I am livid. Livid at the utter stupidity of what has just happened to my parents’ home back in the UK.
I shall just copy’n’stick into this post the letter I sent to their council yesterday, as it says it all.
If anyone has any experience of a similar sort of idiocy, please let me know what you did about it…
Dear Sir, Madam,
I am writing to you concerning the degradation of what used to be a pretty hedge on one of the most sought after streets in Newport Pagnell; Chicheley Street.
The hedge belongs to my mother and step-father, Helen and Malcolm Bullett, who live at n° 16 Chicheley Street. They planted it 30 years ago, as a greener, more beautiful alternative to putting up a fence, albeit a more expensive one. For 30 years they have given the hedge the care and attention it requires to keep it healthy and trimmed.
However, on the 20th of December, Mr Bullett received a letter
from Milton Keynes council ordering him to get the hedge cut right back. Apparently a ‘friendly’ neighbour (who has since been identified by other, much friendlier neighbours, as Paul Alexander, Lib Dem councillor for Newport Pagnell) had secretly complained the hedge was slightly encroaching on the pavement. It wasn’t actually stopping anyone from walking along the pavement, as there was still ample space to get by, even with a wheelchair or a pushchair.
Heather Baker from the council visited Mr Bullett and with a tree surgeon they discussed the issue. The tree surgeon said that by cutting the hedge back that far, all you would see from the outside was the trunks and dead, brown branches. It would be very ugly he warned, and would never ever grow back again. He also pointed out that the hedge was not preventing anyone from walking along it, whether on foot or in a wheelchair. Heather Baker still ordered Mr Bullett to cut the hedge right back; yet another example of someone “just doing my job”, without reflecting on the reality of this case (the hedge WASN’T preventing anyone walking along the pavement) and without taking into consideration the ugliness her decision entailed, not to mention the upset to my parents and to all the neighbours living around them.
Here is a photo of Mr Bullett’s hedge on the 11th of January 2013, after 30 years of care and attention. You can also see the pavement. The hedge is clearly not stopping anyone from walking along the pavement. Nor a wheelchair, nor a baby pushchair.
And here is the hedge after the instructions issued by Milton Keynes council were carried out.
I think you will agree that not much has been gained and a lot has been lost. What was once a beautiful, green hedge which added to the beauty of the street, is now an ugly, brown, hacked back row of trunks and branches. The only alternative now is to put up a fence, but my father cannot afford this (the tree surgeon has already cost him more than he can afford; he is 85, living on a small pension), and even if he could, it would also be a lot less pretty than the original green hedge. So this is what now surrounds his home, on one of the loveliest streets in Newport Pagnell.
I am writing to you at environmental services, because I would like somebody at Milton Keynes Council to at least take stock of the idiocy of this situation and to do something about it. Maybe Heather Baker could be given better training in making decisions concerning this sort of thing. It is too late to save this hedge, but maybe other hedges can be saved. And maybe the council could pay for something else to be planted to hide the ugly sight that now lines one side of Chicheley Street.
Mr Bullett has been stopped numerous times by neighbours deploring the council’s actions and encouraging him to send the story and these photos to the press. He is too mild to do that. But I am his daughter and I am furious.
I await your response.
As Sister 2 remarked: “BIG BUSHES, FULL BUSHES!!”… forever.