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It’s not convincing in global terms is it? Especially as despite massive propaganda efforts by the Trust only 299 more people voted for trail hunting than voted to ban it.

The NT’s Executive must now consider the implications. Might they see the very closeness of the result as a vote of no confidence in their policy? Or might they reflect that with 84% of society opposing all hunting it’s likely that 4.2 million of their 5 million members oppose trail hunting – and if just 2% of them resigned in protest it would mean a revenue loss of £625,000 a year.

Yesterday we suggested the Trust’s support for the Stonehenge short tunnel has severely damaged its reputation. Could it be that continuing to support trail hunting will damage its reputation and its pocket? Watch this space in November. Will the National Trust act in a principled fashion or will it continue to damage itself by acting as a fig leaf for the Government and the Countryside Alliance?

Yesterday those who oppose the short tunnel spoke with great competence, passion and authority causing the chairman to repeatedly appeal to the floor in an undignified manner for contrary opinions “for balance”.
In the end the vote was narrowly lost. However it was notable that

  1. The Trust failed to acknowledge or explain that supporting the short tunnel was against the advice of UNESCO and most prominent archaeologists
  2. The Trust admitted it hasn’t taken advice from international planners.
  3. The Trust failed to admit or explain to Members Britain’s treaty undertaking that Outstanding Universal Value is inviolable and can’t be amended for local convenience.

The Trust’s behaviour during the meeting and those three omissions appear to have damaged both its case and its reputation – with Donald Trump surely being in the minds of many present. It remains to be seen whether it will now reflect on the fact.

Today the National Trust will ask its Members to support massive damage to Stonehenge in defiance of UNESCO’s wishes. Ninety years ago, together with Stanley Baldwin and Ramsay MacDonald, it made a quite different public appeal which included the words

“It is now nine years since Sir Cecil Chubb made the nation the magnificent present of the Stonehenge circle itself; and the great stones are safely in the charge of the Commissioners of Works. The land of the Plain around them, however, is still private property. So long as it remains in private hands, there is an obvious danger that the setting of Stonehenge may be ruined….”

Causes-and good causes- are appealed for every day, and it is evident that not everything worth “saving” can be “saved.” But we have not two Stonehenges, and our generation will be vilified by all posterity if we allow the surroundings of this monument, the frontispiece to English history, to be ruined beyond repair.”

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The appeal was successful, the land was purchased and placed under the guardianship of the National Trust. But today those guardians are calling for you to support massive permanent new damage to the Stonehenge landscape on the highly arrogant grounds that it will be an improvement and therefore justified. Who are they to say that? Please say no, we do not wish to make such a judgement for the convenience of Highways England nor do we wish our generation to be “vilified by all posterity.”

This, by Mike Birkin in December 2014, remains true:

“I was no great fan of the new labour way of doing things. But the current disregard for evidence or rational analysis makes me feel positively nostalgic for it. Politicians and motorist lobbies at Stonehenge this month talked as though none of the debates and learning of the last 30 years had ever happened. It was transport planning through the eyes of a Top Gear presenter. To call it a throwback (which I did) is actually an insult to the 20th century.

Doubly distressing was to see how the leading lights of our Heritage bodies lined up to support the plan for a Stonehenge tunnel. In 2006 the National Trust signed up to a joint statement, along with Friends of the Earth and other members of the Stonehenge Alliance. We were united that any future road plan should avoid impacting on the World Heritage Site (WHS).

We don’t know why they’ve changed their mind, since they didn’t consult the Alliance, but change it they have. The Trust now supports a short tunnel despite the inevitable damage this would inflict on the WHS. There would have to be a mile or so of above-ground big scale road engineering. The Trust seems to believe that some parts of the WHS are expendable and their loss can be offset against the gains in the immediate vicinity of the stones.

It’s an odd position for them to take given that their own archaeologist enthuses over how much wonder and hidden knowledge still resides within the WHS landscape. “The Hidden Landscapes project has reminded us once again that the Stonehenge Landscape is among the most precious places on the planet” he writes. But not so precious, it seems, that bits of it can’t be sacrificed for a political stunt.”

 

That headline (in the Daily Telegraph) has presumably been planted by the National Trust, some officials of which are so keen to protect the interests of trail hunting they’ll go to any lengths, including breaching the bounds of truth. The additional claim that the opposition to trail hunting is merely a “conjured up social media campaign” is quite outrageous. Did the Trust say that to the journalist? How else would he have got that idea?

