Notice from Land Registry regarding Garway Common,Garway Hill Common, Black House Common and Broad Oak Common.

Application to register the freehold interest of the above commons in the name of James Alexander Delacour de Labilliere.

Following submission by the Parish Council of their detailed Objection Statement on the 4th December we are awaiting the response from the Land Registry. A response is expected in March 2013.

Following the Parish Council Extraordinary meeting on Thursday 30th August to discuss and review the above application, additional information has now been received from the Land registry in support of the claimants’ application. We have also obtained certified copies of the extent of each common from the Commons Officer of Herefordshire Council.

This additional information was reviewed at the Parish Council Meeting on Monday 3rd September at 7.30pm in Garway Village Hall. We are currently preparing a detailed response and counter claim regarding ownership and will keep you updated on the results. In the meantime attached is a copy of our initial response and objection to the claim. Click here for details.

At the Parish Council meeting on Monday 3rd December it was unanimously agreed to submit our detailed response and counter claim regarding ownership of the Garway commons. The detailed Parish Council Objection Statement, was signed by the Acting Parish Clerk on behalf of the Council, and submitted to the Land Registry following the meeting click here for details.

Background and Summary of actions to date.

The Land Registry rejected our claim for Adverse Possession. Give us 3 options:

  1. Withdraw our objections and adverse Possession Claim
  2. Contest and go to Adjudication i.e. Land registry First Tier Tribunal Court of Law.
  3. Meet with James de Labilliere and discuss and develop a legal agreement on the rights and role of the Parish Council and Garway Hill Commoners Association and the landowner James de Labilliere

In light of the above the Parish Council took the following actions:

  1. We sought advice from the NALC solicitor re our claim for Adverse Possession.
  2. Following NALC’s advice we sought advice from a firm of solicitors in Bristol, Bevan Brittan who are highly experienced in Land and Common Land law. They reviewed all the information both from Garway Parish Council and from Labilliere’s solicitor Edward Harris in support of our respective claims.

Because the Parish Council did not want to reveal the information and advice we sought from the solicitors to James de Labilliere or his solicitor all future discussions were held in closed sessions by the Parish Council (see minutes for the period January 2013 to July 2014)

See report presented at the Parish Council meeting on 21st July 2014 for the results of our discussions with the solicitors and the advice we received.

As a result of the advice we received, it was agreed at the meeting on the 21st July for the Parish Council and three representatives of the Garway Hill Commoners Association, to meet with James de Labilliere on the 2nd August 2014 to commence negotiations and to discuss the preparation of a Draft Heads of Agreement based upon the 5 main headings and points identified in the above report.

As a result of the above meeting it was agreed that the Parish Council and GHCA would each prepare draft Heads of Agreements for discussion at another meeting on 30th August 2014.

The results of our discussions with James de Labilliere were presented to the public at the Extraordinary Parish Council meeting on 4th August.

During that meeting the Parish Council were asked to produce a note requesting a response from the community and to obtain the communities views as to whether we, the Parish Council, should:

  1. continue to object and pursue an Adverse Possession claim,
  2. or to negotiate an Agreement and withdraw our objection

 The question was asked, that if you want us to pursue our Adverse Possession claim, are you willing to contribute to the potential cost that the PC would incur if they fail in their claim. These costs we are advised could amount to a minimum of £20,000 to £40,000 with uncertainty about the upper limit.

This was done and the questionnaire was delivered to all households on 7th and 8th August by three councillors and a member of the public. Response requested by 15th August.

The results from the Response were as follows:

  1. there were a 159 returns
  2. 15.7% (25) were prepared to purse claim and to contribute to the potential costs.
  3. 84.3% (134) wanted PC to negotiate and withdraw our objection.

Following this response it was agreed to put a Draft Heads of Agreement together for review by PC and a Solicitor (Ian Goodwin) to be discussed at meeting with James Labilliere on 30th August.

A Technical problem was identified at the last minute on 29th August that stopped the whole council meeting with James de Labilliere on the 30th august to continue the PC negotiations for Draft Heads of Agreement and the meeting was cancelled.

It was however agreed, that as it had been agreed, at the meeting on 21st July, to negotiate with James de Labilliere and the majority of the community agreed with this (see above response). A draft copy of the agreement was therefore emailed to him on the 29th August, with a request that comments were received back in time for the PC to review and discuss and to vote upon at the next PC meeting on 15th September.

James de Labillier’s response to the PC draft Heads of Agreement was forwarded to the councillors on the 10th September explaining that his response to date was incomplete, and as you will see from the attached annotated draft agreement, showing the amendments to the PC’s original, still requires input from Edward Harris James de Labillier’s solicitor regarding clause 7 and 10b.
Regarding Clause 11 Labilliere asked for a schedule of the decisions that the PC have made during their period of Custody of the Commons. It was explained that would be an impossible task since it went back over some 60 -70 years. On the advice of our solicitor the PC asked him to let us know what his specific concerns were, which we understand relate to people/groups making a commercial gain as a result of any decisions that the PC have made. We await his reply.

The PC’s solicitor has reviewed the amended draft Heads of Agreement and has replied as follows:

  1. The proposed amendments retain the spirit of the original draft Agreement.

    It should also be remembered that, where amendments have been made, the parties do have the benefit of various statutory provisions introduced by the Commons Act 2006 to fall back on.  An example of this would be the establishment of a Commons Council.

  2. As clauses 2d(ii) and 2d(iii) have now been removed, clause 2d(i) can be incorporated into a single clause 2d with the removal of the word "following".

    I would also suggest that clauses 6 and 7 are removed as they do appear superfluous to the Agreement.

  3. The only other point was that of the pre-emption. This relates to concerns raised by the PC regarding any future change of ownership of the commons.  This is of great concern to the people of Garway, and we have asked for James de Labillier’s reassurance regarding his and his families, continued ownership of the commons. We have suggest including the following clause in our agreement:

    1. The Owner agrees to give the Council the right of first refusal (pre-emption) to buy the Commons in the event that the Owner decides to dispose of any part of the Commons other than by gift or inheritance.

Given the current position and lack of a draft agreement, which would include all his comments, the PC have asked him to consider and to agree to an extension to our negotiations for a month to allow both of the parties time to prepare an acceptable agreement. We await his reply.

Latest update as of 15th September 2014 we received the following email from James de Labilliere on the 15th September:

Please can you make the council aware that whilst it is regretful we have not been able to finalise a version of the agreements for today's PC meeting, I am keen that we continue to attempt to finalise the agreement this week.  

I will revert with the amended proposal shortly.

For your information attached is the copy of the Land Registry's decision with respect to the Parish Councils application in 2005 for ownership of the Garway Commons. Click here for the Land Registry's detailed reply.

Please note that the address of the Land Registry that people should write to if they have an objection or comment to make about the present application is as follows:

Land Registry

Wales Office

Ty Cwm Tawe

Phoenix Way

Llansamlet

Swansea SA7 9FQ

Quote Title number HE47092/HE47188