Have a look at this excellent short film by Well Red Films on Kinder Scout trespass and direct action
On Sunday 15th April we held our national gathering at the Friends of the Earth offices in London.
This was the day after our buzzing and well-attended tour of London’s housing crisis, organised as part of our Week of Action for Land Justice. Many people at the meeting had organised or taken part in the tour, and celebrated its success long into the evening… I think Nick Hayes summed up the feeling in the room when he said “I’m so happy and tired I think I’m going to cry!”
On Saturday 14th April, after a week of rain, on what felt like the first warm and sunny day of the year, just shy of a hundred people gathered in central London for the inaugural Land Justice Network Landlords’ Game guided walk.
On Sunday about 75 protesters travelled to the Bathurst Estate in Cirencester to participate in a mass trespass, calling for land Justice. Organised by groups including RisingUp and the Land Justice Network the protest included speeches, songs and marching band.
Gail Bradbrook of RisingUp said afterwards:
[Lord Bathurst] watched on with family and game keepers bemusedly / slightly chewing a wasp at times – but we got a good balance of friendliness and calling out behaviours that need to change I think. It was quite a spectacle!
The protesters marched down the main avenue into the estate and then went to a private field and climbed the fence to surround a tree on the land. A banner was raised over the main road leading into Cirencester saying “No Justice Without Land Justice”.
The trespass was to demonstrate that land is an essential resource that our society, culture and economy depend upon. However, land ownership in Britain is still one of the most unequal in the world. 0.6% of the population owns 69% of the land. More than a third is still owned by the aristocracy whose ancestors seized it during the Norman Conquest and through the use of land trusts they are avoiding paying inheritance tax while maintaining the concentration of ownership to this day. During the enclosures our ancestors were violently thrown off the land and much of our current common land is being privatised (Cahill, 2001).
Peaceful civil disobedience can be a useful tool in changing things for the better. Mass trespasses have achieved successes in the past, such as at Kinder Scout, which celebrated its 86th anniversary on the same day and helped to provide bring about the right to roam.
Simon Bramwell, from RisingUp in Stroud, said:
It’s especially relevant to undertake a civil disobedience on the Bathurst Estate, much of which is owned offshore while the owner receives vast subsidies from taxpayers. Some of the land is being sold off for mostly unaffordable housing. It’s totally illustrative how there is one rule for the rich and another for the rest of us.
Katharine Hallewell of the Land Justice Network added:
Everything flows from the land, our well being, our freedom and our equality. That we are still living under a system of landownership handed down from the Norman conquests speaks volumes about our so called democracy.
The trespass was reported on BBC Radio Gloucester and there has been much discussion and sharing on social media since, including the Lady Bathurst getting stuck in!
You can watch an unedited video of the day here. Guest blog by Gail to follow.
Source: Who Owns Britain, Kevin Cahill, 2001.
Adapted from a press release by Gail Bradbrook of RisingUp.
Hypothecation – I’d never hear about this before but it maybe of interest connected to issues around Land Value Tax and Land Uplift Capture or whatever else we are calling ways of preventing land speculators from profiteering these days…
The Responsible Tax Lab write:
The concept of hypothecation, where revenues from specific taxes would be ringfenced for a particular expenditure purpose – and publicly communicated in this way – has traditionally been unpopular with many. This is because of the notable challenges, relating to complexity, transparency, and public perceptions, with which it is associated. However, there is growing interest in how hypothecation could help engage with tax policy and increase public trust in the system.
Many people who call for a change in the way land is taxed also have called for the new tax income to be ring-fenced for using on connected issues. E.g. a land value tax going towards buying land for self build homes or re-commoning or supporting entrant farmers etc.
Anyways, here is an article written by the Head of Tax from PWC which goes into more depth! https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/could-health-and-social-services-be-safeguarded-by_uk_5a783496e4b0414342903948
Scotland, as many know, is quite a few years ahead of England with land reform.
Come to Land Justice Network’s next national gathering to celebrate the start of our Week of Action on Land Rights, discuss what the network’s been up to and plot fresh actions together!
We’ll meet up 12 noon to eat lunch together (bring a dish if you can) and start the meeting at 1pm, finishing 4pm with optional social time at a nearby pub afterwards.
Facebook event page is https://www.facebook.com/events/169320923865119/
If you need financial support so you can make it to the event please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friends of the Earth offices, The Printworks, 139 Clapham Road, London, SE1 0DG