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16 Jan 2018

The devolved Trust evolves

Dunkeld bridge
Changes part of continued drive to devolve power to regions

The trust is moving to a new management structure in its regions, which sees day-to-day leadership and administration concentrated in the hands of Operational Managers and business support teams, with staff based at properties concentrating on delivering improved visitor experiences and interpretation.

The changes, which have been driven by local teams with devolved leadership responsibility, are part of continuing plans by the Trust to improve its visitor services and free up increased funding for conservation projects.

The proposed changes reconfigure job-types and skill-sets resulting in circa 63 new roles being created across the country with immediate effect. However, this will also mean that up to 79 existing posts will be put ‘at risk’ of redundancy under the proposed changes.

Those affected will be encouraged to apply for the new roles.

This is the latest stage of a significant restructure of the Trust, which began at the Edinburgh-based headquarters in 2016 and with a £17m programme of investment in select priority properties which is currently under way. The Trust has also seen record membership in the last two years, at 380,000 members, and a third successive year of visitor growth to over 3m visitors.

Over 2016 and 2017, 50 new posts were previously created throughout Scotland, mainly in supporting the devolved regional leadership and business support structure, as well as carrying out an ambitious project (‘Project Reveal’) to catalogue the entire collection of artefacts across 47 Trust properties – over 100,000 pieces ranging from major artworks to rare furnishings to farmyard tools.

The changes follow through on earlier commitments by the Trust to devolve more management and decision-making to regional offices and local properties.

This new devolved leadership structure has recently been completed and will continue to be strengthened through 2018 with new types of jobs and investment in staff training and development.

Each of the new regional General Managers, appointed through 2017 to head up the new devolved divisions, has been reviewing the way their properties are run and how they are presented to visitors.

This has culminated in their proposals to introduce change now, in advance of the 2018 main visitor season and to complement the arrival of major new projects. Among these is ‘The Playful Garden at Brodie Castle’ in Moray, The ‘Big Box’ project to cover and protect The Hill House in Helensburgh and a transformed Brodick Castle on Arran.

Patrick Duffy, the Trust’s Chief Operating Officer said: “Each of the General Managers is deciding on the best ways to invest the new resources being allocated and to determine how to improve the visitor experience and heritage stories. This has been a welcome opportunity to re-inforce that the Trust includes many fantastic historic properties to enjoy, right across the country, and with public support for essential conservation work most visible through our visitors. “The proposed changes mean reducing the level of administrative activities undertaken at properties thereby focussing the teams at them much more on visitor services, quality and delivering conservation work more effectively. “If we are to offer visitor experiences that meet today’s and tomorrow’s expectations, we need to have the right combination of skills in the teams running properties. “In short, we have to make changes. “We are proposing to create circa 63 new and adapted roles in the Regions across Scotland. However, this does mean that we will have phase out around 79 of the old roles. “This does put some staff at risk of redundancy but we hope that as many as possible of those affected can apply for the new roles.”

The proposals have been shared with the Trust’s recognised Trades Union, Prospect.

The proposals are now subject to 30 days of consultation between staff, union representatives and stakeholders throughout the affected properties.

It is expected that the finalised proposals will be implemented through February and March, with some changes held back and considered at the end of the main visitor season (September - October 2018).