Trouble in Heartbeat Country

Please read the information below and tell us whether you think it is right that the Duchy of Lancaster (The Queen) should be making money in this way

  1. In 1996 1.4 million people visited Goathland a village of fewer than 500 people, mostly to see where Heartbeat was being filmed.
  2. Some days Goathland was gridlocked and the Common (owned by the Duchy of Lancaster) was suffering.
  3. The only car park in the village held 50 cars.
  4. The North York Moors National Parks asked James Fearnley to open a field he owned in the centre of the village as an overflow car park.
  5. For 9 years this green car park eased the problem of cars in Goathland and saved the Common.
  6. In 2005 the Duchy of Lancaster wrote to James demanding he close the car park immediately because cars were passing illegally from the road to the field gate over a tiny strip of land the Duchy claimed to own.
  7. The Duchy of Lancaster (The Queen) demanded 50% of profits made from the car park annually.
  8. A year ago James felt compelled to give in to the Duchy’s demands after they applied for an injunction to close the car park and threatened him with over £90,000 of legal costs should he defend the action in court.
  1. James had already spent large amounts of money on solicitors fees and was unable to afford any further legal representation, so offered to pay £18,000 in back pay and £2,500 per year in instalments over three years.
  2. The Duchy refused this offer and demanded all the back pay immediately PLUS £50,000 in costs immediately and threatened James with costs of £120,000 if the action went to court.
  3. Following James’ application to the court which argued that he was being threatened and bullied by exorbitant legal costs, the Duchy agreed to settle for £40,000 if £20,000 was paid immediately.
  4. This action has brought James close to bankruptcy.
  5. The Duchy has behaved like this to several other individuals and businesses in Goathland.
  6. Local MP Robert Goodwill has written on James’ behalf to Lord Hill the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster asking how the Duchy can justify their policy regarding easements on their North Yorkshire estate.

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