Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Saturday, 26 September 2009 18:25 UK

'Passionate' debate at Trust AGM

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

More than 600 National Trust for Scotland members have attended its AGM amid anger at recent cost-cutting.

A motion of no confidence in management was dropped before the meeting, but another motion was passed flagging up concerns about "transparency".

The charity has mothballed three historic properties and shed 88 full and part-time staff.

Chief executive Kate Mavor welcomed the "passion" of the debate and promised to take on board members' views.

Campaign group In Trust for Scotland had submitted a motion noting the "remarkable" decision to announce closures and job losses to the media, rather than in the spring edition of the members' magazine.

Another motion of no confidence in the charity's leadership was withdrawn on Friday.

There is no question of selling those properties. Those properties are here for us to promote and protect for the benefit of the nation.
Kate Mavor
NTS chief executive

Ms Mavor told BBC Scotland she had been looking forward to the AGM since taking up her post six months ago.

She said she wanted to "harness the passion" expressed in the discussions to take the trust forward.

"I thought it was a very good meeting, a very good robust debate which is what AGM should be about. Yes members have concerns and we hear them and we will of course be taking into consideration the concerns that have been raised."

Ms Mavor played down a newspaper report that she thought a law preventing the trust from selling off properties, should be scrapped.

"There is no question of selling those properties," she said.

"Those properties are here for us to promote and protect for the benefit of the nation. That's what I meant, that those things are sacred."

But she declined to say whether she believed a forthcoming governance review should consider such a change to the law.

"I can't prejudge that. We haven't even decided what the scope of the review is," she said, adding that the terms of the review would be discussed at a NTS council meeting at the end of October.

'Secret' decisions

In Trust for Scotland spokesman Bill Fraser said the turnout at the meeting demonstrated the strength of feeling.

He said: "The issues revolve around transparency and the way the trust is run.

"A lot of people feel the trust is not run in an open way for the benefit of the members. People feel that decisions are taken in a way that is hidden from the membership and from the council that represents the members."

NTS chairwoman Shonaig MacPherson announced she was to step down from the post in September, a week after the no confidence motion was submitted, but insisted she had already been intending to move on.

The AGM was held at Murrayfield stadium, in Edinburgh.

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