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."