Category Archives: Posted

Cumbria villagers oppose army bid to ‘grab’ common land

Villagers believe changing status of moorland near firing range will stop farmers grazing

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/14/cumbria-villagers-oppose-army-bid-to-grab-common-land

The Warcop training area.
The Warcop training area

Cumbrian villagers have accused the Ministry of Defence of attempting a “land grab” after a proposal to turn common land into a firing range.

A public inquiry has been launched over plans to remove the common land status from an area of moorland near Appleby-in-Westmorland.

Villagers believe transferring ownership of the area to the British army will leave farmers unable to graze a major part of the Pennines.

The taking of common land into private ownership has long been controversial and led to the creation of 19th-century conservation movements including the National Trust.

This is the first time since 1914 that the MoD has attempted to take over a piece of land designated as an enclosure.

It has applied to “de-register” 4,500 hectares of common land near Warcop training area. A 1965 act of parliament states that all commons and village greens should be listed on a register. According to the Open Spaces Society, which opposes the plan, deregistration would transfer ownership of the land to the MoD.

During the inquiry in Kendal, MoD barristers lined up against the Open Spaces Society, the Foundation for Common Land, the Federation of Cumbria Commoners, the Friends of the Lake District and the Hilton Commoners.

Julia Aglionby, from the Foundation for Common Land, who presented a submission against the plans at the inquiry, said the law discussed during the two-day hearing was “unbelievably complex”.

She said: “The MoD have effectively said they don’t have to justify why they are doing it, they are just going to do it.

“Only 3% of England is common land and it goes back to the heart of people having access to countryside. It is a very emotional issue where effectively poor people have been thrown off the lands since the 16th century and now we are having a 21st-century version of this.”

She added: “By stopping the land being common land there is much less much protection for the wider public interest. If this happens people could build roads across it, there could be wind turbines, tank training areas, and that would not require consent from the secretary of state.”

The common land comprises three fells, Murton, Hilton and Warcop and amounts to 1% of all existing common land in England. The land lies within the North Pennines area of outstanding natural beauty on the route of the Pennine Way.

Immediately to the south is the 10,000-hectare Warcop training area, where about 5,000 soldiers, mostly from Catterick garrison in North Yorkshire, conduct live-fire exercises with rifles and mortars.

In 2002 the army decided to expand its training area and took out compulsory purchase orders for the grazing rights of 70 farmers on the three fells. That gave the MoD control of when it could use the land for exercises.

The MoD sells farmers grazing licences at about £2.40 a head for both the three fells and the mock battlefields of its training area. The farmers have to wait for days when the red flags warning of live-fire training are not up – now 32 days a year, including a week at Christmas.

An MoD spokesman said: “We are not proposing to restrict public access in any way and have no plans to sell the land. We have applied to de-register land at Warcop training area to safeguard the MoD’s ability to train.”

The inquiry has been adjourned until 30 October and has been extended to another four days.

1637 Pequot massacre: ​The REAL Story of the Annual U.S. Thanksgiving

Manataka American Indian Council
Introduction for Teachers

https://www.manataka.org/page269.html

The Plymouth Thanksgiving Story

THE REAL STORY OF THANKSGIVING

by Susan Bates

Most of us associate the holiday with happy Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to a big feast.  And that did happen – once.

The story began in 1614 when a band of English explorers sailed home to  England with a ship full of Patuxet Indians bound for slavery. They left behind smallpox which virtually wiped out those who had escaped.  By the time the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts Bay they found only one living Patuxet Indian, a man named Squanto who had survived slavery in England and knew their language.  He taught them to grow corn and to fish, and negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held a great feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags.

But as word spread in England about the paradise to be found in the new world, religious zealots called Puritans began arriving by the boat load. Finding no fences around the land, they considered it to be in the public domain. Joined by other British settlers, they seized land, capturing strong young Natives for slaves and killing the rest.  But the Pequot Nation had not agreed to the peace treaty Squanto had negotiated and they fought back. The Pequot War was one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought.

In 1637 near present day  Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival which is our Thanksgiving celebration. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside.  Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared “A Day Of Thanksgiving” because 700 unarmed men, women and children had been murdered.

Cheered by their “victory”, the brave colonists and their Indian allies attacked village after village. Women and children over 14 were sold into slavery while the rest were murdered.  Boats loaded with a many as 500 slaves regularly left the ports of New England. Bounties were paid for Indian scalps to encourage as many deaths as possible.

Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now  Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a second day of “thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the heathen savages.  During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls.  Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts — where it remained on display for 24 years.

The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. Later Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War — on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Sioux in Minnesota.

This story doesn’t have quite the same fuzzy feelings associated with it as the one where the Indians and Pilgrims are all sitting down together at the big feast.  But we need to learn our true history so it won’t ever be repeated.  Next  Thanksgiving, when you gather with your loved ones to Thank God for all your blessings, think about those people who only wanted to live their lives and raise their families.  They, also took time out to say “thank you” to Creator for all their blessings.

Our Thanks to Hill & Holler Column by Susan Bates  susanbates@webtv.net

More About Thanksgiving…
INTRODUCTION FOR TEACHERS

By Chuck Larsen

This is a particularly difficult introduction to write. I have been a public schools teacher for twelve years, and I am also a historian and have written several books on American and Native American history. I also just happen to be Quebeque French, Metis, Ojibwa, and Iroquois. Because my Indian ancestors were on both sides of the struggle between the Puritans and the New England Indians and I am well versed in my cultural heritage and history both as an Anishnabeg (Algokin) and Hodenosione (Iroquois), it was felt that I could bring a unique insight to the project.

For an Indian, who is also a school teacher, Thanksgiving was never an easy holiday for me to deal with in class. I sometimes have felt like I learned too much about “the Pilgrims and the Indians.” Every year I have been faced with the professional and moral dilemma of just how to be honest and informative with my children at Thanksgiving without passing on historical distortions, and racial and cultural stereotypes.

The problem is that part of what you and I learned in our own childhood about the “Pilgrims” and “Squanto” and the “First Thanksgiving” is a mixture of both history and myth. But the THEME of Thanksgiving has truth and integrity far above and beyond what we and our forebearers have made of it. Thanksgiving is a bigger concept than just the story of the founding of the Plymouth Plantation.

