Lincolnshire councillor’s comments after confrontation with neighbour over boundary dispute

A Lincolnshire county councillor has expressed regret following an angry confrontation with his neighbour over an ongoing boundary dispute in Sutton on Sea.

Conservative councillor Colin Matthews, who represents the Alford and Sutton division, was seen on camera shouting with his face close to a neighbour, Mark Ashwin, during the confrontation last Wednesday evening.

Coun Matthews has since said his behaviour was ‘a silly thing to do’ in hindsight, but claims he has been ‘stitched up’ and insists he was standing on his own land at the time.

The boundary dispute relates to a two-by-four metre patch of land which borders the south of Mr Ashwin’s garden and the north of Coun Matthew’s property - Poplar Farm - in Crabtree Lane.

Councillor Matthews, pictured confronting Mr Ashwin.
Councillor Matthews, pictured confronting Mr Ashwin.

Coun Matthews was pictured climbing over a garden fence to access the parcel of land, but told the Louth Leader that he had installed the fence himself several years ago to provide a perimeter for a riding school for horses.

Mr Ashwin says the land was purchased in good faith around one year ago, and that all the necessary legal checks were undertaken and no issues were raised at the time.

He said: “The first we were aware of a potential dispute was on Easter Sunday, a family day, when (Councillor Matthews) came round and gave me a letter concerning the land purchase.

“He said at the time that it was not a dispute, but thought we had potentially purchased the land illegally.

Councillor Matthews, pictured confronting Mr Ashwin.

“We passed the letter to our solicitors who handled the original sale for comment, she suggested we do nothing and said he was wrong.”

Mr Ashwin added that the confrontation last week had been a ‘distressing’ experience, which has left his family ‘unnerved’ as a result.

Following an approach from the Leader, Coun Matthews said the issue was a “private matter” and claimed that the Ashwins had taken ‘illegal possession’ of part of his land, and removed a hedge that was on the northern boundary line.

He continued: (Mr Ashwin) has done this in the area that we own, to the north of our fence but on part of our title. He is therefore squatting on land that belongs to Poplar Farm.

Councillor Matthews used a ladder to climb over the fence to access the parcel of land - which he claims to own.

“I have written to Mr Ashwin about this on three occasions and he has not responded. I have tried to have a conversation with him and he has refused to do so.

“The fence I climbed was mine, as is the land I was standing on. I had climbed the fence to clearly mark the land and my boundary, as I have been professionally advised to do.”

Coun Matthews added that he believed the video recording of the confrontation was “clearly orchestrated”.

He concluded: “I have offered a number of reasonable solutions to Mr Ashwin and he has refused any engagement.

Councillor Mathews marking out the alleged land boundary.

“We have had no contact from him or from his solicitor whatsoever over the three month period since I first advised him of his error.

“It is a shame that Mr Ashwin could take time to talk to (BBC) Look North and to the police but cannot find the time to engage with his neighbours.”

Mr Ashwin denies the claims made in Coun Matthews’ statement, and has been approached for further comment.