The Ark: ‘We are disappointed that this case is dragging on’

Ark manager Sue Rice and solicitor Joe Pepper.
Ark manager Sue Rice and solicitor Joe Pepper.

The court hearing into the Ark Animal Rescue & Retirement Home’s contested noise abatement notice has been postponed - much to the dismay of the rescue centre’s owner.

Last Friday (September 6), Sue Rice from the Ark Animal Rescue and Retirement Home in North Somercotes, and Joe Pepper of Bridge McFarland LLP, attended Lincoln Magistrates’ Court to appeal against a noise abatement order that was issued by East Lindsey District Council last year, following complaints from neighbours about dogs barking.

Sue Rice at The Ark Animal Rescue and Retirement Home

Sue Rice at The Ark Animal Rescue and Retirement Home

A Bridge McFarland spokesman said that, despite many months of hard work and preparation from the Ark’s legal team, the final hearing of the appeal has been postponed until 2020.

According to the solicitors, the judge who is overseeing proceedings ruled that the time allocated to discuss the matter was insufficient, and as a result, the hearing has now been postponed until February 20 next year. This is reportedly the first available date that would allow the court a two-day session to hear all the evidence.

Joe Pepper is a solicitor at Bridge McFarland LLP, and he has been working with the Ark team free of charge to support them through this process.

After the court hearing on Friday, Joe said: “Naturally we are disappointed that the case is dragging on – today’s decision will mean another six months of my client being in limbo.

“Susan (Rice) and I attended Boston Magistrates’ Court back in May to set the timetable for the hearing and presented our case that, in our legal opinion would need listing for two, or even three days to facilitate the case being heard in its entirety.

“Unfortunately, despite our representations, East Lindsey District Council did not share this view and were successful in persuading the magistrates a single day would be sufficient.

“As has always been our sincere offer, we continue to invite East Lindsey District Council to work with us outside of the courtroom to reach an amicable agreement.”

Sue Rice, manager at the Ark, said after the hearing: “All I can do is thank those who continue to support us.

“I was joined by Joe Pepper from Bridge McFarland LLP and Sarah Clover of Kings Chambers in Birmingham today as well as our fantastic acoustic specialist Richard Watson of Blue Tree Acoustics.

“It is such a shame that they have all travelled to be here today only to have the whole thing pushed back until 2020.”

Sue continued: “I have found the support from the local media, all the individuals who follow us online, and those who have helped with fundraising have really kept me and the team going.

“I am sure that we can count on the community to continue to support the work we do, and I am so grateful for this.

“The last year has been exhausting and it is really taking a toll on the personal lives of the people involved. Knowing that we have another six months to spend in uncertainty is deeply disappointing.

“I know that we are on the right side of all of this, and I just hope that we can put all of this behind us as soon as possible and get back to solely concentrating on and doing what we love, which is caring for the animals at the Ark”

• An East Lindsey District Council spokesman said the authority will not be able to comment until after the hearing.