Sidmouth man claims hedge cut charge unfair

PUBLISHED: 11:01 02 March 2012

Andy Thomson standing outside his property in Sidmouth. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 9277-08-12TI To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24

Andy Thomson standing outside his property in Sidmouth. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 9277-08-12TI To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24

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Man registered blind is upset over EDDC hedge maintenance charge

A REGISTERED blind man from Sidmouth is upset over a charge imposed by East Devon District Council to cut his hedge.

Andy Thompson, of Salters Meadow, cannot pay the £50 annual charge for hedge or grass cutting, and describes the charge as “simply not fair”.

He said: “I have informed the council that I am on income support, based on the minimum allowed to live on.

“They have said they will extend the payment of this to the end of May, but if you can’t afford this as you are on income support, it doesn’t matter how long they extend it.

“I’m not refusing to pay this, I simply can’t. This service used to be free to people across East Devon.

“Why are the first people they cut services to the disabled and elderly? This is simply not fair.”

He thought the council could look at other ways to cut expenses.

“My next door neighbours are both very old themselves and disabled, which is why we are in warden accommodation.

“I feel if the council would look at its own expense accounts it would be easy to make cutbacks.

“The charge is £50 a year. If they cut the hedge twice, do people think it’s fair that if you are disabled you should get charged this way?”

He said a colleague living in Exeter, who is also registered as blind, has a large garden but Exeter City Council makes no charge to cut their grass.

An EDDC spokesman said: “The individual garden maintenance scheme has been running for a while and is about to enter its second year of operation.

“The service, which is not obligatory, is subsidised by EDDC and the small charge is designed to enable us to recover some of our costs.

“When the scheme was introduced last year, we wrote to eligible tenants explaining the small charge and the service they could expect to receive. We believe this offers exceptional value for money.”

If tenants decide not to participate, the council can provide them with details of alternative contractors.

A condition of tenancies is that grounds of council properties are kept neat and tidy by the tenant.

The spokesman said letters had gone out inviting tenants to take part in the scheme, explaining what the service offered and that they were under no obligation to take part.

See www.eastdevon.gov.uk/garden_maintenance for more details.

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