Elderly resident horrified as workmen cut through garden hedge

Hedge 1

An elderly Wilmslow resident was horrified to discover Council employees had cut through her garden hedge, which had been part of her cottage since 1962.

Having heard drilling outside her home, Khumi Burton went to speak to two workmen who informed her they were replacing the existing lamp post.

She explained "In the afternoon I went to check and found to my horror they had cut through my hedge without telling me. The workmen had already left then. They did not have the courtesy to let me know that they were cutting through the hedge."

She added "I was horrified at the gap and there was nothing in place to prevent anyone from crawling through the hedge and into my garden."

A Cheshire East Council spokesperson said: "As part of our programme to upgrade street lighting across the borough, this streetlamp was installed at precisely the same spot as the redundant streetlight it replaced.

"The council has a right of access to a certain area of space to carry out this essential work. It is possible that the hedge referred to has become overgrown and may extend beyond the curtilage of the property.

"Normally, we would inform the resident of the work to be carried out but that was not possible on this occasion."

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Dave Cash
Saturday 20th March 2021 at 4:09 am
Criminal damage claim for Kumi against CEC
Mark Russell
Saturday 20th March 2021 at 6:22 pm
Shame they weren’t working on her driveway. They are really good at pot holes.
Howard Piltz
Sunday 21st March 2021 at 10:27 am
The photograph doesn’t make it clear but if the hedge has been allowed to encroach on the pavement the resident hadn’t got much to complain about. On the other hand it’s typical CEC -absolutely no thought for the residents.
Anna Meadmore
Wednesday 24th March 2021 at 3:34 pm
And anyone who knows Khumi would NEVER describe her as elderly!
Whatever the circumstances, it should have been good manners on the part of the council to at least make some contact.
Simon Atkins
Wednesday 24th March 2021 at 3:43 pm
Quite right Howard, there's a lot of people that seem to 'acquire' land that borders their house I've noticed.
David Smith
Wednesday 24th March 2021 at 5:07 pm
Sounds like the lady was at home since she heard the workmen doing their stuff so - "Normally, we would inform the resident of the work to be carried out but that was not possible on this occasion" - just sounds like a very feeble excuse to me. Have they not been trained to recognise someone's front door and how to go and knock on it?
"It is possible that the hedge referred to has become overgrown and may extend beyond the curtilage of the property" - might be a possibility but then again it might NOT. Shouldn't someone actually have the facts before they start coming up with an excuse like this based on an assumption?
Looks to me like it all fits into the ‘can’t be bothered’, jobsworth category.
Clive Cooksey
Wednesday 24th March 2021 at 6:47 pm
Great pothole comment! I drive from Wilmslow to Knutsford like a drunk. I weave all over the road as I try to dodge 1st WW shell craters to try and stop my cars suspension and tyres being wrecked. A couple of years ago it cost me £500 for two new tyres. Did he Council pay up? No chance. What gets me, is the fact that they slap some cheap roadfill in some of the craters but leave others around it. N E Cheshire council you are a disgrace.
Roy Simpson
Thursday 25th March 2021 at 5:23 am
that is a pretty thick hedge i dont think it will take long to recover. even so i do agree common courtesy was missing.
Simon Rodrigues
Thursday 25th March 2021 at 3:06 pm
£250000.00 per year CEO cheshire east, doing a fine job of sorting our council its great the tax payer paid £26000.00 to an agency to find her money well spent. Oh and pot holes filled with incorrect media and not sealed like having a temporary filling at the dentist. Get what you pay for or at least thats what you would expect.....
Mark Russell
Thursday 25th March 2021 at 4:57 pm
How can the ceo of a joke of a council “earn” double what the prime minister gets??!! Rotten to the core it’s an utter disgrace.
David Jefferay
Thursday 25th March 2021 at 5:22 pm
Can I ask the source of the £250k salary figure?
Mark Goldsmith
Friday 26th March 2021 at 8:44 am
It is almost certain that this lamp post is on council land as Cheshire East would not replace one on private land and therefore in private ownership.

While a knock on the door would have been courteous, I am not sure what difference it would have made. The hedge can hardly be moved and the owner has let their hedge overgrow their property. The law is very clear on this issue. No notice, nor any permission is needed to trim the hedge and strictly speaking, the law also requires the hedge trimmings to be returned to the land owner afterwards too. However, at least common sense has prevailed on this part of the situation.

Therefore Khumi Burton should consider how to cut the rest of her hedge back to her boundary. Overgrown hedges are a common complaint I receive, as even neatly trimmed ones expand over time if they are never cut back to their original position. However, it is now bird nesting season, so wait till the autumn before doing any major pruning.

