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Relief as church tax plan aborted
11:30am Monday 4th November 2013 in News
“UNCHRISTIAN” plans by a church to impose an ancient tax for church repairs on three parishioners have been aborted.
Three villagers in Crowle, near Worcester, were told the charge would be registered against their land – although Crowle with Bredicot parochial church council later had a change of heart.
The tax, called chancel repair liability, dates back to when rectors received tithes from their parish to pay for repairs to the chancel, or the altar end of the church.
The tax was attached to land and remained with it, even if sold on.
Under the Land Registration Act 2002, all parochial church councils had until earlier this month to identify affected land and register their interest.
Judith Holden, of Old Turnpike Road, and brothers Charles and Brian Boden, of the Commandery Farm, Lower Crowle, received a letter in September indicating that the liability against their land would be registered with the Land Registry.
Last week, a second letter confirmed that the parochial church council had reconsidered after Miss Holden wrote to say it would cause her great personal hardship.
Miss Holden, aged 74, described it as a blight against her home of 19 years which would have rendered it worthless.
She said: “It has been a real rollercoaster. Fortunately, the outcome is a good one, but it might not have been. This law is absolutely outdated and antiquated.
“I think it should be abolished or repealed. It hits ordinary people.
“They won’t be able to sell their properties. No-one will be foolish enough to buy one.
“They are virtually being made bankrupt and that to me is immoral and unchristian.”
Charles Boden, aged 65, said he was angry and emotional about the ‘mediaeval’ liability which could have been registered against a field of 80 acres.
Mr Boden said: “We have been part of Crowle church all our lives. We’ve known a lot of the vicars on first name terms and my late father was a churchwarden for many years.
“My parents are buried in the churchyard. My grandparents are buried in the churchyard. It has hit us in the heart.
“If the modern churchwardens believed that they needed help with the church and the farm could have helped them, we would have done anything in our power to help.”
Anni Holden, acting spokesman for the Diocese of Worcester, said the PCC had done its best in the face of a complex issue.
“They went through it and took a decision and they got feedback from that, took lots of legal advice and, as a result of that, they decided to change their minds.
“They have come, hopefully, to a decision where everybody’s okay with it.”
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