Two years ago management and I bought seven acres of scrub land right next to our boundary fence.
The previous owner who lives in Nottingham had tried on two occasions to get planning permission to build a dwelling on the site of two redundant buildings with easy access to the road and had been turned down on appeal. The land was not a great prospect agriculturally but the main encouragement to buy it was the fact that the people who love piebald ponies had got their beady eyes on it and indeed on two occasions had briefly set up camp there.
Fancying a bit of a punt, we spoke to Jane Scott at my old firm’s planning department and while acknowledging it was a long shot we decided to have a go. The first hurdle was the parish council, whose chairman had emailed all his committee members before the meeting to the effect that he was not in favour. I was not notified that the application was going to be discussed, but fortunately my friend with 1,200 black and white cows tipped me the wink and my attendance at this meeting undoubtedly secured local approval. The next hurdle was Ashford borough council, who sent out their head honcho in high heels and who had forever lost the ability to smile. Given that the site is in an area of outstanding natural beauty she did not hesitate in advising the planning committee that development would not enhance the natural beauty of the area, despite the site previously being covered in scrub, broken bottles, discarded white goods and beds of stingers the size of Diane Abbott’s ego. Jane and I attended the initial planning meeting and after her allotted three minute presentation, the committee insisted that a site meeting was needed.
The final committee meeting was arranged before which six members and two pairs of high heels visited the site. Lo and behold at the evening meeting and another three minute presentation from my agent, said pair of high heels stood up and again recommended refusal. It took the members 10 minutes to grant approval by six votes to one! The moral to this story – never give up and a pound spent on good advice is worth every penny.
On the topic of good advice, just who are the faceless people who write speeches and suggest policies for our beloved leaders to spout out in an endless stream of drivel. The sheer volume of arguments expounded on either side of the referendum debate is mind boggling and utterly confusing. One example of clear thinking – six months ago Osborne declared that buy to lets were unfairly prohibiting first time buyers from getting on the property ladder so he increased the stamp duty on those purchases. Now this week he is warning all the property owners in the country that the value of these houses will fall by 18% if we leave the European Union! Do we really have to endure all this nonsense right up to 23 June when most of us will only have our hearts to vote with rather than our heads?
Another branch of our elders and betters who continue to cover themselves in glory is the ‘elf and safety brigade which the following two examples of madness amply illustrate. A university has banned the launching of mortar boards at graduation ceremonies least somebody gets injured and one school has banned the use of whistles in the playground because the noise is too aggressive. I hear further that the military are going to be banned from saluting on parade for fear of poking their eye out and finally MP’s may only make promises and statements of fact that have at least a five per cent chance of authenticity for fear of confusing the electorate.
May has been a good month on the farm – the last of my tegs sold well, costing £46 in September and realising £85 the first week in May on grass alone. Further, 212 ewe tegs were all shorn by 22 May and my motley collection of ewes and lambs purchased when there was little grass about now look value for money.
Finally management is clearing out the freezers and making jam with last year’s fruit – so a bit of peace and quiet for a day or two!
PS: Don’t fail to vote on the twenty third, as a 51% victory for either faction on a 40% turnout won’t be very convincing or helpful for the victors and will only further encourage Brussels to treat us like a pariah. Sadly whatever the outcome the Tory party will be left in total disarray, and trying to find a new leader who has not been tarnished by the whole episode will be difficult if not impossible.