Thursday, 6 December 2012

Hyde and seek out the truth

As well as asking Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) not to sell Anne Hathaway’s land to property developers, Save Shottery and our petition have also persistently asked the SBT to come clean about the property and development interests of its trustees.

Until now, we’ve been quite subtle. That was until SBT put up Richard Hyde, deputy chair, as its spokesperson last week. Strange choice really, as a quick Google search revealed that he was not only an executive trustee of SBT, but a newly Pickles-appointed member of the Housing & Communities Agency (HCA):  

You can read all about it on the website:
“The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government today appointed three non-executive members to the Board of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) following open competition: Richard Hyde, Anthony Preiskel, Ruth Thompson.
Commenting on the appointment, Housing Minister Mark Prisk said: “I am pleased to announce the appointment of Richard Hyde, Anthony Preiskel and Ruth Thompson to the HCA Board. They will bring valuable commercial experience to the Board, helping the Agency to deliver housing and regeneration to meet the needs of local communities.”

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is the Government agency tasked with supporting and enabling places to deliver their housing and regeneration needs and helping to drive local economic growth.
It’s all on the web - Richard Hyde is a former Tory councillor and currently chief executive of Brian Hyde Ltd, a non-executive at Midland Heart housing association and deputy chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Mind you, who would blame him for taking on the HCA role? Charity trustees can’t get paid, but HCA board members' remuneration will be £12,000 for two days per month for the next three years. Being the SBT’s frontman on TV must have been a real Macbeth moment for Mr Hyde: "false face must hide what false heart doth know."

At Midland Heart housing, their Annual Report shows him on the Committee for: “Reviewing and approving a range of new business opportunities, including the submission of bids for grant to the Homes & Communities Agency”.

The SBT could learn a thing or two about governance and transparency from the HCA and Midland Heart, who make Richard Hyde’s activities and outside interests clear and easy for all to find. By comparison, the SBT governance page is pretty pathetic. You have to dig quite deeply to find out that he’s on the SBT’s Property & Investment committee, along with Peter Nicholls and AP Bird.

As the crow flies
Anyone living in Stratford upon Avon will know that Tony Bird’s Bird Group is one of the biggest land and property developers locally. As well as business parks, they even put their name on the recently-built Maybird and Rosebird out-of-town retail centres.

Their website also showcases the Wildmoor Spa stating: “Located in the Warwickshire countryside, ten minutes from Stratford-upon-Avon and just over one hour from the M25, this impressive facility has excellent road links to the motorway network, a national rail station and two airports”.

The Planning Inspector’s report – used by Eric Pickles to make his judgement – makes 7 references to the ‘Wildmoor roundabout’  - ie the place where the link road would join the A46, just a few metres away from the Wildmoor Spa.

I quote: “A new single carriageway road is proposed to traverse the whole site. This would link into the existing highway network at the Wildmoor Roundabout on Alcester Road and by a new roundabout junction on Evesham Road, where nos 3 and 4 Bordon Hill would be demolished. There would be two further roundabouts along the new road. The construction of the road would involve significant elements of earthworks and landscaping”.

This road – which presumably would make it quicker to get from Stratford Business Park to the Wildmoor Spa or vice versa (even via Waitrose?) – can only go ahead if the SBT sells the earth and land behind Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.
In the public interest
For these reasons, Save Shottery demands that SBT makes public all minutes of trustee meetings concerning the Shottery development. If they do, there will be no doubt or suspicion whether both these trustees have done what the Trust says in today’s Herald (6.12.12): “both these trustees have assured the board that they would immediately step back in the event that a conflict did arise in the future.”

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