The Stratford Herald published today – 29 Nov 2012 – features an excellent front page report by Preston Witts entitled SBT: ‘Why we can’t speak about land for Shottery homes scheme’.
In it, he talks to Richard Hyde, trustee and deputy chairman of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT). The SBT spokesman you may have seen on the BBC news item yesterday. If not, catch it on iPlayer (ca 14.5 mins into the programme).
We congratulate Mr Witts for repeatedly putting the same question, Paxman-like, to Mr Hyde regarding the Trust’s “refusal to state categorically that it would not sell land it owns next to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery.”
It’s a valid question. And one that Save Shottery has also been repeatedly asking. However, the Herald managed to get far more from Richard Hyde than we’ve had from Diana Owen or Peter Kyle.
According to the article, the SBT deputy chair said ‘the trust had previously stated that it was not selling the land.’ But added: “We have had a big inspector’s report. It is our responsibility to look and see whether our position needs to change or not.” Interesting…but there’s more.
When Preston pushed again on SBT’s refusal to state it would not sell the land, Hyde said: “Making that statement would not be consistent with our duty to review all the evidence. It would not be consistent to say we are ruling something out. I am not a politician. I am here to do my duty as a trustee” he told the editor.
The article continues that Mr Hyde said a categorical statement at this particular time could possibly be challenged by a variety of people, including the Charity Commission. The article concludes with a quote from the Charity Commission saying it had issued guidance to the SBT but ultaimately:
“How they demonstrate [the best interests of the charity] is usually left to their discretion, but when it comes to selling, leasing or transferring their charity’s land, the law sets out clear requirements to ensure that these important transactions are properly managed in the charity’s interests and that the trustees obtain the best price reasonable in the circumstances.”
Tune in later for Save Shottery’s letter to the editor on this article.
In the meantime, please continue to contribute to the SBT’s evidence gathering, by signing and leaving a comment on the Save Shottery petition. Chairman, Peter Kyle, personally promised us he would take all relevant comments on board.