WALTHAMSTOW: Council's 'attack' on garden slammed

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Greg Tingey on the footpath beside his garden Greg Tingey on the footpath beside his garden

A GREEN-FINGERED resident was ordered to cut back plants in his picturesque garden because the council said they were a “threat” to passers-by.

Greg Tingey, of Woodbury Road in Walthamstow, was shocked to receive a threatening letter claiming his much-loved front garden was a safety risk.

Colourful plants have only grown centimetres beyond his wall and he insists they do not go beyond the garden boundary.

And the 64-year-old, who has lived in the house since 1948, says the council is ignoring far more serious overhanging vegetation on its own properties, such as the nearby Walthamstow School for Girls.

He said: “There's a lot of my garden but it doesn't extend onto the pavement by any significant amount - it's a matter of inches and centimetres. The footpath next to it is over six feet wide.

“The vegetation consists of a large Rosemary bush, a very large Wisteria, two small Lavender-bushes, and a white Jasmine. All decorative, and some very useful, and much admired by passers-by. It's ridiculous to say that they're a 'threat' to anyone.

“And one problem that the council doesn't realise is that the wall is slightly concave so the wall does not mark the boundary.

“But if you walk down Church Hill there are a large amount of sharp thorns spilling over onto the footpath from Walthamstow School for Girls, some of them even at the head height for a child. But they aren't doing anything about that so it seems very hypocritical.

“It's like the police ticketing a car for parking on a single yellow line while they take no notice of someone further up the road stealing a car.

"And in the latest edition of the council's rag there's a photograph of a man who won an In Bloom award, and the picture shows his plants spilling over his front wall as well.

“What I want to know is why are they threatening me?”

Click here to follow the Waltham Forest Guardian on Twitter

Comments (21)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

1:22pm Thu 30 Sep 10

Heartlysmum says...

It's because they are looking for something to do. Sack the lot of them and let's get on minding our own.
It's because they are looking for something to do. Sack the lot of them and let's get on minding our own. Heartlysmum
  • Score: 0

2:22pm Thu 30 Sep 10

Techno2 says...

Heartlysmum wrote:
It's because they are looking for something to do. Sack the lot of them and let's get on minding our own.
The council have plenty to do but skulk around doing things like this because they are hesitant to go and deal with the real anti-social behaviour elsewhere.
[quote][p][bold]Heartlysmum[/bold] wrote: It's because they are looking for something to do. Sack the lot of them and let's get on minding our own.[/p][/quote]The council have plenty to do but skulk around doing things like this because they are hesitant to go and deal with the real anti-social behaviour elsewhere. Techno2
  • Score: 0

3:30pm Thu 30 Sep 10

md-j says...

Mr Tingey needs to insist on being given the name of the person who has authorised this letter (often you just get a squiggle, in breach of the Council's Code of Conduct), then ask under what power they presume to issue threats to him; then offer to see them in court, politely reminding them that they are liable in law for all their actions, regardless of who they work for.
These people usually back off once they realise you intend to attach personal responsibility to them. Now that lying is so deeply embedded in the conduct of public officials, they may be uncertain which part of their statements can be made to stand up.
For Council staff new legal powers - and this seems to be a new one - are like new toys to a toddler: they use it incessantly for a short while, then get bored and forget all about it.
Perhaps ask Mr Loakes to visit his garden and the school with a press photographer present, for him to explain why one growth is acceptable, and the other not.
Mr Tingey needs to insist on being given the name of the person who has authorised this letter (often you just get a squiggle, in breach of the Council's Code of Conduct), then ask under what power they presume to issue threats to him; then offer to see them in court, politely reminding them that they are liable in law for all their actions, regardless of who they work for. These people usually back off once they realise you intend to attach personal responsibility to them. Now that lying is so deeply embedded in the conduct of public officials, they may be uncertain which part of their statements can be made to stand up. For Council staff new legal powers - and this seems to be a new one - are like new toys to a toddler: they use it incessantly for a short while, then get bored and forget all about it. Perhaps ask Mr Loakes to visit his garden and the school with a press photographer present, for him to explain why one growth is acceptable, and the other not. md-j
  • Score: 0

3:46pm Thu 30 Sep 10

mr rusty says...

It's because they've got this obsession with tidying up front gardens.....remember only last week the spies were out and they started clearing rubbish from front gardens and prosecuting owners..this is obviously part of that scheme. I hope the poeple who were happy with that can see what they've started!
It's because they've got this obsession with tidying up front gardens.....remember only last week the spies were out and they started clearing rubbish from front gardens and prosecuting owners..this is obviously part of that scheme. I hope the poeple who were happy with that can see what they've started! mr rusty
  • Score: 0

5:54pm Thu 30 Sep 10

Redfox says...

Well here'sa real issue for the Guardian to get their teeth into and Loakes' as well.

