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Villagers brand highway hazard letters as ludicrous

  • Watch Emma Wilkinson's report.

Residents of a village in North Nottinghamshire have branded letters telling them to remove plants and items from outside their homes as 'health and safety gone mad'.

VIA East Midlands, which manages highways on behalf of the county council, says the items are within the highway boundary and classed as an obstruction.

Jean Hansen's house is regarded as a focal point in the village. Credit: ITV Calendar

But many people living in Gringley on the Hill say the demands are completely unreasonable, particularly as several of the items have been in place for decades without issue.

Jean Hansen received a letter telling her to remove a 40-year-old creeper from the front of her home because it was planted in the highway.

VIA says this creeper is planted in the highway and is an 'obstruction' Credit: Jean Hansen

She says it protrudes a very short distance from her house and says there are many other things in the village - like potholes and uneven pavements - which constitute much greater hazards.

I don't see how a proper assessment can have been done, given than anyone can see that this planting is not an obstruction to anyone using the pavement.

It's been here for around forty years and I'm very worried that trying to remove it might damage my cottage, which is an historical focal point for many people in this village.

– Jean Hansen
Jean says she does not believe the creeper can be considered a hazard to anyone. Credit: ITV Calendar

Jean is one of at least six residents to have received letters telling them to remove items, including plant pots, shrubbery and a rockery that had been maintained by residents since the 1990s.

The letter says homeowners have 14 days to arrange for the work to be carried out or the Highways Authority may arrange it on their behalf and any costs will be recharged to the homeowner.

"The tone of the letter is extremely threatening, given the amount of time the said hazard has been there and it isn't causing imminent damage to anybody", Jean said.

" I'm actually laying awake at night, trying to figure out how I'm going to appeal against this."

Several neighbours have written to Via East Midlands in support of Jean and others who have received letters.

Supporters point to things in the village that they say cause much more of an obstruction Credit: ITV Calendar

Hugo Dunkley has lived in the village for more than thirty years and feels the approach is very draconian.

He said: "The vast majority of residents want to make the place look attractive and they put out plants and flowers, and the creeper is part of that."

"The other thing that I think is significant is that there are many other obstructions in the village like lamp posts and waste bins, which are right in the middle of pavements and cause a much greater safety hazard, but we live with them", he added.

In a statement, Via East Midlands said it was responding to a complaint from a member of the public.

Following a safety concern raised by a member of the public, Via East Midlands, on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council has been working towards assessing and requesting the removal of some items which are considered to be within the highway boundary and classed as causing an obstruction.

We can understand the recent concerns and are working towards a resolution that will be satisfactory to all involved.

– Via East Midlands