Category Archives: Posted

OpenStreetMap is a wiki-like map that anyone in the world can edit.

OpenStreetMap is a wiki-like map that anyone in the world can edit. If a shop is missing from the map, it can be added in, by a shop owner or even a customer, from a computer or smartphone.openstreetmap800px-Id-May_2013

The main map on uses FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) rendering software and a liberally licensed stylesheet which anyone can build on.

Landmatters Permaculture Project, South Devon
Landmatters Permaculture Project, South Devon

Hello from beautiful Devon. Here at the Landmatters Community our lives are filled with gardening, bringing up children, animal care, processing firewood, managing woodlands, pumping water, hosting volunteers and visitors, holding consensus meetings, maintaining and building structures, running courses and events, fixing things, maintaining solar and wind power, administering the needs of the Co-op, and gently managing the pastures and ancient hedgerows. Everything here takes much longer to accomplish than you might expect because we are totally off-grid and walk distances between facilities. However, that allows us to make a close connection with the plants and wildlife that share this land with us, and to enjoy the magnificent views of Dartmoor, as we go about our work and play.

The UK’s 2nd Domesday Book – the ‘Return of the Owners of Land’ 1872

Report on the occasion of the first facsimile reproduction of the 2nd Domesday of the United Kingdom and the presentation of the 4 volumes to the president of the Royal Historical Society, House of Lords, 4th December 2012:

On Tuesday 4th December 2012, a panel discussion and reception on the occasion of the publication of the facsimile edition and database of the Second Domesday of the United Kingdom of 1872 convened by Lord Laird of Artigarvan was held in Committee Room G of the House of Lords (in the written agenda for this event the following was cited: that this issue was “originally commissioned following a debate in this House on 19th February 1872”).

The discussion included contributions from Kevin Cahill, author of ‘Who Owns Britain’ and ‘Who Owns the World’, and chairman of Global & Western Publishing, publishers of the Second Domesday, Professor Peter Mandler PhD. President of the Royal Historical Society, Fiona O’Cleirigh, editorial director of Global & Western Publishing, and Ian Sheldon FRSA, designer and creator of the Second Domesday Database, and consultant at Hyperborea Ltd.

After an entertaining and comedic introduction from Lord Laird, Fiona O’Cleirigh began with a summation of the origins of the Second Domesday, giving a background as to how it came into existence in the first place. The actual name of the 2nd Domesday was ‘The Return of Owners of Land, 1873’. Fiona discussed how the 2nd Domesday presented the first complete picture of the distribution of landed property in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland since the Domesday Book of 1086.

Fiona gave a background as to the origins of why the document was produced in the first place, in that it came about as a result of a desire of the Victorian governing landed classes, many of whom sat in the House of Lords, to counter the rising public clamour, encouraged by some parts of the press, about what was called the “monopoly of land”. Claims were being made in regard to the findings of the 1861 Census that in the United Kingdom there were not more than 30,000 landowners; and though it had been repeatedly shown that this estimate arose from a misreading of the figures contained in the Census returns, seemingly its accuracy was consistently never disputed and the statement was continually reproduced. The most notable voice at the time was MP John Bright who raised the issue in the House of Commopns, citing the extrapolation of evidence from the 1861 census. Fiona cited how the landed classes who dominated the House of Commons and more particularly at the time the House of Lords moved to rebut these allegations by providing reliable and independent data to refute the attacks. The question was put in the House of Lords on 19 February 1872 by Edward Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby (1826–1893) to the Lord Privy Seal “Whether it was the intention of Her Majesty’s Government to take any steps for ascertaining the number of proprietors of land and houses in the United Kingdom, with the quantity of land owned by each proprietor”. In 1872 Local Government Boards were ordered to compile a list of owners of land from ratings records. One return was prepared for England and Wales, excluding the Metropolis, and separate ones were prepared for Scotland in 1874, and Ireland in 1876. The Return shows the holding, in acres, roods and poles, and estimated yearly rental, of all holdings over 1 acre. All the statements and information contained in the Return, with the exception of the addresses of the owners, were derived from rating valuation lists for making assessments under the Poor Law, already held by every parish.