In all the properties that passed in ownership from Warner's Estates via Circle 33 blah,blah,blah each and everyone one of them & private owners too undertook to "keep safe and within the boundaries of their properties, the green evergreen hedges"

Go down plenty of the former Warner's Estates roads in Lloyd Park ward (Geraldine Reardon etc) and nearby Brettenham Road and you will witness, nay, of absolute necessity, have to weave out to towards the kerb because hedges are in places up to TWO FEET over the boundary wall.

Nick Burton head of Green Spaces must be interviewed post haste why hasn't he had something done about those?
Well here'sa real issue for the Guardian to get their teeth into and Loakes' as well. In all the properties that passed in ownership from Warner's Estates via Circle 33 blah,blah,blah each and everyone one of them & private owners too undertook to "keep safe and within the boundaries of their properties, the green evergreen hedges" Go down plenty of the former Warner's Estates roads in Lloyd Park ward (Geraldine Reardon etc) and nearby Brettenham Road and you will witness, nay, of absolute necessity, have to weave out to towards the kerb because hedges are in places up to TWO FEET over the boundary wall. Nick Burton head of Green Spaces must be interviewed post haste why hasn't he had something done about those? Redfox
  • Score: 0

6:36pm Thu 30 Sep 10

Robert19 says...

Looks to me like an over zealous official with discretion not hot wired into his/her brain causing a good policy to be derided. There is nothing wrong with Mr Tingey's hedge from the photo. However there are plenty of other examples in the borough to get excited about especially those with thorns that dig into your head as you walk through them!
Looks to me like an over zealous official with discretion not hot wired into his/her brain causing a good policy to be derided. There is nothing wrong with Mr Tingey's hedge from the photo. However there are plenty of other examples in the borough to get excited about especially those with thorns that dig into your head as you walk through them! Robert19
  • Score: 0

7:02pm Thu 30 Sep 10

Sam Hain says...

Definitely an excess of zeal, Robert19. I had a similar issue with my hedge and conceded that some remedial work needed carrying out (which I did) however I refused to hack back my jasmine, honeysuckle, dog roses etc as I believed they ebnhanced the street scene and weren't impeding any pedestrians' progress, even those with visual impairment. I also pointed out that vegetation trailing down walls, as with Mr Tingey's, effective deters graffiti merchants, in a very environmentally and cost-effective fashion. Idiocy like this undermines the Council's perfectly laudably efforts to enforce removal of rubbish from front gardens.
Definitely an excess of zeal, Robert19. I had a similar issue with my hedge and conceded that some remedial work needed carrying out (which I did) however I refused to hack back my jasmine, honeysuckle, dog roses etc as I believed they ebnhanced the street scene and weren't impeding any pedestrians' progress, even those with visual impairment. I also pointed out that vegetation trailing down walls, as with Mr Tingey's, effective deters graffiti merchants, in a very environmentally and cost-effective fashion. Idiocy like this undermines the Council's perfectly laudably efforts to enforce removal of rubbish from front gardens. Sam Hain
  • Score: 0

8:36pm Thu 30 Sep 10

rubberneck says...

I totally agree with the council on this and his garden is an eyesore. At what point does he suggest he cuts that lot back? If he has a mortgage on his house he has a duty to the Lender to maintain his front and rear garden and comply with the Law.
I totally agree with the council on this and his garden is an eyesore. At what point does he suggest he cuts that lot back? If he has a mortgage on his house he has a duty to the Lender to maintain his front and rear garden and comply with the Law. rubberneck
  • Score: 0

10:19pm Thu 30 Sep 10

everoptimistic says...

Oh rubberneck! This looks like a perfectly lovely garden for wildlife and should be encouraged. Much better than the concrete and cars in my road. I'm suprised that Loakes did not write to this gentleman to ask him to trim his beard as well. Perhaps that will come next week when he needs a bit more self-publicity.
Oh rubberneck! This looks like a perfectly lovely garden for wildlife and should be encouraged. Much better than the concrete and cars in my road. I'm suprised that Loakes did not write to this gentleman to ask him to trim his beard as well. Perhaps that will come next week when he needs a bit more self-publicity. everoptimistic
  • Score: 0

10:34pm Thu 30 Sep 10

Sam Hain says...

