13 June 2010

Some Facts Behind A Threatening Legal Letter

The Campaign For Real Village Greens has received a letter from a Head of Legal Services which started "I am instructed to write to you on behalf of New Charter Housing Trust Ltd in relation to an article...".  It concerned the 'The Neighbour From Hell?' article and continued: 
"I am instructed to advise you that the use of the photograph of Mr Kibble and one of the Company's logos are considered an infringement of the Company's copyright."
 The 'fair dealing' and 'de minimis' defences, among several others, against any such allegation of infringement should be enough to ensure that this threat goes no further.  However, the fact that the threat was made in this case - and made urgently (within 72 hours) - shows that being associated with spurious village greens can often touch a nerve.

The case of the threatening legal letter also helps to highlight just some of the key problems relating to the new industry of modern spurious 'village green' claims:

The 'Any person may make a claim' issue

Anyone, literally anyone, may make a claim that somebody else's privately-owned property is a 'village green'.  It seems mad, and it is certainly grossly unfair and unjust, but that is the situation under the law as it stands today.

For example Mr Alan Kibble, mentioned in the threatening letter from New Charter, only moved to the area where he has claimed a 'village green' a matter of months before sending the claim form in.  He had no personal knowledge of the land for any reasonable length of time.

This is very common and applies to a lot of these claims.

There is no fee or charge for sending in one of these claim forms.  Again, totally mad but true.


The 'Being a reasonable landowner leads you to being punished' issue

In a case in which New Charter itself is currently threatened with effectively losing property in a spurious 'village green' case, its spokesman David Rigby pointed out:
"New Charter has maintained this land for recreational use for people who live nearby and in association with the housing we provide.  Although we applied for planning consent to build some more social housing on a small area of the site which we own, we have no proposals to develop further."
However, in an attempt to prevent homeless people having a roof over their heads, or additional people enjoying the help that social and affordable housing provides, Stephen Hilton (pictured) has sent in a claim that the New Charter land is a so-called 'village green'.

The case is at Hazelhurst Road in Ashton-under-Lyne.


The selfishness in the spurious village green industry

It is fair comment, relevant to these matters, to point out that Mr Hilton and his spurious 'village green' claim friends don't mind taking the benefits of social/ affordable housing for themselves.

It is other people that they want to prevent having the benefits.

The Hazelhurst Road case helps to illustrate that the essence of nimbyism is selfishness and lack of pity for others in a worse situation than themselves.


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