Above : Neighbour’s decking and general clutter.
Below: What passes for a lawn, a rusting fence and discarded vegetation behind it.
Today Bexley council intends to decide if a Section 215
Untidy Sites Act Notice should be issued to compel a resident to clear some less
than expertly built garden structures because of complaints from a neighbour.
The photographs taken yesterday show rubbish stored on the roof of two
dilapidated sheds, a badly rotted garage door that provides a ready access for
rodents and has not seen a paint brush for many a long year and decking to
provide shelter for any wildlife that requires it. There is no lawn to speak of,
just odd clumps of grass and a rear fence on to a railway line that is not in a
particularly good state and hides oddments of garden rubbish that have found
their way over it. None of it is what a keen gardener or house proud resident
would want to see. But that description and the photographs are not the subject
of Bexley council’s attentions, what you see here is the less than award winning
rear garden of the complainant to Bexley council, their victim’s neighbour.
The victims are a married couple and their garden is not the traditional lawn
and flowerbeds but is described by a local beekeeper and conservationist as “a
model bee garden” and “of great benefit to wildlife in general and bees and
butterflies in particular”. It also includes some old sheds and fruit cages
which are similar in appearance to those on nearby allotments and secluded from
view by many trees. It’s not at all like most gardens but I can see a certain
amount of charm and quaintness in it (see below) but much more
importantly the owners love it and regard it as their hobby and outlet for
self-expression. It is certainly not ‘derelict’ as defined and illustrated (see
example immediately below) in the Section 215 legislation and guidance to councils; so why
might Bexley council champion the owner of a neglected garden against another
who spends a lot of time on theirs?
Above : Example of an abandoned and derelict garden as shown
in the guidance to councils. Neither the complainant’s nor Bexley council’s victim’s
gardens are remotely similar to that.
One reason could be is that the lady of the house has long been a thorn in
Bexley council’s side. She writes letters about them to newspapers and is not
reticent when it comes to reporting them to the Local Government Ombudsman.
Another thought that worries the lady is that she claims to have been set upon
by her neighbour with a large builder’s spirit level, knocked to the ground and
held there, following which Bexley council’s friends in the police did not cover themselves in glory.
Her intention that day was to retrieve articles allegedly removed from her
outbuildings without permission but one of her complaining neighbours video’d proceedings.
The victims reported the neighbour to the police and when they eventually
arrived they arrested the wife, made door-to-door enquiries
and then charged her; the neighbour later offering video evidence that the
petite lady had assaulted him. The case against her collapsed when the Crown
Prosecution Service saw the video evidence; it showed no assault. The police have sent
a letter of apology for their conduct, from Borough Commander Stringer no less. The lady
victim fears that having crossed Bexley council’s uniformed wing there will be retribution.
The preceding paragraph has been confirmed by the lady’s legal adviser and
documentation. Why the police took no action over the neighbour’s allegation of
assault which proved groundless remains a mystery. Bexleyheath police doesn’t
pursue those they see as their friends. Now the lady fears that Bexley council
is intent on descending on her mob handed to serve an enforcement notice.
The victims say that the complaining neighbour has been steadily encroaching on
their land by levering over or otherwise moving the fence. Within the past week
tensioned strings have been tied to trees which have the effect of pulling the
fence in the desired direction and another string stretched between the house
and the victim’s side of the fence post at the rear of the garden shows the
fence to be noticeably curved towards the victims’ garden. The final two
photographs below attempt to illustrate the effect.
A further complaint is that the ‘eyesore’ of the garden structures can be seen
from nearby house windows. I climbed on to the roof of one of them to see if this
could be true and found it wasn’t. (See photo below.) I also twice rode on the
train that passes by on an embankment at the end of the garden to see if it
stood out in any way. It did not, it was barely visible and not the worst sight
among nearby rear gardens.
To my mind the garden is not derelict, it is looked after constantly; so how can
it be derelict? It is possibly eccentric and won’t appeal to everyone, but why
should it? It’s not easily seen from outside so why should anyone else be interested?
The victims are convinced there is a connection with those constantly critical
letters in the local press.
Something else Bexley council seems unwilling to take into consideration is the
victim’s diagnosed Asperger Syndrome; for that of course no help is forthcoming
from Bexley council. Another indication of Bexley council’s perversity is that
they have granted planning permission for a traditional brick built extension to
their victims’ house. Negotiations are going on with a builder now. For that the
second-hand outbuildings closest to the existing
house are coming down anyway. Why can’t Bexley council wait? Why does it take
sides with those who assault ladies old enough to have a free bus pass? Maybe
after today’s visit we will know a little more.
Above : The potting shed.
Above : View from house to end of garden.
Above : The garden shed at the end of the garden built from recycled materials.
The roof of the garden shed which can’t quite be seen from neighbouring windows.
Note that there is no junk on the roof unlike the complaining neighbour’s.
A demarcation string (the knotted one at the top of the
photograph) tied from the house to a post inside the victim’s garden
which nevertheless manages to show the original fence line is not what it should
be. Also the string tensioning it to a tree.