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Please click on the links below to access the news archive.

Fed up families demand an end to soaring bills..
06 December 2017

A news article featuring quotes from Mike Marriott, who ran the test case in Scotland.

Homeowners trapped by ‘fleecehold’ – the new cash cow for developers..
02 December 2017

Guardian article featuring news of the HORNET campaign

Problems facing freeholders on new developments..
11 November 2016

Excellent article by the campaign group, the Home Owners Alliance, which gives a brilliant overview of the land maintenance issues facing homeowners on new estates.  The article also introduces the grass-roots campaign group HomeOwners Network (HorNet).  We recommend strongly that every homeowner affected joins HorNet (which is free) and considers joining the Home Owners Alliance too.

Glasgow property firm secures seven figure funding to support growth..
04 September 2016

Natwest Scotland enters funding deal with Greenbelt Group

Council threatens developer with prosecution over estate complaints..
23 August 2016

Perth and Kinross Council issues an enforcement order on Greenbelt for failing to maintain land on an estate - failure to comply may result in prosecution

Telford homeowners furious over Taylor Wimpey maintenance bill..
18 June 2016
The end of deeds of conditions?..
18 January 2016

An excellent overview of the test case in Scotland's leading law journal

Marriott v Greenbelt ..
11 January 2016

An article from a Scottish law firm on the test case

Greenbelt residential development landscape maintenance burden fails..
07 January 2016

An article on the test case by solicitors Morton Fraser

Couple to test legality of land maintenance company’s business model in in Lands Tribunal..
16 July 2015
Police investigate alleged drone flying over Menstrie Estate..
16 July 2015
Meet the chief executive Alex Middleton..
29 June 2015

"At the risk of sounding like David Brent, and telling you there is no ‘i’ in team, the importance of a Chief Executive to recognise the power of teamwork cannot be underestimated."  Alex Middleton, Chief Executive of Greenbelt Group.   

Oh dear. LMAO. Editor. 

Residents in row over maintenance fees on new Telford housing development..
22 January 2015
Ground maintenance group slated as Perth residents can't see road for the trees..
22 August 2014
Residents take gardening fees dispute to court..
17 August 2014

Sunday Times article on the test case

Row over Crieff greenbelt land..
24 May 2014
New probe into factors legislation..
31 January 2013
Unpoplar Rosyth trees for the chop..
21 October 2011
Sandy Park residents furious at its unkempt condition..
01 August 2011
Dog walkers cause a stink..
08 July 2011
Battle reaches stalemate over no-man’s land at Ellon estate ..
05 April 2011
New legislation to clamp down on cowboy property factors..
08 March 2011
Fresh hope for homeowners in land maintenance wrangle..
16 November 2010
MSPs told law change is needed over factors..
16 September 2010
Property firm tries to evade new Bill..
10 September 2010
Salmond steps in over upkeep of land..
09 July 2010
Land firm under fire for stalling offer ..
16 June 2010
Closure looms for land firm over late accounts..
07 November 2009
Controversial firm is accused of misusing funds for conservation..
25 October 2009
Kirkcaldy residents paying £122 a year to watch weeds grow..
13 August 2009
Court threat on Greenbelt bills..
06 July 2009
Police called as fight over land maintenance bills gets dirty..
27 May 2009
Leys householders refuse to pay up for services..
11 April 2009
House builders urged to think again on deals with Greenbelt Group..
21 February 2009

Councellors in Aberdeenshire act to outlaw Greenbelt Group in their county

OFT finds problems in Scottish property management ..
13 February 2009
Land management firm could be taken to tribunal after complaints..
13 February 2009
Residents say land maintenance deal is a waste..
29 January 2009
Oldmeldrum residents hit out at bills for non-existent play areas..
27 January 2009
Homeowners vent their anger at Westhill meeting..
23 January 2009
Westhill residents heckle boss of firm over upkeep of open spaces ..
20 January 2009
Boss of firm to be quizzed by residents..
24 December 2008

Angry householders to ask Greenbelt company why work has not been done

Kenmay woman faces cash ultimatum..
03 December 2008
Homeowner refusing to pay for substandard work..
24 November 2008
Jim Devine MP raises Greenbelt Group in House of Commons..
24 November 2008
Greenbelt director commits to upkeep of local green spaces ..
21 November 2008
Ellon community may take upkeep of land into own hands..
18 November 2008

Residents withhold payment until new arrangement can be found

Pledge of help for land maintenance trap victims..
03 October 2008
Transcript of questions raised in Scottish Parliament on land maintenance companies..
02 October 2008

Land Maintenance Companies (Title Deeds)

6. Angela Constance (Livingston) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what progress has been made to protect residents whose title deeds bind them to a specific land maintenance company. (S3O-4435)

The Minister for Community Safety (Fergus Ewing): The Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003 provides a legal framework for the variation or discharge of burdens that are found in title deeds. Homeowners should first seek legal advice as to the appropriate option, according to their circumstances. Ministers have no powers to intervene in private disputes.

