Fight for compensation follows fence victory

Ray Prudhoe at the Lindisfarne Middle School fence that has been moved to allow him access from his rear garden.
Ray Prudhoe at the Lindisfarne Middle School fence that has been moved to allow him access from his rear garden.

A RETIRED householder who single-handedly won a battle to regain a right of way which had been blocked by a six-foot-high school fence is now pursuing a compensation claim.

Ray Prudhoe, who has lived on Swansfield Park Road for 35 years, took on Northumberland County Council after governors at Lindisfarne Middle School decided to erect the structure around the school field, two metres away from his back garden.

The fence, which was put up in August 2010, meant that Mr Prudhoe, 70, was unable to take garden waste and wheelie bins around the back of his and neighbours’ homes to the front of his property – something he had been able to do since moving there.

Instead he had to drag them through a utility room, kitchen and garage and then out onto his drive or the street.

But in October last year he took the council to a Land Registry hearing at which an adjudicator ruled that Mr Prudhoe’s right of way should be restored.

Three months later, on January 9, the fence was moved further back to give Mr Prudhoe his access back.

He said: “I am delighted that is has been moved but unfortunately it isn’t finished yet.

“I am now pursuing a claim for compensation from Northumberland County Council.

“It has taken over my life, there is no question about that.

“I was convinced all the time that I had a case and I was right.

“This isn’t the first attempt to put a fence up either.

“The first one never went anywhere, with the second one I got the county council and local residents involved and that was shelved.

“But this was the third one and it was obvious that they were going to go ahead.

“The excuse given by the school at the time was that it was part of an inspection but it was subsequently found that was not correct.

“I have got no problem with the security of children. I just wanted to restore my right of way.”

Mr Prudhoe had no legal representation at the hearing.

But he worked in local government for 45 years and knew about the different processes and local government law which helped with his case.

When the fence was first put up, Mr Prudhoe sent a letter to other residents to gauge support.

He wanted to get as many people as possible on-board but no other residents came forward to join him.

But now as he is pursuing a compensation claim, Mr Prudhoe has said if other residents are also interested in doing so, he will help.

Although the fence has been moved back, only Mr Prudhoe and his close neighbours will benefit from it.

Other residents on the street, as well as Lindisfarne Road, Greensfield Avenue and Blakelaw Road ,still have no access.

Alnwick town and county councillor, Gordon Castle, said: “I am very pleased that the school has accommodated Mr Prudhoe and his rights.

“It is unfortunate that it had to get to this position.

“Mr Prudhoe was determined to establish his rights and that is what he did.”

Dr Lynn Rose, headteacher of Lindisfarne Middle School, said: “Our contractors have now restored Mr Prudhoe’s right of way, following the adjudicator’s ruling, and in such a way that it does not compromise children’s safety.”