Brown drops business-school bombshell.
In November 2005 various press articles appeared suggesting that a Harvard-style business school was being considered for Scotland. Harvard and other US educational institutes denied any involvement in such a project. LINK
In late January 2006—during the period when, unbeknown to the public, the Trust’s secret charter application was being considered by the Privy Council Office—Dr Gordon Brown MP was on the stump in Rosyth with the prospective Labour candidate in the by-election for the vacant Dunfermline and West Fife seat and was shocked when told by journalists that an US ink-jet manufacturer were pulling out of Rosyth with the loss of 500 jobs.
Dr Brown was only temporarily fazed by this bad news and within hours—to the amazement of the press—responded with a piece of good news by hinting that a new £30 million Harvard-style business school was to be built in Dunfermline. LINK
Speculation over site for business—school. Surely not the Glen?
The press speculation that followed this off-the-cuff, electioneering sound-bite was intense, and not confined to Dunfermline reaching the national broadsheets whose editors were anxious to find out who the educational institution was, and where in Dunfermline the site would be. The Glen was soon in the frame as a possible site, being the most scenic location for such a school. This rumour was quickly discounted as it was common knowledge that the terms of Carnegie’s gift—known to every school child in the Dunfermline District who marches to the Glen on Gala Day—were such that the Glen would belong, in perpetuity, to the people of Dunfermline for their recreation.
During the spring of 2006 a series of leaks in the local press intimated that the preferred site for the mooted business park was within the Glen, and though these rumours were denied by the Trust, they led to a great deal of concern from Dunfermline citizens being voiced in the local press. Every leak however led to a denial by the Trust.
Take it or leave it ultimatum by Barrie.
The smouldering concerns of the local people erupted into anger when on 27th July 2006 Scott Barrie the local MSP was quoted in an article in the Dunfermline Press under the banner headline: “It’s Glen or nothing for business school – MSP”. Mr Barrie stated “The people behind the £30 million Harvard-style executive school being considered for Pittencrieff Park are not interested in any other location in Dunfermline” Mr Barrie went on: “One of the advantages I have is that I’ve known about this for a long time and know that the people behind the project want the iconic setting of the park. They’re not interested in any other location in Dunfermline”. LINK
Group forms to protect Glen.
I immediately e-mailed Mr Barrie—my constituency MSP—asking him if he would share the knowledge he had known for such a “long time” and expand on the identity of the developer, but Mr Barrie made no reply. However in early August 2006 following Mr Barrie’s ‘take it or leave it’ statement I was one of a group of concerned Dunfermline people who met with a view to form a society to oppose any inappropriate building in The Glen. The group gave themselves the title of ‘Pittencrieff Park Support’ (PPS).
At the inaugural meeting of PPS several people spoke of hearing rumours that a change to the Trust’s Royal Charter was being sought to support development such as that mooted.
Trust sought secret charter changes.
After the meeting I did a Google search on this subject and to my amazement found that a Supplementary Charter had been applied for by notice in the Edinburgh Gazatte of July 2005. I obtained a copy of this publication to ascertain the extent of the amendments to the Royal Charter and to my astonishment found that no details of the terms of the amendments were given. LINK
I had found out about the changes to the charter too late to object to them or lodge a counter petition, but even if I had saw the Trust’s notice when it was posted in July 2005 I would not have been able to object to the changes, as no details of the nature of the changes was given—or even hinted at.
Days after discovering that a Supplementary Charter was being sought—on 10th August 2006—the founder members of the PPS, including myself, met with Nora Rundell, C.E.O. of the Trust and protested that the Trust charter was being changed without the people of Dunfermline being informed. The PPS group stressed their concerns that this development taken together with the drip-feed of rumours regarding the business school gave rise to a suspicion that the Royal Charter was being changed to facilitate commercial development in The Glen.
‘Tweaking’ of charter nothing to worry about says Trust.
The C.E.O. of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust would not give details of the proposed changes to the Royal Charter, nor would she allow the PPS delegation to see the Draft Supplementary Charter, but she assured us that the charter changes would not facilitate development, and were simply “tweaking” to bring the charter up to date with new legislation governing charitable trusts. Ms Rundell admitted that there had been one letter from Mace—a construction group who had recently completed the Royal Bank of Scotland HQ in Edinburgh—but insisted that the enquiry had only been in general terms and had been read and answered purely out of courtesy.
