Quantocks to be sold off by Somerset CC
Thought this deserved a quick bump.
“We want a smaller Council and will transfer this to others. That is the objective, it doesn’t matter if it does not raise much money.”
It seems Tory Cllr David Huxtable’s main priority is living out his ideological fantasies, regardless. If there’s one thing worse than politics… it’s local politics. 👿
5000 signatures forces the Council to debate the issue.Posted 6 years agojulianwilsonMember
It seems Tory Cllr David Huxtable’s main priority is living out his ideological fantasies, regardless. If there’s one thing worse than politics… it’s local politics.
I heard that it’s all about hunting. Had a quick google: Mr Huxtable is a sports marketing consultant-turned councillor and iirc he is big in hunting circles.
Currently the landowners do not / cannot allow hunts to pass through the land at stake. This is certainly the case with Great Wood. A change of ownership would not affect the FC 100 year lease on it (for they lease it not own it), or necessarily affect walking or biking access, but it would mean a new landowner could allow hunts to pass through. Allegedly the FC are not happy about this because hunting can make a real mess of commercial forestry operations in a way that a bunch of downhilling trailbuiders could only dream of.
It is a bit wierd that I have heard all this from a source so well qualified and placed to comment, yet the hunting angle is so poorly reported. 😕
BTW I tried to sign the council online petition, but you have to live, work or study there. Apparently ‘drive there three times a year, be complicit in the creation of braking bumps and bugger off back west again’ does not count. 😆Posted 6 years agotoys19Member
BTW I tried to sign the council online petition, but you have to live, work or study there. Apparently ‘drive there three times a year, be complicit in the creation of braking bumps and bugger off back west again’ does not count.
I have signed it and I don’t live there?Posted 6 years agoMidnighthourMember
I have signed.
They need about 500 more signatures to hit the needed target, so sign up folks…Posted 6 years agosrrcMember
There is nothing worse than the dead hand of the council on what it controls, you should be rejoicing that they are selling. The Forestry Commission have a very long lease on the land proposed so they will continue their generally bike friendly policies like they do everywhere else. Who owns it will make no difference, all the current environmental obligations will still be binding.Posted 6 years ago
Any monies raised will help Somerset get over the disastrous financial state recent administrations have caused.
Government bodies should not own anything like land on the Quantocks. They aren’t assets, they are liabilities.noteethMember
There is nothing worse than the dead hand of the council
…as opposed to what? The energetic hand of commerce? As has been widely pointed out, ownership of these areas is hardly going to constitute a moneyspinner. And as for monies raised – even Huxtable admits that it probably won’t amount to much! I’d say the widespread opposition to this move is for very good reason – it’s simpler to keep these lands in CC/public ownership. That’s not to say that the National Trust etc wouldn’t make a good job of it, but the principle remains: the CC were bludy stupid to think that such a near-clandestine attempt at disposal would pass without comment. For that alone, they should be hammered.Posted 6 years ago3bikemanMember
The money raised by the sale will be peanuts and amounts to selling off the family silver – just like the farm sell off – SCC need to look at the £70000 they wasted challenging the people fighting the libraries closure, and also Ken Maddocks £34000 expenses each year – still!! selling off the Quantocks will enure he gets those for another year [just]
As noteeth says ‘its the principle’ of the whole thing – may be the NT may make a good job – I suggest we all support the ‘Friends of the Quantocks’ see below:-
Following our email of 13 December alerting members to this proposed sale, there has been considerable media interest in this proposal. Although Friends of Quantock has been interviewed several times and has clearly stated its position on this sale, it is felt that, due to the mixed messages in the media, it would be helpful if we once again make our position clear, as follows:
“FoQ are opposed to the sale by the County Council of any land the Council owns within the AONB and we have entered a formal objection to the proposal. We feel that the four areas that are currently owned by the Council – i.e. Great Wood, Over Stowey Custom Common, Thorncombe Hill and Cothelstone Hill – are very important parts of the AONB and should remain in public ownership as heritage assets.