Issues can arise due to poor and unacceptable standards of service. The trading standards service is aware of such consumer protection issues and has mechanisms in place to deal quickly with disputes. The Office of Fair Trading is undertaking a market study into property managers in Scotland. I will meet the OFT later this month to discuss land maintenance companies.

Angela Constance: Recently, I had an informative meeting with the Lands Tribunal for Scotland, the details of which I will write to Mr Ewing about. As a result of that meeting, it is clear to me that the current legislation—the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003—does not offer practicable protection or solutions to residents who are in the unique position of being bound to a land maintenance company. In the case of my constituents, the company involved is Greenbelt Ltd.

Will the minister give an undertaking to pursue a course of action that will give residents who wish to exercise their rights as citizens to change their land maintenance company an accessible and affordable route to do so?

Fergus Ewing: My officials are in contact with the Lands Tribunal and will work to examine and evaluate the issues that arise in connection with Greenbelt. I look forward to receiving Angela Constance's letter on an issue that she is pursuing tenaciously.

Complex legal areas are involved and we all wish to make progress on them. One reason why I arranged to meet the Office of Fair Trading in London later this month is so that I can see what, if anything, it can do to protect consumers. In this case, we are talking about a substantially reserved issue.

Trish Godman (West Renfrewshire) (Lab): I am given to understand that a company is contacting residents to say that it will help them through this legal minefield. The company is saying that its prime motivation is to clean up the industry and claims that it is monitored by the Government regulator. What regulations apply to the transfer of land on housing estates to third parties, and which regulator monitors that area?

Fergus Ewing: I am not aware of the company to which the member refers. If she writes to me with the details, I will be in a position to reply.

Of course, when one buys property, one should take legal advice. Currently, there are no rules to prohibit the separate sale of amenity land within an estate. That is a law reform that no previous Administration sought to introduce; indeed, there may be problems in introducing it. In any event, given that any law reform would not be retrospective, it would not apply to those who have difficulties with land maintenance companies. Nonetheless, many members have raised the issue. The Government is very keen to work with members and their constituents to see whether any other remedy can be found.

Irate Ellon residents demand meeting over 'horrendous mess'..
01 October 2008
Residents report company to cops..
29 September 2008
Greenbelt and sub-contractor at odds over upkeep of land..
22 September 2008
Call for grass roots action..
12 September 2008
MP calls for legal change to resolve homeowners’ row ..
25 August 2008
Pressure on government to assist homeowners..
16 August 2008
Call for probe into grass-cut firm..
12 August 2008
Constance supports latest Greenbelt resident action..
11 August 2008
Herald expose leads to deluge of complaints at Greenbelt ‘disgrace’..
11 August 2008
Councillor’s anger over upkeep of public areas..
08 August 2008
Call for change in law to stop sale of communal land..
08 August 2008
Grampian police and Scottish Government to receive community’s dossier about greenbelt group..
07 August 2008
Bruce and McInnes demand grounds maintenance action..
06 August 2008
Salmond urged to help homeowners in Greenbelt row..
06 August 2008
Residents ask police to probe housing estates firm..
06 August 2008
Garioch councillor takes it upon himself to cut the grass..
06 August 2008
Community figure’s anger after contractor repeatedly fails to do job
Greenbelt’s growing problems..
06 August 2008
The green verges of new private housing estates across the country might seem an unlikely battleground. But for homeowners at more than 70 schemes in Scotland and northern England that is what they have become.
Firm ‘takes money for work it does not do’..
01 August 2008
Scottish government urged to probe residents’ claims over factor
Maintenance on estates ‘not done for seven months’..
30 July 2008
Residents claim firm has been paid thousands of pounds
Residents hit out over grass-cutting frequency ..
30 July 2008
Government backs residents in land row..
30 July 2008
Newmachar grass woes: action pledged ..
28 July 2008
Complaints as contractor cuts grass verges less frequently ..
15 July 2008
Residents sign petition to oust landscape firm..
02 April 2008
Angela Constance MSP meets with Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing to present results of homeowners survey in West Lothian..
26 March 2008
Pensioners hit out at factors..
26 February 2008
An article highlighting a Clackmannanshire estate's bid to remove Greenbelt Group
Jim Devine MP secures meeting with Minister for Housing to discuss Greenbelt Group..
26 February 2008
Association put on hold..
15 February 2008
RESIDENTS of the Beechgrove Estate in Laurencekirk have declared their intention to hold off forming a residents' association until the issue between builders Scotia Homes and Greenbelt is resolved.
BBC Radio Scotland - Scotland Live..
06 February 2008

