Anger as National Trust push ahead with prolonged Bannockburn closure despite discussions
Local SNP representatives have criticised the National Trust for Scotland leadership’s decision to push ahead with the prolonged closure of the Bannockburn Heritage Centre.
Plans to keep the Battle of Bannockburn Experience closed to the public until 2022 were leaked to the press last week, sparking concern amongst Stirling’s MP, MSP and Council Leadership.
The SNP’s Alyn Smith MP, Bruce Crawford MSP and Stirling Council Leader Scott Farmer held an emergency meeting with NTS Chief Executive Simon Skinner, where they raised serious concerns about the impact on jobs and the cultural offering of the area.
All agreed to work together to find a solution where possible, with Councillor Scott Farmer indicating that Stirling Council stood ready to work constructively with NTS to see the Heritage Centre remain open.
Since the meeting, the NTS have formally published their planned closures and reopening dates, following the pandemic lockdown. Bannockburn Heritage Centre remains marked for closure in 2022.
Simon Skinner steps down as NTS Chief Executive at the end of this month, to be replaced by Philip Long OBE, current Director of the Dundee V&A.
Commenting, Bruce Crawford MSP said:
“News that NTS were considering closing the Bannockburn Heritage Centre for so long was met with widespread anger from members of the public, who understandably see this as detrimental to the memory of the Battle of the Bannockburn as well as the wider the tourism offer in Stirling area.
“Yes, there are challenges around finances as a result of the Covid-19 crisis that all organisations face, but NTS need to start thinking more imaginatively about how they meet these challenges. I worked closely with the Scottish Government and NTS over the years to ensure the Bannockburn Heritage Centre was established, with many millions in public expenditure going into the project and supporting it thereafter. This prolonged closure is simply unjustifiable.”
Alyn Smith MP said:
“It’s no secret that the National Trust for Scotland has had difficulties retaining membership in recent years, having a serious impact on its finances. As a card-carrying member myself, I cannot see how decisions such as this will help inspire its existing membership to stay with them.
“This is about legacy, and the National Trust exists to bring our history and heritage to ours and future generations. The impact that this will have on jobs in the local area will be detrimental, and school pupils who would have otherwise visited the Centre and learned through its unique experience about our nation’s history are set to lose out on that.
“I urge the National Trust to think again on this.”
Councillor Scott Farmer said:
“The Stirling area benefits from its strong tourism sector, with our national history and heritage at the centre of what we’re about. Losing the Bannockburn Centre for a prolonged period of time will undoubtedly have an impact on the wider Stirling economy, affecting not just the jobs directly liked to NTS, but those in the tourism and hospitality sector as well.
“I’m deeply disappointed that, following our discussions and promises of consultation with the Council, NTS have pushed ahead with publishing this as a planned and extensive closure. My door is always open to discuss how we can work constructively to reopen the Bannockburn Centre as soon as possible, and I will be seeking a meeting with the new Chief Executive of NTS when he takes up the post in a couple of weeks.”
Closure publication from NTS: