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Trust announces “bold” proposals in Scotland

Words: Laura Edgar
Brodick Castle

The National Trust for Scotland has announced “bold” proposals to transform the way it cares for Scotland’s natural, built and cultural heritage.

The proposals follow a review of the charity led by the board of trustees, chairman Sir Moir Lockhead and chief executive Simon Skinner.

Over the next four to six years, the National Trust for Scotland proposes to reshape itself around several priorities including:

  • Advancing conservation as a cause that displays the benefits and widens the appeal of heritage to more people in Scotland; 

  • Significant levels of new investment in key priorities to deliver world-class visitor experiences in terms of facilities, interpretation, enjoyment and engagement;

  • Attracting more visitors and providing opportunities to increase income to fund investment in conservation;

  • Focusing accountability and decision-making at property level, closer to members and local communities; and

  • Reducing running costs by 10 per cent.

The trust is proposing a reconfiguration to free up the skills and resources needed to ensure that these plans become a reality. This, the trust said, starts at the top with its leadership, and with tiers of management being simplified.

Specialist staff across a range of conservation and professional disciplines would be teamed up with regional groupings of heritage sites to “provide what would be in effect advisory services to properties”. They would be based out in the field rather in the office, said the trust.

There is expected to be a reduction in the total number of staff, but not at property levels.

Savings of about 10 per cent a year are expected to be made through changes to the ways of working by investing in modern administrative systems. This would be redirected to conserving heritage properties, improving visitor experiences and priority projects.

According to the trust, the changes would be self-funding and after three years would lead to a more sustainable model. “The aim would be to bring in an extra £8-£10 million per annum of additional investment income for the charity, thanks to these efficiency changes, more paying visitors, increased numbers of members and growing donations.”

Lockhead said: “We have decided that for the next few years we will concentrate resources on a number of priority properties – each of which will have specific projects and initiatives designed to drive up visitor numbers.

“Our trustees have judged that upfront investment in these properties would give the greatest returns in terms of increased visitor numbers, income, improved visitor experiences and conservation outcomes as quickly as possible.

Skinner added that he feels strongly a rebalance within the trust is needed to give more control and influence to its properties.

“Our proposals are designed to unleash our property teams’ innovative and entrepreneurial talents, which along with our partnerships with communities, volunteers and members, will ensure that our heritage inspires and excites new generations.”

Image credit | Sodele