Radio show highlighting Greenbelt Group situation. 

Advice from a conveyancing solicitor on our rights under the Title Conditions Scotland Act 2003 to vary conditions in our Title Deeds [including dispensing with the services of Greenbelt Group].

Features Gordon Banks MP, Alex Middleton MD of Greenbelt Group, conveyancing solicitor Ros Mackay of HBJ Gateley Wareing, and Mike Marriott, a resident on a Gladedale estate in Menstrie.

[Item is 20 minues into the broadcast]

BBC Scotland Morning Extra..
10 January 2008

Drivetime show featuring excellent advice on factoring issues from Govan Law Centre solicitor Mike Dailly. 

Useful comments on what to do if you think you have received a fraudulent demand for payment.

BBC Frontline Scotland - Scotland's Property Nightmare..
09 January 2008

Investigative documentary featuring Greenbelt Group.

Gordon Banks MP appointed Secretary of Westminster’s new Land Maintenance Group..
04 January 2008
Residents win right to vote out factors..
24 December 2007
Growing anger at unbreakable grass maintenance contracts..
11 September 2007
Debate on Greenbelt Group takes place in Holyrood..
06 September 2007
Landmark decision in open spaces wrangle..
16 August 2007
Adjournment Debate in Westminster on Greenbelt Group Limited..
25 July 2007
Suburbia on grass verge of revolt..
22 July 2007
Greenbelt Group Ltd - Jim Devine Gets Gordon Brown Involved ..
18 July 2007

Jim Devine (Livingston, Labour) | Hansard source

Will my right hon. Friend join me in condemning the performance and behaviour of Greenbelt, a ground maintenance company that provides services to tens of thousands of homes throughout the  UK? It charges up to £400 per household and provides little or no service. It is Farepak for homeowners. Last week, its lawyers sent a threatening letter to me and my constituent, Paula Hoogerbrugge. Paula, a single mum, has been monitoring the company's behaviour on a national basis. The lawyer also contacted her employers with a threat to silence her or get her sacked. Will the Prime Minister join me in condemning that behaviour?

Gordon Brown (Prime Minister) | Hansard source

I am grateful for that information and I will look into the matter that my hon. Friend raises.

Devine raises point of order with the Speaker of the House..
16 July 2007

Jim Devine (Livingston, Labour) | Hansard source

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance on the privilege of Members in this place. During business questions last Thursday, I discussed Greenbelt, a factoring company, and in particular its bullying behaviour. It has sent threatening letters to me and my constituent, Paula Hoogerbrugge. Company representatives also contacted her employers. After business questions, its lawyers copied me into a letter that it sent to you, Mr. Speaker. I believe that that is a part of its bullying strategy to silence me, and I would be grateful if you would confirm that I have the right to raise issues that directly affect my constituents in this place and beyond.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin (Speaker) | Hansard source

I have not yet received any such letter, and the hon. Gentleman will understand that I would not discuss on the Floor of the House any letters sent to or by me. On privileges, I have always said after a general election and at the opening of a new Session that Members have privilege not outwith but in this Chamber during parliamentary proceedings, but that privilege should always be exercised wisely and consideration should be given to those being criticised.

Devine asks Minister for debate on Greenbelt Group Ltd...
12 July 2007

 Mr. Jim Devine (Livingston) (Lab):

May we have a debate in Government time on the performance and behaviour of Greenbelt,  a factoring company, which charges homeowners up to £400 a year and provides little or no service? It is Farepak for homeowners. Yesterday, its lawyers wrote a threatening letter not only to me but to my constituent, Paula Hoogerbrugge. Paula has been monitoring the company’s performance nationally. She is a single mum, yet it not  only sent her a threatening letter, but its representatives contacted her employers with a clear view to having her silenced or sacked.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend join me in condemning that despicable behaviour?
Ms Harriet Harman:

I thank my hon. Friend for raising the matter in the House. The behaviour that he describes is worrying and I will raise it with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Important financial sectors must have proper methods of probity.

