'Guerilla gardener' told to pay up for planting on muddy verge

A public-spirited family doctor who planted up a muddy verge in Cambridgeshire has been told she broke the law and must pay a fee to the local authority.

Dr Susannah Beattie was ordered to apply for a licence to cultivate the land and to pay an £84 fee after she planted nine shrubs to deter drivers from churning up a verge as they parked their cars near her home in Queen Edith’s, Cambridgeshire.

The county council insisted she breached the 1980 Highways Act, which allows councils to control planting on public land. Dr Beattie had to submit a plating plan, which would have to be agreed, and stump up the fee.

Dr Beattie, who paid the fee, said the hoo-hah acted as a "disincentive" to people who wanted to take ownership of their neighbourhood and improve appearances.

Her local councillor Geoff Heathcock said the behaviour of the council was "over the top, unnecessary and petty" against the damage caused by cars parking on verges, which was not as strictly policed.

But a council spokesman said it was standard practice to demand a licence to cultivate on highways land. The fee covered costs of inspecting the site and agreeing a suitable planting scheme.


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