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I face dying in jail at 88 because I knocked down my OWN wall…I’ll fight ‘vicious’ council to death
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I face dying in jail at 88 because I knocked down my OWN...

A PENSIONER is facing dying in jail thanks to his “vicious” council because he knocked down part of his OWN wall.

Ron Knight, 88, has vowed he will die before he gives in to the local authority waging a “vendetta” against him.

Jon RowleyRon Knight is facing jail for removing a wall that he built[/caption] Jon RowleyThe pensioner erected the wall on land he owned back in the 70s[/caption]

The granddad claims he has been pursued by Somerset County Council for the last six years after he dismantled a section of a stone wall to gain access to his land.

The council claim that not only was the wall within a conservation area but it was an ancient monument.

But Ron who farmed 350 acres at Canon Court Farm, near Sherborne, Somerset, for more than 40 years claims he was never informed about his land being made a conservation area.

He was also shocked to discover it was an ancient monument – considering he built it himself.

Ron told The Sun Online: “It would be laughable if it wasn’t for the threat of jail that I am now facing.

“I’ve been fined three times in the six court appearances and each time I’ve refused to pay because I know I’m in the right.

“They can jail me if they want but then who is going to look after my wife who suffers from chronic arthritis and relies on me for her care 24 hours of the day.”

Ron’s daughter, Linda Knight, 57, criticised the council for the heavy-handed way they are dealing with what is a very minor planning issue.

She said: “This is now just a vicious vendetta against an old man and which has no public interest to it.

“They won’t be satisfied until they’ve got their way but although he won’t admit it, the stress is killing him.

“Are they going to keep on hounding him until he is dead.

“Do the council really want blood on their hands over a stone wall and moreover Dad is the sole carer to my mother who is not a well woman as she suffers from crippling arthritis.

“They are in danger of pursuing both of these people to their graves and I’m sure that the people of Somerset don’t want that.

“If this was a big company who could afford to hire expensive lawyers to fight the case they would have backed down ages ago.

“But they are just going after the low-hanging fruit by going after Dad and it’s just not right.

“All he has done is remove part of the wall – which he built back in the 1970s – to gain access to the land.

“The council are now claiming that he has broken the law because it is a conservation area and the wall is an ancient monument.

“We are not talking Stonehenge here, we are talking about a five-foot stone wall. It looks a mess at the moment because there is an order in place.”

The stress is killing him

Linda Knight

Ron is adamant that he will continue to fight and refuses to pay the multiple fines which amount to more than £2,000.

He said: “I will never sell this land because it’s mine, they can fine me, imprison me and do whatever they want but I’m not rebuilding that wall.

“And even when I’ve gone I’ll make sure that the land continues to stay within the family.”

Ron’s legal battle began in December 2017 when he removed a small section of the wall that he built.

Ron owned the property and land at the time, before he decided to sell up in 1990, alongside his two brothers and relocate to Devon.

But a section of land joining the farm and the street still belongs to the trio and is used as an access point.

In a bid to keep the entrance tidy for the new farm owners, Ron removed a small section of the wall that he initially erected.

Ron may now have to sell up his Devon home in order to afford the ongoing fines.

Somerset Council has said it intends to continue pursuing the matter despite Ron’s predicament, arguing it is the public interest to do so.

Following legal advice, Ron submitted a planning application, seeking retrospective planning permission for the changes made to the boundary wall.

However, the council “declined to determine” the application, arguing that Ron could not apply for planning permission while still under enforcement action.

Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, local councils have the legal right to decline making a decision on any application relating to any site which is partially or wholly under enforcement action.

Linda added: “My father is living on a pension and caring for his disabled wife – he is her sole carer. He could likely be forced to sell his house as he can’t afford to pay the ongoing fines.”

In October, Ron appeared in court again and was informed by the judge that he would face 45 days in prison unless he rebuilt the wall and repaid all fines.

Somerset Council said it was in the public interest to continue pursuing the matter, arguing that Mr Knight had caused “unjustified harm” to a protected local structure.

A spokesman said: “The retrospective planning application was asking for the same requirements as the enforcement notice.

“We have applied the expediency test and public interest test to each step of this case.

“We consider that the creation of the access, necessitating the demolition or removal of a wide section of the historic stonewall and associated engineering work to the land behind, fails to safeguard the established character of the conservation area and has caused unjustified harm to a designated heritage asset.”

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