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Access row leads to shop and pub ban for parish councillor

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: March 21, 2014

Comments (4)

A PARISH councillor has been barred from his village pub and shop following a longstanding dispute over access to a lane.

Steve Gardner, a member of St Mawgan-in-Pydar Parish Council, bought the former church rectory in St Mawgan four years ago after emigrating from Australia – and claims the fall-out with villagers began soon after.

The property came with an access lane – known as Church Lane – which Mr Gardner says is not a public right of way.

However, some residents claim he has "gone out of his way" to prevent people from using it, saying it was regularly used by the public long before he bought the property.

Mr Gardner, a 50-year-old former wildlife cameraman and commercial diver, said: "The church sold the rectory in the village and there's been this long-running saga since then.

"With that property came an access lane, and I ended up buying the property and taking on the responsibility of that lane. I've also taken on a lot of local politics," he said.

The lane runs from the centre of the village and provides access to several properties. Mr Gardner said the problem first arose when the lane started to appear on satellite navigation directions.

"All and sundry were following their sat-navs down the lane, and there were delivery vehicles driving up there," he said.

"I have a maintenance liability, and it's just not suitable for the number of vehicles that were using it," he said.

The owners of St Mawgan Village Stores are among those who believe the road should be accessible to the public.

Post Office proprietor Roger Metcalf said: "The church believed they owned the lane, and they registered the lane with the property and sold the land to Mr Gardner, but it's been a public highway since year dot.

"Because of his intolerant behaviour to the village we decided to ban him and his wife and family from the shop – and he still is. He came into the village to change it by stopping people from using the right of way. You do not move into a village and try to stop people using the road."

Postmistress Jenny Salmon said: "It's our history, it's what makes St Mawgan special, it's the fibres of the place.

"We just want him to stop what he's doing and accept it's an open road. People enjoy walking down there, or riding their horses – it's a nice walk."

Mr Gardner has also been barred from The Falcon Inn, in what the landlord describes as an attempt to keep the peace.

The landlord said: "As a publican I'm entitled to ban someone if I want to. He has antagonised so many people in the village that it's for his own safety."

Mr Gardner added: "They won't stop until they drive me out of the village."

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  • CornishPride8  |  April 25 2014, 11:34AM

    I LIVE IN THIS VILLAGE! And, just to clarify a few things: this gent made one mistake and one mistake only... He came into a close, friendly village where everyone knows everyone and he joined the parish council and tried to change things that don't need to change! This instantly made him (and his family) secluded from the village. ALSO, I think if he let things be and let people use the lane like the have done for generations organisations within the village such as the parish council or charity groups would offer to fund any major maintenance needing to happen. But, he made a rod for his own back and shot himself in the foot. Thank You.

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  • JeremyBadger  |  March 21 2014, 6:06PM

    This man give Emmets a bad name! Wazzamatter, you clearly know absolutely nothing about the law concerning public rights of way so your comments are uninformed, incorrect and irrelevant.

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  • Wazzamatter  |  March 21 2014, 12:31PM

    I think he is quite right to stop people from using the lane if he owns it and is responsible for maintaining it. Out of all the people complaining, I will guarantee that not a single one of them has offered to help to maintain the lane. If it has to be resurfaced, it will cost a lot of money, and the more people use it, the sooner it will need resurfacing, so purely from a financial point of view, he simply cannot afford to let every man and his dog and car use the lane. Would the rest of the people in the village allow everyone to walk across their gardens or footpath? No, I don't think so! If it was classed as a public right of way, then the council would have to maintain it, but they don't so it is private. Maybe if everyone offered to pay a reasonable annual fee for maintenance, he might change his mind, but at the moment, he is within his rights.

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  • Frogmonger  |  March 21 2014, 9:45AM

    The best thing I have read in the local news for a long time. Villagers standing together for their village. Why move to a small village steeped in tradition if you do not like tradition. He needs to move on.

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