Letters & Articles

TO ALL FREEHOLDERS AND FREEHOLD COORDINATORS.

It has come to our attention that county councils have been threatening ASBO’s, solely for bullying and intimidation purposes against FREEHOLDERS who have just been asking  LAWFUL and LEGITIMATE questions about any rights of way claims against their property.

MISCONDUCT IN PUBLIC OFFICE IS A VERY SERIOUS OFFENCE.


Private/public path ownership

Miss D U F (letter) who contends that I misled when I refer to footpaths as  “publicly” owned and P A ( letter) who contends that “public footpaths are privately owned”, are mistaken.

Section 263 of the Highways Act 1980 (which restates the position set out in a century and a half of Parliamentary legislation) provides that “every highway maintainable at the public expense, together with the materials and scrapings thereof , vests in the highway authority”. Virtually every public footpath is  a highway maintained at the public expense and so, just as with a road, its surface vests by law in the highway authority and not in the owner of the land either side of it.

Ms DUF is correct that the right of way over a footpath is on foot only and does not extend to cycles or horses and that dogs must be closely controlled and kept on the path. The regrettable minority who trespass in disregard of this are condemned no less by the Ramblers Association than by Ms DUF. I trust this clarifies the misunderstandings caused by my previous correspondence.

“The trouble is the definitive map is not definitive.” – CLA


No Free public footpaths

How has the situation been allowed to develop where farmers and landowners are forced to provide leisure facilities to the public free of charge? I refer to so-called public footpaths. These ancient short cuts, made mainly by farm workers who  had no form of transport other than their legs have been hijacked by a group of people who seem to covert what other people have worked hard for. They stamp and shout, like badly behaved children, if the facilities are not to their liking. Then an official pats them on the head saying “Don’t cry, you shall have whatever you want and it wont cost you a penny”. To use public leisure centres, public swimming pools, public tennis courts a fee is charged, so why not pay to use public footpaths?

These so called public footpaths are on private land. You can’t buy a field less the area of the path; you have to pay for the lot. If the politicians want us to provide leisure facilities we should be allowed to charge in line with other groups – Letter in Farmers Weekly


Dear Chief Constable

Maladministration Highway Robbery?

May I draw your attention to a particular passage in this letter that you should be aware of. This is on page 13 of 14, in the second paragraph of the section headed Behaviour casts doubt on suitability.

If, as we believe, Herefordshire Councils Public Rights of Way Dept. (PROWD) has been acting unlawfully in any respect of its approach to enforcement or imposition of highways ( otherwise known as footpaths or (public) rights of way in the correspondence referred to), then it may well be that your offices – I understand that they operate in pairs for this purpose ( a 77 year old farmer living on his own was amongst the most recent to receive such treatment) – have been called in (at will?) for a purpose that is unlawful.


A right to roam but no right to be warned.

Sir – Like most people I did not think the “right to roam” legislation would affect me directly. I have approximately four acres of land attached to my house, some used as a garden and the remainder as grazing for my donkeys. It backs on to the moorland on the foothills of the Pennines, but there are no public footpaths over it or existing access rights.

By pure chance I learnt that all of my land has been identified by the Countryside Agency in the provisional mapping process underway under the Countryside Right of Way Act  2000 as “open country”. When the Act comes into effect I can expect to find people walking through my garden and picnicking among my donkeys. Only because a neighbouring farmer checked on his own land and saw mine was included did I discover the fact. Most of my friends and neighbours have also had their land classified as “open country” – in some cases as little as a quarter of an acre of garden in others farmers fields used as grazing for the sheep and cows they are dependent upon for their living.

the Countryside Agency, with the Governments blessing, made a conscious decision not to inform anyone directly if their land has been classified as “open country”. instead they are arranging a series of low-key regional road shows for public consultation. Everyone who owns land, no matter how small a patch – even an allotment or garden – should seek out and carefully check these maps.

I can only assume that the intention is to nationalise the whole country bit by bit before the majority of us notice.


