Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Monday, 11 October 2010

Room for improvement - and a couple of cydonia japonica

Cameron’s Big Society isn’t quite big enough yet, it seems.

Sue Vacca wasn’t happy about the litter and the rats that infested the dense undergrowth on council land behind her garden, so she called her local council and asked them to do something about it.

She was told that pest control would not remove the rats until the area had been cleared. However, the maintenance company responsible for the green space - the grandiloquently named Continental Landscapes -would do nothing more arduous than mow the grass.

Undaunted, Ms Vacca rolled up her sleeves and tackled the job herself, picking up the litter and clearing out the brambles and nettles. In their place, she created a flower bed, using plants offered by supportive neighbours.

What happened next – actually two years later, but council wheels grind slowly - won’t surprise anyone who remembers the fate of a similar urban garden in Cornwall*. It seems Ms Vacca’s over-zealous efforts upset one neighbour, who would have preferred the brambles to remain.

Ms Vacca received a letter ordering her to ‘immediately stop’ her ‘unauthorised’ activities – they’re even sending the boys round:

'The town council’s park ranger service will be patrolling the site to ensure no further works occur.'

Funny how a single complaint can prompt such an energetic response - at least when it involves curtailing the public-spirited horticultural activities of a lone woman.

I can't do better than Demetrius' comment on the last case: "Has anyone costed the time, effort, etc. that the relevant council employees have put into this one?"

(Story from the Banbury Guardian)

*Readers may remember that a retired florist was threatened with legal action for what JuliaM memorably described as 'Aggravated Flower Arranging'.


  1. Until these people are held to account for their waste of public money, we'll keep seeing this time and time again...

  2. maybe they are worried about 'adverse possession' or some such

  3. JuliaM, very true - trouble is that elections make no difference to those firmly ensconced in management positions and councillors can do little about it.

    Malpas, good point, and quite possibly the actual reason for the move, though the impression given by the article (sorry - not available online) is that they were responding directly to a complaint.