St Albans man condemns councils for buck-passing over responsibility for trimmed tree branches

Clive Potter has been trying to get a pile of branches picked up from outside his home for several m

Clive Potter has been trying to get a pile of branches picked up from outside his home for several months - Credit: Archant

A man from St Albans, who has made more than 20 phone calls to the county council after he trimmed a tree which was overhanging his garden, has spoken of his ‘Kafkaesque’ frustration at their lack of action.

Clive Potter, of Antonine Gate, St Albans, noticed that a tree growing on the street next to his house was intruding on his garden and decided to go out on a limb and cut the branches back himself.

When he had finished the work (at the end of August) Clive neatly piled up the waste next to the tree and informed the local authorities that they needed to move it.

Clive explained: “I first rang the district council, but they said that it would be dealt with by highways at the county council. So I called the county council and they told me it was a ‘grey area’, and that they didn’t really know which authority should move it.”

According to Clive, who has kept a tight log of each tedious correspondence with the county council, this back-and-forth went on for months before someone at County Hall eventually told him that it was his responsibility to dispose of the waste.

He said: “I couldn’t believe it. I told the guy the whole story and asked why I was not told about this months ago and asked him to show me where in law it says it is my responsibility. He said he’d check. Then the line was cut off.”

Kevin Carrol, divisional manager of council contractor, Ringway, said: “We would advise the public not to leave branches (or anything else) on the highway verge, regardless of their source, as this might create an obstruction and could be considered fly-tipping.

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“We are looking into where the advice to Mr Potter came from to see where the confusion arose. In this case we will be removing the branches; as this does not require urgent attention they will be collected when a crew are next in the area.”

Clive described the accusation that he might be fly-tipping as “ridiculous”, and added: “What have I got to do to get it moved, shift it into the road? They don’t seem to know the law on that one.

“It’s been three months and they haven’t been ‘in the area’. It makes me a bit sceptical because I’ve been trying to get them to move it since August.”