Impossible idea

First published in Letters

CONSIDERING Clive Smith sat on the board of Malvern Hills Conservators for a few years, his letter of September 22 shows a lamentable ignorance of the factors surrounding the rebuilding of the Beacon Cafe and the erection of a cable car. Let me explain the facts once again for the sake of his "bewildered residents".

The fact that members of the board, when the cafe was burned down, "were no longer involved" has nothing to do with the requirements of the Malvern Hills Acts of Parliament by which the Conservators have to care for the hills and commons. The same rules apply now as they did then. These make it clear that no building should be erected on the Conservators' land other than for the purpose of carrying out the requirements of the Acts in the management of the land they own or that under their jurisdiction.

When the cafe was burned down, the Conservators already had plans drawn up by a local architect to replace the wooden building with one of Malvern stone. They were instructed by legal council that they severally risked prosecution for rebuilding as the original cafe building was an encroachment on common land. A new Act, the 1995 Act, was in preparation to modernise some of the clauses in previous acts so a clause was inserted to gain authority to rebuild the cafe.

The House of Lords sent five members of their committee to look at the hills and they were shown round. Their verdict was that there were enough cafes round the hills and we had St Ann's Well cafe so, quite against the Conservators' wishes, the application to rebuild was turned down. Only at a cost of many thousand pounds of precept payers' money can another Act be passed before another cafe could be built, and the application could be turned down again. So much more than a "bit of imagination is needed"!

The same terms in the Acts which prevent the erection of buildings apply to the erections required to provide a cable car. Much as the Conservators sympathise with those who are unable for various reasons to climb the hills, they are unable to go against the Acts by which they are constituted.

The Conservators will continue to do to their best ability that for which they were formed in 1884 namely, to prevent encroachments and building on their land, to keep the hills open for the enjoyment and recreation of the public and to keep unspoiled the natural environment.

I hope that Clive will stop agitating on behalf of his "bewildered, vast, silent majority" for something which Her Majesty's government have legislated as an impossibility.

DUDLEY BROOK, Malvern House, Abbey Road, Malvern.

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