So what do we teach to our children? We usually pass on unquestioned what we all received in our own childhood classrooms. I have come to know both the truths and the myths about our “First Thanksgiving,” and I feel we need to try to reach beyond the myths to some degree of historic truth. This text is an attempt to do this.

At this point you are probably asking, “What is the big deal about Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims?” “What does this guy mean by a mixture of truths and myth?” That is just what this introduction is all about. I propose that there may be a good deal that many of us do not know about our Thanksgiving holiday and also about the “First Thanksgiving” story. I also propose that what most of us have learned about the Pilgrims and the Indians who were at the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation is only part of the truth. When you build a lesson on only half of the information, then you are not teaching the whole truth. That is why I used the word myth. So where do you start to find out more about the holiday and our modern stories about how it began?

A good place to start is with a very important book, “The Invasion of America,” by Francis Jennings. It is a very authoritative text on the settlement of New England and the evolution of Indian/White relations in the New England colonies. I also recommend looking up any good text on British history. Check out the British Civil War of 1621-1642, Oliver Cromwell, and the Puritan uprising of 1653 which ended parliamentary government in England until 1660. The history of the Puritan experience in New England really should not be separated from the history of the Puritan experience in England. You should also realize that the “Pilgrims” were a sub sect, or splinter group, of the Puritan movement. They came to America to achieve on this continent what their Puritan bretheran continued to strive for in England; and when the Puritans were forced from England, they came to New England and soon absorbed the original “Pilgrims.”

As the editor, I have read all the texts listed in our bibliography, and many more, in preparing this material for you. I want you to read some of these books. So let me use my editorial license to deliberately provoke you a little. When comparing the events stirred on by the Puritans in England with accounts of Puritan/Pilgrim activities in New England in the same era, several provocative things suggest themselves:

1. The Puritans were not just simple religious conservatives persecuted by the King and the Church of England for their unorthodox beliefs. They were political revolutionaries who not only intended to overthrow the government of England, but who actually did so in 1649.

2. The Puritan “Pilgrims” who came to New England were not simply refugees who decided to “put their fate in God’s hands” in the “empty wilderness” of North America, as a generation of Hollywood movies taught us. In any culture at any time, settlers on a frontier are most often outcasts and fugitives who, in some way or other, do not fit into the mainstream of their society. This is not to imply that people who settle on frontiers have no redeeming qualities such as bravery, etc., but that the images of nobility that we associate with the Puritans are at least in part the good “P.R.” efforts of later writers who have romanticized them.(1) It is also very plausible that this unnaturally noble image of the Puritans is all wrapped up with the mythology of “Noble Civilization” vs. “Savagery.”(2) At any rate, mainstream Englishmen considered the Pilgrims to be deliberate religious dropouts who intended to found a new nation completely independent from non-Puritan England. In 1643 the Puritan/Pilgrims declared themselves an independent confederacy, one hundred and forty-three years before the American Revolution. They believed in the imminent occurrence of Armegeddon in Europe and hoped to establish here in the new world the “Kingdom of God” foretold in the book of Revelation. They diverged from their Puritan brethren who remained in England only in that they held little real hope of ever being able to successfully overthrow the King and Parliament and, thereby, impose their “Rule of Saints” (strict Puritan orthodoxy) on the rest of the British people. So they came to America not just in one ship (the Mayflower) but in a hundred others as well, with every intention of taking the land away from its native people to build their prophesied “Holy Kingdom.”(3)

3. The Pilgrims were not just innocent refugees from religious persecution. They were victims of bigotry in England, but some of them were themselves religious bigots by our modern standards. The Puritans and the Pilgrims saw themselves as the “Chosen Elect” mentioned in the book of Revelation. They strove to “purify” first themselves and then everyone else of everything they did not accept in their own interpretation of scripture. Later New England Puritans used any means, including deceptions, treachery, torture, war, and genocide to achieve that end.(4) They saw themselves as fighting a holy war against Satan, and everyone who disagreed with them was the enemy. This rigid fundamentalism was transmitted to America by the Plymouth colonists, and it sheds a very different light on the “Pilgrim” image we have of them. This is best illustrated in the written text of the Thanksgiving sermon delivered at Plymouth in 1623 by “Mather the Elder.” In it, Mather the Elder gave special thanks to God for the devastating plague of smallpox which wiped out the majority of the Wampanoag Indians who had been their benefactors. He praised God for destroying “chiefly young men and children, the very seeds of increase, thus clearing the forests to make way for a better growth”, i.e., the Pilgrims.(5) In as much as these Indians were the Pilgrim’s benefactors, and Squanto, in particular, was the instrument of their salvation that first year, how are we to interpret this apparent callousness towards their misfortune?

4. The Wampanoag Indians were not the “friendly savages” some of us were told about when we were in the primary grades. Nor were they invited out of the goodness of the Pilgrims’ hearts to share the fruits of the Pilgrims’ harvest in a demonstration of Christian charity and interracial brotherhood. The Wampanoag were members of a widespread confederacy of Algonkian-speaking peoples known as the League of the Delaware. For six hundred years they had been defending themselves from my other ancestors, the Iroquois, and for the last hundred years they had also had encounters with European fishermen and explorers but especially with European slavers, who had been raiding their coastal villages.(6) They knew something of the power of the white people, and they did not fully trust them. But their religion taught that they were to give charity to the helpless and hospitality to anyone who came to them with empty hands.(7) Also, Squanto, the Indian hero of the Thanksgiving story, had a very real love for a British explorer named John Weymouth, who had become a second father to him several years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth. Clearly, Squanto saw these Pilgrims as Weymouth’s people.(8) To the Pilgrims the Indians were heathens and, therefore, the natural instruments of the Devil. Squanto, as the only educated and baptized Christian among the Wampanoag, was seen as merely an instrument of God, set in the wilderness to provide for the survival of His chosen people, the Pilgrims. The Indians were comparatively powerful and, therefore, dangerous; and they were to be courted until the next ships arrived with more Pilgrim colonists and the balance of power shifted. The Wampanoag were actually invited to that Thanksgiving feast for the purpose of negotiating a treaty that would secure the lands of the Plymouth Plantation for the Pilgrims. It should also be noted that the INDIANS, possibly out of a sense of charity toward their hosts, ended up bringing the majority of the food for the feast.(9)

5. A generation later, after the balance of power had indeed shifted, the Indian and White children of that Thanksgiving were striving to kill each other in the genocidal conflict known as King Philip’s War. At the end of that conflict most of the New England Indians were either exterminated or refugees among the French in Canada, or they were sold into slavery in the Carolinas by the Puritans. So successful was this early trade in Indian slaves that several Puritan ship owners in Boston began the practice of raiding the Ivory Coast of Africa for black slaves to sell to the proprietary colonies of the South, thus founding the American-based slave trade.(10)

Obviously there is a lot more to the story of Indian/Puritan relations in New England than in the thanksgiving stories we heard as children. Our contemporary mix of myth and history about the “First” Thanksgiving at Plymouth developed in the 1890s and early 1900s. Our country was desperately trying to pull together its many diverse peoples into a common national identity. To many writers and educators at the end of the last century and the beginning of this one, this also meant having a common national history. This was the era of the “melting pot” theory of social progress, and public education was a major tool for social unity. It was with this in mind that the federal government declared the last Thursday in November as the legal holiday of Thanksgiving in 1898.

