A LEADING councillor has been forced to reduce the height of his front garden wall after breaking planning rules.

Cllr Liaquat Ali MBE, cabinet member for communities, provoked anger from neighbours when he erected a row of bright blue lights mounted on brick pillars outside his home and two adjacent properties last month.

Cllr Ali, of Northcote Road in Walthamstow, told the Guardian at the time he had not got planning permission but said no-one had raised any objections with him.

But he has now reduced the size of the structures after council staff ordered him to take action.

Government planning guidelines say permission must be sought for walls over one metre, and it is estimated the pillars were one-and-a-half metres tall.

Lighting is not subject to planning controls but the guidelines advise that beams must not be pointed at the windows of other houses.

A council spokesman said no action would be taken about the lights because "they are not covered by planning legislation as they do not constitute a ‘development’."

Neighbours told the Guardian last month that the "dazzling" lights shined directly into their homes and were keeping them up at night.

But Cllr Ali said they were initially switched on for testing and would only be turned on occasionally for "special occasions" in future.

It is the second time Cllr Ali has been rapped by his own authority. In 2008, while serving as mayor, he was prosecuted for taking his daughter out of school without permission so that they could go on a pilgrimage.

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