Bridleway battle: Farmer fights county council
An angry farmer has vowed to fight Lincolnshire County Council in court after he was ordered to remove four gates from his property.
Ian Cotton has been given just a fortnight to get rid of them having been served a 28-day notice by the authority on August 23.
It is the latest development in a bridleway access dispute which has already cost the family £2,500 after removing their original barriers because they were not wide enough for a carriage.
The council is now demanding Mr Cotton's new set of gates are taken down as they were put up without their consent.
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But the owner of ME Cotton & Son Farms and MEC Recycling – based at Ansons Farm at Swinderby – intends to fight them all the way.
"This all started late last year when we put weekend barrier gates up at the entrance to our property, which is also a business site," said 45-year-old Mr Cotton.
"They were wide enough for a horse to get through, but not quite the 1.5 metres required for a carriage.
"So for the first time in more than 25 years we were the subject of a complaint to the county council – from someone who has not followed it up even after the authority wrote to them three times. Nevertheless, the council contacted us in January to tell us that the barriers had to be removed.
"So, at a cost of more than £2,500, we have removed the barriers and replaced them with staggered gates which can easily be negotiated by a carriage.
"We had an £8,500 quad bike stolen from a shed a fortnight ago.
"Whoever took it just rode it through the barrier and off down the drive and onto the main road.
"So we have absolutely no intention of taking the barriers down this time because they are perfectly acceptable to the local equestrian community."
Mrs Smith, who lives in Swinderby, said: "I could almost negotiate the barrier in a straight line and at speed.
"In fact, you could easily get a team of horses and a carriage through there."
Mrs Allen, who runs the nearby Oakhill Equestrian Centre, said: "I exercise our horses through the farm and I don't have a problem at all."
But Lincolnshire County Council highways officer Chris Marsh, who has visited the farm, sent a notice under section 143 of the 1980 Highways Act by recorded delivery on August 23.
It ordered ME Cotton & Son to remove the two metal field barriers, support posts, four wooden gates and hanging posts in a month.
"If the structures are not removed within the time limit required by this notice, Lincolnshire County Council may remove the structure and recover from you the expense of doing so," the order said.