A retired couple said their lives have been made ‘hell’ by a dispute about their path – and fear it could ‘make them prisoners in their own home’.
Janice and Roger Bullen live in Katella Cottage in New Road, Littlehampton.
The couple, originally from Morden in Surrey, moved to Littlehampton to retire by the coast, and saw the property as their ‘forever home’.
But an ongoing dispute with Arun District Council about their path has made them want to move.
Roger, 70, said: “We haven’t asked for this; we came here for a quiet retirement by the coast. They have made our life hell.”
The house is one quarter of a larger building. Arun District Council bought the rest after the couple moved in and turned it into emergency accomodation. A shared path is the couple’s only access to their house.
Janice said they have had around 14 sets of neighbours in four years, and that the path has been eroded by them regularly moving in and out, creating gulleys on each side that people could trip on.
The council said the gulleys are for drainage – but 68-year-old Janice said they have deepened and fears they could leave her housebound.
The retired pharmacy worker suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis, which causes pain and swelling in her joints.
She has had two operations in the last few years that have left her wheelchair-bound while she recovers, and believes her knee will need to be operated on soon.
Because the path is currently too narrow for a wheelchair, she does not want to have an operation – but she also fears for her future.
She said: “If it doesn’t get done, I’m not going to get better; I’m going to get worse. It will make us prisoners in our own home.”
Councillor Ian Buckland said he had regular contact with the couple, and had got the council to fix the path entrance and deal with their neighbours’ rubbish issues.
He said: “I understand their issues. It has been ongoing for quite a long time, and I have done everything I possibly can.”
According to the deeds for their house, the path has to be maintained by all parties.
Janice and Roger said they are happy to pay for their part of the maintenance, but have not heard back from the council about this.
They said they wrote to the council last year about the possibility of buying their house, but were told that if it did, the couple would need to move out before Christmas.
An Arun District Council spokesman said: “The council housing repairs team regularly inspect the path and partially re-laid it in 2015.
“The path runs between two properties so cannot be widened any further. The path needs to be able to drain properly to prevent damp occurring in the adjacent properties; this has meant that drainage channels run either side of the path but this is part of the design of the path and is not indicative of disrepair.”
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