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We are dismayed that Hampshire County Council, the greens registration authority, is posting notices on all its countryside sites to prevent people from registering the land as a village green or claiming public paths there.
The county council has written to all the parish clerks in Hampshire to warn them that the notices are going up. Local people who have enjoyed the land for informal recreation for 20 years have only one year after the notice is erected to apply to register the land as a village green. Since October last year landowners have been empowered to erect such notices and the society has already been told of 200 throughout England.
Says Nicola Hodgson, our case officer: ‘We are deeply disappointed that Hampshire County Council is using this process in such a wholesale manner. As a public body it ought to welcome the recording of public rights on its land.
‘Instead of stopping people from acquiring and recording their rights, it should register its land as village greens through the voluntary process. Any landowner can do this, and thus give local people rights of informal recreation there. The land is also protected from development.
‘We have urged public bodies, such as parish councils, to dedicate their land but few have done so. Hampshire County Council’s countryside service has traditionally been a leader in innovation, and this is a splendid opportunity for it to show leadership and a fine example, to the benefit of the people of Hampshire and beyond.
‘We have written to the council to urge that it does so.’