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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Pensioner, 87, drilled holes through his neighbour’s wall after claiming it encroached onto his land

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A pensioner drilled holes in his neighbour’s garden wall claiming it encroaches on his land by two inches and erected placards accusing the family of being thieves.

Ewen Taylor was slapped with a £90 fine for the criminal damage but has continued his protest by displaying signs outside his home accusing his neighbours of ‘illegal building work’.

The family, who built the extension to create more dining space, say the row has left their children ’embarrassed to go out’.



For a number of months Mr Taylor, from Cardiff, has been putting wooden placards at the front of his house in the Grangetown area.

The 87-year-old’s messages include: ‘You and your cowboy builder are thiefs [sic]’; ‘Other councils take down illegle [sic] building work’; ‘Will they sue me?’; and ‘Do not like my signs, tell the council’.




The display shows the street number of the next-door family, who said: ‘It needs to stop really.’

Mr Taylor, a retired bricklayer who has lived in his house for around 50 years, said his anger was sparked in 2020 when the family built an extension in their back garden.

Pictured: Pensioner Ewen Taylor drilled holes in his neighbour's garden wall and put up signs complaining that their new extension encroaches on his garden by a couple of inches

Pictured: Pensioner Ewen Taylor drilled holes in his neighbour's garden wall and put up signs complaining that their new extension encroaches on his garden by a couple of inches




Pictured: Pensioner Ewen Taylor drilled holes in his neighbour’s garden wall and put up signs complaining that their new extension encroaches on his garden by a couple of inches

Pictured: One of the signs put up by Mr Taylor and the holes he drilled that have been covered

Pictured: One of the signs put up by Mr Taylor and the holes he drilled that have been covered




Pictured: One of the signs put up by Mr Taylor and the holes he drilled that have been covered

He claims the family removed the garden wall they previously shared and replaced it with a new one – which he claims juts into his own garden.

‘It’s a matter of two inches but it’s my property,’ he said. ‘Even if it was half an inch I would object.’




The neighbours – a married couple with four children aged eight to 20 – deny any encroachment.

The mother, 42, said: ‘I have no idea why he thinks it is in his property. It is distressing, especially for my children.

‘They are embarrassed to go out when people ask questions about the signs.’




The family’s extension pushed back their bathroom to create more dining space. 

Builders knocked down the old garden wall – which Mr Taylor described as ‘a random rubble wall with a cock and hen finish’ – and built a concrete replacement.

‘Since we moved in 20 years ago [Mr Taylor] hasn’t talked to us,’ said the woman. ‘We hadn’t had an argument or anything. This is the first time there’s been any confrontation.

‘Cardiff Council says there’s no need for a planning application for extensions of six metres and this was within six metres. Then after the work was finished [Mr Taylor] drilled straight through.’




Mr Taylor accepts he used a drill and hammer to make holes in the wall over a period of around five months. He also peeled off a strip of stucco from the building extension. Four circles in the garden wall show where the family have sealed up damage.

‘He would often do it in the mornings when we were out,’ the mother continued.

‘One time when we were in, he started doing it and we asked why. He said: “It is in my property.”

Pictured: Mr Taylor has a collection of signs accusing his neighbours of illegal building work

Pictured: Mr Taylor has a collection of signs accusing his neighbours of illegal building work

Pictured: Mr Taylor has a collection of signs accusing his neighbours of illegal building work 

Pictured: 87-year-old Ewen Taylor's garage contains more placards about the dispute

Pictured: 87-year-old Ewen Taylor's garage contains more placards about the dispute

Pictured: 87-year-old Ewen Taylor’s garage contains more placards about the dispute

Damage caused by Mr Taylor who was fined £90 after being accused of criminal damage

Damage caused by Mr Taylor who was fined £90 after being accused of criminal damage

Damage caused by Mr Taylor who was fined £90 after being accused of criminal damage

‘It was intimidating for my children.’

In response Mr Taylor said: ‘I don’t see how it was intimidating. Hammering and drilling has been going on next door for years. And that’s acceptable.

‘If they want to hang new cupboards up they can hang new cupboards up. My wife would always hear it and say: “They’ve bought another box of nails.”

‘She passed away quite a few years ago.’

Police handed Mr Taylor a £90 fine last September for criminal damage.

The woman said: ‘The police took away his drill. That’s when he started with the signs. We called the police two weeks ago and they said they can’t do anything because it’s in his private property.

‘They said it is like a protest sign even though it’s got our house number and he’s calling us thieves. How can that not be offensive?’

Ewen Taylor claims his measuring stick shows an encroachment of a couple of inches

Ewen Taylor claims his measuring stick shows an encroachment of a couple of inches

Ewen Taylor claims his measuring stick shows an encroachment of a couple of inches

The pensioner felt he was left with ‘no other choice’ but to drill holes after the council refused to intervene. 

One council officer wrote to Mr Taylor that the extension did not need planning permission and that boundary disputes a civil matter and not for the council.

Mr Taylor said he launched his protest because he cannot afford civil action. ‘I am protesting that they have encroached on my property to extend their property, devaluing my property. I am a victim and I am penalised?’

When asked if he tried to speak with his neighbours about his concerns he said: ‘Oh no. How do you talk to someone and tell them what they have done is illegal?’

When we informed Mr Taylor that the family feel harassed by the placards he said: ‘My signs are the truth. A couple of days ago the law [police] were here.

‘They told me the signs are not very nice and that other people object to them. But I wasn’t asked to take them down because they don’t have the power. It’s on my property.’

The family said police have advised them they could launch civil proceedings over the display but they decided against it to avoid legal costs.

A council spokesman said it was a civil matter between two parties, adding: ‘We could only get involved if the signs were on the highway, causing an obstruction, or have been put up without permission, so in effect flyposting, which is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.’

South Wales Police have been approached for comment.

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