if they do then it will be at their discretion and not as an obligation enshrined in the Trust deeds.
Link to Preamble of Supplementary Charter. After which are 5 new or amended Articles and 21 Clauses (only two of which refer to recent charity legislation), which effectively replace the 1919 Royal Charter.
Fife Council being phased out?
2/ Article 1. “Page Third” of the supplemental terms replaces the terms of Carnegie’s original Trust Deed and the subsequent First Supplementary Charter of 1979 stipulating that a total of nine trustees be drawn from the council with the number being reduced and not necessarily being elected members of the local authority. So despite the ratepayer’s having to shoulder the financial burden associated with the Council’s upkeep of the Glen since 1978/81 their representation has been curtailed and can now be completely dispensed with if the Trustees think fit. I wrote to Fife Council’s CEO, Ronnie Hinds to see if he was happy with the fact that councillor’s numbers had been reduced and they had become trustees on sufferance rather than of right. The CEO stated that he was content with this arrangement.
The new terms in this clause have the effect of allowing the Trust to invite up to six trustees at their discretion as long as they have “some connection with the town of Dunfermline” as opposed to inviting them from Fife Council who in the past have chosen from councillors representing Dunfermline district wards. This could see the Trust dispense with councillors and chose trustees from members of the Dunfermline Abbey Church, Dunfermline Tennis and Bridge Club, etc; in fact it could be considered that someone living in Timbuktu whose grandmother came from Dunfermline would qualify under the new terms!
Link to Article 1“Page Third” of Supplementary Charter.
Fewer trustees can decide matters.
3/ Article 1. “Page Third” of the supplemental terms replaces the terms of Carnegie’s original Trust Deed that ten trustees are required to make a quorum with a reduction in that number. This amendment would mean that 4 people could carry any motion. This is especially concerning as the powers of trustees under the amended terms are much greater than in the original charter documents.
Link to Article 1 “Page Third” of Supplementary Charter.
Glen is split in two and parts can be sold.
4/ Article 2. (a) “Page Sixth” of the supplemental terms replaces the terms of Carnegie’s original Trust Deed that all of the property known as Pittencreiff
Link to Article 2 Page Sixth of Supplementary Charter.
Glen can be transferred to another charity.
5/ Article 2 (a) “Page Sixth” of the supplemental terms replaces the terms of Carnegie’s original Trust Deed that the Trustees are solely responsible for the stewardship of all of the property known as Pittencrieff Park with a clause that allows the transfer of the Glen, or parts of the Glen to another charitable trust. This clause appears to have been used immediately in the transfer of the Glen Pavilion to the Fife Council’s new charitable trust for the Arts and Theatre.
Link to Article 2 (a) “Page Sixth” of Supplementary Charter.
Trust can invest with no return.
6/ Article 2. (a) “Page Seventh” of the supplemental terms replaces the terms of Carnegie’s original Trust Deed that the Trustees must invest their bequest monies to produce income with a clause that allows the Trustees to transfer the entire investment portfolio to others and themselves to invest 5% of the Trusts money in small companies that will produce no return for the Trust. The constant refrain from the Trust that they must make money from the Glen would suggest that they are not in a position to invest in ventures that produce no return.
Link to Article 2 (a). “Page Seventh” of Supplementary Charter.
Pawning the Glen.
7/ Article 2. (f) “Page Eighth” and “Ninth” of the supplemental terms replaces the terms of Carnegie’s original Trust Deed that the Trustees had wide powers to , invest in property by buying and selling. However the original Trust Deed made no provision for borrowing as it would be expected that the massive endowment given by the founder would make such borrowing unnecessary. The new powers in the Supplementary Charter allow the trustees to borrow and use property as security on loans or other ventures. The new clause also allows the trustees to give interest-free loans! These new powers means that the Glen—which was specifically exempted from any such commercial risk—is now at risk of being used as security on loans. By introducing a clause that allows parts of the non-core Glen (the fringes) to be used as security on loans the trustees have the power to “pawn” the Glen.
Link to Article 2 (f) “Page Eighth & Ninth” of Supplementary Charter.
Glen a partial Recreation Park.
8/ Article 2. (h) “Page Tenth” of the supplemental terms replaces the terms of Carnegie’s original Trust Deed that all of the Pittencrieff Park was to be used as a recreation park with a clause that allows the fringes of the Glen to be used for other purposes but only the core of the park to be used in accordance with the wishes of Andrew Carnegie.
