Once again we will be celebrating Shrove Tuesday with a mammoth Pancake Party.
I have now been able to bring some clarity over the title to the land comprising the village tennis court and children’s play area.
Children’s Play Area
The children’s play area is the least complex scenario. On the 31st December 1986 “The Personal Representative of R.C. North, deceased”, Leased the land concerned, for a period of 28 years, to “The Trustees of Whittington Youth and Sports Club”
The Representatives of R.C. North were defined as Susan Hare Kimber and Peter William Trevor Duckworth. The Trustees of the Youth and Sports Club were defined as Sarah Jennifer Blundell, Ruth Mary Mackereth, John David Pinch and Irene Pearson.
The lease was granted on the payment of £5 by the Trustees of the Sports and Youth Club.
As this lease expired on the 31 December 2014 title to the land has now reverted to Newton Hall Estates.
It is accepted that the land comprising the tennis court is formed by one section, at the lane end, which is held in private hands and another which is held in the hands of Trustees who’s identity is to be determined. The following information has been established as a result of a diligent Land Registry Deed Search:
Title (1), at the lane end is registered as LAN27385 and described as: Land Associated with Low Hall, Main Street, Whittington LA6 2NY, being described as Freehold. The area of this Title is 390m2 being 60% of the whole.
- On the 14 February 2006 this land was transferred to the PROPRIETOR: TOM CHARLES LAMBERT and SUSAN ELIZABETH LAMBERT of Brown House, High Street, Ingleton, Carnforth, Lancashire LA6 3AB.
Title (2) is registered as LAN64544 and described as Land at Low Hall Farm, Main Street, Whittington (no postcode given). It is also described as Freehold. The area of this Title is 260m2 being 40% of the whole.
- On the 04 February 2008) A Conveyance of the land in this title dated 18 March 1986 made between (1) Geoffrey Garnett Mackereth (Vendor) and (2) Sarah Jennifer Blundell, Ruth Mary Mackereth, John David Pinch and Irene Pearson (Trustees) contains the following covenants:-
- This land excludes the section referred to as a Children’s Play Area.
- On the 04 February 2008 this land was transferred to the PROPRIETOR: ADRIAN WILLIAMS of Tebay House, Main Street, Whittington, Carnforth, Lancashire LA6 2NX and ALISON DAWSON of 5 Manor Farm, Church Street, Whittington, Carnforth, Lancashire LA6 2NU and KARAN METCALFE of Holme House Farm, Whittington, Carnforth, Lancashire LA6 2DG and HELEN MACKERETH of Low Hall Farm, Whittington, Carnforth, Lancashire LA6 2NY the trustees of the charity known as The Village Hall Whittington.
Note: Alison Dawson is no longer a Trustee of Whittington Village Hall. How this effects her position as a Trustee of this section of the land is therefore unclear.
Village Hall Trustees
Clearly the Trustees named in the Land Registry are, in total, not the current Trustees of the Village Hall.
As at July 2017 the following people are registered as Trustees of Charity 521355 – Whittington Village Hall:
- Eric Pelter
- Karan Metcalfe
- Barbara Atkinson
- Helen Mackereth
- Andrew Schofield
- Kate Manders
- Simon Raistrick
- Aidrean Williams
- Darren Jones
Why all the Trustees who were current in 2008 were not named in the Title is unclear. How this effects the legal and financial responsibilities of the persons actually named is also unclear.
Keen readers of the Parish Council minutes may have noticed that in the draft minutes from the 15 May, 2017 meeting part of Minute 1328 reads:
“Land used by playground & tennis court remains in the ownership of RM & family and Cllrs would support any parishioner wishing to investigate this ownership.”
These minutes were signed as a true record at the PC meeting on 7th June.
Can anyone explain why the Parish Council would wish to support further investigation if they believe their assertion about the ownership of the land.
The position looks more curious, as in 2005 a group of residents attempted to tidy up the area in question and this was followed by a series of meetings to discuss possible ways forward. These meetings were chaired by Phil Bamford, known in the Dragon as “magnet man”, and attendees included the current chairman of the Parish Council and a resident who has subsequently become a member of the PC.
During these meetings it was established that the area consisted of three parcels of land, one acquired from Newton Hall estate having originally been the subject of a lease, a second had been purchased from Mr G G Mackereth and the third which remained in the ownership of Mrs Ruth Mackereth and her family.
The first two parcels of land were acquired by the Trustees of the “Whittington Youth and Sports Club Trust”. Strangely, this Trust does not appear to have any legal foundation and it is rumoured that the “Trustees” acquired the land on behalf of the Village Hall Trustees.
Should we be concerned about who owns the land?
I believe that as a community we should because the land is now an eyesore and there are potential dangers for anyone making use of it.
Further, if anyone is injured on the land the issue of legal liability will inevitably be raised which may cause embarrassment for the owners, particularly if their public liability does not provide cover. Of course if the land, or any part of it, were to be found to be the responsibility of the Village Hall this embarrassment would fall on its Trustees, currently eight in number.
Personally, I have no confidence that the Parish Council will recognise this as an issue and will no doubt be able to offer a convincing explanation of the confusion surrounding Minute 1328.
If I were a Trustee of the Village Hall I would be very anxious to ensure that I was not personally at risk.
If I were one of the four “Trustees” of the supposed Whittington Youth and Sports Club Trust I think that I would be inclined to ensure that some positive action is taken.
Otherwise, as a resident “Plus ca change”.