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COUNTY FARMS COULD STILL GO TO A CENTRAL TRUST

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Land consultant Peter Prague is continuing his efforts to embrace some, if not all, county council farms in a centr...
Land consultant Peter Prague is continuing his efforts to embrace some, if not all, county council farms in a centralised national landholding trust, reports BBC's Farming Today programme.

Discussion of a national management trust began in anticipation of local government reorganisation and the need to find some way of securing the future of the smallholdings if county councils were abolished in favour of smaller, unitary authorities.

Although that is much less likely to occur, Mr Prague said financial issues had been raised and it was for those reasons county councils might go ahead with a landholding trust to realise some of their assets.

Attention had been focused on the fact that very considerable amounts of public money and assets are tied up in these farms, to the benefit of relatively small number of people. Secondly, environment secretary John Gummer had introduced his private finance initiative to try to attract private capital into local government funding.

'If this venture goes forward, I think those councils which subscribe to it will at least let their tenants know exactly where they stand in that they will be in an ordinary private system, with the full security of tenure that involves.

'There should be quite a vibrant system available to them then', said Mr Prague.

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