Gulliver’s Travels in Broad Oak
Poor Gulliver, immobilised by tissues of threads in Lilliput. The little people thought he would be dangerous and so they held him prisoner. Andrew Robinson-Redman must know how this feels in reverse, because the big guns of Carmarthenshire County Council have trussed him up in regulations to stop the dangerous activity of keeping horses in a field.
The moveable shelter in his field near Broad Oak, Llandeilo, has gone. Now the council is insisting that he removes stones from the field before they lift the enforcement notice they slapped on him.
When Mr Robinson-Redman bought the field in 2010 he put a small quantity of river stone at the top to make the surface firmer underfoot. Now you can’t identify that stone because it is just part of the field. It is not labelled, or coloured, or sparkling. It is an integral part of the field. Yet the council is demanding that it be taken away.
Carmarthenshire’s new head of planning, Llinos Quelch, who comes into the story late on, has told Mr Robinson-Redman in an email that “In order for the enforcement notice to be in full compliance and the land charges to be removed, the notice in its entirety needs to be complied with, until this is done it remains in breach and remains on the land charges register. This is why at this time the charge cannot be removed even though the shelter is being removed from the land – the shelter was one element of the enforcement notice….. Once the stone has been removed the notice can be removed from the land charges register.”
Mr Chris Jones, solicitor for Mr Robinson-Redman, responded that he thought the council “would be hard-pressed to take any further enforcement action against you, although this remains a potentiality of which you should be wary, but if they are insistent that the stones will have to be removed before they themselves remove the Land Charge, then there is little you can do about it as you remain, technically, in breach insofar as the stones have not been removed, notwithstanding that the failure to remove the stones was not the subject of the enforcement proceedings”.
I can think of no way in which it could be possible to identify the exact stones which came into the field half a decade ago. It‘s just not a common-sense request, and leaves Mr Robinson-Redman helplessly tied up with bureaucratic string.
Regulations are of course a means of controlling behaviour, but it seems to me that far too often they do not stop malign or misguided people from pursuing their own ends, but instead impede and trip up folk whose actions, however minor, are inconvenient to those who hold the levers of power.