Given we are in the worst global crisis for 75 years, I am not sure why people think this case defines the performance of Cheshire East or its Chief Executive. For the record, she earns £151,000 per year, which is £15,000 less than her predecessor. The salary was cut by the new administration but reflects the seniority of a position responsible for 3,000 staff. In comparison, the Prime Minister officially earns £158,754 but this is artificially low for political reasons as they get an additional £1 million a year in other benefits too.

The cost to fill the Cheshire East Chief Executive role was £20,697. This recruitment occurred very soon after the new administration took over, so we went with the established process. However, the reason this amount is now public knowledge is because my fellow Independent Group member, Cllr David Marren openly questioned it. We are therefore now seeing how ongoing recruitment costs can be reduced, not just for senior positions but for all other Cheshire East staff too.


Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Wilmslow West & Chorley
Jon Williams
Friday 26th March 2021 at 9:09 am
Chief Executive of C/E almost £3000 a week ! - not a bad job is it
Vince Chadwick
Friday 26th March 2021 at 9:41 am
Just to clarify a point, trimmings from a neighbor's hedge or tree overlapping your property may be lawfully cut back to the boundary, but the law does not say they have to be returned to the owner - however they must be 'offered' back to the owner, who does not have to accept them.

I point this out because it has been known for some unneighbourly neighbours to trim back a tree or hedge and then (believing they must be returned) throw the trimmings, unannounced, into the owner's garden! That is not only rude, but illegal.
Mark Russell
Friday 26th March 2021 at 12:32 pm
Mark, thank you for your update.

Please can you explain how a manager of 3000 people (being paid through our council taxes) can get paid only a few grand less than the prime minister who runs everything and has millions of staff under him. As regards the £1,000,000 I’m sure your counting security, cost of number 10 etc. Those costs are there regardless of who the pm is and they do not benefit in payment.

I would also be interested if the pension benefit is included in the wage you quote above for the ceo.

This council has been shocking well before the covid crisis, I’m sure I don’t need to list the £10,000,000’s wasted. Added to that our tax bills go up , all the time service is going down. I guarantee if we could vote with our feet like any normal business, you would all be laughed out of town but we are stuck with you. So please explain why a ceo of a failing business is worth very close to what we pay the highest minister in the land. How many people are paid over £3000 a week in public service at our council? It’s absolutely disgusting with all the issues we have in our society for people to be “paid” over 100k a year. How many people in Cheshire east now make use of food banks? And still the ceo is paid 4k a week!!!! I don’t know what is worse, it happens or the fact you are defending it!!

How much has their wages been cut this year? As over 9 million people have taken a 20% wage cut, are you seriously saying one person is worth over 4K a week, to “run” this shambles.

We all await your justifications.
Toni Fox
Friday 26th March 2021 at 10:46 pm
Dear Mr Russell,

It is concerning that despite the information that has been provided in response to your previous posts that you are still of the opinion that a Local Authority is a business.

The internet is wonderful resource of information. According to the Local Government Association the Median Chief Executive Salaries in 2019 in England and Wales is £132,177 with a maximum salary of £214,200.

The current salary of the Chief Executive of Cheshire East Council falls well within this.

Local authorities oversee the largest budgets in local government and are responsible for providing large, complex services, (over 500 services are provided by Cheshire East Council), many of which are to the most vulnerable in our society, such as adult and children’s social care.

As I outlined in previous posts but is well worth repeating:

How £1 of Council Tax money is spent.

68p Social care services
13p Waste management and street cleansing
8p Education support like home to school transport
5p Highways and public transport
3p Museums, parks, libraries
2p Homelessness and planning
1p Licensing, elections, trading standards

The simple fact is that the Government has reduced its grants to Local Authorities. As income reduces and statutory obligations transferred from Government increase, services decline. The only way the Council can keep its head above the water is to increase Council Tax. This way of course Local Authorities are blamed by residents rather than blaming the Government which might perhaps change voting patterns at General elections.

Cost savings by cutting services (which would include cutting staff) are unpopular, as recently demonstrated in the responses to the public consultation on the Medium Term Financial Strategy and proposed cuts. Council assets and buildings are all under review.

A Local Authority is not a Commercial, for profit company, and their mandi operatus is not comparable.

In simplistic terms, and taking the year 2019/2020 as an example, there was a shortfall in the average Council Tax income vs the average cost per home of providing services to residents of £757. Multiply this by 175,059 houses in Cheshire East and this amounts to a shortfall of £132.5M for that year.

The shortfall fluctuates – in 2014/2015 is was £904 per house, in 2018/2019 it was £672, the lowest to date - but there is consistency in that there is always a shortfall and this is predicted to continue going forward.

50% of the shortfall is funded from direct charges to residents such as income from parking charges and the balance comes from business rates (c.30%), government grant (c.15%) and reserves.

Any further reduction in Government grants is therefore of critical importance to the services that Cheshire East Council is able to provide financially.

