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We won't budge an inch let alone 2' feet.

Byline: By Matt Withers Wales on Sunday

The battle of Ty Newydd centres around just two-and-a-half feet of land.

But this boundary dispute between two equally unwavering sets of neighbours has rumbled on for the past three years.

During that time, it has seen several court hearings, a prison cell for one of the neighbours and will soon go all the way to the Court of Appeal in London - all over a tiny spot of land.

On one side of the divide, in the terraced street in Whitchurch, Cardiff, are Ramon and Gisela Ruiz, who moved to Wales from Venezuela 28 years ago.

On the other are William and Georgette Preece, who have moved their boundary onto their neighbours, and insist they are not going back.

The Preeces have, in the past few years, built a hardstand extending 10 inches into what the Ruizs claim is their land, and moved their downpipe so the water now runs down his neighbours' wall. On top of that, they have put a gate on the end of the drive which the Ruizs say intrudes onto their land, and put up a fence at the back which his neighbours claim encroaches into their garden.

The courts have sided with the Ruizs. After a lengthy fight, they have won an order from a judge requiring the Preeces to return the boundary to its original place. If they do not comply, they could face prison for contempt of court.

But the Preeces are convinced the original deeds to the house show their boundaries to be further to the left - onto the neighbours' property.

But Mrs Preece is adamant they will not budge an inch - let alone two-and-a-half feet.

'It's going to cost a lot of money and we're not doing it,' she said. 'We don't mind, we'll go to prison.

'We're not listening to what the judge says.'

Mr Ruiz, however, says the battle had dominated his and his wife's lives over the past three years.

The 51-year-old psychiatric nurse, whose daughter suffers from spina bifida, said: 'It's taken a lot of time, a lot of pressure and a lot of stress.

'At the moment the legal process has cost us more than pounds 5,000.'

The rows and bickering between the two families reached a head when Mr Ruiz waved a plank of wood at his neighbour. The police were called and Mr Ruiz spent several hours in a cell, although charges were later dropped.

'I'm not a violent man,' he said.

'I was so angry. I just grabbed the timber, and I knew that I wasn't going to hit him - I just wanted to frighten him.

'Then he went to the police and said I hit him on the shoulder.'

The legal fight over where the boundary should be is over - a judge has declared it must be moved back towards the Preece household. But the Preeces are now appealing over the decision to make a court order. It is likely to be heard in London in the next two months.

'Both sides are entrenched,' said Clive Pinney, the solicitor acting for the Ruiz family.

'Both believe they are right, and both can't accept there may be a middle way.'

Hostilities between the two houses increased when the Preeces put a CCTV camera on their home, pointing at the Ruiz household. The Ruizs believe their neighbours are spying on them. But the Preeces insist it is aimed at stopping vandals.

Mrs Preece said: 'We put a camera up because we were having damage done to our cars and our tyres were flat.'

Mr Pinney said that such border disputes were becoming the norm among the property-obsessed Welsh.
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 25, 2005
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