The County Council argues that, with proper safeguards, these parcels of land could safely pass into private ownership. FoQ are not against private ownership in principle and indeed other parts of the Hills are privately owned and in good hands. However, we feel that the public interest in these assets is better served by public ownership and that moving them to private ownership after 100 years is a retrograde step. We also have concerns as to how satisfactory the safeguards can be in the long term, should the land fall into hands that were not so sympathetic to the public interest.
FoQ believes that, if the County Council does not wish to hold these assets, they should be passed to another public or charitable body, such as the National Trust. We have also expressed our possible interest in holding this land, particularly Thorncombe Hill, on behalf of the wider community, if that proves to be the way forward.”
I dont really know where the whole thing is now or whats happening its gone quiet – However as TJ pointed out, the hunting thing is an interesting twist!Posted 6 years agosharkiMember
There’s another demo Outside Shire Hall 9.30am Wed 13th February.
Although the FC have a long lease, could new owners clamp down on the present relaxed way in which the DH trails are used and built?
The Newly formed Quantocks cycling hub, has future plans of making the DH trails more ‘official’ as well as a possible development of all ability trails.
This opens up the chance for races being held as well as giving families the chance to be introduced to a more active lifestyle. Something which the 1SW project was designed to do, a project that the very same David Huxtable(cllr pushing the proposals through) has links to via it’s partners.
I received this today, makes little sense to me, but i’m not remotely knowledgeable of this kind of blurb.
SUMMARY OF NOTIFICATION OF A PROPOSED KEY DECISION TO BE TAKEN BY THE CABINET
The document was published on the web on Friday afternoon 10th February 2012 (After Lib Dem motion registered at noon)
Full document on: http://www1.somerset.gov.uk/council/portfolio%2015/2012/Notification%20of%20proposed%20disposal%20of%20SCC%20land%20at%20the%20Quantocks.pdf
Date of Publication of proposed Key Decision: 3 February 2012
Date proposed Key Decision to be made: 13 February 2012
Date Decision comes into force: 17 February 2012
Recommendation: That the Cabinet Member for Resources:
Approves the proposed disposal of the legal interests in
the land known as Thorncombe Hill, Customs Common
& Great Wood on the Quantocks.
“The sale of this land will assist the Council to achieve its priority
or rationalising its property portfolio and realising capital receipts
to support the overall capital programme.”
“The land is not required by the Council to fulfil any statutory
function, and the necessary protection of the land can be
maintained by the existing statutory legislation and where
necessary strengthened by the use of covenants to ensure
continuing protection of the land, public access, its management
“Background information which has been considered in respect of
each of the sites has included an assessment of its landscape,
biodiversity and heritage value. It is proposed that appropriate
conditions should be attached to the sale to ensure that the
landscape, biodiversity and heritage value is protected in the
future, although this could affect the value which a site would
realise on disposal.”
“Failure to dispose of these three sites will mean that the Council
will not generate a capital receipt to meet the Council priorities.
The level of public interest and concern suggests that the
proposed disposal may be subject to subsequent challenge
which if successful could affect the completion of any disposal.”
“The Council has complied with this statutory requirement with adverts in the Bridgwater Mercury on 29th November and 6th December 2011 and responses were required by 23rd December 2011.”
3.1. The advertising of the Councils instruction to dispose of the land resulted in a
number of representations being received. This included some 130 letters, 300
e-mail objections and a petition delivered on 22nd December 2011 with 331
names. Additionally an e-petition on the County Council’s website has been set
up which at the close of 23rd December 2011 had 2612 names but currently at
4804 names. Details of the representations will be considered at the decision
3.2. The responses can be summarised as follows:
– The possible transfer to private ownershipPosted 6 years ago
– That the open space should not be sold
– Concern about the loss of access
– Concern about the management of the land
– Protection of the Sites of Special Scientific Interest
– No public consultation on the proposal
– Concern about future development of the land
– Possible loss of amenity for leisure groups
– Effect on tourism
This link given was unavailable on Saturday 11th of February:
Appendix A: Impact Assessment by Charlie Field
The people who could be affected are those who use the sites for recreation, sporting activities and relaxation. There is a link here to the condition of the natural environment in that people enjoy the sites (particularly the Quantock Hills) for their wildlife, their landscape and their peaceful nature. The 2003 Quantock Hills Visitor Survey details that the Quantock Hills received over 385,000 recreational visits a year, and over 50% of Quantock visitors visit ten or more times per year.