Upon publication, whilst the assertions there that not more than 30,000 landowners in the UK were safely rebutted, the landowners inadvertantly scored an own-goal with the publication. Their survey showed that in the England and Wales (excluding the Metropolis) return, just 710 people owned 5000 acres or more, and these 710 owned over 25% of the total land area of England and Wales. The return recorded that 269,547 people owned more than an acre of land and 703,289 owned less than one acre, out of a population at the time of 19,458,009.

The Returns are the longest parliamentary paper ever published and covered all 4 countries of the then United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Fiona mentioned that the original clamour on the issue of land
monopoly has to be seen in the context of a rising awareness of
perceived inequality and injustice at the time.

Kevin Cahill then spoke about the republication of the The Return of Owners of Land, 1873 and the creation of a database of all the records. Kevin mentioned at the start that in doing his research for his book ‘Who Owns Britain’ he initially found it very difficult to get a hold of a copy of The Return of Owners of Land, 1873. He commented along the lines that it was as if the document had been airbrushed out of history. No copy could initially be found at the House of Lords library (eventually it surfaced) and the Royal Agricultural Society claimed to have never heard of the document (they subsequently were found to be in possession of 2 copies). Kevin then went on to explore why the document – which he describes as the third of 3 great British historical documents after Domesday in 1086 and the Magna Carta. Kevin highlighted how there is no mention anywhere in the title (‘the Return of the Owners of Land’) or the 16 explanatory pages of the Crown’s feudal claim. Kevin put emphasis of the words ‘return’ and ‘owner’ in the title, as indicating that the landowners may have been in actual fact using the opportunity of this publication to assert their ownership title on their land, which they were in most cases the descendent inheritors of the original Norman barons of 1066. Kevin asserted that Pariament may have been in actual fact casting doubt on the ancient claim of the monarchy to own all the physical land of the United Kingdom, a claim he argues was reintroduced to England by William the Conqueror between 1066 and his death in 1087, having been a concept first established in the British Isles with the Roman Empire.

Kevin then went on to give a summary of what happened next. Kevin discussed how the document slowly faded out of existence. The impetus for land reform and land value taxation by MP Lloyd George and his Liberal government between 1916 and 1922 may have been informed by the land ownership pattern as revealed in 1873 and the legacy of political interest on the issue as a result of substantial press interest around the subject at the time. However, returning to the issue of ownership title, kevin drew attention to the significance of a little-known development in 1925 – a piece of legilation carried through the House of Lords called the Law of Property Act, which established in law that the Crown was transformed as the absolute owner of all land in England and Wales, and that all other hold merely an interest in an estate in land (‘fee simple’, generally known as ‘freehold’, or an interest in an estate for a term of years generally known as ‘leasehold’). The modern Land Registry created out of the Land Registration Act of 1925 incorporated none of the statistics from The Return of Owners of Land, 1873. Instead, from a blank piece of paper, from the date of it’s foundation onwards, the UK Land Registry has recorded only transactions in land. This means that land inherited under title remains unrecorded in the Land Registry, whilst registration of transactions in estates in land was rolled out over 65 years (ending in 1990), as compared to the 4 years it took to record the The Return of Owners of Land, 1873.

Ian Sheldon followed with a short summing up of the creation of the Second Domesday database, and a short speech by President of the Royal Historical Society – Professor Peter Mandler, followed by the formal presentation of the 2nd Domesday to the President of the Royal Historical Society. there followed a question and answer session with the panel and an enlightening ensuing discussion, with a few useful and interesting contributions from the floor, such as the point that Sweden has a full land registry which is also fully publicly accessible. On the suggestion from the floor that what is needed is a public clamour to expose the land monopoly of this country (by myself!), Lord Laird made the interesting point in response that of all the issues that he has received correspondence on, land ownership is one he has never even received a letter about. All interesting food-for-thought.

