Village spat over couple’s garden

Row: David and Julie Whiteside alongside the plot they planted behind their house, but which now has to be dismantled.        Picture: Roger Nadal.
Row: David and Julie Whiteside alongside the plot they planted behind their house, but which now has to be dismantled. Picture: Roger Nadal.
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A ROW has broken out in a South Yorkshire village after parish councillors insisted a family destroy a garden they had cultivated behind their house.

For the past five years Julie and David Whiteside have tended an extensive collection of alpine plants and fruit trees on the slope behind their home on Sycamore Avenue, Wickersley, near Rotherham.

The land belongs to the parish council, but David, aged 53, and Julie, 50, say they decided nobody would mind if they tidied up the brambles and dense trees and planted some attractive flowers.

David, who runs a rail engineering company in Chesterfield, said: “We never claimed the land was ours, but we thought some alpine flowers, bluebells and a few fruit trees were better than brambles.”

The couple, who have two grown-up children, two grandchildren, and another on the way, have now been told to cut down the fruit trees and dig up the plants.

At a meeting of Wickersley Parish Council councillors voted 13 to two, with one abstention, in favour of a motion ordering them to destroy the garden.

Coun Peter Thirlwall, who voted for the garden to be removed, said: “That land belongs to the people of Wickersley. There’s a lovely field behind my house and I would love to have five metres from it. But I can’t because it doesn’t belong to me.

“The land behind that house is a buffer zone on the edge of Doorstep Green. Some years ago we put dense bushes and trees there, so children couldn’t get through and cause problems for residents. That land serves a purpose.

“It is just unreasonable what they have done.”

But David said: “We expected to be asked to remove the fencing, raised beds and a composter that we had put in, but were surprised when they insisted we destroy the plants and trees.

“The fruit trees are planted in a forest. What is the use of cutting those down?

“I was very surprised at the anger displayed at the council. It seemed so petty and vindictive.”

But Coun Thirlwall said: “How would he feel if someone came and just parked on his drive? It’s just not reasonable.”