Ipswich: Why has a metal gate led to Suffolk County Council’s chief executive being prosecuted in court?

John Hunt and Peter Turtill, from Suffolk Rights of Way, are taking legal action to get the gate on Ship Launch Road in Ipswich reopened. John Hunt and Peter Turtill, from Suffolk Rights of Way, are taking legal action to get the gate on Ship Launch Road in Ipswich reopened.

Friday, August 29, 2014
7:05 AM

An innocuous metal gate has taken centre stage in a legal battle against the upper echelons of power in Suffolk.

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The private prosecution brought by Peter Turtill against Suffolk County Council’s chief executive Deborah Cadman alleges the locked gate at the bottom of Ship Launch Road illegally obstructs a public right of way to Ipswich docks.

Having allegedly been barred from communicating with the council over the matter, Mr Turtill told magistrates in Ipswich on Tuesday that pursuing legal action against Ms Cadman was the only option he had left.

“They’ve refused to allow me to communicate with them,” he said.

“Any letter will be torn up, any telephone call will be hung up so the only option I have is to take Deborah Cadman to court.”

Marcus Crosskell, representing Ms Cadman, who did not attend the hearing, told magistrates the land in question was not owned by 
the council and was not designated as a public highway. “There’s a whole host of reasons in point of law and in point of fact why this case is wholly without merit,” he said.

He added that Mr Turtill had already made a number of unsuccessful legal challenges against the council and had been subject to a restraining order barring him from taking High Court action against the authority.

While acknowledging one of his challenges had failed, Mr Turtill said others against the council had succeeded.

“To say I lost one is true but I’ve also won three and I’ll win this one too,” he said. Mr Turtill admits the land is private, however he insists public rights of way still apply and claims SCC has a statutory obligation to ensure they are maintained.

Magistrates referred the case to a district judge on December 8, allowing the defence time to study Mr Turtill’s 200-page legal bundle of case history dating back to 1805.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Turtill, who has lived in Ipswich all his life, said: “This is my home and I want to protect it for other people so they can enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed it.

“I had a wonderful time growing up in this town 
but now all the lovely spaces are being fenced off or gated.”

A spokesman for the council said: “The gate in question is on privately owned land. This is not a public highway, and is nothing to do with Suffolk County Council. In December 2010 there was public inquiry into the highways around the Ipswich docks. The inspector found that there was not a highway along this route.”

6 comments

  • The law guaranteeing us the right to cross the swing bridge is still in force. The Dock is built on the river bed which unusually doesn't belong to the Crown. Under the various Royal Charters the river bed belongs to us through IBC and when the dock was built our rights were guaranteed by the Ipswich Dock Acts. SCC also believe this as they took over the application to have it designated as such on the definitive map. They failed because the Inspectors Decision was wrong and they didn't appeal it.

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    peterturtill

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • The rights and wrongs aside. I think it would be valuable feature if we had a cyclewalkway over the lock and a pedestrian bridge over to bath st Wherstead Rd. What was all the sec 106 money from all the large developments spent on ?

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    glen t

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Totally agree Sudders. The guy keeps doing the same things again and again, just in different parts of town. Surely there is more to life... but like a turtle - maybe he should just wind his neck in!

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    be36

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • I'm with Sudders. Mr Turtle needs to give it a rest. I would much rather see our tax paying pounds put to use serving the vulnerable and needy in our communities, or repairing pot holes, rather than defending these trifling cases. There is a reason the council has a restraining order against Mr Turtle... Perhaps he should focus his energies on more pressing matters?

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    Emmy Lou

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • I was bought up on the Rivers Estate and went to Cliff Lane school (where Peter Turtills dad was caretaker). In my childhood, I spent many hours down the docks and walkingbiking over the lock gates bridge was an everyday occurrence but times are different now, lots of private property and health and safety signs. (Strange how you can still walk freely in from the Stoke Bridge end and get very close to all those expensive sea going cruisers).

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    The original Victor Meldrew

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • You are right Sudders, BUT the question is, is Mr Turtle. I note that he is claiming it is a public right of way (thus a footpath or bridleway) all the councils responses state it is not a public highway (a road) there is a big difference between the two. I wonder if that is deliberate.

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    A Smith

    Friday, August 29, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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