In consequence, what started as an inspirational bit of New England folklore, soon grew into the full-fledged American Thanksgiving we now know. It emerged complete with stereotyped Indians and stereotyped Whites, incomplete history, and a mythical significance as our “First Thanksgiving.” But was it really our FIRST American Thanksgiving?

Now that I have deliberately provoked you with some new information and different opinions, please take the time to read some of the texts in our bibliography. I want to encourage you to read further and form your own opinions. There really is a TRUE Thanksgiving story of Plymouth Plantation. But I strongly suggest that there always has been a Thanksgiving story of some kind or other for as long as there have been human beings. There was also a “First” Thanksgiving in America, but it was celebrated thirty thousand years ago.(11) At some time during the New Stone Age (beginning about ten thousand years ago) Thanksgiving became associated with giving thanks to God for the harvests of the land. Thanksgiving has always been a time of people coming together, so thanks has also been offered for that gift of fellowship between us all.  Every last Thursday in November we now partake in one of the OLDEST and most UNIVERSAL of human celebrations, and THERE ARE MANY THANKSGIVING STORIES TO TELL.

As for Thanksgiving week at Plymouth Plantation in 1621, the friendship was guarded and not always sincere, and the peace was very soon abused. But for three days in New England’s history, peace and friendship were there.

So here is a story for your children. It is as kind and gentle a balance of historic truth and positive inspiration as its writers and this editor can make it out to be. I hope it will adequately serve its purpose both for you and your students, and I also hope this work will encourage you to look both deeper and farther, for Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving all around the world.

Chuck Larsen Tacoma Public Schools September, 1986

FOOTNOTES FOR TEACHER INTRODUCTION

(1) See Berkhofer, Jr., R.F., “The White Man’s Indian,” references to Puritans, pp. 27, 80-85, 90, 104, & 130.

(2) See Berkhofer, Jr., R.F., “The White Man’s Indian,” references to frontier concepts of savagery in index. Also see Jennings, Francis, “The Invasion of America,” the myth of savagery, pp. 6-12, 15-16, & 109-110.

(3) See Blitzer, Charles, “Age of Kings,” Great Ages of Man series, references to Puritanism, pp. 141, 144 & 145-46. Also see Jennings, Francis, “The Invasion of America,” references to Puritan human motives, pp. 4-6, 43- 44 and 53.

(4) See “Chronicles of American Indian Protest,” pp. 6-10. Also see Armstrong, Virginia I., “I Have Spoken,” reference to Cannonchet and his village, p. 6. Also see Jennings, Francis, “The Invasion of America,” Chapter 9 “Savage War,” Chapter 13 “We must Burn Them,” and Chapter 17 “Outrage Bloody and Barbarous.”

(5) See “Chronicles of American Indian Protest,” pp. 6-9. Also see Berkhofer, Jr., R.F., “The White Man’s Indian,” the comments of Cotton Mather, pp. 37 & 82-83.

(6) See Larsen, Charles M., “The Real Thanksgiving,” pp. 3-4. Also see Graff, Steward and Polly Ann, “Squanto, Indian Adventurer.” Also see “Handbook of North American Indians,” Vol. 15, the reference to Squanto on p. 82.

(7) See Benton-Banai, Edward, “The Mishomis Book,” as a reference on general “Anishinabe” (the Algonkin speaking peoples) religious beliefs and practices. Also see Larsen, Charles M., “The Real Thanksgiving,” reference to religious life on p. 1.

(8) See Graff, Stewart and Polly Ann, “Squanto, Indian Adventurer.” Also see Larsen, Charles M., “The Real Thanksgiving.” Also see Bradford, Sir William, “Of Plymouth Plantation,” and “Mourt’s Relation.”

(9) See Larsen, Charles M., “The Real Thanksgiving,” the letter of Edward Winslow dated 1622, pp. 5-6.

(10) See “Handbook of North American Indians,” Vol. 15, pp. 177-78. Also see “Chronicles of American Indian Protest,” p. 9, the reference to the enslavement of King Philip’s family. Also see Larsen, Charles, M., “The Real Thanksgiving,” pp. 8-11, “Destruction of the Massachusetts Indians.”

(11) Best current estimate of the first entry of people into the Americas confirmed by archaeological evidence that is datable.

THE PLYMOUTH THANKSGIVING STORY

By Chuck Larsen

When the Pilgrims crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1620, they landed on the rocky shores of a territory that was inhabited by the Wampanoag (Wam pa NO ag) Indians. The Wampanoags were part of the Algonkian-speaking peoples, a large group that was part of the Woodland Culture area. These Indians lived in villages along the coast of what is now Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They lived in round- roofed houses called wigwams. These were made of poles covered with flat sheets of elm or birch bark. Wigwams differ in construction from tipis that were used by Indians of the Great Plains.

The Wampanoags moved several times during each year in order to get food. In the spring they would fish in the rivers for salmon and herring. In the planting season they moved to the forest to hunt deer and other animals. After the end of the hunting season people moved inland where there was greater protection from the weather. From December to April they lived on food that they stored during the earlier months.

The basic dress for men was the breech clout, a length of deerskin looped over a belt in back and in front. Women wore deerskin wrap-around skirts. Deerskin leggings and fur capes made from deer, beaver, otter, and bear skins gave protection during the colder seasons, and deerskin moccasins were worn on the feet. Both men and women usually braided their hair and a single feather was often worn in the back of the hair by men. They did not have the large feathered headdresses worn by people in the Plains Culture area.

