Death threats made against pair opposed to Diddly Squat expansions

Death threats have been made against two people who opposed expansions at Jeremy Clarkson‘s Diddly Squat farm, the local council has said. West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) has said it is aware of malicious communications against the unnamed councillor and member of the public who spoke out against the former Top Gear presenter’s plans.

The local authority said the threats came some time after the airing of season two of Clarkson’s Farm via Amazon Studios on February 10.

The Planning Inspector is holding a hearing for the TV presenter’s appeal against WODC’s refusal to grant planning permission for an extension to the car park at his shop near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.

Clarkson is also challenging the council’s move to shut down his restaurant on the same plot of land because he opened it allegedly without planning permission in July last year.

West Oxfordshire District Council said they put extra security measures in place for Tuesday’s hearing as a result of the threats.

The council said in a statement: “Unfortunately, we have had to take safety precautions following a number of threats and abuse directed at councillors and local people since the airing of season two of Clarkson’s Farm.

“This has included death threats and as a result we have had to consider a range of safety measures to protect councillors, staff and residents.

“We understand people may not agree with decisions taken by the council but there is no place for threatening or abusive behaviour.

“It damages the democratic process when people feel intimidated and do not feel safe to express the opinions they are entitled to.”

A council spokesperson added at least one of the threats was reported to Thames Valley Police.

WODC took action against Clarkson’s restaurant in August saying in its enforcement notice that the “nature, scale and siting” of the restaurant on his farm was “incompatible with its open countryside location” in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It then ordered closure of the restaurant or anything selling food to be eaten on the farm, along with removal of the dining tables, chairs, parasols, picnic tables and mobile toilet.

Agents working on behalf of Clarkson say they are not in breach of planning laws, claiming the council’s decision is “excessive”.

The John Phillips Planning Consultancy wrote in their September 9 appeal against the enforcement notice that existing planning permission gives them the right to use the farm as a restaurant and there has been no “material change” to the land.

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News of the death threats comes after a deputy manager at a nursery said she felt “blown away” after raising more than £25,000 to help a dairy farmer who appeared on Clarkson’s Farm.

Season two features Emma Ledbury, a farmer who lost half of her cattle to tuberculosis-carrying badgers.

After watching the programme, Rebecca Poole, 45, from Solihull, West Midlands, made Ms Ledbury more than £25,000 through public donations on GoFundMe.

She said: “I am absolutely overwhelmed and I can’t thank people enough.”

She added: “It’s just blown me away how kind people are, especially in the current financial climate where people are struggling to buy food or heating, donating to a cause.

“And this cause – we’ve touched the heart of not only me, but the whole nation.

“I’ve had donations from Australia, Canada, America, as well as Britain and Ireland and Scotland.”

Ms Poole said she was initially inspired to channel the anger she felt at her father being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

She said: “I thought I’ve got all these angry feelings around my dad, having the cancer and not being able to be cured of it.

“I thought I could just brood or I could do something so I decided to put all this anger and focus it into something. I just saw (Emma) on the telly and thought I can help her.”

Ms Poole has been in touch with Ms Ledbury’s husband Pete and the team at GoFundMe have made the couple beneficiaries of the online fund.

Ms Ledbury has been able to keep her farm afloat, but the detrimental impact of TB in British farming was explored on Clarkson’s Farm.

Ms Poole added the number of donations on her GoFundMe appeal – more than 1,500 – sends a message about Britons’ support for UK farmers.

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