Pity the council isn't so tidy-minded when it comes to putting its own house in order!
Pity the council isn't so tidy-minded when it comes to putting its own house in order! Sam Hain
  • Score: 0

12:04am Fri 1 Oct 10

Techno2 says...

rubberneck wrote:
I totally agree with the council on this and his garden is an eyesore. At what point does he suggest he cuts that lot back? If he has a mortgage on his house he has a duty to the Lender to maintain his front and rear garden and comply with the Law.
Provided he is not causing a public nuisance, (which he does not seem to be), he is entitled to tell busy-bodies and idiots to mind their own business -irrespective of any contractual relationships he may have with third parties. As he has quite clearly explained, the vegetation is overhanging his wall onto his own property. And even if it isn't, this silliness by the council is a disproportionate waste of time and public money.
[quote][p][bold]rubberneck[/bold] wrote: I totally agree with the council on this and his garden is an eyesore. At what point does he suggest he cuts that lot back? If he has a mortgage on his house he has a duty to the Lender to maintain his front and rear garden and comply with the Law.[/p][/quote]Provided he is not causing a public nuisance, (which he does not seem to be), he is entitled to tell busy-bodies and idiots to mind their own business -irrespective of any contractual relationships he may have with third parties. As he has quite clearly explained, the vegetation is overhanging his wall onto his own property. And even if it isn't, this silliness by the council is a disproportionate waste of time and public money. Techno2
  • Score: 0

7:06am Fri 1 Oct 10

rubberneck says...

Techno2 wrote:
rubberneck wrote: I totally agree with the council on this and his garden is an eyesore. At what point does he suggest he cuts that lot back? If he has a mortgage on his house he has a duty to the Lender to maintain his front and rear garden and comply with the Law.
Provided he is not causing a public nuisance, (which he does not seem to be), he is entitled to tell busy-bodies and idiots to mind their own business -irrespective of any contractual relationships he may have with third parties. As he has quite clearly explained, the vegetation is overhanging his wall onto his own property. And even if it isn't, this silliness by the council is a disproportionate waste of time and public money.
The council will still argue that it is a danger to those with buggies and poor eyesight and if a tall person walked by he could get poked in the eye, it abuts the highway and it is as simple as that. However I would rather loakes walk around the Borough and do something about the illegal street trading that goes on with people pitching up 'fruit by the bowl' stalls and phone card salesmen. He could also have a word with shopkeepers who clutter up the pavement with stock and signs.
[quote][p][bold]Techno2[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]rubberneck[/bold] wrote: I totally agree with the council on this and his garden is an eyesore. At what point does he suggest he cuts that lot back? If he has a mortgage on his house he has a duty to the Lender to maintain his front and rear garden and comply with the Law.[/p][/quote]Provided he is not causing a public nuisance, (which he does not seem to be), he is entitled to tell busy-bodies and idiots to mind their own business -irrespective of any contractual relationships he may have with third parties. As he has quite clearly explained, the vegetation is overhanging his wall onto his own property. And even if it isn't, this silliness by the council is a disproportionate waste of time and public money.[/p][/quote]The council will still argue that it is a danger to those with buggies and poor eyesight and if a tall person walked by he could get poked in the eye, it abuts the highway and it is as simple as that. However I would rather loakes walk around the Borough and do something about the illegal street trading that goes on with people pitching up 'fruit by the bowl' stalls and phone card salesmen. He could also have a word with shopkeepers who clutter up the pavement with stock and signs. rubberneck
  • Score: 0

8:44am Fri 1 Oct 10

myopinioncounts says...

So why have they ignored the complaint about the house in Coppermill Lane where the overgrown hedge takes up nearly half the pavement?
And when are they going to trim all the street trees who's lower branches are a hazzard to anyone over 5ft 6", and the higher branches interfere with the telephone wires?
So why have they ignored the complaint about the house in Coppermill Lane where the overgrown hedge takes up nearly half the pavement? And when are they going to trim all the street trees who's lower branches are a hazzard to anyone over 5ft 6", and the higher branches interfere with the telephone wires? myopinioncounts
  • Score: 0

9:03am Fri 1 Oct 10

basillio says...

In what way is this lovely garden a threat to passers by? What is the criteria by which this threat is judged?

Compare this garden with the monstrous bulk of the new building of the girls' schools opposite and the forbidding over-large roof extensions of the houses next to Mr Tingey's home.

Such nonsense completely undermines the good work being done by other areas of the council to encourage a lively, green environment within our borough.
In what way is this lovely garden a threat to passers by? What is the criteria by which this threat is judged? Compare this garden with the monstrous bulk of the new building of the girls' schools opposite and the forbidding over-large roof extensions of the houses next to Mr Tingey's home. Such nonsense completely undermines the good work being done by other areas of the council to encourage a lively, green environment within our borough. basillio
  • Score: 0

9:21am Fri 1 Oct 10

Pamella says...

Is he growing triffids that will ensnare passers by? if yes, then chuck in a flamethrower, if not, leave the bloke alone!
Is he growing triffids that will ensnare passers by? if yes, then chuck in a flamethrower, if not, leave the bloke alone! Pamella
  • Score: 0

10:26am Fri 1 Oct 10

Sam Hain says...

