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Couple forced to sit in darkness after neighbours put a fence up just a foot away from their windows.

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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.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Abiy Ahmed wins the 2019 Nobel Peace Award

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for immersly efforts to end two decades of hostility with longtime enemy Eritrea.

Though Africa’s youngest leader still faces big challenges, he has in under two years in power begun political and economic reforms that promise a better life for many in impoverished Ethiopia and restored ties with Eritrea that had been frozen since a 1998-2000 border war.

“We are proud as a nation,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement, hailing a “collective win for all Ethiopians, and a call to strengthen our resolve in making Ethiopia – the new horizon of hope – a prosperous nation for all.”

It said the prize was meant to recognize “all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.”

The Nobel Committee’s decision appeared designed to encourage the peace process, echoing the 1994 peace prize shared by Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the 1993 award for moves towards reconciliation in South Africa, said Dan Smith, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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