Adduned Cymru – The Welsh Pledge (2): the other proposed Trusts
In Blog No 18 I dealt with the Wales Universities Trust and the Land Trust but I now turn to more contentious issues. I wish to stress that the objectives of establishing these Trusts are admirable but I do consider that there are a number of serious issues to be raised.
The Heritage Academy
In the statement which has appeared on the University’s website this month it states that this Academy will safeguard the work of the Centre for Advance Welsh and Celtic Studies, the Dictionary of the Welsh Language and also the University of Wales Press. However, the press release of 10 December 2012 stated that there was an intention to establish two Trusts: the Heritage Academy with responsibility for the Centre and the Dictionary with a separate trust for the University of Wales Press. I shall deal with these as the two Trust envisaged in December 2012 on which my Freedom of Information questions were based.
The Heritage Academy Trust
The original announcement stated that this Trust would build on the academic interests of the transformed university in addition to other strategic partners to establish a range of academic and cultural programmes to celebrate the dynamic heritage of Wales. I asked who the other strategic partners could be and was told that in addition to UoW:TSD and the Centre for Advance Welsh and Celtic Studies that other partners could include the National Library, the National Museum, CADW etc and this appeared to be a sensible approach. The University would appoint the initial Trustees following discussions with UoW:TSD and the Centre.
The original news release announced that the University would commit an initial £500,000 to the Trust to embark on its work. When asked, I was told that no Business Plan had been prepared for the operation of this Trust. £500,000 would be an enormous sum for me as an individual but was this sum realistic for the development of both the Centre and the UoW Dictionary? I was told that the new Trust, presumably once established, would form an opinion on its financial viability and options for new sources of finance. That is, establish the Trust and suck it and see!
Amazing! The University is to establish a new Trust, give it a sum of £500,000 plucked out of the air without any assessment of need and no Business Plan and told to get on with it. The alarm bells started ringing, “remember Awen Wales Limited”! In that case the directors had prepared a Business Plan but the University did not honour their commitment of £300,000 in order to ensure its implementation.
The University of Wales Press Trust
This Trust is to safeguard the future of the Press. The University would transfer an initial sum of £500,000 to the new Trust to allow the Press to develop “a new strategic plan which will entail new business opportunities which respond to the digital demands of on-line and electronic publishing.” An excellent objective but again there is no assessment of need and no Business Plan has been prepared. Again I was told that the new Trust would form an opinion on its financial viability and options for new sources of finance! Again I thought, “remember Awen Wales Limited”!
The Gregynog Trust
Gregynog Hall was bequeathed to the University of Wales by the Davies sisters from Llandinam in 1960 and is a splendid centre. With the backing of Lord Davies, it is intended to establish a Trust to safeguard this Welsh and environmental asset which is an excellent objective. The University will use some of its historic unrestricted endowments to establish an initial fund to support the work of this Trust. There is no mention of any other funds being allocated to this Trust as was the case in the above two Trusts. Discussions on the establishment of this Trust are on-going with the Margaret Davies Trust. The University will appoint the first Trustees in consultation with UoW:TSD and the Margaret Davies Trust.
The financial implications will be discussed in the next Blog.