12th Century church locked in row with ‘selfish’ neighbour who parks on the only route in

Move over, Land Rover! 12th Century church is locked in unholy row with PCC candidate neighbour who keeps parking on the only route in – and says vehicles on the footpath are a ‘danger to pedestrians’

  • Access to St Wulfram’s Church in Grantham, Lincolnshire, is blocked by the car
  • Peter Escreet insists on parking Land Rover on the path leading up to the church 
  • He claims vehicles driving on the path endanger pedestrians and cause damage
  • Deliveries for the church’s Christmas Tree Festival this week have been affected

Mr Escreet, who was a candidate for Reform UK in the Lincolnshire PCC election, says that 'the highway code states you are not to drive on a footpath, it does not say you can't park on a footpath'

Mr Escreet, who was a candidate for Reform UK in the Lincolnshire PCC election, says that ‘the highway code states you are not to drive on a footpath, it does not say you can’t park on a footpath’

A 12th century church is embroiled in a row with a neighbour and former PCC candidate who keeps blocking off access for other vehicles by parking his car across the only route in, saying it is a ‘danger to pedestrians’.

Vehicles have been struggling to get access to grade I-listed St Wulfram’s Church, in Grantham, Lincolnshire as resident Peter Escreet has been parking his Land Rover on the only pathway leading up to it.

Deliveries for this year’s Christmas Tree Festival are being hampered by the ongoing row as vans cannot drive up the path to drop off the firs.

The 842-year-old Anglican church said the lane has provided access to residents for almost a thousand years until Mr Escreet began parking in the way.

But Mr Escreet, who stood as a Reform UK candidate for the Licolnshire PCC election in 2021, has complained about vehicles using the footpath as he believes it poses a ‘danger to pedestrians’.

Melanie Brown, operations and development manager for St Wulfram’s Church, described Mr Escreet’s actions as ‘not very public spirited’.

She added: ‘We’ve got nearly 150 trees coming. We’ve got disabled people, people with pushchairs, community groups and how are they going to get in?

Peter Escreet lives at Church Trees House which fronts the path leading up to the church and has been parking his Land Rover there

Peter Escreet lives at Church Trees House which fronts the path leading up to the church and has been parking his Land Rover there

A former PCC candidate has been using his car to block the only pathway up to St Wulfram's Church in Grantham, Lincolnshire

A former PCC candidate has been using his car to block the only pathway up to St Wulfram’s Church in Grantham, Lincolnshire

‘We’ve been on this site for 1,000 years and always had access to it.

‘[The tree festival] is supposed to be a community event and it’s making it very difficult.’

On Friday, removals company Tilley’s tried to deliver an 18ft tree to the church but problems occurred when Mr Escreet’s car was parked on the access path.

Kevin Tilley, owner of Tilley’s, said: ‘We were waiting to hope the car would move but it didn’t. We knocked on the door and no one answered.

‘I don’t know how [Mr Escreet] can presume it’s OK to put his vehicle there but nobody else can.

‘What would happen in the event of an ambulance or funeral or wedding?’

Organisers have now had to send out letters to those participating in the event about difficulties accessing the church.

Mr Escreet lives in Church Trees House which fronts the path leading up to the church and insists on parking his car on the only route vehicles can take to access it.

Kevin Tilley, owner of removal company Tilley's, was unable to deliver a Christmas tree to the church

Kevin Tilley, owner of removal company Tilley’s, was unable to deliver a Christmas tree to the church

The church has faced difficulty organising its fifth Christmas Tree Festival, set to be held this week, because it has been unable to receive deliveries

The church has faced difficulty organising its fifth Christmas Tree Festival, set to be held this week, because it has been unable to receive deliveries

Mr Escreet has said that the route is a footpath and that the highway code instructs cars not to drive down footpaths

Mr Escreet has said that the route is a footpath and that the highway code instructs cars not to drive down footpaths

The resident, who stood in the Lincolnshire PCC election in 2021, has had to pay nearly £900 to fix damages to the path

The resident, who stood in the Lincolnshire PCC election in 2021, has had to pay nearly £900 to fix damages to the path

Children who use the path to get to school and residents who live in houses on the footpath are at risk, according to Mr Escreet

Children who use the path to get to school and residents who live in houses on the footpath are at risk, according to Mr Escreet

He stated previously that the access route is a footpath and as per the highway code rule 145 ‘you must not drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency’.

He said: ‘It’s nothing to do with me being unhappy. The highway code states you are not to drive on a footpath, it does not say you can’t park on a footpath.

‘Vehicles driving up this footpath are a danger to pedestrians and have caused thousands of pounds of damage to the path.

‘I have spent nearly £900 repairing the path myself and I’ve spent time repairing the wall along the path where cars and lorries have hit it.

‘Lincolnshire Highway Agency have said they will only reply damaged flagstones with tarmac, which will look awful.

‘I very rarely saw any vehicles using the footpath for years, but recently we see cars using it daily.

‘Some drive up the path very quickly and not all are going up to the church as we’ve seen parents use it to drop children off at the junior school.

Father Stuart Cradduck, Rector of St Wulfram's, explained that 'the church is a living building, there will be traffic associated with its use'

Father Stuart Cradduck, Rector of St Wulfram’s, explained that ‘the church is a living building, there will be traffic associated with its use’

The church is still planning to go ahead with the Christmas Tree Festival this week from Thursday 24 November to Sunday 27 November

The church is still planning to go ahead with the Christmas Tree Festival this week from Thursday 24 November to Sunday 27 November

‘It can be dangerous as all the houses along Church Trees step out on to the footpath and its only a matter of time before someone gets hit by a passing car.

‘We also have children using the path daily to get to and from school so it’s putting them at risk too.

‘It’s also worth noting that this is a historic part of Grantham and these old footpaths aren’t designed to be taking vehicles.’

But Father Stuart Cradduck, Rector of St Wulfram’s, replied saying: ‘The church is a living building, there will be traffic associated with its use.’

A spokesperson from Highways at Lincolnshire County Council said: ‘Anyone driving along a restricted area is acting in violation of the law providing it is a footpath.

‘This is entirely enforceable by the police. We (LCC) don’t have enforcement powers, so this is a police matter.

‘If it is the church’s then it could well be private access to private land.’

Lincolnshire Police could not comment as no incident has been reported to them.

The fifth St Wulfram’s Christmas Tree Festival is still planning to run from Thursday 24 November to Sunday 27 November.

Source

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