A VILLAGE has rallied to help an elderly British couple after their neighbours boarded up their front door and windows.
A group of seventy villagers cheered as they dismantled a barricade and removed bars and shutters from the home of John and Faith Dyson in Brugairolles in the Aude.
It is the latest instalment in a ten-year row with their neighbours over access to their property.
The Dysons, who are in their 70s, moved to the village in August 2004. Eight months later Forbes and Krystyna Dunlop, another British couple, moved in next door but raised objections to the Dyson's windows which overlook the driveway between the two houses, adding that they had no right of access to the front door over their land.
“For the last 150 years, the only access to the house was from that drive. They knew all this before they even bought their house,” said Mr Dyson, who suffers from arterial problems which greatly reduce his mobility.
“In the last 10 years, they have written to the police in Strathclyde, to the local police, the European Court of Human Rights, a whole series of Ministers of Justice and they even sent an 85-page letter to M. Sarkozy when he was president.
"Finally, they barricaded our door with a timber and concrete structure, and started bricking up our windows.”
The sight of the barriers stirred the village into action. A committee was formed and on Monday a group arrived with tools and began to dismantle the barricade and prize open the shutters.
“We were gobsmacked,” said Mr Dyson. “We heard there was going to be something. We expected a dozen or so Brits supporting us, maybe a few French villagers.
“We feel so much better now we've seen the level of support and we feel a lot happier about our safety. We do love living in the village, the place is nice, the people are nice, but there's always been this niggling stress in the background. But everyone's rallying round now. So we hope this is the beginning of the end of the story."
“When it started, we were simply amazed. But we offered to sit down, talk and find a solution but unfortunately, the Dunlops have always refused to talk to us,” he added.
The local mayor, Alain Labattut, has called for calm. "Everyone living in Brugairolles has the right to live peacefully in their own house," he told the press.
"You can't wall people into their homes without the population reacting, it's a question of solidarity. Now we must turn the problem over to the courts."