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I promised myself I wouldn't get involved in correcting the multitude of errors, falsehoods, lies, call them what you will, in the Ruskin Museum timeline but this one has had a few mentions. The Zoom meeting between BBP and RM in November 2020, which the RM would have you believe was a failure because our guys didn't have the requisite authority or a proper grasp of the facts.


By late 2020 I'd decided I really couldn't be bothered with the RM's refusal to get around a table so I went off to do other things and left Jordan to have a go. Now Jordan is a Cumbrian and a perfectly charming bloke with whom the RM could not possibly have an axe to grind. They have attempted to say they can't work with us and me in particular but our track record of successful negotiations speaks for itself and anyone who visits us in our workshop will confirm that we're easy to get along with but they weren't having the luxury of that excuse so I stayed well out of it.


Jordan first mailed an intro to himself, suggest a meeting and offered a few dates on 20th September 2020 but on the 2nd October was firmly turned down citing the possibility of background legalities and how a meeting might prejudice this.

On the 5th October, Jordan wrote again to point out that meeting with a view to resolving matters could only be viewed as being to our credit in the view of any legalities. Nothing came back so on the 14th Jordan gave them a prod and received a non-committal message about awaiting clarification of their position, which moved things forwards not one iota. Jordan wrote straight back answering their points and again requesting a meeting.


Then the RM had a bit of an oops. Anne Hall inadvertently copied Jordan into an email to the trustees that ended.


'Still don't think it will achieve anything but if it takes a bit of heat out of things then maybe worth doing.'


So now they had a big problem. They'd accidentally revealed their true attitude to meeting with us so if they turned us down again it would be even more obvious that they had no intention of sitting down to resolve matters.

On the 22nd they rolled over and Jordan had his meeting.

Wasting no time, he fired over his proposed agenda on the 29th. It was very simple and contained only three items.

  1. Resumption of the rebuild to get K7 finished.

  2. Matters pertaining to display in the museum.

  3. Future running and maintenance.

That was it but on the 31st October a modified version arrived with extra points added to the top of the list that included such things as social media posts and the 2013 agreement. We had no problem with the extra points but the reason given for putting them at the top of the agenda was that they couldn't get their formatting to work properly - really?

It also said that the meeting would be chaired by Tracey Hodgson.


On the 1st November Jordan replied that it was his meeting so he would be chairing it and he corrected the formatting issues. He also asked for an invitation for Peter Roper-Hall, quite simply one of the most patient and diplomatic blokes we've ever met. Now retired after a long and illustrious career being patient and diplomatic.


The meeting took place on the 5th November and was described as a total shambles with both Campbells and trustees doing little more than bitch and moan and slag me off for two hours. I believe that me calling John Ruskin a paedophile figured quite high on the improvised agenda so, for the avoidance of doubt, when I called John Ruskin a paedophile I was quoting his biographer verbatim. Anyway - that's another story.


So away came Jordan and P.R-H completely empty handed despite their best efforts and despite what the RM has alleged they had complete authority to act on behalf of the project and were up to speed with every detail. They went in there as professional people and witnessed a childish, uncoordinated slagging match. Perhaps most telling is the RM's reply when Jordan asked for a copy of the meeting minutes in order to, as chair, sign them off as a true and accurate record.


Dear Jordan Having considered your request for copy of our notes from the Without Prejudice meeting on 5th November, Trustees have decided our documentation of the meeting should remain as an internal document for our own use. We suggest you rely on your own notes of the meeting.

There is one thing I feel I must point out, however. All of this would likely have remained buried in the mess that's now in the past but if the museum is going to publish, for public consumption, what can only be described as blatant lies then all we can do is set the record straight. We've been accused of mud slinging but would I have sat down to write this had the RM not put out a totally fictional version of what happened? No, I most definitely would not. I could go through that whole document and dismantle it point by point but you get the picture. Again, the above is a very condensed version. In reality many hours were spent overriding objections and closing escape holes because the RM made it abundantly clear that they didn't want a meeting and tried every dodge they could come up with. If it hadn't been for Anne putting her foot in it Jordan would likely still be asking.

It surely must be time for them to give their heads a wobble and start going about this in a more professional manner.


Bill Smith.

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