Chapter 7: Future campaigns to oppose commercial development in the Glen.
The citizen’s fight goes on because there will be a next time.
When the Chairman of the Trust announced that Mace had abandoned their interest in a business school in the Glen the people of Dunfermline had won their battle, for the time being at least. But the statement by Angus Hogg that accompanied this news made it clear that other ideas to bring in income will be considered by the Trust, and rather puzzlingly gave Mace’s reason for not pursuing their interest as being their inability to “own the land they wanted to build on”.
The latter statement is puzzling because the Supplemental Charter is a radical replacement of the original charter, and certainly makes the purchase of land in the non-core Glen possible. With the new entities of a core and fringe Glen, the ability of the Trust to sell or lease land and the cut in number of the elected members all enshrined in the new charter, any future attempt to develop the Glen is likely to be more successful.
The PPS group have continued to meet and are ready to meet the next assault on the Glen armed with the signatures of 10,000 citizen’s who signed the petition to prevent commercial development of their “people’s park”.
What are we fighting for?
The terms on the public petition state clearly enough the aims of the PPS which was to protect the Glen from commercial development and keep it as a place of recreation for the people of Dunfermline, in perpetuity. I feel strongly that those of us who collected the petition signatures have a mandate and a duty that extends beyond the first skirmish.
How the Trust has fallen in the public’s esteem.
Before the Harvard business school petition I was only vaguely aware of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust. I had an idea that the Carnegie Trustees were pillars of society and were held in some esteem by most, including myself. I, like many others had witnessed—perhaps for the first time in their history—the Trust’s weaknesses when they were questioned about their stewardship. The Trust’s attitude to question was typified by their Chairman, Angus Hogg who simply attacked anyone who had views differing from his own. This resulted in a backlash against the Trust and helped the PPS collect petition signatures, as the public did not take kindly to the arrogant attitude of the Trust as typified by Angus Hogg.
In the past the signs of the Trust’s financial difficulties had been there for all to see, but they never impinged on the man or woman in the street and most did not delve too deeply into their cause. I had only been vaguely aware of their lack of funds when I heard in 1965 that the Trust would no longer support the Gala Day and there was a danger of this tradition—originally instigated by Mrs Louise Carnegie—being discontinued, but various private bodies stepped in and bridged the funding gap and the matter simply petered out.
Fife Council has the Trust in their pocket, and don’t let them forget it.
The apparently subtle change between the Trust and the Fife Council cutting the grass in the Glen in 1978 did not flag up to me the extent to which the ratepayer was subsidising the Trust. It took the ultimate betrayal of Carnegie’s wishes—the imminent sale of parts of the perimeter of the Glen to bring into focus just how badly the Trust had failed Carnegie and the people of Dunfermline.
No matter how one looks at it the Trust are beholden to the council as the council are footing the bill for the major expense the Trust would incur (the upkeep of the Glen), were it not unable to do so. The extent of the beholdenness is demonstrated by the Fife Council application for HLF which saw the Trust dancing to the tune dictated by the council who were ultimately the applicant for the HLF grant.
Perhaps it is not surprising that he who pays the piper (or the gardeners) calls the tune, but it was demonstrated recently the contempt with which the Fife Council hold the Trust when the Trust objected to the Glen Pavilion being placed in the ownership of the new Arts and Theatre Trust. The Trust’s reluctance to this move was met with a thinly veiled threat by a councillor to cut back how much the council spent on Pittencrieff Park every year.
Of course the Trust would not be able to hand over the Glen Pavilion to the new charitable trust set up by Fife Council, but for the new terms of the Supplemental Charter which allows the Trust to “convey ownership of the whole or part of Pittencrieff Park to another charitable body”. These are the terms that Ms Rundell and Mr Hogg euphemistically refer to as simply modernising!
Can the citizens reform the Trust from the outside?
It would seem that the ordinary member of the public has no input into the workings of the Trust. Those nominated by Fife Council –who now appear to be trustees by sufferance and not as of right—will not respond to polite and reasonable representations from members of the public. I have 20 odd identical letters from trustees sent in reply to my private letters to them to prove this point. Even the two ex-members I wrote to, who had been trustees when the supplementary terms had been approved, reverted to the C.E.O. of the Trust and did not respond to me. So it seems unlikely that we can persuade the Trust to drop their aim of making the Glen a money spinner through commercial development.
Strength in numbers and communication can counter the Trust’s aims.
