A stand-off between a householder facing eviction and police continued into the early hours today, leaving part of a North village sealed off.
Police, some wearing riot gear, firefighters and paramedics surrounded Maurice Kellett's three bedroom cottage in Colliery Lane, Hetton-le-Hole, near Sunderland. The road was sealed off.
Mr Kellett, 60, a Hetton town councillor between 1994 and 1998, barricaded himself in an upstairs room when bailiffs called to take possession of the home he has lived in for 55 years.
He faced having it repossessed in lieu of legal costs following a decade-long wrangle over land access and ownership with next door neighbour Shirley Carr.
In December last year a judge at Middlesbrough County Court ordered his home be repossessed in lieu of legal costs of £17,000.
Shortly before 1pm on Monday bailiffs arrived at his house accompanied by police and attempted to hand over a warrant ordering him to surrender his home.
The former television engineer refused to allow them entry, barricaded himself into an upstairs room and threatened to douse himself with petrol.
Last night, more than 30 hours after the siege began, Mr Kellett was still refusing to surrender.
His brothers, Tom and Bill Kellett, both attempted to persuade their brother to leave the house, while police took over an adjacent house and conducted negotiations with Mr Kellett, a divorced father-of-two, on a cell phone.
His gas, electricity and water supplies were cut off and the temperature was bitterly cold.
Mr Kellett, who suffers from angina, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure and diabetes, has an Internet website in which he has alleged corruption by police, the judiciary and freemasons.
His brother Bill, a Durham city councillor said: "Being forced to leave his house has brought him to the end of his tether. He lived here as a child then later bought it from our parents. Five years ago his wife Joyce left and moved to Yorkshire - he probably feels he has nothing left."
The row over land with his neighbour had continued for a decade. His brother added: "We are trying to get a solicitor to arrange a stay of execution then we will pay the outstanding money so he can keep his house, I just hope this all ends without anybody getting hurt."
Police said Mr Kellett was armed with an ornamental sword, but Bill Kellett said: "It was something he bought from a seafront in Blackpool decades ago and it is blunt."
Acting Supt Jim Sexton of Northumbria Police, in charge of the operation, said: "We are trying to resolve this as peacefully as we can.
"The man inside the house is not in the best of health but he does have a small amount of petrol in his possession."
Mr Kellett's relatives were outside the house. They were angry last night that police had refused to allow paramedics in to treat him.
His sister-in-law Ann Kellett said: "He is a diabetic, he needs insulin. He has committed no crime, he simply did not want his house repossessed. He will be freezing in there. The police are using a sledgehammer to crack a budgie's egg."
Mr Kellett's other brother Tom said: "Maurice is a little eccentric and a lot of people will be glad to see him move. But the situation should never have come to this."
Shortly after 11pm as the standoff entered its 34th hour Tom said police had refused to allow Maurice a mobile phone. He said: "Maurice wanted to talk to his solicitor to discuss appealing against the repossession order.
"His solicitor told me he had been trying to get through but that they had disconnected the phone."