Commons Council may be creeping forward

Very little has happened about establishing a commons council over the summer (that's if we could call it a summer) as I  have been waiting for Defra to respond to some key questions. I’m pleased to report that things now seem to be moving on the commons council front.

Yesterday I had a 1 hour call with two of Defra’s commons team. I got the distinct impression that they are being asked to make things happen – I have been working to Bodmin and Brendon Commons Councils to try and pull some strings behind the scenes. And the two I talked to seem a bit more “can-do” people.

Here are some of the questions I was asking:

  • Can we have a commons council for Cumbria and Northumberland? This is OK as it is up to those proposing the council to decide on the area covered.
  • Can other commoners’ associations join the Commons Council after it has been established? They believe this to be the case but need to check with the Defra lawyer.
  • Equally can a commoners’ association leave the Commons Council if they no longer want to be part of it?  They believe this to be the case but need to check with the Defra lawyer.
  • Can we make the case for having different thresholds of support for the different categories of people who have a legal interest in the common? What I mean here is do we need the same level of support for a commons council from active graziers, non- graziers and other people who have rights of common who maybe don’t farm and maybe don’t even know they have rights. ‘Cos if we do, this is a non-starter. We believe that the voices of those who have an active interest in the agricultural management of the common should carry more weight.They need to talk to the Defra lawyer about this.

They will get back to me with the answers.