Not even the peaceful pastures of the Cotswolds seem immune to controversy, as staff working at Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat Farm in Oxfordshire have allegedly been given body cameras amid fears of facing abuse from angry locals.
The former Top Gear presenter is currently in the middle of a row with the local council and residents over plans to extend the site in Chadlington, near Chipping Norton. Clarkson wants to expand Diddly Squat’s car park to accommodate 70 vehicles so that more people can visit and go to its shop. However, his initial planning request was rejected.
The West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) and some villagers are opposing the expansion plan, arguing it would add traffic to the area and disturb the tranquillity of the Cotswolds, which is an area of outstanding natural beauty. But tensions seem to be running high, with two people opposing the plans reportedly receiving death threats.
At a meeting where the planning inspector had been considering Mr Clarkson’s plans, Chadlington resident Hilary Moore described tourists attracted to the farm as “motorheads” who drive slowly on surrounding roads to “show off their cars”. However, Annabel Gray, who works on a catering trailer at the farm, argued that this was an “unfair” description. She claimed that she had witnessed locals adding to traffic issues by driving slowly too.
Ms Gray, who is 32 years old, also revealed that 16-year-old workers on the farm wore body cameras as a precaution following alleged abuse directed by villagers. She urged the council to see the farm’s expansion as an opportunity to educate people about local farming and sustainable practices.
Henry Lawrence, a butcher who supplies Diddly Squat, echoed this sentiment and said that the site could be “the crown jewel” of sustainable farming. His business has grown “dramatically” since trading with it.
Despite the opposition, Clarkson remains determined to push forward with his plans. He bought the 1,000-acre site in 2008, and his efforts to run it have been featured on the hit farming show on Prime Video, Clarkson’s Farm.