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Oakham family which battled with council over land in Manton has it returned

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A family has been handed back a ‘stolen’ piece of land after more than four months of 'hell'.

Alistair Rhys-Williams, 60, purchased a piece of land near the railway bridge at Manton from Leicestershire County Council in 1984.

Back then he used it for his horse and has continued to use it since. But on May 21 he went to the field to find it being used as a storage site for work on Manton Railway Bridge, with tonnes of hardcore piled up.

The piece of land in Manton
The piece of land in Manton

He was told that the land belonged to Rutland County Council, which allegedly registered it in 2008 without the title deed.

Alistair said: "My title deed legally shows that I own the land and is the most important document as far as property ownership is concerned. Yet Rutland County Council would not accept this legal document as definitive proof that the land wasn’t theirs and they continued to put up barriers to prevent the land grab from being rectified.

"The council wasted time carrying out site surveys and just kicked me into the long grass for 18 weeks with sporadic communication from them. Throughout this adversarial situation no support or understanding from the council has been forthcoming as they obviously hoped I would give up the fight for my land.

Alistair and Claire Rhys-Williams in their Manton field
Alistair and Claire Rhys-Williams in their Manton field

"Rutland County Council has dealt with me in a very condescending manner throughout."

The council has admitted that the land does not belong to them, and Network Rail, which used the land when repairing Manton Bridge, has paid the family rent.

A spokesman for Rutland County Council said it worked as quickly as possible to conduct a thorough investigation since ownership was first called into question.

They added: “In the four months that have followed, the council has carefully examined its internal records.

Alistair and Tim Rhys-Williams on the piece of land in Manton
Alistair and Tim Rhys-Williams on the piece of land in Manton

“This has included a manual check of physical records dating back to 2007, when the land was registered, as well as corresponding with the Land Registry and conducting a full survey of the site. The council has maintained contact with Mr Rhys-Williams and his solicitor throughout this process.

“All of this work has been necessary to resolve the issue of ownership with absolute certainty. Having completed the investigation, it appears that a mistake was made as part of the original registration process in 2007 and that the land in question does belong to Mr Rhys-Williams."

The Rhys-Williams family is now urging any land owners to check their details are correctly registered with the Land Registry.

Alistair said: "Through no fault of my own Rutland County Council has put myself and my family through 18 weeks of stress and they call unlawfully registering my land a mere ‘oversight’, it’s just incomprehensible."

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