Guernsey minister mediates L'Ancresse golf course dispute

L'Ancresse golf course
Image caption Moves to redesign the course to avoid going over roads are on hold while the negotiations continue

A senior Guernsey politician has stepped in to try to settle a dispute over the lease paid by golf clubs to the L'Ancresse Commons Council.

Under the current lease, which expires in in 2016, an annual "peppercorn rent" is paid for the use of the common land.

A council spokesman said the current rent of £100 needed to be updated to something more "reasonable" but would not be drawn on what that would be.

Culture and Leisure Minister Mike O'Hara met with both sides on Thursday.

He said he has consulted with Her Majesty's Procureur Howard Roberts, chief legal adviser to the States, due to the complicated land rights involved in the issue.

The common has multiple owners including various individuals, the English Crown and the States. Alongside this the "habitants" of the Vale Parish have access rights for grazing animals and for cutting and collecting gorse or furze.

The golf course, used by the Royal Guernsey and L'Ancresse golf clubs, covers about half of the 737 vergees (298 acres) making up the common.

The peppercorn rent agreement came into force in 1947 and according to the Commons Council spokesman at that time it was sufficient to cover their expenses.

Alongside the discussions about the cost of the lease the clubs are also discussing redesigning the course so that players would no longer hit balls across the two roads that bisect it.

A spokesman for one of the clubs said they would not spend money on the design changes until a stable and reasonable lease had been negotiated.

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