Your Village in Cyberspace
Welcome to the Copthorne Village Association (CVA) Website, brought to you courtesy of our website sponsor Gary Burfield Wallis of Rogue Interactive
The CVA is a campaigning voice and information conduit for a majority of our village households. We have no statutory or decision making powers but are able to exert a powerful influence on statutory bodies such as the Parish, District and County Councils, the Police Authority and Health Trusts by speaking for a significant majority of Copthorne residents and directing your concerns to the relevant decision-makers in those authorities.
With this Website our primary objective is to improve the flow of information to our members, in addition to our normal Newsletter.
EFFECT OF DECISION OF COURT OF APPEAL – SNELLING v BURSTOW PARISH COUNCIL
Statement from Joy Day, Vice Chair, Copthorne Village Association
Burstow Parish, by its own admission, is one of the larger parishes in Tandridge, with Smallfield village at its heart.
In 2009 Burstow Parish Council had at least two alternative unworked Field Garden allotments – at Keepers Corner and Dowlands Lane – both closer to Smallfield than the thriving Hunters Moon Allotments in Copthorne. The question needs to be asked of Burstow Parish councillors - why did they choose to dismantle and destroy a gardening community at the heart of Copthorne's village life, which has been in existence for over 150 years, when they had no need to do so?
Do they think their recent actions and treatment of the Copthorne allotment holders moral and fair? We think not.
The Copthorne Village Association will be meeting with Francis Maude MP and lobbying Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Additionally, it will press for a bill to be introduced which will retrospectively plug this loophole and prevent further avaricious councils selling off Field Garden Allotments, as it is clear from the judgment that it was never Parliament's intention that this should be allowed to happen.
Statement from Gwyn Cheesmur, Chair, Copthorne Village Millennium Group
We have waited patiently for the Judgement on this extremely complicated case from the Court of Appeal. The decision, reached on a technical point, is disappointing in that it does not as we hoped close once and for all the Burstow Parish Council’s proposal to take away the only allotments provided for the people of Copthorne. From the outset, as a Council, they have refused to acknowledge that the Hunters Moon Allotments are in Copthorne, forming part of our village heritage, benefitting the Copthorne community for well over a hundred years and they refuse to see any moral obligation in this regard.
The Copthorne Village Millennium Group remains resolute in protecting every aspect of the Village heritage for future generations, including the right of Copthorne villagers to have allotment gardens, and we will continue to support any action necessary to prevent the Burstow Parish Council taking away the land and removing our rights. The residents of Copthorne still have the right to object to the planning proposals for this land and we are confident that it is a right they will invoke.
A HUGE MISTAKE by Parliament leaves allotment lands across the country without protection from sale or disposal by local Councils.
This results from a Decision of the Court of Appeal whereby two allotment holders at the Hunters Moon Allotments in the village of Copthorne failed in their appeal to prevent part of the allotments site being sold by Burstow Parish Council (who own the land) for development as housing. The appeal has uncovered a huge mistake by Parliamentary draftsmen and revealed that both Parliament and the Secretary of State do not have the powers they thought they had to protect allotments from such development.
Allotment gardens first came into being when the vast areas of common or waste lands of England and Wales were enclosed by the enclosure movements of the 19th century. Much of this land was created into fields but with every enclosure it was required that areas of land should be set aside as allotment gardens for the labouring poor of the village. By 1880 there were about 450,000 such allotments throughout the country.
These allotments were, and still are, the backbone of the allotment movement. The important issue is that these original allotments were ‘set aside’, whilst subsequently Local Authorities were given powers to acquire or purchase other land for use as allotments.
It has always been the intention of Parliament to strongly protect allotments from disposal by the Local Authorities who own them. Consecutive Secretaries of State and Parliament have taken the view that all allotments were protected from disposal by avaricious Councils by the necessity that consent would need to be given by the Secretary of State and stringent conditions would need to be met.
The Court of Appeal now says that this is mistaken; the Secretary of State has no control and such disposals can be made without any control or protection.
The appeal has revealed that by taking the control away from the County Council under Section 32 of the 1908 Act the hundreds of thousands of those original allotments, which form part of our heritage, now have no protection, and Parliament was wrong in thinking that all such disposals were subsequently controlled under Section 8 of the 1925 Act.
The villagers of Copthorne argued that Section 27 still remained in force and the Court of Appeal agreed, however the drafting was that Section 32 of the 1908 Act allowed a Parish Council to decide not to be controlled by such provision and simply to sell without any control.