Link to Article 2 (h) “Page Tenth” of Supplementary Charter.
A Carnegie begging bowl.
9/ Article 2. (o) “Page Twelfth” of the supplemental terms introduces a new clause, not in the original Trust Deed, that allows the trustees to make appeals for donations and would appear to reflect the changing role of the Trust as being a net recipient of charity (from council ratepayers) rather than a dispenser of charity. The recent approach by the Developing Dunfermline steering group–which has a member of the Trust on the board–for £5 million of HLF money to fund projects in the Glen, would suggest that this new clause might see the Trust apply directly for HLF help. This would be a total departure from the Trust’s charter aims of being a self-financing entity (worth approximately £17.7 million today) and if the Trust were successful in their pleas for charity must jepordise the chances of those small voluntary groups who rely solely on HLF money from a finite kitty.
Link to Article 2 (o) “Page Twelfth” of Supplementary Charter.
Only the “core” Glen is safe if the Trust go bust.
10/ Article 2. (v) “Page Fifteenth” of the supplemental terms introduces a new clause regarding the possible failure of the Trust not provided for in the terms of Carnegie’s original Trust Deed or subsequent Royal Charter. This new clause allows the Trust to transfer all of the duties and assets over to a new body in the event that the Trust goes bust. The clause provides that the new body will only have to have regard to the spirit of Andrew Carnegie’s wishes with regard to the newly created core of the Glen. There is no definition of what constitutes “having regard to” or “the core” which apparently has some degree of protection in the event of the Trust going bust. Nor is there any definition or reference to maps to establish what constitutes the fringes (or non-core) of the Glen, which apparently can be sold-off or used for whatever purpose the new owners wish.
Link to Article 2 (v) “Page Fifteenth” of Supplementary Charter.
Accounts: Now you see them, now you don’t.
11/ Article 4 “Page Sixteenth” and “Seventeenth” of the supplemental terms introduces a new clause regarding accounting practices that are at odds with the terms of Carnegie’s original Trust Deed and subsequent Royal Charter which required auditors to be appointed by the Sheriff of the County of Fife, and audited accounts to “be published for the information of the public in one or more newspapers of Dunfermline and also that a full Report of their proceedings be made and so published” The new terms allow the Trustees to appoint the auditors, publish whatever detail they think fit, and distribute the same to who they think fit in Dunfermline, in whatever format they think fit including e-mail.
I have tried to shame the Trust by sending copies of previous accounts prepared by their predecessors which gave all manner of clear detail of transactions as opposed to the present terse and meaningless figures that accompany the annual report. The Trust hide behind the law in stating that they are reporting in accordance with the legal requirements. This may be so but it is not what Carnegie stipulated.
Tellingly there is no mention of any obligation to the public in this new clause.
Link to Article 4. “Page Sixteenth & Seventeenth” of Supplementary Charter.
Summary –A bairn wi a biscuit erse
Considering the oft repeated claim by the Trust that the supplemental terms to the charter: Would not tangibly change what can or cannot be done in the park; are merely a necessary modernisation involving no substantive changes; are not likely to assist in any commercial development; are more likely to make a commercial development more difficult, and are in keeping with the terms of the original charter, it is difficult for me to take these assertions seriously. I am a layman and not an educated man and those who speak for the Trust such as the C.E.O. are university graduates with all manner of degrees advised by lawyers and because of this I must conclude that the Trust have misled the public.
Whether or not the misleading is deliberate is difficult to prove. Ms Rundell or Mr Hogg can hide behind the drafter’s legalese, or their lack of personal knowledge of the supplemental terms, or their interpretation of the original charter, but it is as sure as night follows day that the charter has been changed in a manner that would allow sale or lease of parts of the Glen to a commercial development not associated with the people’s leisure.
I am at a loss for words to describe just how plain it is for anyone to see the charter has been changed in ways that are repugnant to the original trust deeds and letters and I am left to explain it by an old Fife saying that my late mother-in-law often used. When something was patently obvious she would say that a “bairn wi a biscuit erse would ken that” I can think of no better way of putting it. For readers who are not from these parts the saying implies that even a young child (one whose bottom is no larger than a tea biscuit) would be aware of the obvious.
I am at a loss to understand how Nora Rundell and Angus Hogg can say otherwise and invite readers to study the terms of the old and new charters and make up their own minds.