People of all ages and abilities use the Hills. While the present ownership encourages sustainable levels of use there is a risk that a private owner will not continue to actively support public use of the sites and may not make those with disabilities feel as welcome as at present. However all the land is classified as Open Access Land and include a right of access on foot. There is a good network of footpaths and bridleways over the land which will ensure access is maintained.
The Quantock AONB service has policies on sustainability which are relevant to the use of the sites owned by SCC. AONB staff has been instrumental in entering both SCC land and adjacent private land into DEFRA stewardship schemes which help ensure that much of the SSSI hill top is managed in a sustainable way. There is a risk that change of ownership could result in less proactive management of the hills.
The AONB service could be less involved in the management of the hills and in a weaker position to ensure sustainable management. A form of hunting takes place on a regular basis on the hills. This often involves significant use of 4x4s and quad bikes across the land owned by SCC. The AONB Service ensures that this is managed to reduce this use and impacts such as the erosion of tracks which makes their use by walkers, cyclists and riders more difficult. Loss of ownership makes managing these activities more difficult and may reduce the ability of certain groups to use the hills as they do at present.
Firearms are sometimes carried by those involved in the hunting activity. While the Council presently has some control of this through ownership this will be lost should the sporting rights be sold to a private owner.
“In view of the risks identified in this analysis it is recommended that all of the three sites (Thorncombe Hill, Over Stowey Customs Common and Greatwood) should be sold subject to protective covenants including engagement with positive environmental management and protection from increased vehicle damage. This protection would be easiest to meet if ownership transfers to an organisation whose aims and purpose in terms of public benefit and sustainability are strong.”
There could be a reduction in quality to the rights of way network. There is a risk that a change of ownership could result in a deterioration of the highway network
There is a risk that change of ownership could result in less proactive management of the land for landscape and wildlife.
Significant use of 4x4s and quad bikes across the land owned by SCC. Loss of ownership makes managing these activities more difficult.3bikemanMember
This “The AONB Service ensures that this is managed to reduce this use and impacts such as the erosion of tracks which makes their use by walkers, cyclists and riders more difficult. Loss of ownership makes managing these activities more difficult and may reduce the ability of certain groups to use the hills as they do at present.” and the finalPosted 6 years ago
sentance sums it up – it was on Somerset Sound that they had decided to sell and the final decision made on the 13th
The money they get will pay Cllr Huxtable and Cllr Maddocks expenses and the £70k they wasted fight library closures challenge.
Unfortunately I cant make the 13th for the Demo.GreybeardMember
How did the Council come by the land in the first place? When Councils own land with no direct purpose in terms of running the area, it’s often because it was gifted to them for public use, and the terms of the gift prevent seliing it.
I would be wary of National Trust ownership – not all their land is open to cyclists.Posted 6 years agosharkiMember
I’m unsure of how SCC became owners of land, as these details seem difficult to acquire. Much was given to the crown estate as payment for owed taxes, etc. And Good old George the 3rd appears to of handed over all crown estate to Parliament.
Not sure of the legal side of selling those specific parcels of land. I’ll mention what Greybeard says at the Monday meeting and see if anyone has dug out history of SCC ownership of it all.
As for NT not opening land to cyclists. Down here in the SW the NT has become very open to there land being used(responsibly) by cyclists. They have a keen interest in getting people out there using and enjoying trust land, at least from what my south Devon NT MTB hooligan mate says.
The sad truth is, the councils and that’s everyones, wants to down size. If it can’t make money from it’s assets, it has no financial interest in keeping hold of it.Posted 6 years agoversesSubscriber
38 Degrees are now involved too;Posted 6 years ago
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