Although we have no idea of how big a factor public opposition was in the abandonment of the Harvard Business School, it is fair to assume that it might have had some bearing on the matter. If public opinion can be harnessed, and publicised, as with the public petition on the proposed business school, the Trust might be forced to abandon any future commercial development in the Glen.
The impotence of the lone man or woman who objects to a proposal, such as the development of the Glen can be turned into a powerful tool if sufficient numbers feel the same, combine and make their views known. Unity is strength. If unity in a common purpose is a first priority then good communication comes a close second. This site hopes to act as a focal point which will fill the void that existed in the past because there was no dedicated site for all who are concerned with the protection—for all time to come—of our unique heritage the Glen. Perhaps the terms of the Save Our Glen campaign can widen when the scope and nature of the changes to the Royal Charter are known.
Thanks are due to those websites that reported the struggle.
Dunfermline Web Portal in particular and Dunfermline City websites served the PPS well in their recent campaign and kindly gave us a platform from which to air our concerns. I would like to place on record our gratitude for this help. We would be wise to contribute to these forums again to augment this site in any future campaign.
Lobbying bodies that have an influence in the Trust’s affairs.
Those bodies that have a hand in the Trust’s affairs such as the Privy Council Office and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) might be persuaded to encourage the Trust to abandon commercial development in the Glen. These bodies would be unwise to ignore the views of so many members of the public, who are certain in the nature of their inheritance being a leisure asset for all time. If the next fight to save our Glen concerns a commercial development of a similar nature to the Harvard-business school then those (almost 10,000) petition signatures collected can be used as a starting point to petition afresh.
Faced with perhaps 20,000 petitioners who are backed up by proof that the supplemental charter changes are at odds with the original deed and letters of 1903, I cannot see the Privy Council Office do anything other than review the grant of the Supplemental Charter. From my informal contact with the PCO I rather think that they have been duped by the Trust in approving the new terms, and they might be smarting from this. It would not look good if they are found wanting by public opinion or the courts in this regard [more of this later].
Representations to OSCR to the effect that the Trust has acted outwith the original purpose of its charter, could also be effective by an individual or an organisation especially if such a move was backed up by a large volume of petition signatures.
Write to HM The Queen
I will be sending the Queen a link to this website and will ask her to consider it carefully so that she can see the parody of democracy that is being enacted in her name. I will also be sending the link to HRH Prince Charles who has asked to be kept informed of any future developments.
The lure of grants is the driving force for change in the Glen.
The possibility of a grant of £5 million from the National Heritage Lottery Fund seems to have been the catalyst that drove the proposals to commercially develop the Glen. However initially it was not clear who the applicants for this grant were. Nora Rundell, the CEO of the Trust was clear at the meeting she had with the PPS group that the Trust could not apply for such a grant and Fife Council had been the applicant.
If, in the past, there were a ban on the Trust applying for charity funds then this is now likely to have changed with the new terms of the Royal Charter which allow the Trust to lobby for charity. However, whether it was the Trust, the Council or a combination of both the statements by the Trust to the effect that they would only be considered for a grant if the Glen was a viable concern is disturbing.
The Glen has never been a commercially viable entity on its own. Andrew Carnegie knew this and that is why he left $2.5 million in 1903, £0.5 million in 1908, and then a further $1.25 million to the Trust in 1911. The proposition that a Trust that has squandered the funds that were for (among other things) the upkeep of the Glen and is now looking for ways to access monies meant for voluntary groups and other good causes who rely on charity is disturbing.
The 10-year Action Plan was the genesis of the charter changes.
There can be little doubt that the 10-year Action Plan published in December 2003, which concluded that the charter could be changed to allow the sale or lease of parts of the Glen was a means to facilitate the “partner agencies” obtaining a £5 million HLF grant. The 10-year plan was commissioned by a member (and past Chair) of the Trust Dr Alexander Lawson. In the production of such a report the one who pays the piper calls the tune, and in this regard the £10,000 bill for the 10-year plan was paid for by a grant to Dr Lawson from the Trust. The supplemental terms can be seen to have their genesis in the 10-year plan and these terms were not simply modernising, as the Trust mentioned matter-of-factly in the briefest of terms (4 words) hidden away in the Introduction to the 2004 Annual Report and Accounts.
Trustees were conned into believing the charter changes were minor & modernising.
