Wheelchair users forced to find alternative route to Chipping Sodbury High Street because of overgrown footpaths
10:17am Wednesday 31st July 2013 in News By Alexandra Womack, senior reporter covering Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Rangeworthy, Wickwar, Hawkesbury, Iron Acton, Coalpit Heath and Old Sodbury
WHEELCHAIR users and parents with pushchairs are being cut off from Chipping Sodbury High Street by overgrown hedgerows which no-one will take responsibility for, it has been claimed.
People who live in Cesson Close say they are being forced to walk a lengthy alternative route to the town’s facilities because of the uncut brambles and hedges on a pathway out of the cul-de-sac.
Resident Paul Robins, whose wife Liz periodically needs to use a wheelchair, said he was at his ‘wit's end’ trying to get the hedges trimmed along a footpath which links Cesson Close with Hartley Close and Whitefields.
"You can’t get through with a wheelchair or double buggy," said Mr Robins, a Sodbury town councillor and retired St John’s Mead Primary School teacher.
"Although it looks okay from the start of the path it gets very narrow in the middle and suddenly becomes impassable.
"My wife is in a wheelchair a lot of the time and it means we have to walk a long way round to the High Street. I am at my wit's end with it."
Mr Robins, 62, spent months last summer arguing with South Gloucestershire Council and Merlin Housing Society over who should cut back the overgrowth before Merlin eventually did the work.
"It happens every year,’ he said. "Last year it took me over a month to get it sorted and for the last month I have been trying to get the council to do it. But nothing is happening."
A spokesman for South Gloucestershire Council said: "While we have a responsibility to ensure that our roads and footways are free from obstruction, the overgrown vegetation in question is on private property. Therefore, legally we cannot intervene unless we have given the owner the opportunity to arrange to have it cut themselves or if they have failed to comply with a formal notice.
"We follow a set procedure which involves writing to the owner or occupier requesting that they make arrangements to have the overgrowth cut back to the property's boundary. If this hasn't been removed after 28 days, we can then arrange for a contractor to carry out the necessary clearance and we will seek to recover any costs incurred."
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