A FAMILY who battled their neighbours for more than 35 years over a high hedge have finally been defeated.
Audrey Alexander’s personal dispute with her neighbour over the giant hedge started 23 years ago, making it possibly the longest row of its kind in Scotland.
But the battle kicked off 35 years ago when Audrey’s aunt, the previous owner, planted a vegetable garden which withered and died in the shade of the neighbour’s massive hedge.
Audrey, 54, used the recent High Hedge Act to try to get the leylandii at the bottom of her garden in Balfron, Stirlingshire, chopped back to a mere 6ft (2m).
But the local council has ruled that her rival, Jeanette Robson, is allowed to keep the hedge, currently about 40ft high, at a whopping 20ft (6m).
A bitterly-disappointed Audrey said the ruling made “no difference” and claimed £20,000 had been knocked off the value of her home.
The council’s ruling is final. Audrey’s only remaining option is to raise legal proceedings in the courts which she cannot afford to do.
Audrey’s aunt fell out with the neighbours in about 1980 when shade from the leylandii made it impossible to grow vegetables.
Single mother Audrey bought the home from her aunt in 1991, asking her neighbour, Jeanette Robinson, to trim the hedge and allow more light to reach her property.
She claims Jeanette refused, saying: “I would rather move than touch these trees.”
Over the years Audrey has used the mediation services of Sterling District Council to try to solve the quarrel, but no solution has ever been found.
The situation came to a head in 2008, when she claims a 65ft (19.8m) section of hedge fell, demolishing a neighbour’s garden shed.
She claims other neighbours have had to move their children from their bedrooms at night for fear of the falling branches.
When the High Hedge Act came into effect in April 2014 Ms Alexander had hoped it would bring an end to her dispute.
The Act allows Scottish local authorities to step in and take action in cases where a hedge blocks light to a neighbouring property.
Initially Stirling Council found in her favour but after an appeal from the neighbour it was decided that it should be cut to about 20ft, a height which Audrey claims will still block most of her sunlight.
She branded the decision “disgraceful” and said she felt “let down” by the government and council.
“The law was brought in to protect people, but it’s not doing that,” she said. “The whole situation is appalling – the legislation is about giving people the right to sunlight, but it’s not happening in this case.
“It’s a disgrace and I feel extremely let down.”
The neighbour declined to comment.
Dr Colin Watson of Scothedge, an organisation which seeks to demand the end of “high hedge tyranny”, said that in this case, “the general response from the council has been pretty crazy and they are not acting in the spirit of the act.”
A spokesman for the council said the decision was made “after carrying out a site inspection and considering all the evidence submitted by parties involved in this case”.