The reassurances given to the PPS by the C.E.O. of the Trust did not allay our concerns, and I sought to elicit the terms of the amendments to the Royal Charter from the Privy Council Office. The P.C.O. refused to furnish any details of the terms of the amendments, which they informed me had been approved by them, were private until published, and were awaiting signature of HM The Queen, and the application of the Scottish Seal by the Scottish Executive.
Privy Council Office matters I was advised (accidentally by an e-mail left in by an arrogant incompetent pen-pusher) were not subject to Freedom of Information legislation, the laws that govern us lesser mortals. LINK
It was apparent that our meeting with the C.E.O. of the Trust had flushed the Trust out in their furtive shenanigans, as on 22nd August, Nora Rundell, was quoted extensively in the Dunfermline Press in an article entitled: ‘Trust chief issues a warning on Glen’. As the title of the article suggests the Trust was, at last having to come clean, and while still insisting that the secret changes to the Royal Charter would not have helped them push through the business school, Ms Rundell did reveal that a “10-year masterplan” for the Glen relied on a £5 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant which in turn was dependent on the “park making money”. LINK
So it seemed that the inheritors of Carnegie’s legacy—the people of Dunfermline—were not entitled to know how their inheritance was being changed, until it had been irrevocably altered, and in addition to this, their recreation park must make money. This is diametrically opposite to Andrew Carnegie’s insistence that the Trustees must carry the people with them in their stewardship of a recreation park (as opposed to a business park) for the people.
Please help us your Majesty?
Being appalled by the secret moves to change the people’s inheritance I wrote to the Queen suggesting that either she has been let down by her Privy Counsellors or they themselves have been misled by a flawed, secret, application from the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust. LINK
The Queen noted my concerns and passed them on to the Scottish Executive. LINK
I also petitioned the Scottish Executive asking them not to apply the Scottish Seal to the Supplementary Charter, as to do so would fly in the face of the stated aims of the Executive—openness and transparency. The Executive said they would investigate. LINK
Public petition opposing business—school.
While this correspondence was going on the public outcry from the people of Dunfermline, via the Dunfermline Town website and the local press was such that the PPS drew up a petition to enlist support for a campaign to stop commercial development in the Glen. In an unprecedented outpouring of public anger 5,000 local people soon signed the petition. LINK
Viewing by appointment only.
On 1st September 2006, in response to the growing groundswell of public concern which manifested itself in the form of letters to the press and articles in the press, Angus Hogg, Trust Chairman, issued a press release. This release stated “The alterations to the charter, which are currently being implemented, are necessary to comply with changes in the law. When they were complete the public will see for themselves that they make no tangible change to what can or can’t be done within the Park,” Mr Hogg also agreed to allow an inspection of the terms of the Draft Supplementary Charter—by appointment only, at the Trust HQ. Mr Hogg also stated that there was no question of the sale of the park and no mention was made of leasing.
Celebrities join the fight to save the Glen.
As part of the PPS group’s petition campaign to enlist support for opposition to the commercial development of the Glen famous persons with links to Dunfermline were contacted for their views.
Arguably Scotland’s greatest living artist, and novelist, Alasdair Gray was most forthright in his opposition to the ‘Harvard Business School’ plan. He knew the Auld Grey Toun well from the time he had spent doing a mural in the Abott House (now derelict so his fine work is unseen) and he didn’t miss the Trust, Fife Council, Gordon Brown or New Labour in his scathing critique which concluded: “There may be small nations in the world with effective democratic constitutions. Scotland is not among them,” LINK
Following on from Gray, a local lassie, singer and songwriter, wrote in the Sunday Times of how as a girl she: “spent hours of my time, like all Dunfermline children, in the park, as did my father and all his brothers and sisters.” and the trustees were ignoring the famous philanthropist’s wish that the Glen should always belong to the people of the town. LINK
Next up to the plate was a local writer (sadly no longer with us) and activist Iain Banks who echoed Barbara Dickson’s experience and applied Oscar Wilde’s definition of a cynic to the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust; ie they know the price of everything and the value of nothing. LINK
One time punk rocker, now a film director, broadcaster and journalist, Richard Jobson shared the reminiscences of the others before concluding: “It would be social and cultural travesty for the park to be re-defined and split into different sections. There are many other areas where a new development could go, this is the wrong one. The park belongs to the people and they have responded over the years by making it an essential part of their lives. Saving The Glen is a fight that has to be won. It has my complete support.” LINK
They don’t know what they are talking about-Angus Hogg.