There were two language groups of Indians in New England at this time. The Iroquois were neighbors to the Algonkian-speaking people. Leaders of the Algonquin and Iroquois people were called “sachems” (SAY chems). Each village had its own sachem and tribal council. Political power flowed upward from the people. Any individual, man or woman, could participate, but among the Algonquins more political power was held by men. Among the Iroquois, however, women held the deciding vote in the final selection of who would represent the group. Both men and women enforced the laws of the village and helped solve problems. The details of their democratic system were so impressive that about 150 years later Benjamin Franklin invited the Iroquois to Albany, New York, to explain their system to a delegation who then developed the “Albany Plan of Union.” This document later served as a model for the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States.

These Indians of the Eastern Woodlands called the turtle, the deer and the fish their brothers. They respected the forest and everything in it as equals. Whenever a hunter made a kill, he was careful to leave behind some bones or meat as a spiritual offering, to help other animals survive. Not to do so would be considered greedy. The Wampanoags also treated each other with respect. Any visitor to a Wampanoag home was provided with a share of whatever food the family had, even if the supply was low. This same courtesy was extended to the Pilgrims when they met.

We can only guess what the Wampanoags must have thought when they first saw the strange ships of the Pilgrims arriving on their shores. But their custom was to help visitors, and they treated the newcomers with courtesy. It was mainly because of their kindness that the Pilgrims survived at all. The wheat the Pilgrims had brought with them to plant would not grow in the rocky soil. They needed to learn new ways for a new world, and the man who came to help them was called “Tisquantum” (Tis SKWAN tum) or “Squanto” (SKWAN toe).

Squanto was originally from the village of Patuxet (Pa TUK et) and a member of the Pokanokit Wampanoag nation. Patuxet once stood on the exact site where the Pilgrims built Plymouth. In 1605, fifteen years before the Pilgrims came, Squanto went to England with a friendly English explorer named John Weymouth. He had many adventures and learned to speak English. Squanto came back to New England with Captain Weymouth. Later Squanto was captured by a British slaver who raided the village and sold Squanto to the Spanish in the Caribbean Islands. A Spanish Franciscan priest befriended Squanto and helped him to get to Spain and later on a ship to England. Squanto then found Captain Weymouth, who paid his way back to his homeland. In England Squanto met Samoset of the Wabanake (Wab NAH key) Tribe, who had also left his native home with an English explorer. They both returned together to Patuxet in 1620. When they arrived, the village was deserted and there were skeletons everywhere. Everyone in the village had died from an illness the English slavers had left behind. Squanto and Samoset went to stay with a neighboring village of Wampanoags.

One year later, in the spring, Squanto and Samoset were hunting along the beach near Patuxet. They were startled to see people from England in their deserted village. For several days, they stayed nearby observing the newcomers. Finally they decided to approach them. Samoset walked into the village and said “welcome,” Squanto soon joined him. The Pilgrims were very surprised to meet two Indians who spoke English.

The Pilgrims were not in good condition. They were living in dirt-covered shelters, there was a shortage of food, and nearly half of them had died during the winter. They obviously needed help and the two men were a welcome sight. Squanto, who probably knew more English than any other Indian in North America at that time, decided to stay with the Pilgrims for the next few months and teach them how to survive in this new place. He brought them deer meat and beaver skins. He taught them how to cultivate corn and other new vegetables and how to build Indian-style houses. He pointed out poisonous plants and showed how other plants could be used as medicine. He explained how to dig and cook clams, how to get sap from the maple trees, use fish for fertilizer, and dozens of other skills needed for their survival.

By the time fall arrived things were going much better for the Pilgrims, thanks to the help they had received. The corn they planted had grown well. There was enough food to last the winter. They were living comfortably in their Indian-style wigwams and had also managed to build one European-style building out of squared logs. This was their church. They were now in better health, and they knew more about surviving in this new land. The Pilgrims decided to have a thanksgiving feast to celebrate their good fortune. They had observed thanksgiving feasts in November as religious obligations in England for many years before coming to the New World.

The Algonkian tribes held six thanksgiving festivals during the year. The beginning of the Algonkian year was marked by the Maple Dance which gave thanks to the Creator for the maple tree and its syrup. This ceremony occurred when the weather was warm enough for the sap to run in the maple trees, sometimes as early as February. Second was the planting feast, where the seeds were blessed. The strawberry festival was next, celebrating the first fruits of the season. Summer brought the green corn festival to give thanks for the ripening corn. In late fall, the harvest festival gave thanks for the food they had grown. Mid-winter was the last ceremony of the old year. When the Indians sat down to the “first Thanksgiving” with the Pilgrims, it was really the fifth thanksgiving of the year for them!

Captain Miles Standish, the leader of the Pilgrims, invited Squanto, Samoset, Massasoit (the leader of the Wampanoags), and their immediate families to join them for a celebration, but they had no idea how big Indian families could be. As the Thanksgiving feast began, the Pilgrims were overwhelmed at the large turnout of ninety relatives that Squanto and Samoset brought with them. The Pilgrims were not prepared to feed a gathering of people that large for three days. Seeing this, Massasoit gave orders to his men within the first hour of his arrival to go home and get more food. Thus it happened that the Indians supplied the majority of the food: Five deer, many wild turkeys, fish, beans, squash, corn soup, corn bread, and berries. Captain Standish sat at one end of a long table and the Clan Chief Massasoit sat at the other end. For the first time the Wampanoag people were sitting at a table to eat instead of on mats or furs spread on the ground. The Indian women sat together with the Indian men to eat. The Pilgrim women, however, stood quietly behind the table and waited until after their men had eaten, since that was their custom.

For three days the Wampanoags feasted with the Pilgrims. It was a special time of friendship between two very different groups of people. A peace and friendship agreement was made between Massasoit and Miles Standish giving the Pilgrims the clearing in the forest where the old Patuxet village once stood to build their new town of Plymouth.

It would be very good to say that this friendship lasted a long time; but, unfortunately, that was not to be. More English people came to America, and they were not in need of help from the Indians as were the original Pilgrims. Many of the newcomers forgot the help the Indians had given them. Mistrust started to grow and the friendship weakened. The Pilgrims started telling their Indian neighbors that their Indian religion and Indian customs were wrong. The Pilgrims displayed an intolerance toward the Indian religion similar to the intolerance displayed toward the less popular religions in Europe. The relationship deteriorated and within a few years the children of the people who ate together at the first Thanksgiving were killing one another in what came to be called King Phillip’s War.

