Chapter 3: Recent history of the Trust, and Royal Charters
The boom times.
The Trust survived two World-Wars, The Wall Street Crash, and the Great Depression that followed, and was in a very healthy position when it celebrated its half century in 1953. In a publication to mark the event the Chairman William Dick boasted of the vast property portfolio owned by the Trust which included three golf courses, two athletic parks, five bowling greens, and other land including the Glen, totalling over 500-acres. The Chairman’s remarks were perhaps patronising when he blamed public apathy for the lack of concerts for exquisite music and lectures by eminent specialists. The elitist tones of the past Chairman however were accompanied by his willingness to foot the bill for bringing such acts to Dunfermline, which according to him the “masses are not yet willing to absorb”.
The start of hard times.
Somehow between 1953 and 1975 the Trust suffered something of a financial collapse, and in 1975 they petitioned the local authority, Dunfermline Burgh Council for help. The overtures made by the Trust to the Council amounted to a plea for a bail-out of the cash-strapped Trust. The council proceeded on the basis that at the current rate of investment return of £100,000 per annum the whole of the Trust’s income would be swallowed up in park maintenance in a few years time. This matter was discussed by the Burgh Council over a period of months and at a meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee on 28th January 1976 the Burgh Council agreed that over a period of four years from 1978/79 to 1981/82 the cost and responsibility of maintaining the buildings and the park be gradually transferred from the Trust to the Burgh Council.
Bailed out by the Burgh.
On 1st and 16th November 1976 a Minute of Agreement between the Trust and the Dunfermline District Council was concluded which stated that because the Trust’s income was not sufficient to meet the cost of maintaining the Glen the Council would assume responsibility for this function and would do so to the existing standard. The Council undertook this function in accordance with their powers under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 to provide “adequate facilities for social cultural and recreative activities”. The Minute also tied the Council to the terms of the Carnegie Trust Deeds in relation to the Glen.
Trust act promptly when Council changes threaten 9-councillor representation.
The reorganisation of local government in Scotland which took place in 1975 created a constitutional difficulty for the Trust. It was found that the right to appoint six and three trustees which had previously been enjoyed by Dunfermline Town Council and Fife County Council had not been automatically transmitted to their successor authorities, Dunfermline District Council and Fife Regional Council.
The sixteen remaining trustees, representing the successors to those whom Mr Carnegie had originally himself appointed for life, immediately decided that representation of the local authorities should be restored, and for the interim period while a Supplementary Royal Charter was being obtained they invited the two councils to send representatives who would be regarded as full trustees in all but formal matters. On 6th February 1979 The Queen—via her Privy Council Office granted the First Supplementary Charter, and the 9-councillor representation was set in stone once more.
First Supplemental Charter restores Carnegie’s 9 Councillor representation.
The extent of the supplemental terms was limited to replacing the original trust deed requirement that six members of the Burgh Council and three members of the School Board be trustees, with a new requirement that the Chairman and five members of the Dunfermline District Council, and three members (of whom not fewer than two be Councillors of Dunfermline wards) of Fife Regional Council be trustees.
So when a change in the council structure had caused an anomaly that could have severed the council link to the Trust had arisen, the trustees acted promptly, and made reparation by way of a Supplemental Charter, which restored the six and three elected local authority representatives that Andrew Carnegie stipulated should be on the board of trustees.
Andrew Carnegie—shrewd man that he was—by ensuring that 9 elected representatives of the people of Dunfermline would always be on the Board of Trustees guaranteed that the people of Dunfermline would always be represented on the Trust. Even if at some future date the nominated Trustees were to become—unlike the original nominees that he had appointed—a cosy club.
The Dunfermline District and Fife Regional Councils were abolished on April 1, 1996 and replaced with the current Unitary Council called Fife Council which to this day fulfills the role of local and regional authority. Despite this radical change to the make-up of the local authority, and unlike the supplement to the Royal Charter which accommodated similar change in respect of local authority representation in 1979, no change was made to the articles of the Trust in 1996.
No new charter and six less members for Fife Council.
