Elderly Clitheroe couple 'distraught' after council bosses order them to remove their colourful display of flower beds from outside their home
A green-fingered Clitheroe couple whose stunning garden was admired by walkers were forced to remove beautiful blooms from the side of their home over health and safety fears.
Derek and Heather Allison were shocked when they received a letter from officials at Lancashire County Council telling them to remove the carefully tended shrubs and flowers from the pavement in Riverside, Low Moor, because they had "narrowed the pavement" for pram and wheelchair users.
The spectacle of flowers, which were renowned to brighten up any rainy day, reflected Derek and Heather's extensive knowledge of plants. The couple had over the years worked hard and spent thousands of pounds nurturing their much-loved garden since moving there in the late eighties. In fact, the colourful display was admired by joggers and walkers on a daily basis.
Speaking about the couple's dismay, their son, Craig, said: "My mum contacted the council's highways department numerous times without being able to speak to the correct person, hence the stress built up as the Lancashire County Council deadlines and threats of fines drew closer, forcing my dad to dispose of the 'garden' to stop his own stress becoming too much. Now, they are absolutely distraught. Their three decades of hard work and thousands of pounds worth of plants all removed because of apparently one complaint!"
Craig added: "I think during times of such heightened misery that the priorities of county council highways leave a great deal to be desired. I find it absolutely unbelievable that they sought to upset my parents instead of dealing with clear and obvious higher priorities. My dad has had heart failure twice and this was causing him lack of sleep and great stress. I would have gladly moved a few of the pots if access genuinely was an issue, however, my disabled mum can use her walker and disability scooter on the path without an issue. No one actually uses the path though as it doesn't lead anywhere. Everyone walks up the road anyway."
He went onto say: "When I was child, I used to water the garden for pocket money and literally thousands of people commented on how nice it was when they walked by. In fact, the garden featured in the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times 25 years ago due to its popularity."
Responding, Geoff Butterworth, highway operations manager for Lancashire County Council, said it is the council's responsibility to make sure all pavements and paths are clear and safe to walk on. He added: "Unfortunately this garden had narrowed the pavement and made it more difficult for people to use, especially with prams and wheelchairs.
"We received a complaint about this issue and looked carefully into it. While we recognise that these residents had clearly put time and effort into making it look nice, we have to make sure that the pavements are kept clear for people to use safely."