It is sad to think that this happened, but it is important to understand all of the story and not just the happy part. Today the town of Plymouth Rock has a Thanksgiving ceremony each year in remembrance of the first Thanksgiving. There are still Wampanoag people living in Massachusetts. In 1970, they asked one of them to speak at the ceremony to mark the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s arrival.

Here is part of what was said:  Frank James speech was written but was suppressed and he did not speak at the ceremony.

“Today is a time of celebrating for you — a time of looking back to the first days of white people in America. But it is not a time of celebrating for me. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People. When the Pilgrims arrived, we, the Wampanoags, welcomed them with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end. That before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a tribe. That we and other Indians living near the settlers would be killed by their guns or dead from diseases that we caught from them. Let us always remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white people.

Although our way of life is almost gone, we, the Wampanoags, still walk the lands of Massachusetts. What has happened cannot be changed. But today we work toward a better America, a more Indian America where people and nature once again are important.”

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell calls for collective ownership of land

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell calls for collective ownership of land – a policy straight out of Marx’s Communist Manifesto

Shadow Chancellor was speaking at a rally in St Pancreas Church in London
Vowed to replace House of Lords with elected senate and nationalise utilities
He also said collective land ownership could shake up power dynamic
By CHARLIE MOORE FOR MAILONLINE 13 November 2018
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6385701/Labour-shadow-chancellor-John-McDonnell-calls-collective-ownership-land.html
John McDonnell last night promoted the collective ownership of land and said if he gets in power he will transform the state from within.
Speaking at a rally in St Pancreas Church in London, Labour’s shadow chancellor vowed to replace the House of Lords with an elected senate and nationalise utilities.
He implied that Labour MPs who don’t support the party leadership would be held ‘accountable’ and said collective land ownership could shake up society.
‘One of the big issues we’re now talking about is land, how do we go about looking at collective ownership of land, Community Land Trusts, the development of those by local communities that’s a huge challenge to the existing power relationships within our society at the moment, it’s one I think that could be fundamentally important.’
Community Land Trusts are set up by local people to collectively build, own and manage houses in their community.
There are now almost 290 CLTs in England and Wales, and the sector has grown six-fold in the last six years.
Mr McDonnell said CLTs contribute towards his broader aim to dramatically change the power structure in the UK.
He said: ‘It’s the development of the ideas of “in and against the state” at the local level.’
Mr McDonnell said the state forces working class people ‘to conform to the existing distribution of wealth and power within our society’ and needs to be fundamentally re-thought.
He said his mission was ‘to gain power to empower,’ reported the New Statesman.
The 67-year-old celebrated Labour reaching 50,000 members but added: ‘We’ve got to convert ordinary members and supporters into real cadres who understand and analyse society and who are continually building the ideas’.
The policy of collective ownership was advocated by German philosopher Karl Marx in his Communist Manifesto.
It comes after an ally of Jeremy Corbyn has said last week all private homes should be ‘nationalised’ by giving town halls the right to buy them.
Hard-left Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle told a rally that council bosses should be given the power of first refusal on houses up for sale.
The plans would see swathes of privately-owned property being taken into public control.
In response, Tory chairman Brandon Lewis tweeted: ‘Even your home is not safe from Labour now.’
Mr Russell-Moyle, 32, also said he wants to tear up planning laws to allow local authorities to build high-rise flats in suburbs and leafy villages.
He claimed Labour would order mass compulsory purchases of former council homes sold off under Margaret Thatcher’s Right To Buy scheme.
The MP for Brighton Kemptown made his controversial comments at an anti-austerity conference in London.
He declared: ‘Let’s not just talk about council houses – let’s get those bloody private houses back into our hands.’
Speaking under a banner reading ‘Stand With Corbyn’, Mr Russell-Moyle said a future Labour government would abolish the right to buy and ‘compulsory purchase en masse’ housing stock which had been sold.
‘We need to develop a system that slowly over time takes property out of private hands and puts it into public hands,’ he said.
Former housing minister Grant Shapps branded the plans ‘pure madness’.
The Tory MP said: ‘The truth’s out – cuddly Corbyn wants to nationalise your home.’
The party’s deputy chairman James Cleverly tweeted: ‘Your home isn’t safe under Labour. That ‘right to buy’ will be at a price of Labour’s choosing and it won’t be at its full market value.’
In response to the speech, a Labour Party spokesman said: ‘This is not Labour policy.
‘Labour will end the housing crisis by building 100,000 genuinely affordable homes a year, introducing controls on rents, longer tenancies and improved renters’ rights and taking action to end rough sleeping.’

Tombland by C. J. Sansom: new historical novel set in Norfolk during Kett’s rebellion

Shardlake finds his loyalties tested as Barak throws in his lot with the exploding peasant rebellion and Overton finds himself prisoner in Norwich castle. Shardlake returns in Tombland, the seventh novel in C.J. Sansom’s acclaimed series.

Spring, 1549.
Two years after the death of Henry VIII, England is sliding into chaos.

The nominal king, Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford, rules as Protector, presiding over a collapsing economy, a draining, prolonged war with Scotland and growing discontent amongst the populace as the old religion is systematically wiped out by radical Protestants.
Matthew Shardlake, meanwhile, is a lawyer in the employ of Lady Elizabeth, the old King’s younger daughter. The gruesome murder of Elizabeth’s distant relative Edith Boleyn soon takes him and his assistant Nicholas Overton to Norwich where he is reunited with Overton’s predecessor Jack Barak. As another murder drags the trio into ever-more dangerous waters, Shardlake finds his loyalties tested as Barak throws in his lot with the exploding peasant rebellion and Overton finds himself prisoner in Norwich castle.
Simultaneously, Shardlake discovers that the murder of Boleyn may have connections reaching into both the heart of the rebel camp and of the Norfolk gentry…
Publisher: Pan Macmillan   ISBN: 9781447284482  Number of pages: 880  https://www.bookdepository.com/Tombland-C-J-Sansom/9781447284482

Why would anybody farm? Stone Age Economics, by Marshall Sahlins (1974)

