Eyesore vehicles to be moved from common

PUBLISHED: 07:02 09 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:59 22 October 2010


They have been parked illegally for more than a year on one of Norfolk's most picturesque village commons - but they should be removed within days.

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They have been parked illegally for more than a year on one of Norfolk's most picturesque village commons - but they should be removed within days.

Reams of red tape have so far prevented the removal from Hanworth Common of two caravans and a truck, which have slowly descended into an appallingly dilapidated state.

The presence of the unsightly abandoned vehicles has angered villagers who feel North Norfolk District Council, the authority responsible for their removal, has failed to tackle the issue quickly enough.

The 35-acre common near Cromer became best-known as a battleground between villagers and local landowner Robert Harbord-Hamond. The two sides look set to end up in court later this year to resolve a long-running and bitter dispute over the ownership of the common.

In fact it is that disagreement about who owns the land which is one of the many legal problems the council has faced in trying to remove the caravans and the truck.

Although a council notice next to the vehicles warns they could be removed and scrapped soon after a June 20 deadline has passed, villagers have said they will wait and see before starting any celebrations.

“If these vehicles had been dumped on Cromer pier forecourt, they would have been gone in 24 hours,” said parish councillor and lifelong Hanworth resident Sue Francis.

“We pay all this money in council tax and you feel the council doesn't want to know.

“I know there has been some confusion about who owns them, but I don't care if they belong to the man in the moon, as long as they go.”

Dick Price, trustee of villages' commons committee, said the vehicles had become a dangerous eyesore.

He also felt the situation had not been dealt with promptly because of an apparent “out of sight, out of mind” attitude at the council.

As far back as October a bid to gain retrospective planning permission for the vehicles was rejected, at which point villagers thought the end was in sight.

Council spokesman Nick Manthorpe said: “We now consider these vehicles to be abandoned and are using powers to remove them and scrap them, if the owner doesn't take them away first.

“We have to serve notice on the landowners, telling them we intend to do this.

“Because the ownership of the land is in dispute, as a legal technicality we have served notice on both Mr Harbord Hamond and the Hanworth Commons Management Committee.

“The notice is also stuck to a stake in the ground between the vehicles.”

If there have been no objections to the notice by June 20, the council hopes to have contractors take the vehicles away, unless they have been removed by the owner, by the end of the week.

t The latest event to raise cash for a village fund to pay for ongoing court action will be held on Sunday.

Cream teas and homemade cakes will be on sale next to the common's Sustead Gate from 2pm to 5pm.

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