Please note that the views expressed in the statements below are those of the Candidates standing and not of the Trust.
Graeme Neil Crisp
I have lived in Chase Ward for over 30 years and brought up my family adjacent to the common there. I have always been interested in nature and conservation. I am a former member of the North Wales Conservation Corps. Then, after qualifying, I worked as a scientist with the UK's Natural Environment Research Council before joining RSRE. I fully recognise how important the Hills and Commons are to the community and how their protection under the Malvern Hills Acts has made Malvern the special place that it is.
I have followed closely the Trust's activities attending meetings for more than a decade and have observed a drift in culture away from a body which listens to the community. I will strive to reverse this trend. I believe that the Trust needs to engage more with the precept payer who funds the major part of the Trust's budget. If elected I will promote a culture which acknowledges that the Trust is partly a public body and that precept payers are key stakeholders.
I think Chase Ward has been poorly served by trustees from outside, and that the Chase Ward voters would benefit from having a trustee on the board who lives in the Ward and knows what is going on there.
I have experience in people management and in the management of large and complex projects.
I was brought up in Malvern and went to Hanley Castle Grammar School. After the Army and university, I spent my entire career in business culminating with running my own business consultancy - including work for the Prince's Trust. I moved back to Malvern on retirement and have the time to devote to this important position.
I was first elected for this ward in 2011 and have now served on the Board for nearly 8 years. I have been involved with and support the proposed changes to our governance. A reduction in the size of the board (as recommended by the Charity Commission) will make the Trust a more efficient and effective organisation - to continue to manage and keep our beautiful hills and commons open and free for all to access.
I am a member of the Malvern Spa Association which aims to conserve and promote our wells and springs.
The 5 Acts of Parliament regulating the Trust need to be made fit for the 21st Century so I would like to serve again to assist the approval and implementation of these important changes. I therefore ask you to entrust me.
My name is Tim Lawrence. I have recently retired from working as a nature reserve warden managing a number of reserves up to 600 acres in size and with a range of habitats. I have experience of working with both sheep and cattle, -their welfare and how to look after them, and stock handling, moving them between sites. I am interested in wildlife, particularly plants and birds and a keen amateur geologist. I live close to Malvern Link Common and walk regularly on both the common and the hills.
The recent consultation undertaken by the Malvern Hills Trust shows the willingness of the Trust to improve the area for wildlife whilst recognizing that there are some difficult issues to deal with and important problems to solve. Livestock grazing will be increasingly important in managing the grassland on the Trust land - it is better for wildlife and cheaper through a reduction in the use of tractors for mowing operations. I would like to use my skills to support the Malvern Hills Trust and promote the wildlife of this special area whilst recognizing that public access is also important. It is by allowing public access to the hills that their beauty and wildlife can be appreciated and thereby valued.
I have lived for over 50 years in Malvern, working as a dentist. With my active family I spent lots of time on the hills and commons and have always been conscious of the need to protect them both for public access and enjoyment, as well as their natural life and beauty. Conservation does need positive action.
Profound changes have been planned by the present Board.
A freehand to impose more regulation and heavy fines is one of their aims.
It is intended to reduce members from 29 to only 12. They have proposed allowing only six elected members of the public to sit on the new Board of trustees, resulting in an enormous loss of the knowledge from people who have really known the Hills over long periods.
Some of the (unelected) members nominated to the Trust by local councils have had a patchy record of attendance and input. I am in favour of reducing overall numbers to fifteen, retaining a majority of locally-elected precept taxpayers.
Regardless of public opinion and years of much-appreciated usage, some members wish to press ahead with totally removing your rights to sit and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the area around the famous Gullet quarry, with fines of £75 just for crossing the fence to sit on the grass, increasing to over £500. Resist this!
Vote Trevor Parsons.
The Malverns are magic! I have been a walker, climber and mountaineer for many years and have seen many spectacular sights. But I am still enchanted by the Malvern Hills. Returning home they always seem a bit tiny, but the Hills have the feeling of being a mountain because of the openness and extended views, and when you reach a top it feels like a proper summit.
I have led parties for Malvern Walking Festival visiting lesser known parts of the Hills; exploring rock paintings, the highest spring on the Hills (named the Watson Spring by the Malvern Spa Association!) and trying to identify 17 counties to be seen from the Worcestershire Beacon.
I have been a Conservation Volunteer for many years, getting out on the Hills to help save rare fauna and flora, adders, grayling butterflies and meadow saffron to name a few!
The Malvern Hills Conservators was created in 1884 and the prime objective is to ensure the hills stay open for the enjoyment of the public, a vision I thoroughly endorse!
