There were a lot of problems during the summer with hedges obstructing public paths. In some cases, the obstructions were caused by Council owned trees and bushes. The jury is still out on whether new processes and budget allocations announced earlier this week will result in an improvement during 2020.
Hedges on the boundary of private gardens and the public highway (including foot and cycle paths) are the responsibility of the hedge owner. Home occupiers must ensure that the highway is kept clear of obstructions at all times
Obstructions can be a significant problem for some users. The partially sighted are at a particular risk and cyclists being “swiped” by stray branches can lead to more serious accidents.
In some cases thorn buses like brambles and roses overhang paths representing an added hazard.
Sadly, like the problems with damage to verges, in recent years the Council has been tardy in ensuring that hedges are cut back from paths. They do have enforcement powers which have been used in the past to force action. In extreme cases hedges have been cut back to the path line after notice periods have expired. The owners were charged for the work.
No such notices have been issued recently.
Of course, some occupiers may not be physically able to cut badly overgrown hedges. It has been suggested that this is a service area that a “not for profit” start-up could usefully exploit. There are already several local gardening companies which offer trimming services.
With leaves now off trees and hedges, winter is the optimum time to deal with long standing problems. This needs to be done before the start of the bird nesting season.
The Council also has powers to require its tenants to cut garden hedges as do social landlords.
We have advocated for some time the appointment of a paths supervisor who could trim back Council owned hedges and initiate action against irresponsible neighbours who cause obstructions. We hope that the Council will fund such a post in its new budget.
We hope to see some well publicised action from West Offices over the next few weeks.