Nidderdale Chamber of Trade and Parish Council are urging objectors to a landowner’s campaign banning the use of common land to make their voices heard at a hearing on 20 November 2018 at Northallerton County Hall.
The call to action follows a two-year dispute which was sparked after estate owner, James Briggs, erected enforcement signs on ‘The Green’ in Ramsgill, an area of common land and a key feature of the village. The signs state that the land is private land and are having the effect of discouraging public use, despite the Green also being registered as common land.
Mr Briggs has also set up additional ‘No Parking’ enforcement signs on the grass verges of the roads running past The Green. Mr Briggs is not the registered owner of the roads which run past The Green. However, he has employed an independent parking company to collect fines from locals and visitors parking there.
The areas the landowner is trying to control is land which has been registered as common land since 1970.
Mr Briggs’ application to de-register The Green as common land is the subject of a hearing which starts at 10am on 20 November 2018.
Keith Tordoff MBE, chair of Nidderdale Chamber of Trade, said:
What the landowner intends goes against everything that the Nidderdale Chamber of Trade works towards achieving for the area which includes making Nidderdale more accessible to people from outside of the area, while protecting our local heritage.
The land is an amenity that has for many decades been enjoyed by locals and visitors. The benefits of the countryside should be open and accessible to all to enjoy. The applicant has put numerous signs up to prevent parking on access roads which, according to the land registry, is unregistered land. The signs are unsightly and unwelcoming. They state that no parking is allowed, are incongruous and have a detrimental impact on the natural beauty of the piece of land.
The signs have been put on the land, making the area look unsightly and unwelcoming. Ramsgill is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and I believe that the beauty of this common land will be compromised if it is de-registered.
Jo Makin, another long-standing Ramsgill resident, added:
When I heard about this matter from a neighbour, I was very glad a stand is being made against this ‘land grab’. I have known of the concern held by many local people to the attempt to gain control of a place we all love and consider to be part of the open space for everyone to enjoy.
Residents’ raft of claims include Mr Briggs threatening to impose a £65 fine on two men trying to collect furniture at a house adjacent to the green – forcing them to move and carry it 200 yards. One neighbour says they were told to get off The Green while enjoying the sunshine with another resident claiming he was verbally abused for failing to ask the estate owner’s permission to park temporarily while dropping off goods at his house. Another neighbour left her engine running and door open whilst dropping something off was told by Mrs Briggs as she took photos ‘you are racking up parking fines sweetie’.
Locals also say the estate owners park their cars in the middle of the road outside their house – blocking public access and forcing the refuse lorry to dangerously reverse onto the main road.
McCormicks Solicitors, which represents a local resident, is helping co-ordinate the efforts of those who wish to retain The Green as common land. The firm is also investigating the position in relation to the parking notices which have been issued and the blocked access.
Solicitor, Will Bates, said:
We are instructed to represent some of those who oppose the application to deregister The Green as common land. The Green is an integral feature of Ramsgill, both in terms of its location and amenity value. Whilst particularly important to residents and those who own the cottages around it, it is similarly enjoyed by visitors to Ramsgill.
“The hearing on November 20 will include an opportunity for an informal discussion. Therefore, we are encouraging anyone who has first-hand knowledge of the Green and would like to see it remain as common land to attend.