It’s proving a test of stamina to read, and respond to, SRWT’s draft management plan before 31st January but I’ve made a start. A DRAFT response, at least the first part of one. Probably to be added to later. I’m keeping my powder dry for now as publishing it now means that slavish supporters of SWT associated with the industry and disguised SWT personnel will get the chance to say the opposite anonymously thereby statistically cancelling out my response. A classic ploy and a parasitic one. It’s a sign of desperation that they will sink that low. But it’s what we expect from this source.
Before commenting on the details of the plan some important things need to be said.
Much of the difficulty here stems from the relation between Sheffield City Council and SWT (Sheffield Wildlife Trust) now SRWT (Sheffield and Rotherham WT). The Council is a public body and there is an expectation on officers to deal openly with citizens, to be transparent, to respond properly to requests for information and to be subject to complaints procedures if necessary. That is not so with SRWT and local people have very good cause over the years to mistrust what they are told by the organisation. Sheffield CC has some kind of monitoring procedure that is meant to safeguard the interests of the public in public land but that seems very inadequate and in the hands of a delegated officer who may at some point in the future be found to be working for a conservation charity like SRWT; this is not fanciful: several Parks and Countryside officers from SCC have made the move. Those who are up to date in national affairs will see this as comparable to HMRC staff finding themselves working for PWC.
Consequently we keep coming upon parts of the narrative of this plan that need to be questioned and challenged. The points at issue occur where there’s an attempt to give unsubstantiated justification for what is in the interests of the wildlife trust and its staff. Rarely is proper evidence provided and those facts which are omitted and others that are wrong induce many suspicions of other statements. In other words the wildlife trust is in a similar position to other private suppliers of services to the council: citizens, however determinedly they try to engage, can have no reliance on the statements given by wildlife trust officers whose first duty is to the interests of their organisation and through that their jobs. Several local people who put in a lot of their own unpaid time in early consultations gave up because of lack of trust. One comment, sadly typical: “It becomes stressful. You can’t go on for ever telling people they are not being honest.” (vocabulary slightly adjusted)