Calls for Putney and Wimbledon commons tax refund after boundaries based on 1915 map

Putney Bridge

A community group has called for refunds for dozens of homes paying the Wimbledon and Putney Commons levy, after it emerged a map from 1915 was being used to determine who paid.

Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators (WPCC) has been using a map from 1915 to establish the levy payment area and its election footprint.

However, following research by the Friends of Putney Common (FofPC), it has now published a revised map of the catchment prepared by Ordnance Survey – traditionally homes within three quarters of a mile of the commons or in the old parish of Putney pay.

The average levy paid in Wandsworth collected through the council tax was just over £34 a year and FofPC called for people to be able to reclaim their payments – in some cases paid for decades.

Some homes in new developments have been incorrectly paying the levy through their council tax, while other households, including developments with hundreds of homes, which should have been included in the levy-paying area were excluded, the FofPC claimed.

A review is now under way to establish the number of properties incorrectly classified. In one Wandsworth street 22 homes were incorrectly classified, another nearby had 38.

A spokesman for FofPC said: “This situation is completely unacceptable, particularly as it has gone on for decades.

"The conservators have failed to manage the most basic requirement for collecting the levy, an accurate and reliable map.

“The conservators need to explain in detail how this could have happened and why they lacked the controls to ensure that the annually collected levy was based on the most accurate information available. The conservators are a shambles in terms of governance.”

David Devons, chairman of Wimbledon and Putney Commons, said: “The conservators have identified a number of apparent anomalies compared with the existing maps in respect of certain properties, particularly on the periphery of the levy-paying area.

“Some have not previously been included and others may no longer fall within the newly defined boundary. Discussions are currently taking place with the relevant councils over how to address these discrepancies.

“The conservators take their responsibilities towards the management of Wimbledon and Putney Commons very seriously, giving up many hours as volunteers to ensure the stewardship of the commons for benefit of levy-payers and other visitors.”

Sophia Sleigh - Wandsworth Guardian

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