1 Dec 2010
Farm sell-off madness
News that the County Council plan to sell 2,000 of the Councils' 8,500 acres of farmland is of concern. They say it will be sold to farmers or landowners and they hope to raise £25m.
The cuts coming in so many places makes it hard to challenge this. See my letter below to the press from 2006 when a sell-off was threatened before. If this does go through as I fear, will there be any opportunities of Transition Stroud or other food projects locally? The last time this was muted GCC expressed some interest then backed off. Will they be about maximising short-term profit or building for our future.
I am particularly interested in how Lib Dems will vote as at the time Dr Cordwell invited me in a letter to the press to join them as they supported the campaign against the sell-off. I hope they still hold that position.
Letter to press in 2006:
Conservative County councillors claim that Cotswold's ancient farmland including much in the Stroud area, is not at risk of being sold. However other councillors, along with farmers who protested outside Shire Hall last week are rightly concerned by the Tory move to establish a group to oversee farm land disposal. Tories and Labour have both privatised public assets on a massive scale. It is important these farms don't go the same way and worse still end up as 'pony paddock weekenders'. Too many farms are going out of business. This makes our County farms all the more important for young people who want to start farming. Future oil price rises will also make a return to farming in Gloucestershire essential. If we sell the farms off now we will loose the possibilities of revitalising our local farming. The community buy-out of Fordhall farm earlier this year by the 5,500 people provides one way forward: community land trusts which mutualise landholding using a cooperative, non-profit model. By mutualising land we can enable it to be forever affordable to individuals and accessible to the community. Land is effectively taken off the market, rather than at risk of being privatised by councillors now or in the future. Cllr. Philip Booth, Stroud District Green Party