Please don't blame us for overgrown verges, says Constable

Sun 20 Aug 2023

Vale Junior Constable Bill Cohu has asked parishioners not to blame the douzaine for the number of overgrown roadsides and verges that are affecting the parish – because they don't have the powers to enforce a proper tidy-up.

While the relevant law says that hedges and trees bordering a public road must be cut back between the 1st and 15th of June and between the 15th and 30th of September each year, it's less clear about verges, growth at the bottom of walls and overgrown gutters.

"It's become more noticeable this year because the wet August has encouraged so much weed growth," said Mr Cohu, "and we're seeing an increase in the number of complaints because some of the smaller roads and lanes are definitely being affected."

However, without express legal powers to deal with the problem, there were limits to what the Constables and Douzaine could do.

"Where our regular inspections show there's a problem with a hedge not being cut back properly, restricting a road or access to a pavement, we can take action," he said. This can include the imposition of daily financial penalties while the problem persists.

"Most property owners are very good about it and understand that the twice-yearly cut is part of being a good neighbour. Over the last couple of years however – and it's worse this summer because it's been so wet – we've noticed a growing problem with verges and the 'no-man's-land' between someone's property and the road or pavement."

Mr Cohu wasn't being critical of the authorities but he wondered if this was partly due to what many perceived to be less street cleaning by States Works. "The mechanical street sweepers work very well, but they can't cope with existing growth and weeds in the gutters," he said.

Mr Cohu said the Constables would be discussing this further to see what might be done. "I think everyone would agree it's best to tackle this early before it becomes a widespread issue – plus the risk of flooding due to choked gutters etc is clearly high."

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