Stone Age Economics – hunter gatherers had much more leisure time

by  Marshall Sahlins (Editor)
Ambitiously tackling the nature of economic life and how to study it comparatively, Stone Age Economics includes six studies that reflect the author’s ideas on revising traditional views of hunter-gatherer and so-called primitive societies, revealing them to be the original affluent society. When it was originally published in 1974, E. Evans-Pritchard of the Times Literary Supplement noted that this classic study of anthropological economics “is rich in factual evidence and in ideas, so rich that a brief review cannot do it justice; only another book could do that.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28254.Stone_Age_Economics

Not only an interesting read about the economy and trade of different tribes all over the world, but also a great insight into the mind of ancient people. It is often easy to think that an average stone-age man or woman had to do a lot of hard work in order to obtain all the necessities but Sahlins’ essays really show the ingenuity, logic and rationalism of these stone age people. Of all the many fine examples the author has described, my favourite has to be the trading system of the New Guinea coastal villages where every village had its fixed position in the trading network which worked like clockwork. Extremely enjoyable although at times I found the more concrete examples of different tribes and their lifestyle more interesting than the more theoretical parts.

Since its first publication over forty years ago Marshall Sahlins’s Stone Age Economics has established itself as a classic of modern anthropology and arguably one of the founding works of anthropological economics. Ambitiously tackling the nature of economic life and how to study it comparatively, Sahlins radically revises traditional views of the hunter-gatherer and so-called primitive societies, revealing them to be the original “affluent society.”

Sahlins examines notions of production, distribution and exchange in early communities and examines the link between economics and cultural and social factors. A radical study of tribal economies, domestic production for livelihood, and of the submission of domestic production to the material and political demands of society at large, Stone Age Economics regards the economy as a category of culture rather than behaviour, in a class with politics and religion rather than rationality or prudence. Sahlins concludes, controversially, that the experiences of those living in subsistence economies may actually have been better, healthier and more fulfilled than the millions enjoying the affluence and luxury afforded by the economics of modern industrialisation and agriculture.

This Routledge Classics edition includes a new foreword by David Graeber, London School of Economics.

The Invisible Land: The hidden force driving the UK’s unequal economy and broken housing market

The reform of the dysfunctional land market is essential if the UK is to be a more equal, more productive and stable economy. It is also vital to creating a better-functioning housing market that delivers the affordable and quality homes the country needs.

https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/the-invisible-land

Land is an essential factor in all economic activity but, if it is not properly managed and regulated, it can play a destabilising role in the housing market and the wider economy. The UK’s dysfunctional land market and soaring land values have helped drive growing wealth inequality, create the conditions for a broken housing market, and are a root cause of an unproductive and unstable economy. Reform of the land market must therefore be focused on reducing the financial speculation that occurs in land and sharing the benefits of increases in land values for the benefit of the public good.

This conclusion is based on five key propositions.

  • The broken land market has a key role in driving wealth inequality in the UK.
  • The broken land market is the driving force behind our broken housing market.
  • The broken land market has played a key role in the financialisation of the UK economy and is a cause of the UK’s poor productivity.
  • The broken land market and high house prices are feeding macroeconomic instability.
  • The UK’s systems for regulating and taxing land do not seek to target or fail to adequately capture the ‘economic rents’ that arise from land.
  • LINK TO PDF OF REPORT https://www.ippr.org/files/2018-08/cej-land-tax-august18.pdf

Cambodia frees leading land rights activist Tep Vanny after royal pardon

by Rina Chandran | @rinachandran | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 21 August 2018
This story is part of  Our new website shining a light on land and property rights around the world

Tep Vanny led a campaign fighting the forced removal of thousands of residents to make way for a luxury real estate projectBy Rina Chandran

BANGKOK, Aug 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Cambodian land rights activist has been released from prison after receiving a royal pardon, having spent more than two years in detention in a case that came to symbolise the struggle by local communities against evictions.

Tep Vanny had for years led a campaign fighting the forced removal of thousands of residents to make way for a luxury real estate project in the Boeung Kak lake area of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

The mother of two was found guilty of inciting violence and assaulting security guards while trying to deliver a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen outside his residence in 2013, and sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

Vanny’s return home on Monday night was broadcast live on a colleague’s Facebook page, and showed a crowd of people cheering her. She thanked them and hugged her children.

Rights groups welcomed the release of Vanny and three other women activists who were also pardoned by King Norodom Sihamoni at Hun Sen’s request.

“Tep Vanny symbolises human rights in Cambodia. She was imprisoned for simply trying to exercise her rights and protect those of others,” said Sopheap Chak, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

“Her release is very welcome, and will send a signal of hope amidst an increasingly repressive context for human rights defenders,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The impoverished Southeast Asian country has been riven with conflict over land since the Khmer Rouge destroyed the nation’s property records to establish a form of communism in the 1970s.

Between 2000 and 2014, about 770,000 Cambodians – more than 6 percent of the population – were affected by land conflicts, according to human rights lawyers who filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court in 2014.

They were forced from farmland for mining and agriculture, and neighbourhoods in urban areas for real estate projects, according to rights groups.

Communities that protest come up against authorities and corporations who respond with intimidation, violence and judicial persecution, said a report by non-profit Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO).

Vanny is the most prominent activist from the Boeung Kak area, where local neighbourhoods and backpacker hostels were strung around the scenic lake before it was filled in with sand for construction.

“Tep Vanny should never have been imprisoned in the first place,” Minar Pimple, a senior director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

“As well as allowing her to resume her activism without fear of further reprisals, authorities must quash all convictions against her and halt any investigations into any other pending charges,” he said.

The royal pardon came just days after a sweeping election victory by Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party, in a poll that rights groups say was neither free nor fair.

(Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran. Editing by Jared Ferrie. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)

Planning Problems Faced by Small Farmers by Simon Fairlie

A Presentation to the Conservative  Rural Affairs Group,
6 February 2018

SUMMARY OF MAIN POINTS

Part I: Difficulties Faced by New Entrants

Current Trends

Although there is consolidation in the farming industry as larger  arms expand, there is also a degree of fragmentation of ownership when medium sized farms are broken up. A proportion of these smaller plots are bought by new entrants aiming to make a living from farming and/or woodland management.

Most of these people make a living by adding value through on-farm processing and direct sales. This enables them to employ more people per hectare than larger farms, while productivity per hectare is broadly similar.

