You may know that the Parish Council was asked by members of the public present at the Ordinary Parish Council Meeting of June 1st 2021 to apply to Dorset Council to have Gollop’s Ground registered as a Village Green since, in the terms of the Commons Act, the field had been used as one for as long as anyone can remember and as far as we know, at least from the 1880’s.
The Commons Act talks about the land being used “for lawful pursuits” for more than 20 years “Nec vi, nec clam, nec precario” (a legal term meaning 'without force, without secrecy, without [explicit] permission')
In the case of Gollop’s Ground, permission was explicitly forbidden on June 3rd 2020 by the new landowner by his erection of signage. Under the Commons Act 2006 four years from such a “trigger” event was allowed for anyone to apply for Village Green Status but this was amended more recently to allow only a year.
A really exceptional effort was made by many people in the community to collect evidence to support the application in the days following June’s Ordinary Parish Council Meeting. The evidence was coordinated by the Parish Clerk and the application form, together with 42 pieces of written and photographic evidence, was sent to Dorset Council but was rejected as not having been submitted precisely in time.
Members of the Parish Council contested this decision and engaged a lawyer with experience with the Commons Act and its predecessors, in many courts including the Supreme Court, and had a lengthy discussion on Friday 9th July.
The bottom line is that the lawyer was quite clear that Dorset Council were correct in law to reject the Parish Councils application. The substance of the case was in the Parish Council’s favour, time was not on our side though regrettably.