An elderly couple claim they are living a nightmare after their neighbour installed a 6ft fence directly in front of their living room window plunging their home into darkness.
Arthur and Eva Evans, who are in their eighties, moved into their ideal countryside home after they retired 15 years ago.
But the great-grandparents feel they are being ‘driven into an early grave’ after a number of run-ins with their neighbours in Ashton with Stodday, near Lancaster.
The pair claim a big grey fence was put up around 14 months ago by Roger Clark who is building a brick wall on his driveway.
It is just a foot away from the side the their home and blocks the view from five windows.
The retired teachers claim the stress of years of disagreements with Mr Clark, whose company Stodday Land Ltd owns most of the estate where the Evans’ home is, has even contributed to them suffering heart attacks.
They said Mr Clark told them the fence is temporary but over a year later, it is still there.
When contacted Mr Clark said he had received no complaints and his company was ‘not in breach of anything at the moment’.
Arthur, 86, said: “We have got five windows along that side now. Four are quite small and one is of a reasonable size. It looks out over their (the Clark’s) drive and to the fields beyond.
“Five windows are now blocked off which is stopping the light coming in and is obstructing our view.
“Now we look out and we can see nothing. The fence totally blocks the small windows. With the larger window there is a three inch gap so we can look up to the heavens and that is about it.”
Arthur said arguments with the neighbours have been going on for about nine years and claims the stress has led to him and his 84-year-old wife suffering heart attacks.
The dad-of-two said: “I was fit and healthy before I moved here but five years ago I had a heart attack and Eva had one 12 months ago.
“When I had my heart attack the pressure intensified. I would say they are trying to drive us into an early grave.
“It feels like an assault. He is using a civil right to whip us. I don’t know if he is getting pleasure out of it.
“We have suffered tremendously. We have had sleepless nights and we’ve lost our appetite. We have been knocked down right to the bottom and if it was not for the support of our friends and neighbours I don’t know what we would do.
“It is not just us. There are 10 houses on this estate and they have all suffered to varying degrees but we are the nearest and the eldest.
“We have complained to the planning department and the owner kept saying it was temporary but it has now been 14 months. He is building a brick wall the other side which is about a foot from our house.”
He continued: “I don’t think you could get to our window. We have not cleaned them since it went up. When people ask me ‘why have they put that wall up?’ I say there is no reason.
“We have reported things to the police and contacted the local MP. We are touching every nerve that we can and achieving very little.”
Arthur claims his wife has suffered verbal abuse and been accused of trespassing for cleaning leaves out of a drain and for walking along an access road which they have a right of way to.
Arthur said: “It is a living nightmare. I do not want this. We moved here for a quiet life. We got to know the developer and our house is purpose built for us. It was our dream home. We love the house and we love the people around us.
“When you get old it is no good trying to pretend you’re not. Your fighting spirit and ability to cope is not as strong as it used to be. I can’t handle it. When this descended on us I was like a headless chicken. I do not want to deal with the stress.”
Arthur said he and his wife have to sit with a 300 watt lamp on all the time now.
He said: “The houses are not highly lit. We need the window as we are battling for light anyway. It makes this side of the house incredibly dark.”
Arthur added that the couple have contemplated moving but fear they would be unable to sell their house, which is worth almost £400,000.
The couple claim things are so bad they feel like they can’t walk to the nearby golf club and garden centre or even put their recycling box outside their front door.
They also say that before the wall was built the Clarks put a bin right outside their window filled with dog poo, forcing them to keep their windows shut because of the smell.
Family friend Lorraine Birch has now launched a petition, which has reached almost 3,000 signatures, calling on the authorities to take action to protect the couple.
Lorraine, 49, said: “They are always on the back foot and have no time to defend themselves.
Arthur and Eva are like prisoners in their own home. It is causing them extreme distress and is affecting their frail health.”
Mr Clark, who according to Companies House used to be director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra , said he was unaware of the petition and was not in a position to discuss the Evans’ claims.
He said: “If you know something about something you know more than me because I have not had any complaints about anything.
“If any claims come through then we will respond whichever way we see fit. For the time being I have had no complaints about any wall.
“At the moment I have had no representations from anybody’s solicitors, from the planning department or anybody you’re suggesting I might have heard from. I have not heard anything.
“We have had no complaints about anything. It is a private estate. My company owns most of the estate. We are not in any breach of anything at the moment and my company has received no complaints.”
A spokeswoman for Lancaster City Council said: “Prior to the wall being erected the local planning authority advised Mr and Mrs Evans that the Town and Country Planning Order 2015, Schedule 1, Part 2, allows for the erection of a wall, fence or gate or other means of enclosure not exceeding two metres in height.
“Mr and Mrs Evans have been advised of other legislation that may assist them in this matter but other such legislation falls outside the remit of the local planning authority.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said there is no on-going involvement from the force.
Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick under fresh corruption probe
Several properties belonging to top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), including its president Amaju Pinnick, have been seized in a fresh corruption probe.
The latest investigation and seizures are being carried out by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC).
The ICPC has published a newspaper advertisement about the properties seized – half of which belong to Pinnick.
According to the statement published in the Nigerian papers one of Pinnick’s properties is in London.
It comes amidst wide-ranging claims over how money meant for football development allegedly disappeared.
“We can’t go into further details beyond the fact that many officials of the NFF are under investigation,” ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa said.
“It’s basically because what they have is in excess of what they have earned.”
The ICPC has also taken control of properties belonging to the NFF second vice-president Shehu Dikko and the general secretary Muhamed Sanusi among others.
Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival
Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.
Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.
But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.
“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.
The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.
Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.
The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.
That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.
Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.
“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.
He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.
“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”
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