Council to settle hedge disputes

Anti Social Behaviour Bill empowers local authorities

An amendment to the Government’s Anti-Social Behaviour Bill will give local councils the power to end disputes over high hedges if quarrelling neighbours are unable to resolve them themselves. The report stage of the Bill has been made ready for today (23 October) in readiness to go before the Commons, and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister hopes that the bill will be passed in November, to come into effect in late 2004. Since Labour MP Steven Pound’s Private Member’s Bill was blocked in the Commons (HW, 28 August), the Government has been seeking ways to get legislation on the statute books. It was felt that the most effective way to get it passed by the Commons was to insert it into an existing bill. ODPM regeneration minister Yvette Cooper said: “High hedges can block out the light from neighbours’ homes and gardens and make their lives a real misery. This is anti-social behaviour, just as much as graffiti and noisy neighbours, and it isn’t fair on those who have to suffer as a result.” Under the new legislation, local authorities, which until now have been powerless to intervene, will be able to issue formal notices instructing the reduction of a hedge’s height and its long-term maintenance. Home Office minister Baroness Scotland said: “Unreasonably high hedges can cause misery and lead to confrontations between neighbours. This provision will help end these problems. The Government is determined to tackle anti-social behaviour wherever it happens.”

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