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The speed required to ensure that a gate closes is greater than the velocity required to amputate a finger, crush a child or the head of a dog, trap a push or wheelchair, or – literally - tear a hole in the side of a horse ......... read more

Frensham Common

Riders could be in line for compensation from Surrey Council

Thousands of Surrey horse riders, swimmers, surf boarders, yachtsmen, fishermen and car owners could be in line for financial compensation from Waverley Borough Council as a result of legal land documents, which have just been discovered in the archives of Surrey County Council.

There is also the threat that the Council will have to re-pay funding it obtained from Natural England to carry out controversial improvements on the common.

Financial compensation could amount to over £1 million depending on the number of claims, which are made.

For years Waverley Borough Council, which is based in Godalming, have banned horse riders from riding on Frensham Common, 1,000 acres (400 hectares) of open countryside, lying midway between Farnham and Hindhead on either side of the A287; allowed swimmers, surf boarders, yachtsmen and fishermen to use the common's two large ponds, known as Frensham Great and Little Ponds, which were built in the Middle Ages to provide fish for the Bishop of Winchester's estate as well as allowed cars to park on the land.

The land documents found in the archives at Surrey County Council prove that in all cases Waverley Borough Council were acting illegally and had no right to ban the horse riders or allow swimmers, surf boarders, yachtsmen and fishermen to use the ponds or allow cars to be parked on the land.

Legal experts claim this could mean that the Council would not only have to pay compensation to the horse riders who were denied their rights to ride on the common but to also repay the swimmers, sail boarders, fishermen and car owners, who paid the Council for being allowed to swim, sail, fish and park on what the Council illegally claimed was land they were managing on behalf of The National Trust.

Experts also claim that the Council would have to repay funds they received from Natural England in order to avoid being sued for fraud.

Says Tony Barnett, Chairman, Common Heritage -

Says Tony BarnerttA nationwide organisation dedicated to maintaining public access to common land, who unearthed the documents, "Waverley Borough Council claim the land is owned by the National Trust but they manage it for them.

"There is nothing in the documents we found in the archives at Surrey County Council that proves ownership or any other right.

"There is nothing on the Common Owners Register.

"There is nothing that even shows the Council has kept up to date with legislation concerning common lands and the rights of people to use the common land.

"Unless the Council can prove that the documents are wrong, the implications could be costly.

"In addition to compensating horse riders from not being allowed their rights to ride on the common, the Council would have to re-pay money they illegally charged swimmers, fishermen and car owners for using facilities and land that did not belong to them. This could run into millions.

"Then, of course, there is the money they obtained from Natural England.

"These matters must be looked at as a matter of urgency."

Says Maureen Comber

Says Maureen ComberI have been given an ASBO by the Hampshire County Council for standing up for riders rights.

How many other people have been silenced by Hampshire County Council? ........... read more

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