Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Action Urged on a Blot on the Landscape

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Action Urged on a Blot on the Landscape

Article excerpt

Byline: By Kevin Donald

Hadrian's Wall has become the scene of a new battle ( between a grandfather and a council determined to make him tidy his tumbledown home.

Ronald Dawkins' ramshackle house, a former vicarage, ruins the view for visitors walking along the wall, one of Britain's most ancient monuments.

The once thriving B & B on the Northumberland-Cumbria border is less than 200 yards from the World Heritage Site.

Walkers have complained that the rusting cars and caravans in the garden, the free-ranging weeds and the half-ruined roof of Mr Dawkins' home jars with the beautiful countryside around it.

Mr Dawkins lives in just a third of the vicarage in Gilsland next to the village primary school where his wife Ann is secretary.

Residents have complained for years about the deterioration of the house, which also has grass growing from the drains, smashed windows and plastic containers, old fencing, furniture and a washing machine in the garden.

Now Carlisle City Council has issued a disamenity notice against Mr Dawkins because the property ruins the view.

They are particularly concerned now that the Hadrian's Wall path is attracting record numbers of visitors.

If the owners fail to clean up within six months, they could be fined pounds 1,000 or the city council could do the work itself and charge them for it.

But Mr Dawkins doesn't agree with the list of complaints and says he does not have the cash to do the work.

The 65-year-old, who bought the house more than 30 years ago, said it once thrived as a B & B but repairs over the years have proved too costly and time consuming.

He says he has failed to get grants and has had problems getting affordable and acceptable materials for work such as repairs to the roof.

Mr Dawkins, a grandfather of four, says his refusal to clean up is not due to pig headedness but largely due to lack of funds.

The work would cost almost pounds 70,000 ( money, he says, he does not have. …

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