Problems Faced by New Entrants

A number of factors including the high price of land and agricultural buildings, and insecurity of tenure on rented properties, means that new entrants often buy plots of land with few or no agricultural buildings and so have to embark on a process of building their farm infrastructure. It will normally be more practical and efficient to live on site, and the cost of rural residential accommodation is much higher than can often be afforded by an otherwise viable farming enterprise. However the planning system is resistant to development in the open countryside, especially residential development; trying to break through that resistance engages the farmer in a process that is mystifying, stressful and timeconsuming.

Current Policy

There is a dearth of national policy relating to agricultural buildings and dwellings. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states only that rural worker’s dwellings are allowable if there is an “essential need for a rural worker to live permanently at or near their place of work”. The National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) has nothing to say about agricultural development. Most local development plans contain policies on agricultural dwellings which echo advice previously given in PPS7, requiring that applicants should demonstrate an essential need to live on site and that the enterprise should be viable. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with these criteria but they are poorly defined and there is variation in interpretation, particularly as regards essential need. The recommended occupancy condition is weak, since it does not tie the dwelling to the land that justified it, leading to abuse.

Examples of New Entrants Experiencing Planning Difficulties.

Over the years Chapter 7 has documented many cases where planning officers’ resistance to agricultural development is unhelpful, and sometimes unreasonable. These include cases where officers refuse to acknowledge permitted development rights, turn down proposals for modest yet necessary agricultural buildings, or reject applications for dwellings on weak grounds. The high proportion of permissions that are granted at appeal, often after more than one application, suggests that many local authority planning officers are unduly biased against agricultural development on new holdings.

Why New Entrants Meet Resistance.

The main reason is that planning consent for agricultural buildings is notoriously susceptible to abuse from people who pretend or aspire to be farmers but who eventually convert farm buildings to another use, or agricultural dwellings to market housing. This is a genuine concern, inadequately addressed by the current model occupancy condition. Another reason may be that many planning officers have scant understanding of or sympathy for agriculture and forestry.

Part II: Some Recommendations and Suggestions

Policy Clarifications.

To remedy the situation, policies concerning agricultural development on new and bareland holdings need to be clarified. In particular:
• Paragraph 28 of the NPPF should be explicit about the benefits of local food;
• The NPPG should advise LPAs that when assessing “essential need” they should give weight to all relevant factors including the need to deal with emergencies, to manage the enterprise efficiently, to work unsociable hours, to reduce car use, to secure affordable accommodation, and to protect the enterprise from theft
or vandalism.
• The NPPG should remind LPAs that the viability and labour requirements of small-scale enterprises cannot necessarily be assessed using formulae derived from farm management manuals;
• The role of temporary permission should be clarified, noting that: it serves as a trial period when there is some uncertainty about viability; that five years is often a better period than three on bareland holdings; and that an easily dismantled wooden dwelling may be more appropriate than a caravan.

Securing New Farming Enterprises and Preventing Abuse

Instead of the weak occupancy condition currently used, new agricultural dwellings should be secured with a condition or Section 106 agreement that ties the dwelling to the land and farming enterprise that justified it; or sometimes a personal condition is more appropriate There are also a number of schemes to provide small-scale farming opportunities under the umbrella management of a social organization, such as a co-operative or a charity, the most notable in the UK being the Ecological Land Co-op. These deserve more recognition and support from the planning system than they have so far received,

Local Food Provision in the Green Belt

With a massive market at hand, there is no more convenient place to produce local food than the green belt around London and other cities; and there would be benefits to urban schools and community groups from having farms producing local foods on their doorstep. A majority of urban residents say they would like to buy food grown nearby, while substantial areas of green belt land are “neglected.”

Yet it is doubly difficult for producers of local food to establish themselves in the green belt, owing to the hope value attached to the land and to stringent planning policies. The NPPF should be revised so as to encourage local food production and provision in the green belt, and allow that an agricultural worker’s dwelling may be appropriate.

Succession

Existing farms sometimes confront much the same problems as new entrants, when succession can only be satisfactorily resolved by introducing an extra dwelling. The DHCLG should consider whether a second dwelling policy similar to that in Welsh Technical Advice 6 could be introduced in England.

Simon Fairlie, Chapter 7

For a PDF of a fuller version click below:
Planning Problems Faced by Small Farmers A Presentation to the Conservative Rural Affairs Group,

Gove accused of letting wealthy grouse moor-owners off the hook

See also: Who Owns England publish today on the day of the beginning of the grouse-shooting season: The aristocrats and City bankers who own England’s grouse moors

 
Article published today on the Guardian website asserts that documents show that the UK environment secretary suggested owners voluntarily end the deleterious environmental practice of burning heather to head off threat of a compulsory ban.
Background: Pressure for the ban comes from the decision by the European Commission to begin legal action against the UK government who, having made a commitment to the commission to carry out a review of permissions to burn blanket bog in Special Areas of Conservation, delayed acting upon by a number of years the results of Natural England’s review in 2013which concluded that “ongoing burning of blanket bog habitat would prevent its maintenance and restoration”. (Source: RSPB)

Michael Gove accused of letting wealthy grouse moor owners off the hook
by Rob Evans, The Guardian
Date: 12th Aug 2018
Ref: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/12/michael-gove-accused-of-letting-wealthy-grouse-moor-owners-off-the-hook

Papers show UK environment secretary suggested owners voluntarily end controversial practice of burning heather to head off threat of compulsory ban

Michael Gove, the environment secretary, has been accused of letting the owners of large grouse moors who are alleged to be damaging the environment off the hook.

The accusation from campaigners concerns the owners’ practice of repeatedly burning heather on their moorland estates to help boost the numbers of grouse for shooting.

The owners face the threat of a compulsory ban on the practice after the European commission launched an investigation.

However, Whitehall papers show that Gove suggested they should end the practice voluntarily to head off the threat of a ban. The papers record a private meeting between Gove and a small group of owners, two of whom have made donations to the Conservative party.

According to the minutes, Gove advised them to “sign up to a voluntary commitment to suspend the practice” as it would “help the government demonstrate its intent” to end it.

His department confirmed, according to the minutes, that the voluntary commitment would not be legally binding.

Guy Shrubsole, of the campaign group Who Owns England, which obtained the papers under freedom of information legislation, said: “The government faces legal action by the European commission for allowing this practice to continue, yet is letting wealthy grouse moor owners off the hook by pleading with them to take voluntary action.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it had made rapid progress in recent months as more than 150 landowners had committed themselves to ending the practice voluntarily. About two-thirds of them organise grouse shooting. The Moorland Association, which represents landowners, denied that they were being given an easy ride by the government.