From my informal conversations with several trustees it is clear that there was no Special General Meeting (with two thirds of the trustees present) convened to discuss and vote on the terms of the Supplemental Charter, as required under the terms of the Royal Charter. Nor was there discussion on the radical nature of the changes to the Royal Charter which instead were portrayed as if they were of a minor nature and were necessary to comply with new charity legislation requirements.
The CEO Nora Rundell in answering my personal letters to all of the members of the Trust stated that the revision to the Royal Charter was “to take account of the new regulatory regime and the need to update the governance position”. She went on to say that the draft Supplementary Charter was approved at a “regularly constituted meeting of Trustees before the draft was submitted to the Privy Council”. This again is in accordance with my understanding that the actual supplemental terms were misrepresented and discussed in general, but the specific details of the radical new terms were not discussed or voted on at a Special General Meeting with two thirds of the trustees present.
Trust not properly constituted.
It is also the case that the Royal Charter was not supplemented in 1996 to reflect the changes in the Local Authority and there should have been 9 trustees from the council on the board of trustees. As the changes to the charter were made under a board of trustees not properly constituted in accordance with the terms of the charter then they must be null and void.
There is a case to be made that the trustees are not acting in a manner consistent with the aims of the Trust Deeds and should be disciplined.
A charity trustee must, in exercising functions in that capacity, act in the interests of the charity and must, in good faith; ensure that the charity acts in a manner which is consistent with its purposes. Given the nature of the changes that have been made to the charter, some of which are to take account of the new regulatory legislation, but most of which are radical and repugnant to the terms of the Royal Charter there is a case to be made that the Trustees have acted in a way that is incompatible with the aims of the charity. To have the trustees disciplined would involve a petition to OSCR. The radical new terms are not limited to the sale or lease of parts of the Glen.
Schmoozing with the rich and famous
As part of the “Carnegie Awards and Symposium” held on Tuesday 4 October 2005 in the Scottish Parliament the Trust organised a grand reception at Holyrood to present medals for philanthropy to His Highness The Aga Khan, Tom Farmer and other fabulously wealthy people from home and abroad. This reception was attended by a carefully selected list of people including the President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and seems to have been more about making contacts with wealthy donors with a view to receiving donations than honouring philanthropy. The trustees would have done this safe in the knowledge that they would soon have power to allow them to appeal for donations when HM The Queen approved the supplemental terms.
Carnegie hoped that his trustees would be the ones who would be showered with honours for their philanthropy. However since his Trust are no longer in a position to do much in the way of philanthropy I am sure that he would he have preferred them to devote their energy into trying to keep the Glen from—what Angus Hogg so colourfully described as— its “spiral into further decline”, than having champagne and caviar canapés at Holyrood to seduce potential donors. Planting, pruning, and policing Pittencrieff is what we should except of the trustees, not begging for Bucks from our American cousins.
Where will tomorrow’s Carnegies come from?
In his opening speech to the 2005 Holyrood symposium the Presiding Officer of the parliament, George Reid, MSP gave the opening address by way of a speech entitled “Rethinking Progressive Philanthropy” in which he commented on the major role played by Scotland in philanthropy and the need to nurture present and future philanthropists with emphasis on the proper legal framework.
If potential or current philanthropists see a supplemental “coach and horses” being driven through the very specific terms of trust deeds—such as those in the Royal Charter of the Trust—there will be a reluctance among them to give their wealth to Trusts or local authorities. If donors cannot have their bequest terms honoured then the supply of donors will dry up.
Trust’s “double fault” at the Tennis Club.
A good example of the need for the Trust to get back to basics is their recent grant of £10,000 to the Dunfermline Lawn Tennis and Bridge Club. The Trust would of course be bankrupt if it were made to uphold its charter commitment to fund the upkeep of the Glen, and has Fife Council and the local taxpayer—who now pay for this—to thank for its very existence. Despite this beholdenness, and at a time when Fife Council are shutting down tennis courts due to funding shortfalls, they are subsidising the Trust, who are in turn subsidising a private tennis club.
Fife Council’s actions may have been understandable if the club in question were in dire straits but it seems that this club is completing something of a “grand slam” of victories in recent years, having been granted charitable tax exemption by a former under-16 club champion Gordon Brown MP, and having also been given a HLF grant of £50,000 as well as the £10,000 grant from the Trust.
Would it not be simpler if the Trust paid—or helped pay for—the upkeep of the Glen themselves and let private charitable organisations such as the Dunfermline Tennis and Bridge Club Ltd. use their wit and influence to make their own way in the world?
