Jobsworth council bosses have ordered an 89-year-old pensioner to trim his 100m-long historic hedge back to STUMPS over barmy health and safety fears – because it overhangs a footpath.
Roy Dowson has been ordered to trim the 140-year-old yew bush, which is 2.5m (8.2ft) high, after pedestrians complained there wasn’t room to walk along the pavement.
Officials from Lincolnshire County Council’s highways department visited his home in the sleepy village of Burton-by-Lincoln, Lincs., on Tuesday (26/1) and ordered Mr Dowson to chop back the hedgerow by February 24.
But the pensioner, who has his pristine hedge trimmed every year, says cutting it back to level with the wall would completely ruin his pride and joy.
Today (Wed), Mr Dowson, who owns a construction firm, said: “The council have ordered me to cut the hedge back to 2ft, level with the wall and if I do that it will absolutely wreck it.
“I’ve been at the property for 40 years and the hedge was planted in 1880 as part of the Burton estate.
“I have the hedge trimmed every year and I think they’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”
His daughter, Heather Dowson, from Canwick, Lincs., added: “The hedge overhangs the footpath by about a third and we think some anonymous villagers have complained that two people cannot walk side by side, but you can still do so.
“Yew is very slow growing and it will take a while to look any good if it’s cut down.”
The historic hedge was planted in 1880 and is a well-known feature of the sleepy village of Burton-by-Lincoln which features in the Domesday Book.
Councillor John Copeland, who sits on Burton-by-Lincoln Parish Council, is also supporting Mr Dowson and said cutting back the popular bush would be “environmental vandalism”.
He added: “You can easily walk along the path and this hedge is a lovely feature of the village that should be looked after.
“We tried to put our compromise saying that a few of the more overhanging parts could be cut back but they totally rejected our argument and the whole width of the hedge has to be cut right back level with the wall.
“The hedge is a prominent feature of the village and this is health and safety gone mad that will result in act of environmental vandalism.”
Lib Dem Councillor David Cotton, who represents the village on West Lindsey District Council, added: “Cutting this hedge will alter the whole way Burton is perceived.
“I’ve been a councillor for 16 years and this has never been raised as an issue in all that time and I certainly support its retention.”
But Lincolnshire County Council yesterday defended the decision and said the hedge was putting people at “risk from passing traffic”.
Paul Little, Highways Network Manager North, added: “We have had to ask a resident in Burton to cut the yew hedge back outside his property to ensure the safety of pedestrians wishing to use the pavement.
“The hedge is encroaching over half of the pavement width in some places, and we’ve received several complaints from pedestrians who have been forced to walk in the road in between two blind bends, particularly if two people need to pass each other.
“This is clearly putting them at unnecessary risk from passing traffic.”