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Trim your bushes! Hazardous overgrown gardens putting pedestrians at risk

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PEDESTRIANS are raising awareness about the hazards caused by overgrown gardens that neighbour public footpaths.

Overgrown and overhanging brambles, nettles, hedges and tree branches, are forcing pedestrians to move out of the way, sometimes into the road, putting their safety at risk.

Melksham Without Parish Council has said that this is causing problems for those who are less mobile, with pushchairs, on mobility scooters or holding the hands of young children on the route to school.

And the issue is proving especially troublesome to those living with a visual impairment.

“We have had so much rain and sun this summer, our gardens have grown crazily,” said Caroline Fielding, who is registered blind and relies on her guide dog, Mike. “This is a problem that is only a minor inconvenience for the majority of people, but unfortunately, it is very dangerous for those of us who can’t see, parents with buggies and people using wheelchairs.

“When the vegetation is only waist level or lower, Mike will take me to the kerb to alert me to an obstruction and lead me into the road and around it. I often feel as though I am taking my life in my hands when this happens, especially on busy roads.

“When the overgrown gardens are above waist high, Mike carries straight forward guiding me through. At best, I get a face full of leaves. At worst, I get scratched and tangled in brambles or hit on the head by a branch.”

Residents with gardens, landowners, and management companies are being encouraged by Caroline and Melksham Without Parish Council to check to see if their gardens are causing any problems and take responsibility for any necessary maintenance.

“I’d like to make a friendly request,” says Caroline, “please check around the boundary of your property and cut back any overhanging or overgrown bits. And ask your neighbours to do the same. 

“Also, report any overgrown areas that are Wiltshire Council’s responsibility to them on their app or phone them. Doing these three simple things will make my life so much easier, as well as for others.”

A spokesperson for Melksham Without Parish Council adds, “The first port of call for those who raise this as an issue is to complain to ‘the council’ but it is actually the responsibility of the landowner, and in many cases this could be a social housing provider, or for a management company to address on a new housing development, and in most cases the adjacent house.   “It would be a great help if everybody took responsibility for the maintenance of the vegetation on their boundary, so checking that their front or rear garden hedge etc is not overhanging on to the pavement, and then Wiltshire Council can deal with those that are their responsibility as the local highways authority.  

“If you spot an issue and you aren’t aware who the landowner is, then Melksham Without Parish Council can investigate and contact them, but we do need as much information as possible to help identify who that is; and a photograph speaks a thousand words.”

Pictured: Caroline with her guide dog Mike and overhanging tree/ hedges on pavement

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