The following is a précis of the questions and statements made at the public meeting held on the 15th February at the Memorial Hall, Freshford. The session was chaired by Nick Stevens, Chairman of Freshford Parish Council and he answered questions on behalf of the Council.
Congratulations on the negotiation so far; I support the purchase. (Applause.)
Does the owner of the road through the Tyning have rights over the land on either side? (Ray Benfield)
No. The land under the road belongs to the owners of the Tyning.
If the PC is owner, what constraints would there be on the PC in years to come? (Ray Benfield)
The Parish Council takes the land subject to all existing legislative and planning restraints and other stated restrictions. The Parish Council raises taxes each year through setting an annual precept sufficient to cover its running costs and liabilities. This is paid by householders through the Council Tax demand issued by the Bath and North East Somerset Council. There are no known Government plans to overhaul the present structure of funding.
Who counts as a local inhabitant? (Stuart Campbell)
At one time it was thought that local inhabitant referred to Freshford residents only. Now it is clear that the definition is wider than that and embraces all who can reasonably claim to live in the local community. All such people have a right to use the village green. Others from outside the area may use the green and do so either by invitation or by the implied consent of local people.
The right of access already exists and there are gates and stiles except through fence at top of ‘red’ area. The steep slope of ‘red’ area makes it unsuitable for recreation. The ‘blue’ area is little used. If grazing is stopped the rural character will be harmed. On the other hand, safer access to the school would be a benefit of purchase.
If Limpley Stokers would use the Tyning, shouldn’t it be funded from their precept too? (Matt Fletcher)
Freshford PC will accept primary responsibility for the cost of management and maintenance of the Tyning just as Limpley Stoke PC bear the cost of the management and maintenance of their play area the King George V Play Park. It will be a matter for the Limpley Stoke Parish Council to determine whether or not they would wish to make a contribution towards Tyning costs.
Limpley Stoke has been trying for years to buy BT site. Well done for getting to this point. Recommend “biting their hands off” to complete the purchase. (Applause.)
If owned by PC could cows stay? (Jessica Rothwell and others)
The PC has negotiated for the land on the basis of securing it with vacant possession. If the land is to be unfenced then it is difficult to see how cattle can be placed on it. The Council will however look at this issue in more detail and see if the competing issues can be resolved.
We couldn’t have children and animals on the same land.
We must respect biodiversity. The Tyning is a microcosm of the surrounding countryside. Its potential for education should not be ignored.
Purchase of the Tyning would help us provide more parking for users of the village hub and for school access, and safer walking for children. (Applause.)
Cows are only there occasionally. For much of the time the Tyning is an empty, unused space. (Applause.)
I am very concerned about safety for children walking to school – we want a footpath across Tyning so that the children can walk to school without going out onto the road.
Who specified the ‘reserved land’ for the school? Does this not lapse if we get vacant possession? (Candy Harrison)
The Council for Bath & North East Somerset in 2003 specified that the parcel of land be reserved as a potential site for a grassed play area for the school children. It forms part of the Local Plan. Its reservation as Educational Reserve does not lapse on change of ownership.
If fences are illegal on a village green why is the Tyning fenced? (Gitte Dawson and others)
Despite the registration of the village green in 1970 the practice of maintaining the red land as pasture was well established. Grazing has continued up until the present time – it is occasional rather than regular. As late as 2003 the Parish Council endorsed that practice though it did go on to say that the position should be reviewed should circumstances change. The fact that the school has still been unable to find additional play space for the children combined with the advice of the Rights of Way Officer that the fencing is unlawful and the fact that there is a pressing need to improve road safety along Freshford Lane has necessarily required that the PC take a fresh look at the circumstances now existing.
Has the £700 originally contributed by villagers to purchase in 1924 been lost? (Alan Dodge)
The short answer is yes. But on the positive side the covenants served two very useful purposes. First, they effectively prevented any development on the Tyning (save for the school extension) for the best part of 50 years. Second, it was the covenants that provided the vital evidence at the time of the village green registration in 1970 that the land had customarily been used by villagers for sport and recreation.
Stephen Dawson and others
Income from grazing is low so private owners would not resist a lawful demand to remove the fencing. The land would just become derelict.
Maintenance of land is not easy and needs to be carefully considered. (Mary Stanhope and others)
The PC acknowledges that this is so and intends to give the matter the most careful consideration. The Tyning does not fit the idealised picture of a flat village green complete with a centred cricket square. It comprises paths, woodland, mown grass, pasture, hedges and either side of its crown the ground is sloping and uneven. One solution will not fit all circumstances. It will be vital that a range of maintenance work is devised that best suits the particular area of land under consideration. It will require sensitivity and imagination and above all the willingness of the community to help form the proposals and to then support and to give effect to them.