Well the moral of the tale is be very careful in future Villagers before you “gift” land to your “custodians” over there in Cranleigh and…
Watch out – there’s a Brian About!
Farnham, has learned to its cost that local authorities’ cannot be trusted with our land unless of course, legal matters and covenants are tied up with a steel hawser and encased in reinforced concrete. And don’t employ devious solicitors who working for their masters take matters into their own hands? To “tidy things up.”
We are talking about the Beryl Harvey Memorial field in Knowle Lane, gifted in 1970 to Cranleig for recreational and allotment use by the late Gordon Harvey his wife’s memory.
When the land, according to solicitors, “inadvertently” landed in Waverley Borough Council’s ownership in 1974. (“It picked up all sorts of little bits of land around the borough after it was founded.” ) Well how handy is that! Wonder where the other bits are? It was only when devious parish council Chairman Brian Ellis decided to seek the advice of Waverley planning officer Barry Lomax and Housing Officer, Jane Abraham to use the land for “affordable homes” – that the “mistake” came to light. So it was swiftly re-registered but without any reference to a “charitable trust.” Remember that was only to …“tidy everything up.” Well, we all like tidy don’t we? Particularly if it enables the parish council to ignore the benefactors’ wishes and cover recreational land with concrete!
At a packed Extraordinary Parish Council meting Solicitor Daton, said Waverley B C, like many local authorities up and down the land, had a habit of registering land it didn’t own in its own name … Really? Really? REALLY? That sounded vaguely slanderous if one thought about it long enough. He rushed on to point out that his “absent colleague” had simply rectified Waverley’s error.
The removal of the reference to the charitable trust was part and parcel of a request by the Parish Council to ‘clean up’ the Land Registry entry. ‘Clean up?’ Now there’s an interesting phrase. Well someone was hoping to ‘clean up’ that much was clear but the important question was, who was trying to “clean up” and why?
PS. WBC officers’ have denied any knowledge of any discussions with the parish council! and the Clerk also denied she had any knowledge of “anything.”
Thankfully when eagle eyed, and the seriously bright Liz Townsend heard what was afoot in March 2015, she was on to it – and ensured everyone else in the village knew too. Since her election to the council last May she has fought like a cornered cat – along with Girl Power – Dominique McCall, Mary Forysweski and Rosemary Burbridge to ensure the land remains for the purpose the Harvey family intended- Bring it on girls!!
But Oh – do they have a fight on their hands. Because Brian Ellis – now stripped after 15 years of the chairmanship – is not giving up and he hit a new low point in his career when he said:
Mr Harvey is dead, and the future of the land has nothing to do with his family now. He claimed no future parish councils’ should be fettered by a Charitable Trust or any other means, that prevented them from using the land for whatever purpose it wished. And he had not had discussions/negotiations with Barry Lomax and Jane Abraham at WBC?
He conveniently ignored the fact Mr Harvey’s son has written to the council demanding it is retained for the purposes intended. So it appears Ellis wants to ride roughshod over the Harvey family’s wishes and for that matter everyone else in Cranleigh. WW heard from villagers attending there were calls to Kick the bu**** out ! What part of ‘No!’ doesn’t Councillor Ellis understand?. The public don’t want the Parish Council, or any one else for that matter, to develop the Beryl Harvey field. End of! They want to PROTECT it. It was left to Councillor Liz Townsend to make an impassioned plea explaining to Councillors Ellis & Gill, in words of one syllable. The Harvey family had ‘trusted’ the Parish Council to look after the land, gifted in memory of his wife, Beryl, to the Parish and its residents. Councillor Townsend earned a well-deserved spontaneous round of applause from the public.
Earlier, Trevor Williams, Chairman of Cranleigh Parish Council in 1970 when the land was gifted read from a Surrey Advertiser report, stating the land donated in memory of Beryl Harvey was on condition it was retained as open space, and would only be used for recreation purposes. Mr William said that was the spirit in which he as chairman and the Parish Council, had taken ownership.
Next out of the stalls was Kay Newman who took ownership of the article. explaining she had been the journalist covering the story and interviewed Mr Harvey at the time. Like Mr Williams, she was very clear about Mr Harvey’s intentions. There is much truth in the saying that old journalists never die, they just get de-pressed and Mrs Newman sounded very depressed by what she had heard and why? Why, had a reference to a charitable trust been left out of the Land Registry document when the land had been transferred back to Cranleigh Parish Council from Waverley Council? Why had it been transferred in the first place?
Arise Ian Daton again…C P C”s stand in for the solicitor who handled the matter. Might it be that awkward questions could have been posed to the solicitor who handled the matter! How much easier and simpler for Mr Daton to just infer what he thought his colleague might or might not have been doing. Plenty of wriggle room there then!
Mr Daton was expansive in his vagueness, this was a very divisive and complex issue. Really? What utter rubbish! mumbled several members of the public. There was nothing divisive or complex about it. All they wanted to know was who had transferred the land from Cranleigh Parish Council to Waverley Borough Council in the first place and, more importantly, who had removed the charitable trust clause from the Land Registry document and on whose authority when the land was transferred back from Waverley Borough Council to Cranleigh Parish Council? That seemed all very simple and straightforward to the public. Trust a lawyer to try to muddy the waters!
Recently resigned chairman, David Gill, on whose watch these dubious shenanigans occurred , couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about or why the Parish Council was even meeting, “Why are we here?” he grumbled. Well if you don’t know the answer to that Councillor Gill, W W humbly suggests you’re not fit to hold office.
You were there because, as an elected representative, you are accountable to the electorate and although that wasn’t how you and your partner-in-slime, Councillor Brian Ellis, operated that’s how the newly elected Chair and Vice-Chair of the Parish Council claim they would like to operate going forward.
Before the vote was taken to form a working party, at which Gill said he did not want “unelected representatives” included , Councillor Jeannette Stennett admitted to being “confused.” Ah bless! Mrs Stennett, one half of the Stennett & Stennett Duo, means well but she’s not the sharpest pencil in the box. Her husband patted her sympathetically and the Vice-Chair, Councillor Newbie McAll, tried, tactfully, to fill in the blanks for her, carefully ignoring the fact that they had all been sitting at the same table for the past hour.
So… what happens now! Well one thing for sure Cranleigh’s GIRL POWER ARE NOW IN CHARGE with a mandate from the village NOT TO ALLOW the BHF to be used for ANYTHING other than the purpose the donor intended and… IT WILL NOT BECOME THE NEW ELLIS AFFORDABLE HOME SCHEME.
Now thoroughly p***** off Stewart Stennett, the councillor who said he was given the task of finding new sites for affordable homes, says the row is affecting his work for the village and he isn’t going to dig the pond or do something or other with Cranleigh in Bloom because he in his words – has been accused of “accepting bungs”
Is that the sound of conscience at work ! BECAUSE WW understands he is behind the latest scheme to build on Green Belt at Mansfield Park! Silly Boy! Could soon find himself in the firing line – again!
So there you have it, folks, just another tale of countryfolk airing their dirty linen in public! Perhaps Waverley BC should take a leaf of of its book – its airing is done behind closed doors!