Cost of making a complaint about a hedge causes confusion at Council

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CONFUSION reigned during a discussion about the High Hedges Act at last Tuesday’s Leisure and Environment committee meeting at Coleraine Borough Council.

The Act became operational from March 31 and provides a legal basis for taking action over the problem of high hedges.

It will help people who are affected by high hedges bordering their homes.

The legislation introduces a formal complaint system that will be operated by local Councils.

At last week’s meeting, the cost of making a complaint was debated with members disagreeing on the price they had agreed at a previous session.

DUP councillor George Duddy told the meeting that the minutes following the initial discussion about the Act had recorded the cost as £350.

However, he said that at the monthly meeting, when the minutes are ratified, he had pointed out the error and the cost had been amended to £250.

He then made a proposal that the cost should be £250.

UUP councillor Richard Holmes had a different memory of the meeting.

He said that had made the proposal for the cost to be £350 at the first meeting. He went on to make an amendment to councillor Duddy’s proposal.

Director of Environmental Services, Kieran Doherty told members that they had to decide on the cost.

He explained that the complainant would pay the fee and when they had shown Council that they had taken all reasonable steps to have the situation rectified, the case would be taken on by Council.

The cost would then be passed onto the hedge owner.

On being put to a vote councillor Holmes’ amendment was carried - making the cost of making a complaint £350.