In typically arrogant manner, the Trust Chairman Hogg, dismissed the views of Gray, Dickson, Banks and Jobson; four of Scotland’s most respected artists as ill-informed. Hogg implied that they [the artists] who had “emerged from the shadows” had been duped by the petitioners and did not have the ability to view the issue independently.LINK
This despite the fact that all four of these, successful members of our society, have strong links with Dunfermline in general and the Glen in particular. Throughout the petitioning campaign Angus Hogg chose to attack those with views different to his own instead of engage in an open exchange. ‘We know best’ and ‘there is no alternative’ might be good mottos for the Trust.
A chance to see the proposed changes.
I was the first member of the public to take Mr Hogg up on his offer to view the draft supplemental terms. The process of viewing the Trust’s Charters was rather daunting. After waiting some time for an appointment to view the original and supplementary charters I was allowed to view a photocopy of the documents at the boardroom of the Trust. I asked if I might have pages of the document photocopied, but this request was refused. I was informed that I could only view the charters for several hours and would only be permitted to take brief notes. LINK
Secret changes make two Glens from one.
It was quite an onerous task to compare the old charters and the new draft supplement as the documents were couched in Legalese but even with this impediment it was soon apparent that the supplemental terms being sought by the Trust divided the Glen into two separate entities: (a) an inner core which “the Trustees intend to retain as a recreational park for the public benefit”. And (b) an exception to the Charter terms which allowed the sale of “small parts of land on the fringes of Pittencreiff Park” these fringes could be sold or leased for commercial development provided that “such lets were broadly in sympathy with the general tenor” of the Royal Charter.
In simple language it seemed that the Trust was re-defining Andrew Carnegie’s wishes as set out in his original Trust Deed. The possibility of commercial development such as service-sector or other light industries (today’s industries) being located in the Glen is repugnant to the terms of the Royal Charter. I immediately booked the Glen Pavilion and politely invited Angus Hogg and Nora Rundell to join me in a public debate on these issues.LINK
After some delay both declined my invitation. LINK
Secret changes delete council and reduce quorum from 10 to 6.
It was also immediately apparent that the privileged role enjoyed by the local authority of Dunfermline was being done away with and the number of trustees who could form a quorum and make decisions drastically reduced.
What would Andrew have made of it all?
Would Andrew Carnegie have allowed the industries of his day to locate on the fringes of his people’s park? Of course not, to have steel-works or coal mines in the Glen would have been unthinkable as Andrew Carnegie stated clearly that the Glen was for the recreation of the masses who toiled in these industries. Put another way the Glen was specifically designated by Carnegie as a place of refuge from the workplace.
The Trustees have already had the terms of the Charter clarified and that is why they changed them as the existing terms did not allow them to act as they wished.
In 1933 with the residents of Dunfermline feeling the effects of the worldwide recession which resulted in factory closures and unemployment levels in excess of 2,000 the Carnegie Trust prepared a Memorial which sought the legal opinion of senior counsel on four points, which related to the powers of the Trustees to create or assist in the creation of new industries to alleviate unemployment.
The Opinion of Arthur P. Duffes, KC was clear and unambiguous in stating that despite the distressing conditions in which many of Dunfermline’s citizens found themselves, the Trust’s Charter and Explanatory letter of 1911 did not empower the Trustees to act as they wished. LINK
Mr Duffes drew the clear distinction between enhancing the lives of the people of Dunfermline by providing work, which was not the purpose of the Trust and the provision of privileges and enjoyment which was the role of the Trust.