For many years the local residents have paid a tax to the Malvern Hills Conservators (Trust) and it is fundamental that the members of the Board are elected.
I was first elected in 2007 and have always endeavoured to attend ALL committee meetings to get full understanding of the concerns of the organisation.
John Anthony Watts
Most charities are financed by donations and bequests. But not the Trust: the Trust is a statutory body with tax-raising powers. Electors have no option but to pay the precept even if they can't afford it. In exchange for this power - even in the lowliest parish council - those paying the tax have the right to vote for their preferred candidate.
Currently there are concerns with the way the Trust works. There is too much secrecy for a statutory body. For almost the last three years, 80% of the Trust's open board meetings saw the public being banned for all or part of the proceedings.
Plans are afoot to change the way the Trust works. These involve parishes and wards no longer being able to elect their own candidates. It also involves half the Board being unelected and more secrecy with the public being banned from all committee meetings.
John Watts is a member of two Chartered bodies of accountants with extensive organisation experience. For many years he also worked pro bono helping people with employment difficulties. As useful as these skills are, for an organisation to work effectively, it also needs the right culture. The Trust must embrace the Government's Seven Principles of Public Life, particularly openness and accountability. John believes that openness is as important as any technical skills he would bring to the role of trustee.
Richard Antony Fowler
Asserting the fundamental democratic right of taxpayers to influence the public bodies they finance is extremely important to ensure that the decisions and direction that they take is supported by the local community.
The precept payers in Malvern have no choice but to finance the Malvern Hills Trust (Conservators) yet they wish to remove the directly elected representative that each electoral ward currently enjoys.
This is wrong and I will oppose any such move.
Public bodies should work transparently with their meetings and decisions open to the public.
The Conservators have, over the recent years, held many of their meetings in secret and wish to take powers to exclude the public from ALL of their committee meetings.
Secrecy is not appropriate for public bodies and I will work to ensure that meetings are open to the public and in particular to you the local council taxpayers.
Spending your money conserving the Hills and Commons for all of us is the most important duty of the Conservators and yet they have spent more than £100,000 on a re-organisation with still no end in sight.
The efficient expenditure of your money on conservation and making the hills a welcoming place for all should be the main focus and I will work to re-establish this aim.
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE
Local Chartered engineer and manager with extensive land management experience.
I have fifty years' experience of serving on environmental committees or as an employee of environmental organisations dealing with diversity of natural habitats and the wildlife they support, and with the interests of visitors who come for recreation, education and inspiration.
I worked at ICI. The business techniques I learned in industry were valuable in linking research and nature conservation with planning and strategic development.
For 25 years I was employed by the Nature Conservancy in Wales, then as a Regional Officer in the South England region which included:
- Managing National Nature Reserves, enhancing biodiversity especially in grassland, woodland and mires, and their use of recreation and education.
- Scheduling of 600 sites of special scientific interest (SSSI).
- Liaising with others (government departments, local authorities and NGOs), landowners and users of the countryside.
- Chair of the Society for Promotion of Nature Reserves and the Wildlife Trusts UK;
- Member of an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development team assessing environmental policies in Finland;
- Vice-President of Eurosite, a European network giving practical advice to managers of natural sites; and
- Seconded to the Welsh Office to prepare the draft structure and budgets for the proposed Countryside Commission for Wales.
I have lived in Malvern for the past 12 years and believe that I have much relevant experience to make a contribution to the Malvern Hills Trust.
After many years working in the private and public sectors I have extensive Board-level working experience. I now want to offer my skills to help MHT do the best possible job of looking after our wildlife whilst ensuring we all continue to enjoy this special place.
I am currently working with the RSPB, Malvern Bird Group and Malvern AONB to encourage landowners to help wildlife. I would like to see MHT playing a leading role in this initiative, promoting its successes to inspire others.
One such success could be the return of summer-singing skylarks, sadly lost from the Hills four years ago. I have been leading a campaign to encourage MHT to reduce grazing in some areas, which has succeeded elsewhere, and will continue to press for this.
I strongly believe that we need to develop a clearer understanding of how current management of the Hills is impacting wildlife, ie which plants, animals, insects and birds are benefiting from the shorter grazing and which are not. An evidence-based study would provide a stronger foundation for decisions about protecting and enhancing nature and enable MHT to embrace change confidently.
We also need to think harder about how the many, and increasingly varied types of visitor can continue to enjoy the Hills together and I believe doing more to promote mutual respect, courtesy and consideration is needed.