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potted history - A potted history, for petitioners

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					A potted history, for petitioners.
Will Woodlands bought other land in the mid 90s.

They had previously bought the Glenfeshie estate in Scotland. They had to sell when
the management committee resigned en masse. The estate was sold to a private
individual, rather than the consortium of charities that wanted to manage a beautiful
part of Scotland.

A programme was made by ITV, ‘Where There’s a Will’ that examined the apparent
emphasis on hunting in Glenfeshie over and above access by the public.

On Hazel Manor farm, there were a series of consultative meetings that took place in
the local area that resulted in the ‘Environmental Statement 1999’, a large document
that promised a network of paths including new access along the front of the Mendips.
(See maps)

Access to the estate was restricted for horse riders, from Compton Martin, and pilots
who had used the site for gliding for decades.

A ‘No Public Access’ sign restricts entry to the area to the North West of Hazel
Manor Farm. This includes beautiful viewpoints that were mentioned in the
‘Environmental Statement 1999’ as being important for the public to enjoy. Local
residents and others have been chased off the land.

When asked about the access that was available, Alastair Martin, the agent for the
charity indicated that only 3 permissive paths were open, yet two of these have been
in public use for hundreds of years. (See ‘restricted estate’ map)

One of them, ‘Green Lane’, is ancient tithe road. When asked if this could be
dedicated to the public, the reply given by Alastair Martin hinted that any application
for Right of Way status may lead to a review of the permissive access.

Without Right of Way status, the lane could be closed to the public for good, or at any
time.

Alastair Martin is the Chair of the Mendip Farmers Hunt.

The agent has claimed that opening more access could compromise their
‘conservation objectives’. He does not seem prepared to explain what these are!!

Charities are required to benefit people, and according to charity guidelines, public
access should be paramount. The Charity Commission specifically say that land
should not be closed for general ‘conservation reasons’, unless there is a very clear
reason.

In spite of clear breaches of Charity principles, the Charity Commission have not been
prepared to take any action. The MP Stephen Williams (Bristol NW) will support an
appeal to the Ombudsman.
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