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Parish council using public money to punish parishioner who complained

0 votes
A parishioner has a long running dispute with the parish council. We recently had to remove defamatory information about him from our minutes at the request of the ICO. There are 3 councillors who are regularly having items put on the agenda that directly affect him. Their latest move is to claim that there has been a request from another parish organisation that we fence some parish land. This will stop the parishioner from having vehicle access to part of his property across the parish land, which he has used for 20 years. There has been no such request and it looks like these councillors are simply exacting revenge. This will cost hundreds of pounds and isn't needed or wanted. What should I do?
asked by (260 points)

3 Answers

+2 votes
The role of a parish council is to spend public money for public benefit. From what you have said, the public benefit of this item of expenditure is questionable. It is also incumbent upon us all to demonstrate the highest standards of probity and integrity in our conduct and not to embroil ourselves in petty squabbles. The Code of Conduct and Nolan Principles are there to be used in situations such as this.

On a more practical level, the 20 years could be of great significance, as this is the period prescribed by law to create a permanent right of access. The legislation is complicated and I'm not a solicitor, but if you Google "easement by prescription" you'll find more detail. Ultimately, only a solicitor specialising in this area can determine whether such a right exists for you, which may simply boil down to the date on which the parishioner first used your land to access his. If a right of access exists, erecting a fence would be against the law and might cost you far more than the cost of the fence.

You mention three councillors who, I presume, are a minority group, so a simple vote against their proposal would prevent it from going any further. In view of the history here, I believe that you are within your rights to ask to see proof that the request was made by a third party, however this is largely immaterial. You should be able to rely upon the support of your Clerk in resolving this situation, however that will depend upon his or her knowledge, experience and willingness to confront members.

I hope that you are able to resolve this amicably.
answered by (11.9k points)
0 votes

I totally agree with DavetheClerk's response.

It might also be worthwhile obtaining a copy of the title deeds pertaining to the dominant land (parishioner's property) to see whether there are any recorded easements over the servient land (parish property).

For a small fee, you can obtain a copy of the title deeds from Land Registry on the link below:

https://eservices.landregistry.gov.uk/eservices/FindAProperty/view/QuickEnquiryInit.do

answered by (1.3k points)
0 votes
In addition  to the existing responses, this should be reported to the External Auditor. and the Monitoring Officer of the Principal Authority.
answered by (9k points)

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