So when the Trustees went behind the backs of the people of Dunfermline and changed the terms of the Trust Charter by the Supplemental Charter in 2005 they did so in the knowledge that their predecessors in 1933 had already considered such radical changes and had been advised against them by King’s Counsel’s Opinion
Harvard is welcome to come to Dunfermline but not the Glen.
In late September 2006, it was confirmed by Angus Hogg to one of our members that the interest in the Glen was indeed from an American academic partner. At about this time I had also became aware from two separate sources that the educational institute interested in siting a business school in the Glen was indeed Harvard.LINK
On hearing this I wrote to Vartan Gregorian the C.E.O. of the Carnegie Corporation of New York who had alerted Harvard to the availability of the Glen. LINK
I also wrote to The Dean of Harvard, Jay O Light, to encourage that university to continue with their efforts to site a business school in Dunfermline, but not in the Glen, as it was not for sale or rent. I treated them to a copy of the excellent book by J B Mackie, entitled “Pittencrieff Glen, Its Antiquities, History, and Legends” and left them in no doubt as to the illegality of the secret charter changes. Whether or not these changes had been made specifically for Harvard we do not know, but we do know that they would allow modern service industries to site in the Glen. LINK
Second S.O.S. to our Sovereign and her Privy Counsellors.
Armed with the knowledge I had managed to glean from the notes I had taken of the supplemental terms I once again wrote to the Queen. LINK
I also wrote to Prince Charles inviting him to take a walk in the park where his namesake, Prince, later King, Charles the First had taken his first steps and outlined the threat that this priceless park was under from development. LINK
I also wrote to The Privy Council Office, and the Scottish Executive to urge them to halt the ratification of the Supplemental Charter.
Concern was expressed by Prince Charles, but The Privy Council Office, having given their seal of approval to the charter changes attempted to justify them as being in line with the original deed and Carnegie’s 1903 letter. LINK
By return I promptly rebutted this spurious assertion. The proposed charter changes which re-designated the Glen into inner and outer, separate entities, abolished the mandate for local-council representation and allowed the Trust to beg for charity were, I said a blatant distortion, the opposite of the aims of the original charter and letter of 1903. LINK
Too late to stop the charter changes.
On 22nd September 2006 the Trust’s 2nd Supplementary Charter received the Great Seal of Scotland in Edinburgh, became law, and for the first time the public was able to see the amended terms of the charter. I was shocked to see that my notes and interpretation were not wrong and the charter changes were indeed repugnant to the original charter.
Economic time bomb ticking under Pittencrieff Park.
In October 2006 amid press controversy over the role of Gordon Brown MP, LINK the Trust Chairman, Angus Hogg again raised the temperature of the issue by declaring that an “economic time bomb is ticking” under the Glen, which needed a “kiss of life” as it was headed for “rapid deterioration without economic development, such as the business school”. LINK
Mr Hogg again targeted the celebrities who supported the opposition to commercial development and said “The dreamy image of a sun-kissed park continuing to function with no financial input is mythical – economic facts are the reality”. It seemed as if the Trust were blaming the people for the failures of the Trust, this was apparent when Mr Hogg referred to opponents of his plans as “these people”.
Business school abandons hope of locating in the Glen.
On 20th December 2006 the Trust Chairman, Angus Hogg, admitted defeat and announced that the business school interest in the Glen was ended, as Mace, the company fronting the bid had pulled out. Stating that the financial difficulties caused by Fife Council’s budget difficulties still remained Mr Hogg warned that other commercial developments would have to be considered to make the Glen viable.LINK
The bullying by the trustees was ended for the time being, but it would appear the Trust’s wish to develop remains.
- Chapter 1: Andrew Carnegie and “The Glen”
- Chapter 2: Early history of the Trust, the Deed and Royal Charter
- Chapter 3: Recent history of the Trust, and Royal Charters
- Chapter 4: Harvard business school and the Second Supplementary Charter
- Chapter 5: Is Pittencrieff Park safe with a Trust that can’t spell it?
- Chapter 6: Reflection on how the Trust has failed Carnegie and the people
- Chapter 7: Future campaigns to oppose commercial development in the Glen.
- Chapter 8: Charting the ongoing failures of the Trustees.