Thu, 28 July 2022 at 11:32 am
A wealthy landowner locked in a bitter dispute with his neighbour has erected an 8ft wall of hay and straw bales on his property to block their view of his meadow.
Former Norfolk police and crime commissioner (PCC) Stephen Bett, 68, set up the barrier after 95 leylandii conifer trees which he planted four years ago were torn down by an unknown person at night on 2 July.
Suspicion turned to his neighbour, John Turner, 50, whose disabled mother Maxine Turner, 78, has multiple sclerosis and eye condition macular degeneration.
Her main joy has been looking out over the fields where she has lived in Thornham, Norfolk, for 40 years – before the trees were planted.
Mr Bett, who has lived on his property for 20 years, erected hay bales stacked on top of each other so they stood 11 foot tall, blocking the view, Mr Turner claims.
Norfolk Police were called on 12 July to the dispute after Mr Turner lost his temper and shoved the bales, but it was decided no crime had been committed.
Mr Bett, who was PCC for the area until 2016, then allegedly rebuilt the hay bales which are still stacked, although slightly less tall because they are on their side.
Mr Turner, a part-time gardener, said: “It looks like he is blaming me for cutting down his leylandii because I am one of the youngest people around here – but I didn’t do it.
“He has only placed the bales outside my mother’s home and not any of the other neighbour’s houses because he wanted to upset us.
“Mr Bett has hundreds of acres of farmland and he could have put them anywhere – but he chose to put them here. My mother has multiple sclerosis and macular degeneration so her eyesight is failing.
“Looking out on the horses on the meadow was a real pleasure for her – but now all she can see is this wall made of straw.
“She has lived here for 40 years and has never seen anything like it. Until now the bales always used to be somewhere else on his land.”
Mr Turner said before his father Frank died of COVID in January 2021, the view of fields with horses running around was the best thing in his life.
Shortly before Frank Turner died, he asked his son to take care of Mrs Turner – which Mr Turner says he is now doing by fighting for her right to a nice view.
He has said he won’t be attempting to push over the hay bales in future, but is stumped about how to challenge it.
Mr Turner added: “I said to Stephen if I’d cut down the trees I would have done it years ago.”
Mr Bett said he has “no idea” if Mr Turner cut down his trees but he had “no right to a view”.
He added: “It’s on our property. He thinks he is entitled to a view, but he is not…
“He wants a view over my property, but I don’t want to look over his property.”
A spokesman for Norfolk Police confirmed they responded to a report of criminal damage to trees at the property in July, but said no criminal offence had been committed.