A CHARITY has lost its good neighbour image in a row over a 50-yard strip of fencing.

An application by St John Ambulance to erect an 8ft high fence off Station Close, at Marske, has soured community relations.

Worst of all, it threatens closure of Zetland allotments with its busy shop, which caters for the village's 600 association members and a further widespread membership and it could impede on the short cut to the station which has long been in use.

The ramifications of the simple little application from Redcar and Cleveland Council planners for comments suddenly dawned on Saltburn, Marske and New Marske planning committee councillors this week; especially when they saw the map and read its intentions.

The former urban council had sold part of the allotment site 40 years ago along with the need to have it fenced by the charity.

It was to garage the ambulances and include a small hall.

The clerk, Sue Preston, said the application to replace a fence was acceptable but the map showed that the other half of the required length of fencing meant that it would be an extension across the access to the allotments and shop with just a 1m-width gate which could be bolted.

"This is right out of the blue," she said. "There have never been problems between us and they were happy to get the land, so why this now?"

She has delivered their objections, which she understands are being investigated by Redcar and Cleveland Council, and they are also seeking right of way status for the short cut.

Coun Jim Wingham said there was enough evidence to prove the short cut had been used on a daily basis for 20 years and more.

"I think it is a very un-neighbourly act and the council will object in the strongest terms."

Later, Robin Pearson, the allotments association's secretary, told the D&S Times that, if the application went through, it could spell the end of the Zetland allotments which have been worked for 70 years.

* Continued, Page 3.