Leadership roles of public organisations have historically been handed out to those moving on from senior jobs in the Civil Service. The National Trust is just such an organisation with its Director-General, Dame Helen Ghosh, following her last two predecessors on the journey from Whitehall to the Trust.
Organisations like the National Trust - traditional, small c conservative in outlook - should be a natural fit for Civil Servants used to keeping their departments on an even keel whatever is thrown at them by the politicians.
Unfortunately this is increasingly not the case. We live in an age where doing a good job, delivering what is expected and being consistent is abandoned in pursuit of new strategies, initiatives, work streams and reviews. In the last few years this has seen organisations such as the RSPCA and Oxfam undertake overt political campaigning instead of pursuing their traditional aims.
The National Trust seem to have caught this unfortunate disease to do more with its recent publication of a strategy led by Dame Helen. The Trust’s strategy states, “We’ll develop new, innovative ways of managing land on a large scale…reconnecting habitats and bringing back their natural beauty”.
The problem with this is that the Britain we see before us today is not natural, it is managed, as it has been managed in some way or other for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. This is the case in the Lake District where the National Trust has bought hundreds of acres of farmland with the aim of turning it back to nature including re-routing a river. The result will be the sheep, which have lived in the area alongside man for thousands of years, will be driven out and the beautiful land which is in the running to become an UNESCO heritage area will be turned into the Trust’s view of what is natural.
The motto of the National Trust is ‘For ever, for everyone’. It seems that this simple purpose to exist has been forgotten amid the desire to “develop new, innovative ways” and is why it is my Mis-Communicator of the Week.
Mis-Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.
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