If this were to happen the resultant relief of the financial burden presently borne by the local taxpayer through Fife Council might enable the council to re-open some of its closed-down tennis courts that were (unlike the private Dunfermline Tennis Club) open to all of the people.
A prime example of charity beginning at home.
The HLF application by Fife Council that followed the 10-year Action Plan Report included an amount to allow the Pittencrieff Park Management Group to employ a “Park Champion”–similar to the role of the Park Rangers of former years–in the Glen to stop vandalism. Given the neglected state of the Glen as a result of Fife Council’s budget problems no one would argue that a Park Ranger would help matters. However, would it not make more sense for the Trust to stop making substantial donations to groups such as the Dunfermline Lawn Tennis and Bridge Club and spend their money instead on funding the employment of a Park Ranger to assist Fife Council in their management of the Glen? The various groups such as the Bridge Club could then seek help from the HLF without having to compete with the Trust for these finite funds. In short cut out the charity to others and start self-help where Andrew Carnegie insisted it should begin–in the Glen!
Power to appeal for donations is repugnant to the original trust deed.
I would argue that the Trust should stop their highly publicised charitable giving, and get back to the basic task of looking after the Glen. Those few recipients of the relatively small amount annually granted by the Trust (about £100,000 in 2005, and the same in 2006) would probably qualify for HLF grants. It seems to me that the Trust is now a net recipient of charity–when one considers the ratepayer’s money to fund the Glen maintenance–rather than a dispenser of charity and this is repugnant to the terms of the original charter.
The granting of new terms by the PCO to allow the Trust to appeal for donations is against the spirit and the letter of the original charter and like the new terms allowing the sale or lease of parts of the Glen should be challenged.
If OSCR failed to pull the trustees back into line, and as a last resort it is possible to have the trustees removed. This would involve petitioning the court. Like Nora Rundell–with the propriety of her charter changes–I have taken legal advice on this and there is an arguable case to be answered.
Abuse of the Royal Prerogative could have been countered by the Scottish Parliament if they had known of it.
In the case of the Trust’s secret supplementary charter changes the public only found out about them when it was too late. The Queen had agreed the changes on the advice of her Privy Counsellors and the Supplementary Charter only required the Scottish Parliament to ratify this process before it became law in Scotland.
Given that the changes were repugnant to Andrew Carnegie’s original charter and letter, and the Royal Charter of 1917 there was a case for the Scottish Ministers to withhold the application of the Scottish Seal and thus prevent the Supplementary Charter becoming law in Scotland.
In an eleventh hour bid I attempted to persuade the First Minister of Scotland that the changes to the Trust’s charter were repugnant to the original charter, however given that the new terms were secreted from the public—and only shown in glimpses when the Trust were caught red-handed—it was difficult if not impossible for me to make a cogent case for withholding Scottish Parliamentary approval, and the Scottish Executive rejected my plea.
Petition the Scottish Government for laws to stop abuse of the Royal Prerogative.
Scotland has changed dramatically in the last few years and we now have a body with enough confidence to call itself a Government and it must be the case that this Scottish Government would be less willing than the previous Scottish Executive to simply rubber-stamp all matters emanating from Whitehall.
The public petitions system of the Scottish Parliament affords citizens the opportunity to have unjust laws changed or new laws introduced if the case can be made and approved by the Scottish Parliament.
A petition calling for all supplementary terms to Royal Charters to be advertised and published in Scotland together with the original terms of the charter to allow objectors the opportunity to object to the Scottish Government’s application of the Scottish Seal—citing the example of the Carnegie Dunfermline and Hero Fund Trustees’ secretive actions, and misleading statements—would surely succeed in a Scottish Parliament committed to openness and accountability?
I would conclude by stating that the views on this site are mine and do not necessarily represent the views of the PPS group. I make my own observations, on views which I genuinely hold, and make them known in the public interest.
I do not hold a personal grudge against any member of the Trust but I do believe that a few dominant trustees are leading the others by the nose and I also believe in the dictum of Bailie Morrison: “Dare to stand alone, dare to have a purpose firm and dare to make it known“.
I hope that I have made my views on the Trust known; some will share my views and others may not and I have no doubt that those who feel strongly enough about it will say so. With this in mind I welcome feedback by post or e-mail to:
Tom Minogue, 94 Victoria Terrace, Dunfermline, Fife, KY12 0LU.
I will also offer anyone referred to on this site the right to reply which will be posted on this site.
This site will continue to be updated with topical developments on an ongoing basis.