Stratford Herald looks into SBT conflict of interests

The Stratford Herald today (6 Dec) carries a front page article ‘SBT rebuts ‘conflict of interest’ claim’ saying Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) robustly defended two of its trustees whose membership of the body has been questioned by Save Shottery campaigners.

It refers to our Letter to the Editor (reproduced below for those not living locally) in which we raise questions about SBT’s deputy chair, Richard Hyde’s, recent appointment by Eric Pickles to the Housing & Communities Agency and Tony Bird’s possible conflict of interests as a land and property developer.

The Trust told the Heraldboth these trustees have assured the board that they would immediately step back in the event that a conflict did arise in the future.”  

The SBT is still collecting evidence for its review and ‘due process’ so please continue to sign the petition which calls on the Trust to declare these interests if and when they have to decide whether to sell or not to sell Anne Hathaway’s land.

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Letter to the Editor

Sir,

Save Shottery would like to congratulate the Herald on your excellent report SBT: ‘Why we can’t speak about land for Shottery homes scheme’(29 Nov 12). In particular, the way that Preston Witts repeated the same question, Paxman-like, to Richard 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 is a valid question and one to which we now have an answer, of sorts.

As Stratford Birthplace Trust (SBT) continue to collect their evidence, they have assured us that the trustees will consider all relevant comments on the SaveShottery.com petition, so please keep signing and adding comments. 

One more thing for Paxman-Witts. Could we encourage you to press Mr Hyde further on his comment: “I am not a politician. I am here to do my duty as a trustee”?  We have repeatedly asked SBT to publish minutes of its trustees’ meetings to prove that all trustees have declared any conflicts of interest, but to no avail.

This is an important governance issue as the trustees on the SBT’s Property & Investment committee are Peter Nicholls, AP Bird and Richard Hyde. Most readers will know about Mr Bird’s business activities – does the Trust see these as a conflict of interest?  What also needs clarifying are Mr Hyde’s outside commitments. A quick Google search reveals he is on the Board of the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA).

We’d never heard of it, but apparently the HCA is “the national housing and regeneration agency for England” and its Board – and therefore Mr Hyde – is “appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government” i.e. our good friend, Eric Pickles. Is there a conflict of interests here for the SBT’s deputy chair? We look forward to reading a report on that.

Kind regards,

Debbie & Mark Griffiths

Save Shottery campaign founders

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