The Tenant Farmers Association has held constructive discussions with North Yorkshire County Council about its policy towards its County Farms estate.
TFA National Vice Chairman, Stephen Wyrill, who farms on the North Yorkshire estate said "North Yorkshire County Council's policy of progressive disposal of its estate is not something which has found favour with the TFA. The TFA believes that local authorities should be retaining their estates and using carefully crafted asset management plans to ensure that council tax payers are obtaining the best possible value through, strategic, planned disposals of small pockets of relatively high value land for development use whilst retaining the remainder of the estate statutory purposes. This is something which has been echoed in a recent, influential report from the Government's adviser on sustainable development, Sir Don Curry. I am pleased to say that the County Council agreed to consider the conclusions of Sir Don's report and how this might impact upon its ongoing management of its estate."
In cases where the Local Authority has decided to continue with a disposal of a holding the TFA also expressed concerns that the way in which the Local Authority handles sales to sitting tenants in comparison to the sales with vacant possession in the open market, discriminates against sitting tenants.
When selling a farm the Local Authority includes within the contract of sale various claw back provisions. Sitting tenants face financial claw backs if they obtain any financial benefit from development in the 30 years following their purchase or any general profit from sales within the first 10 years of the purchase. Purchasers in the open market only face the claw back on development profits.
“This is unfair to sitting tenants who, in order to finance the purchase of their holdings, often need to sell a small proportion of farm to manage the cost of the purchase. I am pleased that following our intervention North Yorkshire is prepared to look at this again,” said Mr Wyrill.
Discussions also covered other issues including repairs, rent reviews and investment in fixed equipment including the fixed equipment that will be required to meet the statutory standards of the new Nitrate Vulnerable Zone Regulations.
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