Police called after neighbour blocks path to pensioner's house with 6ft fence
PUBLISHED: 10:32 13 July 2012
IT was her perfect retirement bungalow, with unspoilt views of Winterton dunes and a gentle footpath toward the village shop.
But Dot Pullen’s quiet life was shattered when neighbours blocked the path she had used for more than 20 years with a 6ft high fence.
The 83-year-old can no longer get to the shop for her bread and milk, and has already fallen over attempting to walk the alternative route - which involves steps and an uneven and unlit alley beside her home, Westlea.
Neighbour Elaine Hillier, who bought The Old Tea Room in September 2011, says the path is on her land and has blocked it off. But family friends of Dot’s say the private right of way is hers, and have already clashed with Ms Hillier - with police called the day the fence went up in June after a man tried to rip it down.
Ms Hillier says she was “frightened” while this was happening, but police took no further action once they had calmed the situation - stating the land dispute was a matter for the civil courts.
Dot - a retired London hospital worker - suffers from a heart condition, has had both her hips replaced and is blind in her right eye, but was able to get to the village with the help of a walking frame before the path was blocked.
She treated the kitchen to the rear of her house as the front since she moved in - with the postman delivering her letters there every day.
But what was once an open field has been developed, and without the footpath - which ran from her kitchen, past her neighbour’s house, to King Street - she must use a bumpy path and the steps at the front of her home.
Dot says she has spent a lot of time crying since the fence was put up.
Ms Hillier applied to the borough council for planning permission for the 6ft fence to the east and west side of her rear garden in December 2011.
Permission was granted, and a Norfolk County Council public rights of way search revealed there was no public rights of way crossing or touching the land that Ms Hillier says is hers.
But London mother-of-four Amanda Gibson, 41, is fighting Dot’s corner.
She says she has found old Land Registry documents that show Dot’s house was bought “together with the right of way referred to therein” in 1991, along with other paperwork that points to Dot’s ownership.
Ms Hillier says she had spent £1,000 on lights and fencing for the path and was determined to help Dot, but things soured when a couple from London moved in with their Staffordshire bull terrier earlier this year.
She says she decided to block the path as their dog was allowed to walk down the path, which she claims threatened her own pets.
When a dispute involves private rights of way, it is most common for parties to resolve the matter through solicitors rather than through the police or the planning authority.