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The Peasants' Revolt

Community Farm under siege

Update: 25/06/14

Yorkley Farm has won!! - for the time being at least, saying  "The court has ordered an injunction against those that hired the bailiffs and security, in force upon key areas of the farm, for 12 months. This is a historic victory. The decision is being appealed but another emergency situation is unlikely, at least for the near future. Thanks so much to everyone who gave their support. "

Original report:

AS campaigners in the Forest of Dean (and elsewhere) prepare to do battle with the Government's Infrastructure Bill to keep our land public, barricades have gone up to prevent a sudden land grab on a community-run farm.

At 4.50am on Monday (June 22), residents at Yorkley Court Community Farm on the edge of the Forest of Dean had a rude awakening when a phalanx of bailiffs from Swift Credit Services (who don't have a rep for being pleasant and reasonable http://www.legalbeagles.info/forums/showthread.php?23180-Swift-Credit-Notice-of-Seizure-of-Goods) had smashed through one of the farm entrance gates, into the farmhouse and issued eviction notices. The residents insist the action is illegal; the police (at last count there were three vans, one set of dog handlers as well as miscellaneous officers setting up road blocks) insist they are there only to prevent a breach of the peace and are impartial.

The situation is ongoing - one resident told SchNEWS "After the mental situation we found ourselves in this morning - bailiffs in our kitchen/living room building and also in the farmhouse, inside occupant's bedrooms and live-ins, we managed to re-secure and barricade the main yard, hangar and living room/kitchen buildings, and re-possessed the top floor of the house.. after a while we convinced the bailiffs (slightly) that they were acting illegally, and they retreated to the main gate. at the gate we found contract builders setting up a large spiky fence and gate. we retook control of the gate and some of the heavy machinery, and after some confusion amongst the builders, we dug up their fence and gate and loaded all of their kit back onto their lorries. they seemed up for leaving site but then the private security goons wouldn't let them out.... since then we've been building loads of barricades, blockadeing all our gates with vehicles and locking on. there has been little activity from the security since then but they are still here, looking pissed off. we think this siege will continue for days, so any help/food/padlocks would be amazingly useful. please come down, we need everyone who can get here"

Farm residents have been battling land-grab attempts by would-be developers since they arrived two years ago. Agents for the would-be land-grabbers have in the past driven tractors into greenhouses, and intimidated residents in a bid to force them to leave. But the residents - who refer to themselves as peasants - are not going anywhere. No court of law has been able to rule on who owns the land, despite numerous attempts by Richard Martin Tolson to claim ownership. They say he wants to sell the land on to a local magnate named Brian Bennett, a millionaire developer who already owns quite a lot of land. The bailiffs produced an enforcement order issued on behalf of said Mr Tolson, but residents - and many in the community which supports them - say as he is not the proven landowner he has no jurisdiction.


Yorkley Court Community Farm's residents were invited to occupy the land by a descendant of the last tenant farmers, as they wanted to see the land cultivated for the benefit of the community. The occupiers, some who have connections to Reclaim the Fields and locals have pitched in to grow food crops. They sell them at affordable, supermarket-beating prices through the Dean Forest Food Hub, along with other producers such as allotment-holders and gardeners.

They have forged links with the village community of Yorkley - which itself began life in the 18th-century as a squatter settlement (in common with almost all the villages which circle the Forest of Dean) - and regularly pop into the village primary school to give talks on nature and gardening. At the time of writing there has been a 36-hour stand-off between bailiffs - their muscle boosted by security staff and, at times, local landowners. In a nutshell, it amounts to class war, with locals arriving with blankets, food and other support for the residents from the nearby town of Lydney and Yorkley village, less than a mile away.

The police have intermittently tried to block the road - at one point they were even stopping people walking to the stand-off (apparently for safety reasons), which is on the main Lydney-Yorkley road. When it was pointed out that their "impartial" status was compromised by allowing bailiffs and security vehicles but not anyone else, they relented. At the time of writing, the chief inspector was in a private meeting with solicitors and bailiffs. The police said the action they take would depend on the outcome of that meeting. One of the Yorkley Court Community Farm residents, Rabbit, said "We won't surrender the land, and we plan to be here for many years to come."

This is the message put out on Monday: "ILLEGAL EVICTION HAPPENING RIGHT NOW AT Yorkley Court Community Farm. Support needed, please come and help out if you can! In the early hours of this morning, police and private security thugs descended, without prior Notice (a legal requirement), upon the peaceful peasants living on the land, and growing food at Yorkley Court. This outrageous, completely unlawful act of aggression came without warning, whilst Yorkley Court Farm are fully engaged with the [Forest of Dean] District Council in their planning process, and were looking likely to be granted the initial stages of planning permission during the coming weeks... Please come and help us stop this illegal eviction."

A bunch of bailiffs broke into the house and cut through the gates. They say they are going to remove vehicles from site and fence the site off. They say they are acting on behalf of the land owner [though there is no landowner]... There is currently a stand off but more people on site to observe anything dodgy that may be attempted would be good. Cameras etc." Postcode for satnavs is GL15 4TZ. You may have to walk from the centre of Yorkley (about a half-mile) or it's three miles uphill from Lydney, the nearest place with bus and train connections. Other links: http://yorkleycourt.wordpress.com/ http://www.deanforestfoodhub.org.uk/ http://www.reclaimthefields.org.uk/


There are 3 comments on this story...
Added By: Andrea - 24th June 2014 @ 9:53 PM
Good Luck, Love Peace and Justice for you.
Added By: Deborah - 25th June 2014 @ 8:15 PM
Victory.Your aim is upheld.A victory over greed not need!
Added By: Dave - 12th July 2014 @ 11:12 PM
Why should the new land thieves have any more right than you land thieves? Steal away!
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