What an answer to prayer!
It has not been widely known in our church for legal reasons, but a few of us have been praying for Len and Jenny Rawlinson who are part of our church.
The first I knew of trouble was when visiting Jennifer and Len at their home. I said, “What’s happened here?” I could see that their neighbour had built an extension to his house. I said, “He’s built it over into your garden. How did he get that past the planning committee?”
At that time I didn’t know he was on the planning committee.
They told me that since their neighbour, City of York Councillor Christian Vassie, had built his extension he was now disputing where the boundary lay. I was not surprised, as though I had been startled to see where the extension came to, I had no idea how much farther the foundations went.
It was after that visit that I started to hear of the distressing things happening to my friends. On one occasion plants were dug up from “their” garden in an area he was claiming as his own, but which had been tended by Len and Jenny for years. After the police were called Cllr Vassie admitted he had done it and produced the plants. Another time he glued a letter on the window of a car parked on “their” drive where cars had been parked for years, again claiming the area was his. I don’t know what sort of glue he used but they had great difficulty getting it removed.
The Rawlinsons have tried repeatedly to resolve the matter without going to court. I thought they were very generous when, early on, they offered a boundary line to Cllr Vassie which would have legitimised his house extension. He rejected this. Yet it is this boundary, offered to him about six times in the last three years , which he has now accepted.
One of his tactics which particularly distressed them, was that he kept sending loads of legal sounding letters. His letters came thick and fast. I thought his letters were mischievous and designed to incur costs for the Rawlinsons. They had to have each of them replied to by their solicitor. I noted that as he tended to not reply to letters from their solicitors, many reminder letters had to be sent to him, heaping more costs on the Rawlinsons. I said all along that I thought that was his tactic, hoping the costs alone would make them give in.
I know of one occasion Cllr Vassie got the City of York Council’s legal department to write a an intimidating letter to them. I found out about the letter and made a formal complaint to the Council. I asked why the City of York Council legal department were getting involved in this private boundary dispute. I asked if they would send letters at public cost on my behalf should I need legal help some day. They put up a spirited defence of their conduct but I concluded they were embarrassed to discover what they had unwittingly got involved in.
The Rawlinsons had experienced some criminal damage to their property and reported a number of instances to the police. They feared more. To protect their property they had a CCTV installed pointing towards their gate. This is what Cllr Vassie got the Council’s legal department to act over, claiming it was viewing into his house and affecting his council business!
We had expected the recent court case would at last resolve the boundary, but the day before the hearing Cllr Vassie accepted the boundary offer that the Rawlinsons had made six times during the last three years.
The court matter was then for the judge to decide how cost should be apportioned. Cllr Vassie’s tactics had caused the Rawlinson’s costs to mount up. Pronouncement of the verdict was on Friday during which the judge said Cllr Vassie’s letters were arrogant and aggressive. He said Vassie had “dragged his feet” in the matter so adding to costs.
Cllr Vassie has been given 28 days to pay over Â£22,500 to the Rawlinson’s, which is about half of their costs.
I am sure they feel vindicated, but they are still out of pocket to over Â£20,000 (the cost they have to bear) and they still have to look at that house extension.
The question I have is, “Will they get their money?”
See the report in the York Evening Press.