Halt sell-off of county estates

3 October 1997

Halt sell-off of county estates

By Tony McDougal

DEMANDS for a moratorium on the sale of the UKs county farm estates have been made by the Tenant Farmers Association following the decision by North Yorkshire County Council to sell off all its 134 farms, covering 4450ha (11,000 acres).

The TFA argues that county councils should wait for an anticipated statement on the future of council farms from deputy prime minister John Prescott before further sales take place.

Meetings occurred

George Dunn, TFA chief executive, said meetings had taken place with farm minister Jack Cunningham, who had demonstrated his support for the tenanted sector, but that the issue was currently in Mr Prescotts hands.

Mr Dunn said the TFA was also fighting the proposed sell-off of a third of Wiltshires farms estate, which would mean the loss of 35 farms and around 1416ha (3500 acres).

Bill Cross, North Yorkshire county council policy officer, said the estate, which produces an annual gross income of more than £800,000, needed to be sold off to pay outstanding debts and finance other capital programmes.

The proposals involve disposing of the entire estate over the next 20 years, which would provide the local authority with an additional £60m over 20 years.

Tenancies up for renewal will not be re-let.

Mr Cross said letters had been sent out to all county council farm tenants, but that no final decision would take place until the full council met on Nov 5.

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