As the West prepares to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta – the cornerstone of our civil liberties – a small eco-village is under threat.

The Magna Carta stopped a powerful king from seizing the possessions of the rich and powerful barons. It was agreed in Runnymede. In June the Queen and President Obama will join 5000 other dignitaries there.

But in the wood next door, a few yards from the historic place where the Barons met, are 40 hand built homes. Living there are hard-working, eco-minded people who are doing the right thing. Musicians and web designers, factory workers and chefs – looking after themselves and the land – not one of the 60 or so residents are claiming benefits, they say.

Now a fence is being built around the village.

But not just any fence – its a 6 foot tall, black,steel fence – with nasty spikes on top. “Its just to protect folks from the building work next door” say the property developers that own the land.

Ironically, the Magna Carta was originally composed of two parts – it included the Charter of the Forest, which gave Freemen the right to scavenge in the woods for fuel and food.

Not any more it seems.

We will follow the fortunes of Runnymede eco-village int he coming weeks.

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