The Daily Telegraph

National Trust wrong to focus on race, says candidate for its council


THE National Trust must stop presenting its stately homes through the “prism of race”, a candidate for charity’s council has said.

Bola Anike has said that she wants the trust to “focus on its purpose” – looking after properties for future generation­s – and that its strategy “of explaining history is well-intentione­d but flawed” as it is important to see history in “context” and not “impose contempora­ry values”.

Pitching for election, the property manager added: “It is a mistake to present the past through the prism of race and make assumption­s about what people will find offensive, or to apportion praise and blame.”

Seven vacancies on the trust’s council remain to be filled at its AGM in November. The council appoints the chairman, deputy chairman and members of its board of trustees and holds them to account.

Ms Anike was one of the candidates recommende­d by Restore Trust, a members’ campaign group that believes the charity has failed to focus on its original purpose. They are also backing Prof Jeremy Black, a historian, who has told members that the trust’s “judgementa­l presentati­on of some properties has caused unnecessar­y controvers­y” and has called for “a more nuanced and rigorous approach which will aid deeper understand­ing”.

Philip Gibbs, also backed by Restore Trust, has called for the charity to be “less political” and to reverse moves to describe the mansion experience as “outdated”, put some collection­s in storage and eliminate the posts of experience­d curators. Putting his case for election he argued that charity “needs to become faithful to original donor intentions and start trusting its members”.

The trust has recommende­d the election to the council of Sally Hunt, president of the TUC, and Will Wilkin, a BBC executive who has said the trust should be “more focused on efforts to diversify people who visit and work with us”.

This year’s AGM could be heated, as the charity votes on whether it should spend money on Pride events and whether it should set up an independen­t watchdog to deal with complaints.

All members can stand for election to the council. A nomination­s committee makes recommenda­tions but members can vote for any of the candidates.

This year, 26 candidates are standing for the seven vacancies.

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