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Green Scythe Fair Parley

Land Ownership or the Commons?

(2pm - 3.30pm in the Music Marquee)

After its successful introduction last year, the Green Scythe Fair Parley* returns in 2024!  


* Parley: a discussion especially one designed to end an argument or hostilities between two groups of people.
Our topical issue this year is “Land Ownership or the Commons?”

The "right to roam” movement got a huge fillip last year with the Dartmoor court case, which found against the rich landowners who wanted to prevent wild camping on their recently acquired Dartmoor estate. But of course it goes far wider and far deeper than that.


Starting with William the Conqueror several rounds of Enclosures deprived huge swathes of British country folk, “commoners", of their traditional rights to common land, on which they depended for grazing, growing food, gathering fuel, etc. It caused great suffering and loss of independence, and fomented riots throughout the centuries. Arguably loss of the Commons continued right up until the 1980s with Margaret Thatcher’s privatisation of state-owned utilities and related industries.


Enclosures enabled the few to get enormously richer and resulted in the poor getting much poorer. It helped to kick start the Industrial Revolution, as landless peasants had to migrate to the towns to find work as labourers, laying the foundations for the emergence of capitalism. But it also created the conditions for introducing greater efficiency and improved agricultural techniques with more land under cultivation, resulting in increasing food production, greater rural employment and profitability (for the few).


As ever, there are pros and cons on each side and our two great speakers will explore these as they put their respective cases and then, through structured discussion and contributions from you our audience, we will work towards ending the Parley with as much consensus as we can muster.


For Land Ownership, Sir Philip Colfox is owner of the 1500 acre Symondsbury Estate near Bridport, not only a working farm, but also a retail centre with eatery, wedding venue, holiday cottages and more. Philip has also worked in Brussels for the European Landowners Association.


For the Commons, Guy Shrubsole is a researcher, writer and campaigner. He founded and has written Who Owns England?: How We Lost Our Green and Pleasant Land, and How to Take It Back and also The Lost Rainforests of Britain.


Join us at the Parley at 2pm in the Music Marquee – we look forward to seeing you there!

2016 Debate – FLOODING

Edited presentations from local landowner Julian Temperly, campaigner George Monbiot

and local Green MEP Molly Scott Cato. Chaired by Francis (Herbi) Blake.

Filmed at the Green Scythe Fair, Somerset, 12th June 2016 by Frances Aitken

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