Pressure group fails to get candidates elected to National Trust trustee body


Candidates endorsed by Restore Trust failed to win any seats on the National Trust’s council at the conservation charity’s annual general meeting.

Restore Trust is a campaign group set up to lobby for the National Trust to “reclaim its mission” and change the charity’s direction.

The group aims to shift the charity’s priorities away from what it describes as “modish, divisive ideologies” and towards a focus on its “noble mandate”.

The campaign group endorsed five candidates for the National Trust’s council, which acts as its trustee board, at the charity’s annual general meeting, which was held over the weekend. 

All the candidates backed by Restore Trust – Philip Gibbs, Andrew Gimson, Violet Manners, Philip Merricks and the former Supreme Court justice Jonathan Sumption – were unsuccessful, receiving less than 50,000 votes each. 

The successful candidates joining the council were James Dixon, Inga Grimsey, Sarah Hollingdale, Simon Kearey and Michael Salter-Church. Hollingdale received the most votes, with 88,156.

Members of the Restore Trust also proposed two members’ resolutions at the AGM, both of which failed to pass at the vote.

The first was for the removal of the quick vote from the charity’s voting papers, which was introduced last year to “enhance the voting options for members”, according to the charity’s AGM briefing. 

The quick vote – which features on ballot papers to indicate which motions are in line with the wishes of the charity’s trustees and nominations committee – was criticised by Restore Trust for turning votes into “rubber-stamping exercises”. 

The trustees responded to the proposal by saying that quick votes “reflect wider industry practice”, adding that 34 per cent of members used this method at last year’s AGM.  

The resolution did not carry, with 51,071 members voting in favour and 73,503 voting against.

Restore Trust members also proposed a resolution advocating for the full restoration of the interiors of Clandon House in Surrey, after the mansion was damaged in a fire in 2015.

The resolution pushed for the house’s interiors to be recreated and restored, describing its current state as a “melancholy mess”. 

But the charity’s board of trustees advised against the resolution, saying it “strongly supports the current plan to conserve and renew Clandon Park”, which includes complete exterior conservation and re-roofing of the building.

This resolution also fell at the vote, with just 49,065 in favour and 74,298 voting against.

The National Trust declined to comment on the voting outcomes but in a statement, René Olivieri, chair of the National Trust’s board, said: “Our AGM is a celebration of everything it means to be a National Trust member. 

“Whatever our motivation, we are united by the joy we find in nature, beauty and history, and the importance we place on having them in our lives.”

Restore Trust has been contacted for comment.

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