NORTH Yorks County Councils plan to sell off 112 smallholdings to raise millions of £s to help pay off debts has flopped badly.
Last year, the council offered tenant farmers a package of incentives including golden handshakes to farmers nearing retirement age to surrender their tenancies. This saw 74 smallholders who hold lifetime tenancies offered up to £53,000 to quit a typical 32ha (80 acre) holding.
But only five holdings in the councils 4170ha (10,300 acre) estate have been sold and it expects to raise just £27m over the next 20 years, well below the original forecast of £64.7m. The schemes failure has come as no surprise to the Tenant Farmers Association. "We said all along that the councils valuations were wildly optimistic," said regional secretary Ron Hall.
"There was no chance they would raise the sort of money they were looking for at the prices they were asking.
"The farmers decided they didnt want to buy their holdings because the council wasnt offering very substantial discounts."