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Major row over who owns tiny patch of village land ends up in court

PUBLISHED: 16:20 24 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:37 24 May 2018

The pathway off The Green in Thornham. Picture: Ian Burt

The pathway off The Green in Thornham. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A tiny patch of land has become the centre of a major village row - with a landowner and parish council at loggerheads over who owns it.

The pathway off The Green in Thornham. Picture: Ian BurtThe pathway off The Green in Thornham. Picture: Ian Burt

Unable to resolve the issue themselves, Thornham Parish Council has been taken to a tribunal by landowner Jocelyn Patrick who owns a piece of land on the north of The Green in Thornham.

The disputed patch of land lies between Mr Patrick’s field and a track, known as Shore Road, which is popular with residents and frequently used by dog walkers.

Mr Patrick made an application to register the land but it was refused by the parish council, which claims it owns the eastern and southern boundaries of the track.

This is also the view of Stephen Bett, the former Norfolk police and crime commissioner and trustee of the common which surrounds the land in dispute.

The pathway off The Green in Thornham. Picture: Ian BurtThe pathway off The Green in Thornham. Picture: Ian Burt

A tribunal looking into the dispute has taken place over two days at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court, with judge Simon Brilliant set to give his verdict at a later date following written submissions made by both main parties.

Solicitor Jonathan Eales, representing Jocelyn Patrick, told the hearing that the ditches which run along the southern boundary of the track were dug up by Mr Patrick in 1987.

He said this was done in order to allow water coming downhill to be diverted around his field.

But giving evidence in court Antony Needham, chairman of the parish council, said he disagreed and that the ditch had always been there since he was a child.

He said the ditch drains the common and not Mr Patrick’s land - and that the track was regularly discussed at parish council meetings, of which he has been a member of for more than 30 years.

“We were up and down that Shore Road all the time, it was like a play area where all the young lads would be messing around,” Mr Needham added. “I can remember there was always a ditch which ran along the side of Shore Road.”

When asked whether the parish council maintained the track, he said: “Sort of, in a way we have maintained it by filling in pot holes and things.

“We have always discussed anything which infringes on Shore Road.”

Mr Bett said in his evidence that the ditches were there before he was born, adding: “As far as I recall, he [Mr Patrick] did not do any work on the south and east ditches.”

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