Two Bridleways

Dear Mrs L,
Public Path Modification Order No 6 2008.
I have received the notice confirming the Order from Sandra together with the notice that if one feels aggrieved by the Order one has six weeks w.e.f. 17th September 2010 in which to make application to the High Court. As I was only a witness at the local inquiry, and I have no vested interest in the property affected by this Order, I will not be seeking any further redress in the matter myself.
After attending two of these inquiries, I realise now that the only evidence you needed to create a bridleway is for a few horse riders to say they have ridden along this path for twenty years, without any proof or evidence to show their statements are truthful. As you saw at the Inquiry, the one witness I asked to describe how she had crossed the Muddy Pool Beck never answered my question; she just asserted that it was no problem. As the banks were completely obscured by tall grass (Glyceria spp) upto five feet high and there are many rocks and stones in the beck, any horse-rider would have to lead their horse through this grass wearing wellington boots. No one would try to jump it or ride through the thicket blindly; in fact any horse would refuse to do either.
There remain just two questions which neither the report nor this notice refer to or explain.
1. If the stone bridge is still to be marked as a bridleway, why is a new bridleway needed further down the beck? And under which section of which Act can one create a duplicate bridleway alongside an existing one?
2. As the new bridleway was never a public highway, and is to have a width of 3 metres and a length of 39 metres, this area of land will now become public property and no longer belong to the owner of the land. As neither he nor the previous owner has consented to this land being dedicated in this way, surely under the 1980 Act, he should be compensated for this loss in accordance with the sections referring to Compensation (1980 Act Section 28. (1)? Otherwise it smacks of land nationalisation by the back door?
Yours sincerely,
V.P.W.L

———————————–

Dear Mrs L,
I note that in fact you appear to be unable to give me any map references to duplicate bridleways anywhere else in Cumbria.
I also note that your Council are not going to compensate Mr Whitton in accordance with Section 28. (1) of the 1980 Highways Act.
If, as you maintain, though without any evidence, the footbridge across the Muddy Pool Beck has always been a bridleway, why has your Council never kept it repairable at public expense? Because both banks have washed away, it is now left as a stone slab marooned in the middle of the beck giving access to neither horses nor pedestrians in times of flood.
Whether this route is a footpath as shown in the 1969 REVISED Ordnance Survey 25 inch map, or a bridleway as now ‘Modified’, does this neglect not appear to be a case of dereliction of duty?
Yours sincerely,
Mr.L

In law, there is such a thing as “proportionality”


Farmers who block paths face £5,000 fines

Landowners or farmers who block footpaths or bridleways face fines of up to £5,000 and a jail sentence under legislation which came into force yesterday.

Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, landowners  or tenants can be asked to cut back overhanging vegetation above roads or bridleways so there is enough room for riders or vehicles to pass beneath.

Highways agencies will be able to charge the landowner or occupier the cost of doing so if he refuses, but he will be able to appeal to a magistrates court if he thinks the sum is too great.

The Act has considerably toughened sanctions against landowners and occupiers who persistently obstruct footpaths or bridleways. People convicted of deliberately obstructing a highway can be fined £1,000 and ordered to remove the obstruction. If they do not they can be fined up to £5,000 or face a prison sentence. Further fines of up to £250 can be imposed for every day the obstruction remains.

The mapping of four million acres to which the right to roam will apply is to begin, but it could take five years.


Big Brother has his eye on SSSI’s

Romney Marsh’s 9,000ha SSSI takeover was perhaps misleadingly portrayed by last week’s photograph of grazing sheep.

English Nature lists no less than 28 actions that require consent, which debars almost any farm activity from the farmer’s own decision.

Not only are all soil cultivations and internal livestock movements under strict control, but a vast list of allied activities from the sowing and maintenance of crops to mowing for hay, hedging and ditching, irrigation, vermin control and, of course, chemical rates. Moreover, inspectors may have access to your land at any time without your consent.

Big Brother has arrived and there is absolutely no mention of compensation for the inevitably lowered farming returns.


Letter from Alun Michael MP to Dr Kim Howells

This letter from Alum Michael was sent to us from Mr Lamerton the injured party via Kim Howells it appears. In the public interest and  public safety we have decided to display it.

Editor – If Alun Michael had gone public over these incidents awareness would have been raised. Cattle keepers owe a duty of care to accidental visitors and to trespassers.


The Right to Property Act 1925 – Reclaim your full property entitlement. protect your property at all times.

Council has already targeted our property, says angry wife.

A couple whose property has been targeted by their local council hit out last night at the Government’s “diabolical” new confiscation edict.

Helen and Nigel Adams are worried that they are set to become the first family in the UK to have property seized under the Empty Dwellings Management Orders.

Although the move has only just been sanctioned by ministers, the couple, from Luton, have already received letters from the council which warn; ” The Government has stated that empty properties are a wasted resource”.

