Board of Trustees' decisions on 2021 AGM resolutions

Wide shot of National Trust AGM panel

The National Trust’s Board of Trustees has now met to reflect on all the resolutions at the 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and responded in the ways below.

Members’ resolution about trail hunting, exempt hunting and hound exercise on National Trust land

‘That the members agree that the National Trust will ban trail hunting, exempt hunting and hound exercise on their land, to prevent potential illegal activity in breach of the Hunting Act 2004 and the protection of Badgers Act 1992 and to prevent damage to other flora and fauna by hunts, their hounds and their followers.’

Board of Trustees’ response

This resolution was carried.

The National Trust’s Board of Trustees has announced that the charity will no longer issue licences for trail hunting on the Trust’s land. This activity has been suspended on Trust land since November 2020 following a police investigation into webinars involving huntspeople discussing the practice. For further information, you can read our statement here.

Members’ resolution about curatorial expertise

‘The membership deplores the fact that many expert curators have been made redundant, and those remaining have been seriously undermined in their work. By rejecting their expertise, the Trust has made some reckless decisions on the presentation of its properties.’

Board of Trustees’ response

This resolution was not carried.

Although the members' resolution about curatorial expertise was not carried the Board is keen to reassure all members that curatorial standards at the Trust are an absolute priority and will remain high.

The Board has made clear that a significant and ambitious programme of work focussed on the most important houses in the Trust's care has been in the planning stages for some time. This includes improved standards of research, interpretation, collections care, and presentation.

A fuller plan for gardens will be considered by the Board of Trustees shortly. 

Members’ resolution about defibrillators at properties

‘Those National Trust properties that are open at a charge, with more than 40,000 visitors per year, to have at least one automated external defibrillator (AED) within two years.’ 

Board of Trustees’ response

This resolution was carried.

The Board has considered the issue and agreed plans to develop and adopt a policy that will lead to providing AEDs at all pay-for-entry properties above a certain volume threshold. Work will now take place to establish an appropriate visitor threshold across National Trust places and the best AED option for particular settings. The Board also agreed allowing community-funded units where this is feasible, and demand exists, recognising that many of these are already in place.

Members’ resolution about disclosure of senior staff remuneration

‘The National Trust should disclose in full the remuneration of its senior staff.’

Board of Trustees’ response

This resolution was carried.

The Board of Trustees supported it on the basis that the resolution calls for an approach which is currently taken by the charity and supported by the Board: the disclosure of senior staff pay is fair and transparent and follows best practice for the sector. After reflecting on the discussion, the Board has also agreed to adopt the following measures: 

  • Use the annual report to highlight pay increases awarded to senior staff during the year
  • Name the Executive Team members alongside their roles (which are currently used to disclose pay) in the reporting table in the annual report
  • Join the 'one click away' campaign to enable members and supporters to have easier access to this important information.

Many of these changes will be adopted for the next annual report of 2021/22 and the website changes will occur in the coming months.

Members’ resolution about overcrowding at properties

‘The proposers call upon the Trust to undertake a comprehensive review of overcrowding. It should aim to identify the causes, manifestations, and consequences of overcrowding, based on the concept of ‘carrying capacity’. The Trust is urged to consult widely across its membership in formulating its approach and then bring forward, to the 2022 AGM, proposals to address the issue.’ 

Board of Trustees’ response

This resolution was carried.

The Board has noted the concern expressed by members at the impact of high visitor volumes at some of the Trust’s sites on the places themselves, and on neighbouring communities. 

As agreed at the AGM, the Director of Operations and Consultancy, together with a nominated Trustee, will explore these issues further through a meeting with the proposers of this resolution. Ahead of that, information will be collected from survey data, and member, visitor, and community feedback to gain a more rounded perspective. 

The Board will discuss the management of visitor volume during 2022 and any actions resulting will be taken and communicated to members. 

Members’ resolution about volunteer management

‘The membership deplores the recent treatment of the National Trust’s volunteers and calls on the Trust to deal with its volunteers in a thoughtful and respectful way.’

Board of Trustees’ response

This resolution was not carried.

However, the Board would like to reassure all members that all volunteers are dealt with in a thoughtful and respectful way. The supporting statement asked the Trust to establish a process to formally consult with volunteers, either directly or via volunteer steering groups. The Board has rejected the proposal to undertake a formal collective consultation process for volunteers, but listened carefully to the debate. To ensure the continued engagement and support of volunteers the Board has agreed to the following actions, some of which have already taken place:

  • Communication to all volunteers to ensure they understand the Trust’s position on the resolution and to re-emphasise our commitment to open, honest, two-way communication 
  • Refreshing the volunteering strategy in the spring of next year (2022) outlining the Trust’s commitment to volunteers
  • Over the next six months there will be a continued focus on supporting volunteers to return after the pandemic and plans to grow volunteering further.

Board of Trustees’ resolution about digital futures

'This resolution invites members of the National Trust to approve new rules for general meetings and the Council election ballots. These new rules would enable members to participate online and to vote electronically on resolutions proposed by members or the Board of Trustees, and also give members the option to receive meeting papers electronically. We are recommending that we adopt these new rules because we want to enable greater member engagement with the Trust’s governance processes, while also ensuring these are as environmentally sustainable, cost effective and ‘future proof’ as possible.'

This resolution was carried.

The Board is delighted that members supported this resolution. The Council will now be invited to endorse the changes to the charity’s Parliamentary Scheme in order to modernise the way in which annual general meetings are conducted.