A GP who planted flowers to brighten up a muddy verge near her surgery was stunned when she was charged £84 by the council – for a ‘licence to cultivate’.
Dr Susannah Beattie planted nine shrubs on two patches of mud between her home and a GP practice in Cambridge in a bid to deter motorists from parking on it.
Local families welcomed the move and congratulated the doctor on improving the area around the Cornford House Surgery in Cambridge.
But just a fortnight later Dr Beattie received a snooty letter from Cambridgeshire County Council informing her that she was breaking the law.
Council officials claim the amateur gardener must pay £84 for a ‘licence to cultivate’ on the verge outside her home – or pull up the plants.
Dr Beattie, who is now resigned to paying the fee, has demanded a rethink on the 30-year-old rules she claims leave no room for common sense.
She said: “It doesn’t make sense to de discouraging the local community from beautifying the neighbourhood.
“So many people litter the streets and aren’t brought up for it, but if you are beautifying the streets you have to pay extra money.
“I think it should be looked at because it is a disincentive against people taking ownership of their neighbourhood and making the place look beautiful.”
Dr Beattie was told she must submit a plan to the Cambridgeshire County Council, which controls all planting on public land, for her flowers on Wulfstan Way, Cambridge, to be approved.
Cllr Geoff Heathcock, who represents Dr Beattie’s area on Cambridgeshire County Council, said the action was “unnecessary.”
He said: “This action is both unnecessary and petty compared to the damage that is done all year round by parking on verges, and considerably less is done about that.
“I think there needs to be some balance in the application of highways laws to distinguish between something which is constructive rather than destructive.
“This is over the top and dissuades people from public-spirited activity to replace verges that would otherwise be mud or worn away.”
But a spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said the licence was standard practice.
He said: “The fee covers the cost of inspecting the site and agreeing a suitable planting scheme that specifies the species and sizes of plants.”