wrote back to Mr. Grayer about the removed boundary, and
again, I quote exactly,
'I would like to point out that whoever brought this
to your attention has their facts completely wrong. I have
not 'taken down a section of the hedge' at all. That section
of hedge was not in place when I first moved into the property,
which at the time was rented from Herefordshire Council,
10 years ago in 1997.
personally have photographic evidence of this section of
hedge being missing and that part of the garden being used
to park a vehicle dating back at least ten years. Even then,
back in 1997, the gap in the hedge had been there at the
very least for five years and that part of the garden had
been used for parking a car.
Herefordshire Housing took over from Herefordshire Council,
the gap in the hedge and parking area had already been there
for well over a decade. This was not objected to at the
time, despite various Herefordshire Housing checks of the
properties, which had been acquired under the new scheme.
believe, and will check on this, that planning permission
for something which has been in existence longer than seven
years is not necessary. Parking on this section of the garden
has been taking place for 15 years or more by myself and
by Tina Jones' ex-husband, Mr Brendan Jones before me. Brendan
Jones was the previous occupier of the property before I.
am not being awkward here and will willingly try to comply
by concreting the area at some stage in the future, should
this become necessary. I am however currently short of the
money to do so. I hope that you are able to understand this
Crosses Road is crowded every day with parked cars and is
also used as a 'rat-run' by drivers (driving far too fast)
heading to and from Brampton and Greytree. It is a busy
road and a bus route. The main Ross-on-Wye school is located
in the road and children (dangerously) play football and
other games in the road. It is also a road which is particularly
prone to vandalism and theft. I had my current car window
smashed and various contents stolen earlier this year and
other cars parked on the road have been and are being continuously
parking my one car off road in the place that I had always
thought was intended for that purpose is doing no harm whatsoever
to anybody, and is of benefit to the local community, rather
than a problem.'
Grayer, telephoned me and arranged to come to visit - I
assumed to come to an amicable arrangement about sorting
the situation. When he arrived, I invited him in. Far from
being pleasant, he was a real 'jobsworth' type of man with
an ID badge to prove it. He displayed not even an ounce
of friendliness and he immediately produced his rules and
regulations document, stating that I needed,
'An access or dropped pavement approved by us; a hard-standing
approved by us; the approval of the Highways Agency and,
where required, planning permission from the Council.'
was not willing to give even an inch whilst I sorted the
is just typical bureaucracy' I suggested, 'I have said that,
although I did not take down the fence and the garden has
been used as a drive for the past 16 years, I am quite willing
to sort out the hard standing when I can afford to do so'.
No it is not bureaucracy,' he demanded, 'It clearly states
here in black and white . . .'. He continued to insist that
I was not allowed to park there any more.' (What does the
word 'bureaucracy' mean then? I wondered'.)
I do the work myself?' I asked.
'No. The work has to be done by an approved Council builder.'
is the problem with doing it myself?' I asked.
'You need a drop kerb.'
do I need a drop kerb? Hardly any of the other drives in
the road have a dropped kerb!'
'Those houses are not owned by us, so we cannot do anything
about them. You need a drop kerb because driving over the
kerb will damage it!'
'Can you see even the slightest amount of damage to that
kerb after 16 years of having been driven over?' I asked.
No response was given to this one. There was, of course,
no damage whatsoever and he did not know how to deal with
feeling more than a little angry, I decided that I could
not be bothered with the stress of arguing for months with
Mr. Grayer and told him I would reinstate the fence, which
I had not removed in the first place, and was indeed
missing when Herefordshire Housing bought the house.
bought thousands of houses in Herefordshire at that time
and could not inspect every single one.' Mr Grayer insisted.
(Would you buy a house without looking at it first?)
just could not be bothered to argue. Mr. Grayer's jobsworthiness
obviously showed no bounds and I decided it was just not
worth it. I put building a fence on my list of things to
day or so later, I had been out working and on returning
home, out of nothing other than habit, formed over the past
10 years of doing so many times per day, Mr. Grayer's idiotic
insistence had slipped my mind and I parked on my garden.
I did this only once!
days later, I got a letter from Mr. Grayer stating that
he had seen that I had ignored his warning and that I had
28 days to fit the fence or he would take legal action.
He must have such a sad life that he had nothing better
to do than watch me!
am pretty damned sure I would have won any legal action
taken but my life is stressful enough already and I just
could not be bothered with it, so I just purchased the parts
(£100 in total) and built the fence. (Or rather, dug
a couple of holes, bought the goods and got my friend, Dave,
from the White Lion to build it for me.)
was within two weeks of the fence being built that the cars
were written off as both were deemed 'beyond economical
might be a rest for most but for me, it is several days,
packed with news coverage work, every job of which I had
to struggle to until I managed to get a hire car on Friday,
28th December. I cannot carry the two bags of heavy camera
equipment plus tripods very far or I would have just walked.
you Mr. Grayer. I hope you are proud of the accident, caused
half by an imbecile who was driving dangerously in a built-up
area, and half by yourself and your pathetic, jobsworthy,
'I've got a powerful job and an ID badge to prove it,' type
of behaviour. I will certainly never get the true value
of my only means of transport back from the insurance and
buying a new car, a necessity for my business is going to
cost me several thousands of pounds which I will have to
borrow. The incident has effectively taken care of virtually
all I have earned over the past year from my business of
promoting the town of Ross-on-Wye.
guess somebody, somewhere must love you but I (and everybody
who has seen the resulting fence) think you're an idiot!
I do hate to say, 'I told you so' but there are just some
occasions when that is the only thing left to say.