Irvine in fresh home improvements row

Planners are trying to gain access to his house to check allegations that he converted an old stable block into a games room without planning permission. A building control inspector has tried to visit the house at Clachan, on the Kintyre peninsula, where Tony Blair and his wife Cherie have been visitors, to investigate claims made in an anonymous letter.

But after finding no one at home, officials of Argyll and Bute council have written to Lord Irvine seeking entry on an agreed date. The council has confirmed they can take enforcement action if he does not respond – and force entry.

The anonymous letter claims that Lord Irvine turned the old stables into a games room and that electricity was supplied to it and plumbing carried out. Council officials have found no applications for work in their records.

A council spokesman said: “If a member of the public gives us this sort of information, we have to follow it up. We are bound to investigate because it has been brought to our attention, no matter who the complaint is against.”

The spokesman said the work alleged came under health and safety regulations. “The next step is to send a letter insisting on an appointment to gain access to view, which was done last week. If there is no entry then we would claim the right of access and obtain an entry warrant which could allow us to force entry.”

A spokesman for Lord Irvine said last night: “He is not commenting on this.”

Lord Irvine’s Scottish home is at the end of a lonely country lane, and he shares the lochside spot with Stephen Bastow, a farmer. The two are understood to have been at loggerheads over a number of years and the council had to step in recently when Mr Bastow laid down a series of makeshift sleeping policemen on the road their houses share after complaining that Lord Irvine’s visitors were driving too fast past his house.

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