As the “Glorious Twelfth” – the start of the annual grouse-shooting season – begins on Sunday, Who Owns England is publishing a map of the owners of about 100 grouse moor estates in England. It estimates that the estates together cover half a million acres – an area the size of Greater London.

A mixture of aristocrats, City financiers and businesses based in offshore tax havens own the estates, charging clients significant sums of money to bag grouse, according to its analysis.

Environmental campaigners argue that the management of the estates harms the environment and wildlife. They say it leads to the illegal killing of birds of prey such as hen harriers, which prey on grouse, and the legal killing of foxes, stoats and mountain hares.

One criticism concerns the practice of burning the bog to encourage new heather shoots – a food source for grouse. They say that burning heather leaves bare peat exposed to the air, harming wildlife that lives in the peatland.

Burning blanket bog to support the elite sport of grouse shooting wreaks ecological havoc – exacerbating wildfires and floods, and releasing huge amounts of soil carbon,” said Shrubsole.

However, the accusations are rejected by the owners, who say their management of the moors protects the environment. They say that about two-thirds of England’s upland sites of special scientific interest are managed grouse moors which helps to conserve the landscape, while other areas have been lost to afforestation, windfarms or overgrazing.

The documents record how Gove invited the landowners to a meeting in London in February.

According to the minutes, Gove told them that he was pursuing a new policy, with the agreement of the European commission, and was looking to the landowners “to sign up to a voluntary commitment to suspend the practice of rotational burning with immediate effect”.

He advised that protecting soils was high on the government’s agenda and introducing an immediate ban on rotational burning on blanket bog could have significant consequence on land management practices currently underway,” say the minutes.

Defra confirmed “the voluntary commitment is not a legally binding document and would show intent from both the government and land managers to achieve long-term outcomes for restoring blanket bog”.

It added that unless “a significant number” of voluntary commitments were in place by next year, it would “need to introduce legislation to cease rotational burning”.

Among those at the meeting was the Duke of Northumberland, who has donated £11,100 to the Conservative party.

A Defra spokesperson said: “Protecting blanket bogs is a priority. We have made rapid progress over the last six months – 157 landowners have committed to cease rotational burning, up from three a year ago, representing the vast majority of blanket bog in England.”

However the environment secretary has made clear that we will take steps to introduce legislation if our constructive, voluntary approach does not deliver.

It added that its advisory body, Natural England, was working closely with these landowners to put management plans in place as soon as possible.

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, said: “The portrayal of the partnership agreement between Natural England and grouse moor managers as being ‘cosy and letting landowners off’ is completely inaccurate.

Law Commission proposal for leaseholders to buy a freehold at discount

https://www.leaseholdknowledge.com/creation-national-leasehold-campaign-nlc
Photo of leaseholder protest 2017 (Source: Leasehold Knowledge Partnership). Katie Kendrick, of the National Leasehold Campaign group, has brilliantly mobilised leaseholders across the country. The group has a Facebook membership of nearly 7,000 and has organised a series of demonstrations across the North West.

Radical plans to end huge costs of buying a freehold unveiled

Law Commission draws up options enabling leaseholders to extend or buy more cheaply

by Patrick Collinson
The Guardian, 19/07/2018
Ref: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/jul/19/radical-plans-to-end-huge-costs-of-buying-a-freehold-unveiled

Millions of homeowners caught in the so-called “leasehold trap” may be able to buy their freeholds at a fraction of the price currently demanded by ground rent companies, under radical proposals from  the Law Commission.

One proposal is for a simple formula where leaseholders will pay just  10 times their current ground rent to convert their property from leasehold to freehold.

There are 4.2m leasehold properties in England, and around half are on leases of under 80 years, leaving residents vulnerable to what critics say are rapacious demands from freeholders for lease extensions.

The Law Commission was asked by then communities secretary Savid Javid in December 2017 to find ways to make buying out a lease “much easier, faster and cheaper”. In its response, the Law Commission, an independent legal body, on Thursday sets out two options for reform. The first is a formula that “could be based on ten times the ground rent” or “10% of the value of the property”, saying that any new rules must reduce the current cost for leaseholders. It added that a simple formula had the benefit of being easily understood and would reduce legal costs.

With ground rents averaging around £370 a year, that suggests a cost of £3,700 – far less than the £10,000 to £40,000 typically sought from a leaseholder for a flat valued at £200,000 with fewer than 80 years left on the lease.

Its second option is to standardise the existing regime for leasehold valuations, removing a complicated element called “marriage value” that it said currently increases the cost paid by leaseholders.

The Law Commission also proposed new formulas for leaseholders who extend their lease rather than buying the freehold. It suggested that they could have a right to extend the lease for up to 250 years, and no longer have to pay ground rents.

The Law Commission said proposals were only at an outline stage, and that a full consultation document would not be published until the autumn, with new rules unlikely until summer 2019. Any changes to the calculation of leasehold extensions is likely to meet fierce resistance from freeholders, with the fortunes of Britain’s wealthiest aristocrats, such as the Duke of Westminster, rooted in lucrative leasehold property estates in central London.

A legal challenge to existing leasehold valuations – which estimated that leaseholders were overpaying by hundreds of millions of pounds every year – was rejected by the Court of Appeal earlier this year.

The Law Commission said it would have to ensure that “sufficient compensation” was paid to landlords. “Any changes to the law that government takes forward will have to comply with human rights legislation and take account of the impact of reform.

“And while some changes – in particular the options that we have been asked to present to reduce the premium payable by leaseholders – will inevitably benefit leaseholders at the expense of landlords, that is not the case across the board.”

Campaigners for leasehold reform, who demonstrated outside parliament on Wednesday, welcomed the proposals. Sebastian O’Kelly of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership said: “Lease extension and enfranchisement – the buying of the freehold – are two highly lucrative rackets.

“The mathematical formulae agreed by the courts were obligingly provided by estate agents for the richest freehold owners in the country. The only way to end this racket is a fixed formula of annual multiples of ground rent, as exists in Northern Ireland and Scotland, then your home is truly yours.”

Around one in five new-build houses in recent years – and almost every flat – have been sold as leasehold, some with spiralling ground rents that have made selling them near impossible.

[end]