Fact-finding visit to the south west to learn about commons councils

We were awarded a grant by the Cumbria Community Foundation to cover the costs of four people to attend the AGM of the Dartmoor Commons Council and visit Commoners’ Associations in Bodmin Moor and Exmoor to learn about their plans to set up local Commons Councils.

We were very well looked after by our colleagues in the south west who showed us their farms and told us how they manage their commons. We came back in favour of pursuing the development of a Commons Council for Cumbria for the following reasons:

Pros for Commons Council:

  • Has statutory powers to protect and support active commoning and sustainable use of common land – they can ‘future proof’ the commons
  • Can deliver a framework where active graziers have the majority voice and set and enforce the rules for good grazing management of the commons
  • Is able to advise local commoners’ associations on good management and mediate in disputes
  • Will have a stronger voice when the actions of offroaders, cyclists, horse riders etc may jeopardise agri-environment  agreements

Cons:

  • Cost of set-up and administration
  • Increased responsibility and time commitment
  • Unknown quantity – what are the statutory duties?
  • What is an acceptable make up of the Council Board Members?