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Obituary, Paul Clayden


PAUL MALCOLM LUDLOW CLAYDEN, who died suddenly on 1 January 2020 in his home town of Henley-on-Thames, was a lawyer and author, specialising in local council law. As befitting a man who loved the natural world and open spaces in general he collapsed while gardening.
After graduating from Oxford University he attended law school in London following a stint at Northampton record office.
He did not enjoy general practice so returned to working in London where he was a force in the Open Spaces Society, becoming general secretary. He moved the OSS to Henley where it still operates from Bell Street.
He was later at the National Association of Local Councils where he wrote The Law of Village Greens and The Law on Dogs. His other works include The Law of Parks and Open Spaces (2009), Street Use and the Law (2006), The Law of Mobile Homes and Caravans (2003).
He is maybe best known for taking on the mantle of Local Council Administration from Charles Arnold-Baker from the ninth edition, having worked with him on the eighth. This book is required reading by every parish, town, and district clerk in the country and known in local government circles simply as "the Bible". The familiar yellow book is one of the master reference books for Local Councils and the eleventh edition is currently available.

His final book Our Common Land will be published posthumously.
He became an expert on allotments, cemeteries, village greens, insurance and lately employment law. He wrote a regular column for Clerks & Councils Direct, also answering readers’ queries and was published in The Times law section writing on village greens. He edited Local Councils Update, the legal newsletter for readers of Clerks & Councils Direct, from its inception in 2000 until 2013.
Paul was born in Seaton in Devon the second son of Mary and Richard Clayden. After his father died his mother was left with two small boys to bring up so she moved with her parents to Henley. His mother was a teacher at Colyton School in Devon and later Henley Grammar School.
Paul continued his education at Llanarth School in South Wales where scholastic achievement won him a place at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire. Basil Hume gave him a love of music and he also excelled at history. While in Oxford, at Jesus College, he met his wife Lyn Waller. They married in 1964 and went on to have three sons.
Paul joined the Henley Society in 1978. He later became secretary, vice-chairman and chairman of the planning sub-committee. He was clerk to Remenham Parish Council, treasurer of Holy Trinity Church in Henley, a member of the Henley Choral Society and had been a volunteer at Oxfam for 25 years.
He is survived by his wife and sons Philip and Robert. His second son Thomas predeceased him.
Paul Malcolm Ludlow Clayden, 5 November 1941-1 January 2020.

Paul joined the Open Spaces Society as our general secretary (chief executive) in 1976, having decided that life as a solicitor in private practice was not for him.  He wanted to use his skills to help people to protect commons, open spaces and paths.
At that time the society’s office was on the top floor of 166 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, and Paul soon moved us to the much nicer surroundings of his home town of Henley-on-Thames, where we have remained ever since.
Paul led the society with distinction.  His legal skills and knowledge were a great asset, and his kind and painstaking responses to members and others were much appreciated.  He could make the most boring legal matter readable and interesting.
After leaving the society in 1984 he went to the National Association of Local Councils and represented it on the Common Land Forum from 1983 to 1986, a cause close to his heart.  To the end of his life he worked closely with local councils, writing for their journals and speaking at training events on a wide range of subjects, for ever patient and helpful.
He became a vice-president of the Open Spaces Society in 2003 and frequently chaired our annual general meetings. 
He was co-author with John Trevelyan of the first edition of Rights of Way, a guide to law and practice (‘the blue Bible’) which we published jointly with the Ramblers.  He was also the author of the third to seventh editions of our guide to the law of commons and greens, Our Common Land.  He finished the seventh edition shortly before he died and it was delivered posthumously—a superb legacy.
We shall remember Paul with great affection and gratitude.  Kind and generous, he was a modest man with great ability.  We miss him enormously.

Kate Ashbrook, General Secretary
The Open Spaces Society