A ban would not destroy its relations with the countryside. The great majority of people in the countryside support the ban and don’t support the Trust aiding and abetting those who wish to circumvent it.

It is the Trust’s attitude which is wrecking its relations with the countryside, nothing else – ask anyone in the countryside who has dealings with it. Let’s hope the Members vote to save it from the reactionary forces which have dominated it for far too long.

“Can you ID this male?” (asks PC Andy Long the Essex Heritage Crime Officer). “Nighthawking is theft! They steal property & our history.”
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But why bother about that fellow when every detectorist, policeman and PAS official constantly stresses nighthawks are a tiny, tiny minority of detectorists?  Why worry about the damage he causes when it’s easily demonstrable that MOST “legal” detectorists fail to give all their finds to the owner or report them to PAS and therefore “steal property & our history”?
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Dr Sam Hardy has calculated there are 24K active detectorists. Here are just one percent of them. It’s blatantly clear that mostly they do vastly more stealing of property and history and knowledge than nighthawks. But no-one is tweeting “can you ID these people?” Britain is totally insane!
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At a conference at Yorkshire Museum this week the methods used by archaeologists were contrasted with the chaos at mass detecting rallies. It was also proposed that Treasure payments should be reduced to make them more affordable for hard pressed museums.
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Detectorists have objected en masse, one saying “Such a policy would probably see the declaration of Treasure items stopping overnight” (i.e. if they were paid less they’d all revert to criminality!) At one point a photo of a little girl with her piggy bank was displayed and a detectorist opposed that too on the grounds it might be implying that kids are funding reward fees paid to detectorists …… well below the belt in my book.”
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Something like this!

We don’t think it’s a low blow. Museums often make public appeals to raise money to pay rewards to those who insist on them and they often cite cases of children and pensioners donating money. There’s nothing low about pointing that reality out. The only low thing is not wanting it pointing out.
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Please vote NOW to ban all hunting on National Trust land forever.

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Please vote NOW to reverse the National Trust’s support for damaging the Stonehenge World Heritage Landscape forever.

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Your online voting form for the National Trust AGM must be in by 23.59pm tonight.

Please use it. The effect will be forever, for everyone.

At its AGM on Saturday 21st October the National Trust’s officials will tell Members that damaging the Stonehenge World Heritage Site is justified on the grounds that the benefits outweigh the harm. However:

  1. World Heritage Sites are places of Outstanding Universal Value, as set out in the World Heritage Convention. Britain is committed to protect, conserve, present and transmit to future generations its World Heritage Sites.
  2. The Government wishes to improve the A303 road but only at minimal cost so it is planning a short tunnel at Stonehenge which necessitates constructing massive new approach roads across large swathes of the World Heritage Landscape that it is has undertaken to protect.
  3. UNESCO says no, that will harm the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site and the Government must think again.

Thus the Trust’s core stance (that the benefits would outweigh the damage) is a non-starter. The Stonehenge Landscape is sacrosanct, Britain has signed a Convention effectively saying so and the Government must find another way to improve the A303. Please vote to commit the Trust to that stance. (The last day to exercise your proxy vote is this Friday, 13th October. Please ask the Chair to vote FOR the Members’ resolutions).

(PS, whatever the Trust spokesmen may say at the AGM, it does facilitate uncivilised animal cruelty on its land. Please vote to put an unequivocal end to that too).

If you’re a National Trust Member you can use a proxy vote at the upcoming AGM but the deadline is this Friday, 13th October. The online form is here.

We hope you’ll support the two Members’ Resolutions to (a.) ban all hunting on Trust land (there’s inarguable evidence awful cruelty still happens “by mistake”) and (b.) to reverse the Trust’s support for building a damaging short tunnel in the Stonehenge landscape in defiance of UNESCO’s wishes. These are the 3 boxes you need to tick:

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PS – the Trust is an admirable institution and it’s watchword, “forever, for everyone”, is beyond reproach. However in two ways, for reasons its officials have never successfully explained, it has betrayed its founding principles and brought wide national and international criticism and ridicule on itself. Please help restore its reputation by instructing the Chair to vote FOR the two Members’ resolutions.

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