The effect of the Judgement of the Court of Appeal will have dire and possibly appalling effects on all allotments owned by Parish Councils, amazingly other than those they have purchased. The Appeal Court interpretation of these Acts will have a devastating effect on the protection of these ancient allotments.
As recently as 1998 the Secretary of State, in giving evidence to the Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs, as to the future of allotments, confirmed that Central Government control was Section 8 of the Allotments Act 1925. In this evidence they stated that the Secretary of State must consent to the disposal of the land by a Local Authority and particularly confirmed that such consent would not be given unless specific criteria was satisfied.
It now turns out that this was wrong and there is NO protection given to such allotments, which are now at risk and can be sold by the relevant Parish or other local Council with no recourse to Central or other Government departments.
Statement from Mike Livesey, Councillor, Worth Parish Council and Mid Sussex District Council
It is hugely disappointing that incompetent drafting of legislation in 1972 means there is no protection for thousands of allotments across the country to prevent them being sold by Parish Councils. There is no doubt in my mind that, had it not been for this incompetence, the argument brought by the Copthorne allotment holders would have won the day. While it may be too late for the Hunters Moon land which Burstow Parish Council wishes to dispose of, Parliament must act with urgency to restore protection to the thousands of similar sites across the country. I will be bringing this matter to the attention of our MP, Francis Maude, without delay, to urge such immediate legislative action.
Additional Background Information
The lands given by the Inclosure Awards for use as allotments by the labouring poor were specifically protected by Section 27 of the Commons Act 1876 which provided that no such land should be sold or disposed of by the managers (the Church Wardens and overseers for the poor, and after 1874 the Parish Councils) unless approval of the Inclosure Commissioners (now the Secretary of State) was obtained. The Inclosure Commissioners were not to sanction any such sale unless and until it should be proved to their satisfaction that land more suitable for the purpose for which the allotment proposed to be sold was allotted may and will be forthwith purchased, and the proceeds of any such sale shall be paid to the Inclosure Commissioners (now Secretary of State) and should remain in their hands until such purchase of other lands as aforesaid.
By the Local Government Act 1894 the management of such ancient allotments were transferred to the Local Authority, and in the case of a rural Parish to the Parish Council.
By Section 32 of the Allotment Act of 1908 where any land acquired by a Borough, Urban District or Parish for the purposes of allotments was not needed for that purpose or that some more suitable land was available those Councils could with the sanction of the County Council sell or let such land and were entitled to receive money for the sale of that land which they could use for the debts and liabilities of their Council, i.e, that money was not ring fenced for the provision of other allotments.
In 1925 further legislation dealt with the management of allotments including by Section 8 the provision that where a Local Authority had purchased or appropriated land for use as allotments the Local Authority should not sell, appropriate, use or dispose of that land for any purpose other than use as allotments without the consent of the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (now the Department of Communities and Local Government).
With this protection in mind Parliament, in the Local Government Act of 1972, withdrew the requirement under Section 32 of the Commons Act 1908 that before a Council disposed of land which it had acquired from any other source that consent was necessary from the County Council
If a Council now wishes to dispose of allotments which it has acquired other than by direct purchase or appropriation (appropriation is a legal term where land owned by an Authority for one purpose and for which it is surplus to requirements is then appropriated for another use), then it can do so because allotments or the land on which the allotments are set out is no longer protected as no consent has to be obtained from the County Council (as the requirement for obtaining such consent was abolished in 1972), and no consent is now needed from the Secretary of State as his consent only applies to those allotments that were purchased or appropriated.
Those very important historic and important allotments that were awarded to the people of the Parish (then called the labouring poor but now the parishioners or any other person who requires an allotment garden) by the Inclosure Acts, and are now held by Parish Councils, can simply be disposed of by the Parish Councils. The Court of Appeal has held that although Section 27 of the Commons Acts 1876, which gave such important protection, is still valid, it no longer applies if a Parish Council determines to sell under the powers set out in Section 32 of the 1908 Act and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government no longer has any say as to whether to give consent or to withhold consent and indeed has no standing in the matter of such disposal as such disposals do not come under Section 8 of the 1925 Act.
An allotment is defined in the Allotments Act 1922 as an allotment not exceeding 40 poles (or 1000 sq m) which is wholly or mainly cultivated by the occupier for the production of fruit or vegetables for consumption by himself or his family.
Although initially set aside on trust for the labouring poor of the Parish this over the years has been relaxed so they are available to the less well-off and if there are no such persons then to any person whatsoever
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