Councils have to act when others are affected

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Councils must find it extremely frustrating to have to get involved in disputes between neighbours that could be sorted out easily and amicably.

Then there’s the expense involved in taking enforcement action (using public money) when common sense and compromise would be the easy way forward.

But if the people involved stubbornly refuse to listen to reason, then the law is the only recourse.

Today we report on a giant hedge that almost hides the front of a house in Leigh Park. It’s more than 10ft tall and is so thick that the person who lives in the property has had to cut out a 1ft by 2ft space around the front door just to get in and out.

Not surprisingly, those who live in neighbouring properties and keep their gardens neat are less than impressed. One, Carol Shepard, has reached the end of her tether and, along with others, has reported it to Havant Borough Council.

She and the owner of the house with the high hedge have already been involved in a long-running dispute over problems with his overgrown back garden and claims that it was damaging her property. Now she wants him to be made to cut back his front hedge.

If he did so, there would no need for the council to resort to the heavy hand of the law. But it has contacted him twice in a bid to get him to sort out the problem and has received no reply.

Meanwhile the vegetation is growing over the public footpath, making it more than a dispute between neighbours. There’s also the issue of safety for anybody walking past.

We still hope that the person concerned sees reason and cuts back the hedge.

But if there is no response, then the council really has no option but to order him to do so, backed by the threat of court action if he refuses.

Some people may believe that an Englishman’s home is his castle and that we should be allowed to do what we like with our own properties.

But when other people are adversely affected, councils cannot stand by. They have a duty to intervene.