This evening BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime news programme covered the story.
Ewing ready to tackle common land concerns..
29 June 2007
Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing agrees to investigate MSPs concerns about Greenbelt Group Limited..
28 June 2007

 

 

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 28 June 2007

Question Time

Scottish Executive

General Questions

 

Land Management

6. Angela Constance (Livingston) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will examine the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003 and other legislation as appropriate to ensure that home owners have protection and recourse from land management companies that have sole rights to manage land. (S3O-397)

The Minister for Community Safety (Fergus Ewing): It is clearly important for the amenity of housing developments that common areas of land are well managed and maintained. The Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003 provides a legal framework for the conditions found in title deeds, but house purchasers and their legal advisers should ensure that there are adequate arrangements in the title deeds for the management and maintenance of common areas when buying property. Similarly, home owners should seek legal advice as to whether land management companies are meeting their obligations under the title deeds or other contractual arrangements.

Angela Constance: I thank the minister for his answer but, with respect, I press him to state today or undertake to consider further what he can do to assist the 1,000 residents throughout West Lothian whose title deeds bind them indefinitely to the land management company Greenbelt which, according to my constituents, is woefully failing to deliver a service for which they are forced to pay. Neither the law nor their title deeds appear to offer any easily identifiable, accessible or affordable solution. Perhaps the minister will agree to meet me to discuss the issue further, given that it is complicated.

Fergus Ewing: I am grateful to Angela Constance for raising the issue—she is quite right to do so. Although the Scottish Government cannot intervene in matters of private contract dispute, it is nonetheless absolutely clear from Angela Constance's representations and from sporadic complaints that the previous Scottish Executive received from members of various parties that the problem is serious. The Scottish Government recognises that poorly managed or neglected open spaces not only fail to meet the needs of communities but can inhibit regeneration and development. I would be happy to meet the member to hear more specific details. If any other member of any party wants to make representations to me about Greenbelt, I would be happy to meet them.

Mary Mulligan (Linlithgow) (Lab): The minister might be aware that I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth about this matter—I look forward to his reply. When decisions on land management are being made, can house builders be made to accept their responsibility to home buyers such as my constituents in Armadale and Bathgate, who are the customers of Greenbelt, by ensuring that home buyers have some say over who the land management company is and by creating a contract that ensures that home owners have redress should the company not fulfil its obligations?

Fergus Ewing: As the member knows, those are, in essence, matters to be dealt with between the purchasers of properties, their lawyers and the developers. Mary Mulligan, like Angela Constance, highlights an issue of concern throughout Scotland. Therefore, although the Executive cannot intervene in individual cases, I am extremely concerned to explore exactly what the company is doing to discharge its obligations. The fact that two members of different parties have raised the issue indicates the strength of feeling about it. I will ensure that the company is made aware of this discussion and that the matter is taken forward

MP acts over gripes about land company..
11 June 2007
Public Meeting - Armadale, West Lothian..
10 June 2007

A public meeting was held in Armadale, West Lothian. The meeting attracted around 200 people and was attended by Alex Middleton, MD of Greenbelt Group Ltd.  Mr Middleton agreed to a six month freeze on payments for the estates affected, during which time he pledged that a range of remedial works would be carried out and standards would be improved. 

Angry residents say the grass isn't always greener..
08 June 2007
Public Meeting - Livingston, West Lothian..
07 June 2007

Jim Devine, MP for Livingston, hosted a public meeting in Livingston. The meeting, which attracted around 250 people, was attended by Alex Middleton, MD of Greenbelt Group Ltd.  Mr Middleton pledged to visit every estate affected and to cancel late payment charges for those estates.

Labour MP accuses Greenbelt of “behaving like Farepak”..
07 June 2007
Factoring Firm Under Fire..
07 June 2007
Jim Devine MP raises Early Day Motion in Westminster..
06 June 2007

Jim Devine, MP for Livingston, raises Early Day Motion in Westminster

Parents' fury as playpark becomes junkyard..
10 April 2007



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