National Trust to review governance structure

20 May 2015 News

The National Trust is considering making changes to its governance arrangements, including reducing the number of people on its council.

Snowdown hydro weird. Owned by National Trust. Credit: John Miller, National Trust

The National Trust is considering making changes to its governance arrangements, including reducing the number of people on its council.

The Trust said that it is not proposing to change its basic governance model, which centres round a board of trustees and a council, but it does believe it could be improved.

The review will examine the role of the council. It will look at its role and responsibilities, the balance of council and non-council trustees on its board, and the size of the council. 

The National Trust's 52 council members are elected by members and appointed by other associated bodies, and their role is to provide a "breadth of experience and perspective" to the trustees. They are intended to ensure all the many stakeholder groups with an interest in the Trust are effectively represented. They elect the trustees and have a scrutiny role.

The Trust is considering reducing the council's numbers to 36, with the same mix of elected and appointed members.

It is also proposing clarifying the role of the council to include reviewing annually the Trust’s strategy in order to “satisfy itself that it is consistent with the Trust’s core purpose”, and to ensure that “major risks to the long-term reputation of the Trust are being addressed by the board”.

The Trust said it concluded that “decision-making and debate could be improved by reducing the size of the council so that members have a greater ability to participate and can work as a more cohesive group. In turn this would strengthen the council’s ability to hold the board to account.”

The Trust is also recommending that there should be a minimum of four council members on its board of trustees instead of a majority.

The Trust is also looking at options for improving member communications and engagement.

The review was set up in 2014. It will be led by a working party consisting of members of its council and representatives from its trustee board. The National Trust is encouraging its members to share their views on the review.

National Trust members have until 7 June to provide feedback. Information on how to do so can be found here.

 

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