Hartlebury Common, Worcestershire.
The debate continues
- This is not the only example of stewardship money being paid for statutory duty which is specifically excluded from any payment under the Common Agricultural Policy or for works in respect to existing access rights
Says Bob Milton
The common is only vested in the council under s9 Commons Registration Act 1965. That vesting is not a legal right to the freehold [fee simple] as was stated at the fencing enquiry some four years ago. The only power the s9 vesting gives is to protect the common from encroachment and damage ie theft and abuse on behalf of the true land owner who was not registered at the time.
It is also true that even though there is no duty or power to maintain the land under this Act there are powers under the Local Government Act 1972 and other Acts eg Open spaces Act 1906 but they seem never to have been invoked. The stewardship and SSSI regulations only apply to freeholders, leaseholders and tenants so in this case it seems none apply so it is likely that the arguments put forward by the Inspector and Worcestershire CC on the expediency of giving consent for the fencing ie so they could claim stewardship and it was their statutory duty under s28g [sch9 CROWA] is seriously flawed in my opinion. This would or should lead to serious consideration by the Parliamentary Audit Committee to the charge of fraud.
This is not the only example of stewardship money being paid for statutory duty which is specifically excluded from any payment under the Common Agricultural Policy or for works in respect to existing access rights ie rights of way and highways, as well as more general rights of access eg where s193 LPA 1925 or Commons Act 1899 apply