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Recent Shenanigans

One or two people have suggested that we respond to the press release and timeline published by the Ruskin Museum but having now taken a look it must be said that it's mostly beneath responding to.

To think that a supposedly responsible charity would put such documents in the public domain beggars belief but by way of an example I thought I'd put the event of 2013 to rights. In their timeline the agreement reached between the parties is brushed off as almost unworthy of a mention - shameful behaviour on their part. They desperately want 2013 to go away - but it isn't going to.

Throughout the early months of 2013 we were in discussion with the RM regarding terms under which we, the BBP, would be prepared to donate our work and the first email entitled 'Donation' is dated 24th April 2013. It was sent to Vicky Slowe (Curator) and Anne Hall (Chair of Trustees) at the museum and in it we set out how we wished to go forwards with maintenance, running, ongoing conservation, etc. Worthy of note is that it was with regard to our donation. No one said, hey, wait a moment, that's ours already and not yours to donate and that's because the joint ownership position was well known and understood by them.

They replied saying that a formal agreement was a good idea so we held a team meeting at BBP HQ to get all our ideas down then mailed Anne and Vicky again on the 29th to ask whether they would prefer to have a draft agreement drawn up or would they like us to do it.

They replied that they would rather we did it so we put out feelers for a suitably qualified lawyer to draw up an agreement.

On the 4th July we mailed Anne Hall and Vicky Slowe once more to say we'd found just such a person and something was being put together for their perusal then on the 3rd October we sent a brief note saying our paperwork was at the front of the queue and expected imminently.

There then followed an exchange between the 3rd October and the 23rd during which the famously fake letter was created followed by our delivering the initial draft of the 2013 agreement to the museum on the 25th October.

This agreement was for BBP to donate all its work and materials and in return we would have exclusive rights to operate and maintain K7.

Almost a month went by as they looked it over and, presumably, discussed it at one of their trustees meetings, until on the 22nd November we received an email with an amended draft - effectively a counter offer - that began,


I've had feed-back from Nick Monk, our Hon Treasurer, about your Donation Agreement, but not much from Anne.

I am attaching Nick's and my thoughts [marked red ].

We don't object to K7's potential absences as such, but, thinking of PR & marketing, we are both concerned over notice for absences, as we feel such absences must be advertised in advance to avoid disappointing/ angering visitors who arrive expecting to see K7. This won't be a major problem if we can say the boat's in action on Coniston Water, or that it will be missing for a week - or whatever - to be at the Goodwood Festival of Speed or something.

It goes on to say,

Anne sais [sic] something about Planning Consent for other Runs on Coniston Water . . .

Don't forget here that the museum has attempted to deliberately mislead the public regarding who was involved by saying all communication was with Vicky who was merely the curator and not a trustee when in fact both the chair and the treasurer were very much involved and without question, therefore, all of the trustees. To try and pin the blame on Vicky when she's now retired and not around to defend herself is especially low.

Nick's thoughts were common sense suggestions regarding informing visitors when K7 was absent, haulage and insurance, that sort of thing and as we could find nothing wrong with them we rolled them into the agreement and mailed back on the 24th November 2013 accepting their counter offer.

Now the above is not an exhaustive list of the correspondence, merely a few selected highlights but what it does illustrate is,

  1. That negotiations were ongoing for most of the year and it wasn't some flash in the pan aberration on the part of the curator.

  2. The chair and treasurer were very much involved and therefore it's unthinkable that the rest of the trustees were kept in the dark.

  3. It is very clear that the museum trustees fully understood the joint ownership position and that our parts were, and still are, ours to donate and, perhaps most importantly, that they gave us every reassurance that we had a binding agreement upon which we relied for a further five years.

So here is one small fragment of the timeline corrected and hopefully it's obvious why we're not going to waste many hours of our lives correcting the rest of it - because it's virtually all selective and highly biased rubbish.

Make up your own mind about who is playing with a straight bat here.

Bill Smith.

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