I HAVE written this short article as a response to many letters published in HAS regarding the fate of common land in the heart of Durham City.

They hang the man and flog the woman

Who steals the goose from off the common

But leaves the greater villain loose

Who steals the common from the goose.

This is the first verse of a 16th century poem lamenting the fact that the establishment will do what they like as they believe themselves above the common law. If they need to flout the law they simply apply to themselves and other authorities thereby giving themselves the necessary permission.

The peasants’ revolt of 1381 set the pattern for future discontent against unjust behaviour by the establishment which was to echo down the centuries.

A further revolt of 1540 raised discontent again when common land was simply stolen from the people. People’s wishes, views, and objections were overridden, ignored, crushed and consigned to the dustbin.

Somehow this seems very familiar and proves little has changed in over 600 years.

The rest of this old poem continues in a similar vein and is still very relevant today.

The law demands that we atone

When we take things we do not own

But leaves the lords and ladies fine

Who take things that are yours and mine.

Ken Vipond, Durham