Bristol Garden Share


Busy, busy, busy. We’re all looking for ways to make out lives fulfilling while, at the same time, juggling work and family responsibilities, exercise, travel, and social activities. How can a homeowner — even one who enjoys a bit of puttering around outdoors — create a landscape that is beautiful, eco-friendly, and engaging?



The new anti-squatting law in England & Wales, which applies to residential property only, came into force on 1st Sept 2012. The law does not apply to non-residential property such as shops, garages, factories & churches. As reported by Schnews: The Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS) have issued a warning and a call to arms: “We are going to need to be more organised and look after each other better. We will need legal back-up available on the street, and people will need help moving quickly and storing their possessions. We need networks, linked up with others resisting evictions and attacks on housing rights. Click here for background.

Changes to retrospective planning: What the Localism Act 2011 means for Gypsies and Travellers

The Localism Act  received Royal Assent on the 15th November, 2011. Different parts of the Act will come into force at different times, with some being brought into force immediately.
The Act is wide ranging, but brings into force two key provisions which will have an immediate effect for Gypsies and Travellers: the abolition of the Regional Strategies and the changes to the law regarding retrospective planning permission.

TS_LogoSmallSection 123 of the Localism Act inserts new sections into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 preventing retrospective planning applications where there is already an enforcement notice on the land which covers the subject matter of their proposed application. If there is not such a notice, then a retrospective planning application can still be made.
More info here:

The eviction of DALE FARM Travellers Site in Oct 2011

On 19th-20th October 2011, the eviction of 49 of 54 plots on the Dale Farm traveller site took place despite a large blockade of resistance from supporters (full account below). Basildon District Council had fought a long running battle to evict the pitchs on the Dale Farm site who were without planning permission (the 34 pitchs on the adjacent Oak Lane site have planning permission). Amnesty International denounced the eviction at Dale Farm, saying it “represents a failure on the Council’s part to comply with international human rights standards on housing and evictions.

We encourage you read the Dale Farm Solidarity statement entitled “Dale Farm’s legacy goes beyond the 82 families who are homeless tonight”. Read also The long-term trend of cultural apartheid against the gypsy & travelling community    Click here for details of the new Traveller Solidarity Network.

The Dale Farm estate, on Oak Lane in Crays Hill, Billericay, Essex, is a former scrapyard bought by traveller families and has existed since the 1970s.

Upholding the rule of law (some can afford more law than others)  The local council sought to ensure the rule of law was upheld. Specifically, this was to ensure compliance with green belt policy which though legitimate on paper, in reality was a hypocritical joke regarding the fact that the site was a brownfield waste dump of wrecked cars for many years before it became a traveller site, as well as the fact that  Basildon District Council’s hypocrisy over their own green-belt policy has recently been exposed. More credibly, the motive for eviction was the density of population without planning permission (500 people), for which Basildon District Council and the planning system at a national level (ie central government) may have considered that such a breach of planning regulation – and such a large one – may be a dangerous precedent. However, whilst locals may not have been enamoured with a situation of one rule for the travelling community and another for them, the stark reality remained that a new site would have cost a fraction of one-day’s policing costs for instance.

Whilst Basildon District Council pursued eviction proceedings which became a long-drawn out process, it was at the same time refusing to provide alternative sites in the area for the 80 families (approximately 500 people) on the 51 pitchs who were arguing for this on the grounds that they have the right to have their customary rights to settle protected on the basis that there is inadequate provision of traveller sites in the district (as is the case across the UK). Basildon District Council (BDC) refused to reach a deal on the basis that the land on that half of the Dale Farm site without planning permission was worth only £120,000. And yet, BDC voted to spend a third of its budget – £8 million demolishing the estate and turning people out onto the road. The policing cost had an additional price tag of £10 million, of which £6 million was said to have been provided by the Home Office.

It was also reported that BDC walked away from a working group looking into a solution to the standoff in which the Homes & Communities Agency offered money for a new site for the families. Read here. The HCA previously revealed it owns ‘extensive’ land within the Basildon district.

