The chairman of the National Trust resigned amid a growing revolt among its members over the charity’s “revival” policies.
Tim Parker’s decision to step down was announced barely 24 hours after a rebel group of members presented plans to force him out of the seat at this year’s annual general meeting.
Members, MPs and ministers are increasingly concerned about the Trust’s leadership following the publication of a report last September on the links between its properties – including the home of Winston Churchill – and the colonial and slavery past from the United Kingdom.
The highly critical rebel motion at this year’s AGM, which has yet to be submitted – reportedly supported by over 50 members – said “members have no confidence in Tim Parker as chairman of the National Trust and ask him to propose his resignation. ”
He added: “It’s a president’s job to watch an organization go through a crisis. The pandemic presented the National Trust with serious challenges, and addressing them while securing the charity’s future well-being should have been the top priority.
“Instead, the National Trust was the subject of debate in Parliament and an investigation by the Charity Commission, which found that the charity issued a report that generated strongly divided and divided opinions. without fully managing the reputational risks of the charity.
“The Managing Director admitted that the timing of the publication of the ‘Interim Report on Links Between Colonialism and Properties Now in National Trust Custody, Including Links to Historic Slavery’ was ‘a mistake’. “
Moral at Trust at an all-time low
The motion continued: “The leadership of the National Trust has often been out of step with its members and supporters in recent years.
“Unnecessary controversies have threatened to undermine the charity’s simple duty to promote public enjoyment of the buildings, places and movable property under its protection.
“As a result, volunteer and member morale is at an all-time low and the National Trust has suffered, both financially and in reputation.
“The National Trust must regain the nation’s trust and will need new leadership to achieve this. “
Following widespread criticism of its report last September on the links between its properties and the UK’s colonial and slavery past, the Charity Commission has opened a ‘regulatory compliance case’ and the Heritage Minister told Parliament that the report was “unfortunate” and that the Trust should go back to its “core functions”.
At last November’s virtual annual meeting, Mr Parker was criticized after describing Black Lives Matter, which in the UK called on the government to ‘defund the police’ as a ‘human rights movement’. the man without partisan affiliations ”in a letter to a member.
Speaking at the meeting, he said that “we are not members of the BLM”, adding that he hoped members would see “that in no way did the Trust become a political organization which was taken over. by a bunch of awakened people or whatever. “.
There was another controversy in 2017 when it emerged that the Trust had attempted to force volunteers at a Norfolk mansion to wear the rainbow symbol of gay pride on lanyards and badges. The Trust subsequently abandoned the request.
The president’s position was “untenable”
A spokesperson for Restore Trust told The Telegraph: ‘We are pleased that Mr Parker has decided to resign as chairman of the National Trust, following the publication of our motion of no confidence in him which has reportedly been submitted to this year’s annual meeting.
“His position was clearly untenable given all that has happened and the current crisis of confidence in the National Trust among its staff, volunteers and members.
“What the National Trust needs now is a chair with a deep understanding and appreciation for our nation’s heritage.
“We also call on the Board to make this an open and accountable process so that their shortlist of potential candidates are published and they present themselves and their proposals for the Trust to members at open events in the coming months.
In a statement posted on the National Trust website last night, the charity said Mr Parker had “informed the trustees of his decision the day after the Trust homes reopened to the public on May 17, and that ‘he would resign in October of this year’.
The chairman of the trust is an unpaid role and is the oldest of the charity’s 50,000 volunteers.
Mr Parker had served two three-year terms and had accepted an “exceptional third term” to ensure stability during the Covid-19 crisis which plagued the number of visitors.
The charity said: “The search for Tim’s successor had started before the pandemic arrived, but was halted to ensure the stability of the organization. She will now resume. “
Mr Parker said: “It has been a tremendous privilege to serve the Trust for seven years as Chairman and, as we emerge from the pandemic, the time has come to begin the search for my successor. ”
Earlier this year, Mr Parker, who is also chairman of the post, said he was “extremely sorry” for the “historic failures” which led to the wrongful conviction of 39 deputy postmasters who been wrongly convicted because of mistakes made by a faulty computer. system.