Page last updated at 08:42 GMT, Saturday, 26 September 2009 09:42 UK

National Trust reform call at AGM

Culzean Castle
Culzean Castle is one of the properties looked after by the NTS

The National Trust for Scotland is holding its AGM amid criticism over the way it has been run.

A motion of no confidence in management - after recent closures and job losses - was withdrawn on Friday.

But campaign group In Trust for Scotland urged members to back a second motion calling for greater transparency from the charity's leadership.

The group claims members were kept in the dark about financial problems that led to properties being mothballed.

NTS chairwoman Shonaig MacPherson announced she was to step down from the post in September, a week after the no-confidence motion had been tabled.

But she insisted she had made her decision to go before the revolt.

Job losses

Members behind the motion of no-confidence said they had decided to withdraw it to give the trust leadership the chance to make a new start.

Earlier this month chief executive Kate Mavor admitted to MSPs the trust had been living beyond its means for years but said its finances were now on a firmer footing.

The trust had announced at the start of the year plans to lose 91 full-time staff, though this number was later reduced to 65.

But four properties - Hutchesons' Hall in Glasgow, Leith Hall in Aberdeenshire, Ben Lawers visitor centre and Hill of Tarvit Mansion House in Fife - are to close and others face an uncertain future.

The charity's headquarters, in Edinburgh's Charlotte Square, are also likely to be sold. The charity looks after 128 properties including Culzean Castle, St Kilda and the Isle of Staffa.

The campaign group In Trust for Scotland has urged members to use the AGM to protest at the "blatant disrespect to donors, volunteer supporters and employees by failing to consult them about the deep and sudden financial crisis".

NTS president Richard Buccleuch said: "We are on the brink of the most important strategic review of the trust for many decades.

"The AGM debate will embrace many different strands of opinion and it should be rigorous and challenging but I hope that it will be characterised by willingness from all sides to listen to and respect other people's perspectives in an open-minded and constructive fashion."

The AGM was being held at Murrayfield, in Edinburgh.

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