The changes to the membership of the Trust brought about by local government reorganisation in 1996 were not the subject of a Supplemental Charter but the changes were noted in the Annual Report and Accounts of 1996. The report stated that the 6 Dunfermline and 3 Fife councilors had ceased to be trustees when their councils ceased to exist on 31st March 1996. It was further stated that Fife Council had appointed 3 councillors to serve as representative trustees from that date onwards. So the 9 local authority trustees had been reduced to 3.
Whether this reduction in numbers in 1996 was the decision of the Trust or the Fife Council is not clear–and Fife Council have little interest in restoring their numbers on the board of trustees–but it fell to the Trust to amend their articles to reflect the local authority changes as they had done so promptly when by accident the local authority representation of 9 people was jeoapordised in 1979. That the Trust did not do so is diametrically opposed to the wishes of the founder, in direct contrast to the actions of their predecessors in 1975-79, and a serious omission on their part, which renders the composition of the Trust at odds with the terms of the Royal Charter.
Trust money for the partnership that isn’t a partnership.
In November 2002 a group entitled the “Developing Dunfermline Partnership” headed by Dr Alexander Lawson (also a member and past-Chair of the Trust) and aided by a grant of £10,000 from the Trust commissioned a report to “enable consultants to produce a Master Plan for all future developments and initiatives in the Park over the next 10 years”. I have tried without success to find out the nature/constitution of the “Developing Dunfermline Partnership” but other than the mention it received in the Trust’s 2002 Accounts, the 10-year Action Plan, and press reports it seems to have no status as a charitable body or otherwise. The press reports of 2002 call the “Developing Dunfermline” group a steering group, with members drawn from 4 bodies, Fife Council, the Trust, Scottish Enterprise Fife, and Dunfermline Town Center Management. In other words the Trust awarded the Trust £10,000 to come up with an action plan, which not surprisingly told them what they (and Fife Council who foot the bill for the Glen) wanted to hear.
A ten-year plan for prosperity.
In December 2003 the report entitled “Pittencrieff Park Action Plan -Executive Summary” was completed. The title of the report suggested it had been prepared for Fife Council jointly by Scott Wilson Scotland, Civil Engineers; James F. Stephen, Architects, and Keillor Laurie Martin Partnership, Quantity Surveyors. However given that it was funded by Dr Alexander Lawson’s £10,000 cheque from the Trust it can be assumed that the terms of reference for the report and the report itself is the joint property of the Trust and Fife Council in all but name.
The report included a 10-year action plan which had been developed from a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) assessment of Pittencrieff Park prepared by Fife Council and their partner agencies. The partner agencies are not named in the report and 10-year plan, but it does mention that “the Park is a fundamental strand of the aims and objectives of the Developing Dunfermline multi-agency partnership in seeking to regenerate and revitalise the Dunfermline town centre.” It is apparent from the document, and self-evident that the Trust as owners of the Glen were among the main players, and the Developing Dunfermline Group included senior members of the Trust so the Trust were pivotal in setting the terms of reference and commissioning a report into how the Trust should conduct its business with regards to the Glen.
The main points to come from the report and 10-year plan were that if the work recommended by Scott Wilson and Co were to be undertaken, then a considerable amount of money would be needed. The report and 10-year plan envisaged small cash contributions from Fife Council, Historic Scotland, Scottish Enterprise Fife, Private Sector, and of course the Trust. However the main cost out of the £8 to £8.5 million required was to be borne by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) who were expected to contribute £5 million.
Cash shortage is the problem for the Glen.
The report identified the main problem as being a lack of cash to spend on the Glen’s upkeep and development. In this regard it identified the fact that Fife Council were bound by the terms of its 1978 Minute of Agreement with the Trust, but were looking to develop the operational performance of the Park—which was considered a “resource asset”—because: “the Council faces increasing pressures and constraints on both its capital and revenue funding capacities.” In other words the Council was short of cash.
Selling land in the Glen would solve the cash shortage problem.
The report identified a possible way of raising revenue by a “rationalisation of the resource assets—by partial land sale”. In plain term, sell off bits of the Glen to raise money.
