29 March 2000
Farmers must pay for church repairs

By FWi staff

A FARMING couple could be forced to sell one of their farms after a high court judge ordered them to pay for repairs to the local church.

Andrew Wallbank and his wife Gail were ordered to pay 96,000 for repairs to the church because of an obscure law which makes them lay rectors.

The Wallbanks, who own a 176-acre farm in Warwickshire, were sued by the church council of the parish of Aston Cantlow and Wilmcote with Billesley.

The case was watched closely by landowners, reports The Guardian.

The church said it was the duty of lay rectors to pay for repairs to the chancel.

Mr Justice Ferris ruled that the Wallbanks, who live at a sheep farm in Powys, central Wales, are liable to pay for the repairs under Chancel Repairs Act of 1932.