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SUN Campaign History - Sep 1997

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SUN receive certain assurances at National Trust Liaison Meeting

On September 17th 1997, we held the first of two meetings with the National Trust. This followed a summer of escalating harassment and oppressive behaviour by National Trust employees and their paid puppets in Dorset Police.

Trust questioned over behaviour of wardens throughout the summer

The early part of the meeting followed the familiar pattern of National Trust propaganda recitation, intermixed with some harsh and searching questions from our side relating to the behaviour of National Trust employees over the preceding months.

After half time the Trust tuned in to the valid arguments of SUN and showed willingness to reach a compromise

After a half time break for refreshments the entire atmosphere changed. We sensed that maybe, at long last, they were beginning to realise that we were not just a few agitators (or any of the other uncomplimentary epithets they have applied to us over the last two years) but that we had a valid argument. Most of the initiative in this change of attitude seemed to be as a result of the much more open and conciliatory approach adopted by Ms Mead, a younger and more articulate representative of the National Trust's position than her predecessor Liz Roberts. As the meeting progressed through its second session it was quite clear that there was a willingness on their part to reach a compromise, and by the end of the afternoon we had received certain assurances:

  • That they would seriously reconsider the routing of Heather Walk
  • That they would not conduct any further tree clearance without consulting us, and that they would ask English Nature to do the same
  • That they would have regular meetings with SUN Group - initially, they suggested four times a year, but we felt that twice a year would be sufficient for general purposes with the proviso that ad hoc additional meetings could be arranged as and when required
  • That National Trust wardens and other staff would wear name badges when working on the beach to ensure they can be identified
  • That we would pass on to the Beach Manager, Derek Loveless, any reports of incidents received by SUN
  • That particular attention would be paid to excessive speed of quad cycles and to the attitude and behaviour of wardens

It is fair to say that the meeting, which broke up in a much more amicable atmosphere than that in which it started, marks a significant breakthrough in the two-year deadlock. We believe we can build on this, and go forward in a spirit of co-operation rather than confrontation. This has, of course, always been our objective, but it is pleasing nevertheless to report that at last, the National Trust seem to be coming round to our point of view.

As part of this new concordance, we have offered regular space in The Bare Essentials to both the National Trust and English Nature. Articles from both bodies appeared in TBE5 as submitted. Read what English Nature and the National Trust have to say.

The meeting was held for the first time on our ground - the meeting room at the King's Arms, Wallisdown, Bournemouth. SUN was represented by Representatives Mark Nisbet, Gill Williams and Trevor Barratt, Treasurer Sue Dangerfield, Trustee Pete Dangerfield and Secretary Colin James. The National Trust fielded Area Manager Mark Harold, Property Manager Julian Homer, Beach Manager Derek Loveless and new Regional Public Affairs Manager Celia Mead.

Unfortunately, the spirit of well-being generated by the above meeting was abruptly shattered less than one month later when a huge area, thirty to fifty yards wide and the better part of a hundred yards deep, had been totally denuded of trees. Full story. Pictures.


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