Snag to selling land in the Glen.
Having identified a potential means of raising cash, the report also identified a snag in selling of parts of the Glen. Namely: “under the terms of the current Royal Charter bequeathing the Park to the people of Dunfermline, the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust is precluded from selling off any of the Park land within the boundary walls.”
Possible solution to the snag—change the charter.
Having identified the problem, a possible solution and a snag which prevented money being raised by selling parts of the Glen, the report then suggested a way round the snag and stated that the Trust had explored the possibility of changing the Royal Charter to “allow a partial land sale or lease to raise capital directly related to achieving new ways of utilising the asset (e.g. commercial development activity)”.
The report stated that the Trust had sought Senior Counsel’s opinion on this course of action and Counsel was of the view that as long as the commercial development was for the “enhancement of the Dunfermline residents quality of life [it] would have a reasonable prospect of success”.
To qualify for HLF cash there is a need for Friends?
The 10-year Action Plan that was financed by a £10,000 grant from the Trust to Dr Alexander Lawson (Trustee and ex-Chair of the Trust) wearing his Developing Dunfermline hat also came to the conclusion that a group entitled “Pittencrieff Park Management” should be set up. The Action Plan concluded that this group would draw its membership from Fife Council, Developing Dunfermline, and the Trust. The Action Plan also stated that the Pittencrieff Park Management Group would have (in line with HLF requirements) community assistance from a “Friends” organisation. Coincidentally such a group, called Friends of Pittencrieff Park was formed at about this time with Dr Alexander Lawson as Chairman and having other Trust board members including Angus Hogg, on the board! Just to round it off the Friends of Pittencrieff had their office address as the Trust HQ in Park Avenue, and have as their Secretary, Nora Rundell who also works in this office as the CEO of the Trust.
Trust members dominate the Friends.
In late August 2005 the inaugural meeting of the Friends of Pittencrieff Park took place. The meeting elected Dr Alexander Lawson as Chairman and four other Trust members were elected to the board. This meant that of the ten person board five were members of the Trust and with the Chairman’s casting vote would always have a majority. Perhaps not surprisingly the Friends were glad to receive a grant of £8,000 from the Trust. Whatever else the Friends are they are hardly the independent community representation that the HLF desires in their Parks for People guidelines.
10-Year Action Plan and Report is for Executives and not the public.
All of the comments and recommendations in the Scott Wilson Report and 10-year plan were of course confidential. This was a report prepared for the Executive of Fife Council and their “partner agencies” and was not made available to the public. As a result the public did not know of the pressures engendered by the 10-year report which resulted in the urgent need for the Trust to change their remit to allow them to raise money from the Glen.
Secret moves to change the charter.
On Friday 29th July 2005 application was made to HM The Queen—via her Privy Council Office—by the Trust for a Second Supplemental Charter. The people of Dunfermline were not told by the Trustees that a drastic change to the nature of the original charter was being sought. Changes that would allow the Glen to be considered as two separate entities, a core that could not be developed and fringes that could be sold or leased for development—and a change to the requirement that the local authority and school board appoint 6 and 3 members respectively or in fact any members at all.
At the time of their application The Trustees had advertised their intention to seek the change as the law requires in the July 2005 edition of The Edinburgh Gazette. This obscure publication is solely concerned with legal notices and in the case of the Second Supplementary Charter did not give any detail or hint as to the nature of the changes that were being sought. So even if some eagle-eyed anorak had spotted the notice it would have told them nothing of the changes that were being sought.
The Trustees in flagrant disregard for their duties as specified in the original and subsequent Deeds and their obligation to carry the people with them had had not repeated this advert in the local press. This is the norm with such matters and the Trustees were morally—and arguably legally—obliged to do so.
Secret charter changes approved.
The Second Supplementary Charter sought by the Trust was approved on the advice of H. M. Privy Counsellors and signed by the Queen on 24th August 2006. On 22nd September 2006 the Trust’s 2nd Supplementary Charter received the Great Seal of Scotland in Edinburgh, became law, and was published.