Finally, many councillors initially become involved in local politics for the very reasons highlighted in your posts which is largely dissatisfaction with the actions, or process, of local Government, myself included. If, as you have said many times, that you want to see changes, perhaps you would consider standing yourself and contributing directly to the decision making process which will also offer the opportunity to have a greater understanding of the parameters within which these are made?
Mark Russell
Saturday 27th March 2021 at 8:12 am
Toni, thank you for copying and pasting your standard answer.

What I get from that is these 2 justifications.

1.it’s ok to pay 3k a week, because someone else says it’s acceptable.

2. Don’t like it, do it yourself.

Not one word of why it is justified to pay someone a few k a year less than a prime minister who had 1000’s more responsibility’s. And the usual argument of you do it if you can do better. Unfortunately I have a job as my bills are too high, trust me, I would love to join the gravy train. However circumstances prevent me, BUT that does not take away my right to ask questions.

I doubt not one person would complain if the council cut their wage bill by 20% (apart from the employees effected). I just wish you were all on performance related pay, I bet things would improve then.

No matter where I go in the Cheshire east area, I always every day see council employees sat in vans doing nothing (apart from reading papers and eating food) meanwhile lights remain on the blue bell junction causing chaos, and no work even pretending to be done. Don’t you ever wonder what’s going on as you travel around? Because if not, why not? Surly that’s YOUR job to challenge waste and inconvenience for your electorate?

I wonder if your argument will work on the 100’s using food banks in our area, or the 100’s of motorists who have damaged wheels, or the 10,000’s who have had their council tax put up again, for a lot less service.

Yet another answer with “ well that committee says it’s ok, so it’s ok by me”. Does nobody in Cheshire east see the waste?

And if you are not run like a business, how is it councils can go bust?
Jon Williams
Saturday 27th March 2021 at 12:43 pm
Toni Fox
"A Local Authority is not a Commercial, for profit company"

Ansa Environmental Services Ltd is a company wholly owned and controlled by Cheshire East Council.

I don't think they run it not to make a profit !
Alan Brough
Saturday 27th March 2021 at 7:19 pm
Mark Russell touched on a very good point. On Brook Lane Alderley Edge we have put up with the inconvenience of traffic lights for three months - not a stroke of work has been done... why?
Paul Dawson
Sunday 28th March 2021 at 9:10 pm
@Mark Russell. I am not here as a supporter of Cheshire East. In fact as a car driver, cyclist, runner, walker and council tax payer, I share many of your frustrations. Driving to Alderley Park for my vaccine on Friday, I successfully managed the slalom course that is Congleton Road, so I would love nothing more than to see wider investment into our roads and footpaths.

Neither do I personally know any of the Councillors that engage through these pages. The fact that they engage via local websites is, I believe, something we should be thankful for. Any Councillor that responds on these pages is not providing any formal response to the questions raised. And neither should they be expected to.

Perhaps I have become a lockdown bore, but I now know more about the workings of my local Parish Council and Cheshire East meetings (or maybe it’s just the Jackie Weaver effect). I’ve never attended any of the meetings, but there appears to be the facility for members of the public to pose questions at these meetings. Maybe you might feel your questions are better answered (not just copy/paste) by directing some of these questions through more formal channels.

Personally, I could never be a local Councillor. As mentioned in an earlier post, many get involved because of their personal dissatisfaction at the action (or inaction) of local government. I’m not sure the role profile includes “...must have a thick skin...”, but perhaps it should.

To the local Councillors that might read this page: thank you for your efforts. I believe you know the things that you’d like to see improved as local residents yourselves. And you are as frustrated as we are at what can and cannot be achieved. I will be supporting those local Councillors that are not affiliated to any political party in any future local elections.
Jonathan Follows
Monday 29th March 2021 at 10:50 am
I have always thought that the job of Chief Executive of a council is a vastly overpaid job for someone who's essentially the hired help - the responsibility which is implied by the job title actually resides with the elected representatives. But this job role has spread like cancer across our local government, but this doesn't justify the job or the vast salary it attracts. Just saying that it's commensurate with what other's do isn't a justification that I believe.

On the other hand I do value and respect what our elected representatives do, in the main, and I know that I wouldn't personally be prepared to do what they do. Actually, I wouldn't be prepared to be Prime Minister either, or an MP, based on what they get paid - I think people who do these jobs have other motivations which pass me by.
Gemma Evans
Monday 5th April 2021 at 11:45 am
If this refers to the cottage I think it does then her hedge is overlapping the pavement, the property boundary is behind the lamp post which is on the pavement. Her neighbour's hedge is also overgrown and has a telegraph pole in it, which should be in front of it. Her other neighbour's driveway highlights where the boundary line is by the change in surface from their driveway to the pavement. To be honest she's lucky they cut back the hedge and didn't send her a letter telling her to get the work done herself.

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