On Thursday the 13th October the Dale Farm traveller site lost it’s High Court hearing for the right to judicial review on Basildon’s District Council’s handling of the eviction process and the council’s provision of an alternative site to accommodate travellers on the grounds that stopping the eviction – in the words of Justice Duncan Ouseley – would “risk bringing criminal law and the planning system into serious disrepute”. In his ruling, Mr Justice Ouseley at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, also said that the Travellers delayed too long in challenging Basildon’s decision to take direct action against them, and said the council’s actions were not disproportionate. However, this judgement appeared not to identify any responsibility on central government for the source of the underlying problem – the lack of authorised sites nationwide.

Dale Farm eviction in photos

The Eviction:

Dale Farm eviction in photos

Dale Farm eviction in photos

At sunrise on 19 October 2011 the eviction of Dale Farm began.  More than 100 riot police entered the site  using sledgehammers to break down a wall on a fully legal plot on the edge of the site, and two people were tasered. As reported by the Guardian on a live blog at 13.32 on 19 Oct 2011, journalist Stephen Bates confirmed that officers were on the offensive and were not under threat from both men when they were Tasered (link to original live report here). Police spent most of that afternoon removing people from the 12-metre high scaffold tower on the front gate, with the help of cherry pickers. Police secured the area and removed protesters by early evening. Protestors locked on with arms in plastic tube arm linked through barrels of cement were removed the following morning. The scaffold tower was likewise dismantled the following morning by baliffs.

Late afternoon the following day on 20 October, Dale Farm travellers and supporters walked out of the site. Removal of mobile homes on the site by the bailiffs began, with reports of racial abuse and heavy handed destruction of remaining caravans on site.

The following taken from the Dale Farm Solidarity website is a full-statement of the travellers at the time of their mass walk-out with supporters off the site on Thursday 20th Oct:

Mass Dale Farm walkout: “you can’t take away our dignity”

At 4.45 pm today, Dale Farm residents and supporters jointly walked off the site to begin the next stage of the battle against eviction which has been waged across courts, barricades and protests. The decision to leave together was made in order to show the unity of the residents and supporters after two months of supporter presence at Dale Farm through Camp Constant.

Resident Mary Sheridan said, “Leaving with supporters today is about our own dignity and our appreciation of the support we’ve received. We’re leaving together as one family, and we are proud of that- you can’t take away our dignity”.

The mass walk-out leaves the site free of people except legal observers, who are required to make sure that the bailiffs stick to the letter of the law in leaving the walls, fences and most of the hardstanding in place.

Now the Travellers are outside the Dale Farm site, the legacy of Tory Councillor Tony Ball and local MP John Baron who drove the forced eviction to conclusion is laid bare. Where will these families go? How will their needs be met? The Travellers’ and supporters’ next move remains to be decided. Mr Ball and Mr Baron have declined to respond when asked for advice on what the Dale Farm community should do now.

Ali Saunders, a Dale Farm supporter added, “We have held off eviction for over a month, and our sense of togetherness has been amazing. Anyone who has visited the community cannot fail to see the importance of a movement to promote the rights of Travellers. Dale Farm will have a legacy for years to come.”

A new group, the Traveller Solidarity Network [1], has emerged in recent weeks, in response to the Dale Farm crisis.

Ali Saunders continued, “The Dale Farm forced eviction showed that the UK’s reputation for tolerance is a smokescreen for systematic discrimination against a Travellers because of their ethnicity and culture. That’s why groups from Amnesty International to the United Nations opposed the forced eviction.

Dale Farm has brought the ingrained prejudice against Travellers into public view, from constant rejections of planning permission, to hostile local authorities, to violent evictions. The true long-term impact of Dale Farm will be a movement of travellers and supporters to change attitudes so travelling people can live in peace and not be criminalised.”



Traveller Solidarity Network

Traveller Solidarity URL:


Travellers Advice Team at the Community Law Partnership:

Irish Travellers Movement in Britain:

Traveller Solidarity:

Traveller Times:

Traveller Law Reform Project:

London Gypsy and Traveller Unit:

Advocacy Project: