The City of Bristol's proud regeneration plans, including one of the modern stadiums for England's football World Cup bid, lie in ruins.
Democratic, transparent and fully accountable, this proposed regeneration scheme had already achieved the necessary planning permission. This is no mean feat.
But then a few unaccountable activists, wanting to preserve 'their' views (and their nice middle-class house prices) resorted to the now familiar tactic of claiming that somebody else's privately-owned property is a 'village green'. By doing so, they have caused utter chaos and halted the local regeneration.
The damage to jobs and the hard-pressed local economy by the claim in this case is estimated at from £90 million to £300 million, according to whose calculation you prefer.
Here are a few key issues highlighted by this latest perversion of the village green laws of England. The so-called 'village green' in question here is:
- 42 acres. Many complete villages in England don't amount to 42 acres in area, never mind their local (ancient and genuine) village green.
- Going to be registered (as things currently stand) on the basis of only 22 people who gave verbal statements about the 'village green' claim.
- Recommended for registration as a 'village green' despite the people who gave verbal statements not being placed under oath or any similar warning.
- Supported by the non-statutory 'independent' inspector in this case, Ms Ross Crail. Ms Crail acted in support of the Ramblers Association in their most prominent recent case. Among other things, the Ramblers Association promotes public access to privately-owned property.