Monday, April 23, 2012
Nottingham Evening Post
Vera Malcolm, of the Wigwam Warriors group, on trying to stop a housing scheme ——————————————————————————–
RESIDENTS who want to register land as a town or village green often fight against the odds to preserve their wildlife and natural heritage.
Our campaign group, the Hucknall Wigwam Warriors, tried to stop homes being built on a Wigwam Lane playing field by getting it designated as a village green.
It has been used by residents over many generations after a resident, Mrs Storey, gave it to Notts County Council. She gave it under a covenant not allowing building, but the council said the covenant died with her.
Since the site was sold to developers, we have been fighting to save it. We were stopped from re-opening the application at a public inquiry last week, because of a last minute legal issue.
This was after a costly briefing to lawyers – but we were being represented on a pro bono basis by Gary Peake, student coordinator for the Trent Centre for Human Rights, a voluntary student research and advocacy group linked to Trent Chambers in Nottingham.
This kind of process can be lengthy and difficult. It can be very time-consuming, and it can also get very emotional and expensive. In the case of something like a public inquiry, this can also hit the public purse, because the preparation can be very extensive.
This is a huge problem – for groups wanting to fight local causes. It’s not likely that people can afford costly lawyers, so without help there’s not much they can do. And, even with help, it’s difficult to take on big-name law firms.
As we found at the public inquiry, it often seems that money wins. This is something that has to change if communities want to fight their causes.
We will keep on fighting ours – we are now planning to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, though we know it won’t be cheap.
The legal system needs to change so communities can really stand up for themselves.