Sir Kenneth Calman to take over as head of National Trust for Scotland

THE author of a wide-ranging review of devolution that proposed handing the Scottish Parliament greater tax powers is to become the new head of the National Trust for Scotland.

Sir Kenneth Calman will take up the role of chairman of the cash-strapped organisation in September, a month after the publication of a study that is expected to call for job losses, cost cutting and potential mergers with other heritage bodies in Scotland.

He will succeed Dick Balharry, who operated as the Trust's interim chairman in the wake of the departure of Shonaig Macpherson in January, who left amid reports she was unhappy at cutbacks proposed to meet a 13 million black hole in its finances.

His appointment, which was decided by a selection panel that included the trust's president, is due to be ratified at a meeting of the trust's council next month, and he is expected to be in post after the trust's annual general meeting.

Sir Kenneth, best known as the head of the Calman Commission on devolution, will take up the role in the wake of a wholesale review of the trust's operation carried out by George Reid, the former presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament.

The widely trailed report is due in August and is expected to recommend a review of trust assets, an end to what Mr Reid called the "culture of secrecy" within the trust and an urgent look at finances already described as "unsustainable".

Mr Reid previously called the trust "over-governed and under-managed" and his review is also expected to recommend the scrapping of the 90-strong NTS ruling council in favour of up to 12 to 14 trustees, with the majority directly elected by its 310,000-strong membership.

The Trust's president - the Duke of Buccleuch - welcomed the appointment, insisting that Sir Kenneth had "a wealth of strategic and leadership experience gained throughout an impressive career".

He added: "We are enormously fortunate to secure the services of someone who combines that experience with passion for our heritage and who is thus well-qualified to guide the trust through the next steps of its journey following the conclusion of George Reid's Strategic Review."

Mr Reid was called in last November after the struggling heritage body cut 45 jobs and mothballed four sites following the discovery of a 13m shortfall in its finances. A membership revolt saw the body scale back plans that would have seen 11 sites closed with the loss of 91 jobs. Members were also unhappy at the sell-off of the trust's Charlotte Square offices without consultation.

The trust looks after more than 100 historic properties across Scotland, and earlier this month announced it was in a "more secure" financial position than last year, with its annual results showing working reserves of 8.5m - more than double the previous year's figure of 4.1m.

Income from membership fees rose slightly to 10.4m, while the number of paying visitors also increased by 7 per cent.

PROFILE

BEFORE heading up the Calman commission Sir Kenneth, below, had an illustrious career as a cancer specialist and health expert.

Sir Kenneth was the Chief Medical Officer of Scotland between 1989 and 1991. He then went on to serve as the Chief Medical Officer to the UK government between 1991 and 1998.

He was later Warden and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Durham between 1998 and 2006, before serving in the position of Chancellor of the University of Glasgow - a post he has held since 2006.

Sir Kenneth has been the president of The Boys' Brigade since September 2007, and addressed his first council meeting as President at Tulliallan Castle in September 2008.

The accounts also showed that an extra 2.7m was raised by increasing visitor numbers, mainly as a result of figures from the Burns National Heritage Park of which the trust took over the running in the previous year.

Legacy income was also found to have risen substantially to 5.9m, with the wage bill falling by 3.2 per cent as a result of the redundancy programme.

The Calman Commission, chaired by Sir Kenneth, came up with recommendations to improve Scottish devolution, and the new Tory-Lib Dem coalition Government at Westminster has vowed to implement them.

One of the most radical is that the UK government should cut the rate of income tax by 10p in Scotland and Holyrood should make up the difference.