Thursday, June 18, 2009

Eco-warrior Evicted: Cave Dwelling Has No Fire Exit

The title in The Telegraph is priceless: "Eco-warrior evicted from cave dwelling without fire exit"

Hilaire Purbrick, 45, has inhabited the seven-foot cave he dug on his plot and dined off the land for the past 16 years.

But after having the dwelling checked by the fire brigade, Brighton and Hove City Council decided it did not have enough exits and sought an injunction banning him from entering it.

Mr Purbrick ignored the order and continued to live in the cave, but was pulled back into court on Tuesday when a judge granted the council a possession order which will allow him to be formally evicted and banned indefinitely from the site.

Mr Purbrick now plans to take his fight to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming his right to a private life and freedom has been breached by the order.

"I am still living there and intend to continue to do so," he said. "I know lots of people in this town who live in houses with only one door with no fire exit."

The keen gardener has a history of overcoming legal challenges to his earthy home.

In 1999, town hall authorities threatened to remove him, claiming he was running an illegal vegetable shop.

But Mr Purbick won a reprieve after claiming his site "was hardly a Sainsbury's" and he only had one customer – a pregnant woman who bought his sprouts.

The following year he successfully fought an eviction order after complaints he was keeping chickens and bees without permission.

Granting the possession order at Brighton County Court, Judge Jonathan Simpkiss said there were legitimate health and safety concerns that the cave could collapse.

"The council considers this was a danger to life. They have a responsibility to the public," he said.

Mr Purbrick's decision to appeal to the European courts was made after the judge refused leave to appeal in a UK court, saying it was a "hopeless cause of trying to resist the inevitable".

What is so funny here is that this gentleman is clearly doing no harm to self or others. He has been living at this cave site for 16 years, albeit with a lot of controversy.

Is he runnning down property values? Sure, maybe. But isn't that done every time someone parks a broken down car in their driveway, puts a pink flamingo on their lawn, or paints their house bright blue?

Of course, a lot of places have laws prohibiting that kind of stuff. But not this part of the U.K., apparently. Instead, their best, winning arguement is that this man's cave has to have a fire exit. Priceless!

If I was advising this fellow, I would suggest he put in to have his abode declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, or some such thing.

And why not? Here is a Briton living traditionally as his ancestors did -- in a cave, surrounded by a garden, bees, chickens and dogs. His is an ancient British tradition. Should it not be preserved?

Of course, he could just pull out a shovel and dig an exit, couldn't he? I will pay for the framing lumber and door. Would that silence the critics?


sassanik said...

Not paying taxes? That must annoy the local government, since he is not buying food or using services.

Digging a second exit seems like a solution, though why they would care in the first place?

I could see if had kids living with him, but for just him? If his house falls on him *shrug* it would solve their problem.

PBurns said...


The real problem, of course, is the the cave will never cave in and he will never marry or have kids. He is there forever -- the hermit in the cave.


Heather Houlahan said...

There was a time in Merrye Olde Englande when the rich and powerful hired "hermits" to live in picturesque grottos on the grounds.

Oh well -- at least ALL of their descendants have not forgotten the value of a good hermit.