The property at threat is a bungalow left to them when Mr Adams mother Diana died earlier this year.  It has become the target of Luton Borough Council’s empty homes officer. Yesterday Mrs Adams, 45, a health worker and mother of 3 said ” these new powers are diabolical. I don’t think anyone should be able to walk off with people’s possessions.

“It’s theft, whether or not it’s a burglar in the dead of the night or council officials in broad daylight.

“These orders are unfair and councils should be thinking about putting their own run down and empty homes in order before confiscating private property.

“But imagine having to think about losing your inheritance when you are grieving for loved ones. This is really just another way of raising money from people who already pay enough stealth tax as it is.”

Mr Adams, 46, an electronics engineer, is ploughing through the paperwork connected to his mother’s death.

But he fears it will be some time yet before probate is settled and then he will have to worry about meeting the six month deadline.

Otherwise his two bedroom inheritance could be housing another family.


Dispossessed?

Prior to taking the Government before the Court of Human Rights Strasbourg. “We are trying to contact as many farmers and ex-farmers and their descendants as possible. We need to hear from anyone who farmed, or whose parents/grandparents farmed in Britain during 1940 to 1958 and who were dispossessed of their farm during this period. If you have any knowledge of anyone who suffered this plight we would like to hear about it as soon as possible . We will respond immediately to any letter. The Dispossessed Farmers Association.


Repairing of public property

I write concerning the ownership of public footpaths. We have one running through this farm for something over a quarter of a mile and it has two stiles. these have only ever been maintained by our family. it is used occasionally by ramblers. Surely if they are publicly owned we shouldn’t be expected to keep these stiles in repair.


Right to privacy

Sir – I am beginning to feel increasingly victimised by the current Government. First they try to impose legislation to stop me from controlling the vermin on my land by the use of dogs. Then I receive details of four areas on my small farm on which the Government wishes to allow access to all, despite the fact that it is fenced, used for grazing and part of a shoot. And then a man turns up to take pictures of my house because English heritage believes that all listed properties should be shown on the internet, presumably in the belief that everybody has right to look at my house.

I can only quote the late Auberon Waugh in The Daily Telegraph, 1992 “The right to private property is the greatest guarantee of freedom which civil society affords. it is enshrined in the Declaration of Rights of Man as inviolable and sacred” as well as in the American Constitution. Leo XIII in his Rerum Novarum (1891) describes the right of private property as ‘one of the chief points of distinction between men and the lower animals. Does the Government believe in private property?


Compulsory purchase – threat to property rights

Beleaguered private property rights could be further damaged by Government plans to grant greater compulsory purchase powers to local authorities, landowners have warned.

The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill proposes to strip householders and enterprises of legally – enforced safeguards demanding councils demonstrate that attempts to acquire private land and property against the wishes of their owners are clearly in the public interest, says the Country Land and Business Association (CLA)


Public service reform is needed  – but human rights must be at the heart of any changes any inquiry hears

Andrew Walsh director of  investigation and corporate services for the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, said he now told people who came for advice that they could assert their rights.

He said: “[We would say to a complainant] ‘Look as a public authority, the local authority has a duty to consider your right to family and private life’ .” as reported by Andrew Williamson in the Western Mail


SOUTH WEST – PROPERTY JUSTICE GROUP

What I am doing is writing an account of Rights of Way, extracting the lessons and then taking them forward as reform proposals for the next Government.

Once that has been done, it is my intention to have nothing at all to do with Rights of Way.   It has blighted our lives for 11 years.

In the meantime, since we do have an amenable ear to take reform forward, it could be an ideal opportunity for your Association to set out a wish list with a view to righting wrongs.   The CRA’s list of issues is compelling.   Why therefore, if we have a European Court ruling, do we still have a problem?

I will collect representations such as yours and hand them over at the right time.   We have a 4-man advisory Group working directly to our MP, Oliver Letwin, Conservative Director of Policy.

What has to be examined here is the one environment where government condones bullying. The activists enjoy so many advantages in a manifestly unequal and unfair confrontation. Watching opponents descend into a state of impunity in order to protect family homes is not the worst consequences. A few have found themselves unequal to the orchestrated intimidation and have taken there own lives, there are names.

“Explain just how much this is affecting Us”

EDITOR – they will not be forgotten. The Bereaved Support Group


Owners hit out at coastal bill – Farmers Weekly

Landowners have slammed the government for  wasting public money and ignoring fundamental property rights in its proposals for public coastal access.