Pamella wrote:
Is he growing triffids that will ensnare passers by? if yes, then chuck in a flamethrower, if not, leave the bloke alone!
Hear, hear. I thought the Silly Season was over.
[quote][p][bold]Pamella[/bold] wrote: Is he growing triffids that will ensnare passers by? if yes, then chuck in a flamethrower, if not, leave the bloke alone![/p][/quote]Hear, hear. I thought the Silly Season was over. Sam Hain
  • Score: 0

1:48pm Fri 1 Oct 10

inézc says...

It looks lovely and all the plants that have been described such as the jasmin which are hanging over the wall are all fairly soft foliage so wouldn't hurt anyone anyway. Do you think that someone ought to whisper to the jobsworths at the Council that not very far away is a huge problem garden belonging to the Corporation of London. There's 6000 acres, it sprawls from Manor Park to Epping and it is full of plants trees and shrubs including some dangerous ones such as holly, which sometimes get overgrown....it's called Epping Forest!! In Waltham Forest there are problems with gangs, drugs, litter, anti-social behaviour, knives, shootings - but hey, let's go for the really subversive targets such as Mr Tingey and his hedge. That should keep a few pen pushers happy! Unbelievable!
It looks lovely and all the plants that have been described such as the jasmin which are hanging over the wall are all fairly soft foliage so wouldn't hurt anyone anyway. Do you think that someone ought to whisper to the jobsworths at the Council that not very far away is a huge problem garden belonging to the Corporation of London. There's 6000 acres, it sprawls from Manor Park to Epping and it is full of plants trees and shrubs including some dangerous ones such as holly, which sometimes get overgrown....it's called Epping Forest!! In Waltham Forest there are problems with gangs, drugs, litter, anti-social behaviour, knives, shootings - but hey, let's go for the really subversive targets such as Mr Tingey and his hedge. That should keep a few pen pushers happy! Unbelievable! inézc
  • Score: 0

5:24pm Fri 1 Oct 10

Walthamster says...

Councillor Liaquat Ali has put pillars around his door that protrude onto a narrow pavement. No one else is allowed to build on the pavement. Why doesn't the council take action about that?
Councillor Liaquat Ali has put pillars around his door that protrude onto a narrow pavement. No one else is allowed to build on the pavement. Why doesn't the council take action about that? Walthamster
  • Score: 0

5:37pm Fri 1 Oct 10

Janet1 says...

Mr Tingey's garden is an asset to the area. It encourages the kind of wildlife (birds, insects) that are essential to keep an ecosystem alive. And like it or not, we are part of this ecosystem.

What the council should be doing is stopping people paving over their gardens. This damages the environment in many ways. Most antisocially, by giving rain nowhere to seep away it increases the risk (to neighbours too) of flooding and sewers overflowing.

London's environmental diversity has been depleted by an epidemic of garden-paving over the past 10 years. It's damaging the environment we all have to live in.

The council should give Mr Tingey and other garden-lovers an award.
Mr Tingey's garden is an asset to the area. It encourages the kind of wildlife (birds, insects) that are essential to keep an ecosystem alive. And like it or not, we are part of this ecosystem. What the council should be doing is stopping people paving over their gardens. This damages the environment in many ways. Most antisocially, by giving rain nowhere to seep away it increases the risk (to neighbours too) of flooding and sewers overflowing. London's environmental diversity has been depleted by an epidemic of garden-paving over the past 10 years. It's damaging the environment we all have to live in. The council should give Mr Tingey and other garden-lovers an award. Janet1
  • Score: 0

5:35pm Sat 2 Oct 10

Oliver_Highams_Park says...

It looks like a lovely garden. I wish the council would concentrate on getting cars off of pavements instead, they are the real pavement menace in this borough.
It looks like a lovely garden. I wish the council would concentrate on getting cars off of pavements instead, they are the real pavement menace in this borough. Oliver_Highams_Park
  • Score: 0

3:13pm Wed 6 Oct 10

e17neighbour says...

Hear hear Walthamster!

I've long thought Councillor Liaquat Ali's 'beautification' of his front door encroached on the public footpath since the twin 'Taj Mahal' style columns are actually built on the footpath, outside of the boundary of his property.

If I were Mr Tingey, I'd make it a point to go around all our Councillor's houses and photograph any contravention before being asked to trim any part of his garden. Starting no less with our Senior Cabinet member's front door!

This Council is going from the absurd to the ridiculous.
Hear hear Walthamster! I've long thought Councillor Liaquat Ali's 'beautification' of his front door encroached on the public footpath since the twin 'Taj Mahal' style columns are actually built on the footpath, outside of the boundary of his property. If I were Mr Tingey, I'd make it a point to go around all our Councillor's houses and photograph any contravention before being asked to trim any part of his garden. Starting no less with our Senior Cabinet member's front door! This Council is going from the absurd to the ridiculous. e17neighbour
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree