1 March 2010

Suits Meet Scythers

My latest issue of The Land has arrived and is filled as usual with excellent things. Perhaps the most encouraging is the serious attempt to find out who owns our most valuable resource - the land itself.

The threatened privatisation of The Land Registry has spurred the Public and Commercial Services union into action and an interesting relationship between land-rights campaigners and anti-privatisation campaigners seems to be developing. The first evidence is a report presenting An Alternative Vision of the Land Registry.

The report in itself is fairly unoriginal - a rehearsal of arguments about the disaster that is New Public Management - but what is interesting, and rather impressive, is that way that the PCS has identified a way of keeping their members' jobs by massively increasing their workload.

The first step to introducing a Land Value Tax would have to be a cadastral survey - a massive data-gathering exercise to establish who actually owns the rolling acres we all feel to be our national heritage. The fact that this information needs to be discovered is what brings the land campaigners - who want redistribution - and the land registry civil servants - who want jobs - together.

Simon Fairlie, bless him, is leaving nothing to chance and his cynical view of politics is likely to be proved right. In typical DIY mode, Chapter 7 are launching their own 'Map Your Local Landowner' award, with prizes of £400 for 'the best cadastral maps to show how landownership is distributed within any given county, district, town, village or parish.' If they receive enough entries they'll be able to piece the map together themselves in the Flaxdrayton Potato Store. If you feel inspired you can contact them on: chapter7@tlio.org.uk

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