Nowhere in English Law can you take a right over someone else’s property without compensation – this is nationalisation of land.


No liability if not a highway – Farmers Weekly

Your previous correspondent failed to mention that most footpaths have been put on the definitive map without there having been any verification of an existing highway. Farmers and landowners face no liability for paths which are not public highways.


Responsibility of Rights of Way – Farmers Weekly

Amazingly rights of way have made it onto the cross-compliance list. It is never made clear that in law a right of way is a highway.

A highway is a surface area of land which is vested in the local authority which has sole responsibility for maintaining it. A highway cannot exist on private land. The public has a right of access over a highway.


Alan Cochrane – Scottish Political Editor – The Telegraph says “The last land grab in Europe is about to take place – with the force of law – right here in Britain.”

Alasdair Morrison labour MSP for Western Isles Points out that only the Scottish Parliament – which has no recourse to the House of Lords or indeed to any revising Chamber – could have passed such controversial legislation against the interest of what he calls “the landed classes” so quickly.


To seek amendments to the law so as to ensure the role of the surveying Authorities and that the Secretary of State for the Environment are to be confined to only recording legally established rights of way. To seek amendment of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Section 53

hr

The Environment Directorate and PROWD are unable to determine wheter or not staff engaged in activities involving alleged rights of way (RoWs) have been acting lawfully.

If the Council is not sure whether staff in one of its departments, especially that of one that is assumed to have such  substantial powers of entry onto private property and which has such a high public profile, have been acting  lawfully, the chances must, surely, be very high that they have not?

If members of the Environment Directorate’s staff have  been acting unlawfully with regard to the topics that are raised by the correspondence, then there must, surely, be overwhelming odd in favour of their having so acted for many, possible fifty, years?

If that is so, the waste of resources must run  into millions, especially when remedial costs are taken into account.

We are, accordingly, writing formally to request that you investigate this matter.

We appreciate of course that, on the one hand, such a request is nothing if not a political hot potato and, on the other, that personal anguish and financial loss are not matters of proffesional concern to your office.

Nevertheless, we should like you to be aware that there are many local cases of distress suffered by freeholders whose privacy and sense of security have been destroyed (including by alleged RoWs through the middle of their homes!) and many leaseholders (i.e. tenant farmers) who have been obliged to pay rent for land that has been compulsorily taken out of cultivation so that alleged rights of way can go straight through the middle of their crops instead os as common sense would dictate, round headlands.


Developers will be subject to binding contract

A new planning policy designed to provide community benifits from development projects has gone out for public consultation for six weeks, Powys County Council has announced.

The policy will require the council to negotiate with developers the provision of community facilities, infrastructure or financial contribution to help offset the impacts arising from development.

Before planning is granted, developers will be required to enter into legal agreements on the provision of a range of community benifits including affordable housing, contributions to school and education, the provision of play and recreation space, transport improvements and public art.

Councillor Wynne Jones, board member responsible for planning said “The benefit is that developers and landowners will know upfront and before building land is aquired what we expect. Landowners may have to moderate their own valuation of the land they own as developers will need to factor in the planning requirements.”

Gareth Thomas the council’s Head of Planning Services said “Our Development Plan makes provision for the development of over 6,000 houses and 55 hectares of employment land up until 2016. This will impact on the physical and social infrastructure of the county and it is right that developers should be required to offset these impacts through the provision of community benefits.”

A copy of the policy can be viewed at council offices and local libraries.


Dear Sir

I am sorry I was held up this morning and despite some time taken I cannot find the paragraph in the Highways book written by two barristers (Cross and Sauvin) which I thought was appropriate for you. I have no more time now but have not forgotten you.

What is certain that the Council must quote the section of the Highways Act under which they are proposing to take action. That is the first point.

The second point is that thay must show they are the highway authority for the highway and I believe they must provide evidence for that.

Highways Act 1980 Section 41 states “(I) The highway authority who are for the time being the highway authority for a highway maintainable at the public expense are under a duty (subject to ss 2&4 below – which do not apply to your case) to maintain the highway.

You tell me that the Highway Authority have never at any time maintained the alleged highway nor do they have any proper survey evidence for it. Nor have they made a list of their highways for which they admit responsibility.

All the Council appears to have is a line on an OS map and someone from a Parish Council has tried to put some description on a page about a “footpath” which has no proper legal significance. It could be a public highway or equally well it could be an entirely private track.

Has a council officer at some time just made this all up in the office??

You must find good legal advice soon.


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