Residents have been left baffled after being told to take down pretty flower planters outside their homes, as the council said they are obstructing the public highway.
The locals of Wesley Street in Weymouth, Dorset, were left fuming after they received ‘threatening’ letters from Dorset Council Highways saying the flowers ‘constituted a nuisance’.
The picturesque street, which is prohibited to cars, has become well-recognised for its attractive floral planters and bunting set up by the residents, who do not have back gardens.
But the gobsmacked residents were told by heavy-handed officials that they are breaking the law and enforcement action will be taken unless they get a planting out licence, which costs around £300.
Residents (pictured: Jude Butler and Debz Medlicott) of Wesley Street in Weymouth, Dorset, were left fuming after they received letters saying their flowers had to be removed
The council has since confirmed it is suggesting issuing a licence free of charge, but the people of Wesley Street still said the letter was a complete shock.
Dorset Council Highways sent letters to everyone who lives on the gated street informing them that a number of complaints had been made about their planters.
The letter said the flowers ‘constituted a nuisance’ and that they must be moved to stay within the ‘footway boundary’, or everything on the highway would be removed.
It read: ‘Dorset Council have received a number of complaints from members of the public regarding planters being placed on the public highway and causing obstruction within the gated area of Wesley Street, Weymouth.’
The letter continued: ‘The TRO does not give permission to place objects onto the public highway.
‘The act of “Obstruction on the Highway” is an offence in law under the Highways Act 1980 section 137 and section 149 “if anything is so deposited on a highway as to constitute a nuisance”.’
It added: ‘Failure to comply with this request will leave no option but to follow the enforcement process which will mean complete removal of any obstructions on Wesley Street.’
One resident, Jude Butler, said she was ‘gobsmacked’ when she received the letter after they have put so much effort in to make their street into a ‘sanctuary’.
The picturesque street (pictured), which is prohibited to cars, has become recognised for its attractive floral planters and bunting set up by the residents, who do not have back gardens
Dorset Council Highways sent letters (pictured) to everyone who lives on the gated street informing them that a number of complaints had been made about the planters
She fumed: ‘After all our efforts to make the street look nice, I was absolutely gobsmacked.
‘We have created a sanctuary, a little piece of paradise – we don’t have back gardens so it is somewhere we can sit outdoors, speak to our neighbours and enjoy growing things. To say I’m angry is an understatement.
‘After the last 18 months, having a nice place to sit has really brought the street together. It’s very sad that someone feels the need to ruin things.’
The floral displays have been a labour of love for residents for years but came into their own during lockdown, when neighbours held a socially-distanced VE Day celebration on their doorsteps last year.
Residents claimed their displays still leave enough room for emergency vehicles to pass and said cars regularly drive down the street at fast speeds, despite access being prohibited, but their complaints to the council have been ignored.
Debz Medlicott, who has lived on the street for six years, said she felt like she was being ‘punished’ for taking pride in where she lives and treating it with ‘respect’.
She continued: ‘It feels as though we are being punished for taking pride in where we live.
‘People treat our street with respect – everyone comments on how lovely we’ve made it. Elderly people from (nearby residential home) Swannery Court come here because the flowers cheer them up.’
Debz claimed that nothing had been done to replace broken locks on the street’s barriers and claimed it is a ‘safety risk’ for cars to travel down their narrow road.
She explained: ‘Nothing is ever done to replace broken locks on the barriers at either end of the street.
‘Children play outside – if cars come down here it is a safety risk. But as soon as someone complains about flowers, we receive threatening letters.
‘I’ve only lived here six years and people have been putting out planters for longer than that. It looks beautiful but clearly somebody has now taken exception.
Heavy-handed officials said the residents are breaking the law with the planters and enforcement action will be taken unless they get a licence, which costs around £300
‘The next street over is narrower than ours, even at our narrowest our street is 20cm wider and no-one has said anything about how emergency services would get down there.
‘We take pride in our little street and it feels like we are being targeted. We look after them, they are not unsightly.
‘The cars that use our street are all breaking the law and yet we are the ones being targeted for plants and wanting the street to look nice.’
Councillor Jon Orrell, Dorset Council’s Melcombe Regis ward councillor, said: ‘The residents of Wesley Street have made their area very attractive and we do not want to change that.
‘But we have had several complaints about planters restricting the highway for maintenance and emergency access. So we are asking that the planters are moved back a bit.
‘And to firm up this agreement we are suggesting that we issue a planting out licence free of charge. We have a visit planned next week to talk with Wesley Street residents about the issues that have been raised.’