I put up huge fence for my neighbours’ own good – but they’re angry at ME | The Sun

A HOMEOWNER claims that he put up a giant fence in his garden for his neighbours' benefit – but now they are angry at him.

Gareth Fairhurst, 49, bought the land neighbouring his £250,000 semi-detached home in Standish, Greater Manchester, and installed the barrier.

The move prompted outrage from nearby residents who wanted the land to be turned into a public right of way.

Dad-of-three Gareth defended his action by explaining that he had planning permission for a two-storey side extension to his property.

However, he claimed that no builder would take the job on because of the presence of Japanese knotweed in the next plot over.

He told The Sun Online: "I want to build the extension, but in order to do that I need to eradicate the Japanese knotweed on the neighbouring plot.


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"As a mortgage underwriter by trade I understand no bank will lend with Japanese Knotweed present, so I’ve engaged licenced contractors to remove the weeds this September or October when they die off.

"I put the fence up to prevent the spread of the Japanese Knotweed, which can be picked up on people’s shoes or pets' paws and taken to other properties – I would be liable for the spread if I didn’t take the action I have."

But he claimed that, despite his noble intentions, "keyboard warriors" started badgering him about the fence.

Gareth recalled: "It ended up with someone banging on my door at 10.30pm when I’ve three teenage children in the house.

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"Two other people decided to commit criminal damage on my fence and put their hoodies up as disguise, but the police saw the images and identified the culprits."

He added: "I am actually protecting the residents of the nearby properties and the council, which has a bridleway at the back.

"We are eradicating this at our own expense, not the council taxpayers' expense.

"It’s mind-numbingly idiotic if people would really happily tramp Japanese Knotweed onto their own properties and those of others.

"If I allowed access to it and have it spread around the estate then I am liable as the landowner and could be sued accordingly. It would be totally irresponsible of me to allow people to just traipse it about."

The fuming homeowner even said that he had installed a £30 gate at the back of his property to access the bridleway and offered to help pay for his neighbours to do the same.

However, some of the other locals don't feel this is enough.

A couple of doors down, Dorothy Wilson, 66, said: "He has just bought the land to upset people.

"All we want is a little gate – to give us access to the bridleway."

Meanwhile, local farmer James Glover, 38, claims that his grandfather was granted right of way through the land before the current estate was even built.

He said: "We have never had any issue until now, as we always had a right of way for tractors across that land.

"I am a fifth or sixth-generation farmer and our land has been sold for building in the area down the decades.

"Our right of way was in place, before that estate was even built in around 1975. We are with the residents who want the right of way instated."

Fellow resident Kate Blakeway added that her disabled mother has had her sense of independence "taken away" by the measures and demanded "full access" to the path.

Some members of the community have submitted a legal claim against Gareth to officially designate the path as a public right of way.

A spokesperson for neighbourhood group Standish Voice said: "Our recent committee meeting heard from a resident who spoke powerfully about how elderly people in the area were upset at now having to walk much further to reach the centre of Standish, and the evidence residents have compiled makes an overwhelming case for keeping the footpath open as a public right of way.

"We have asked Wigan Council to look into this matter urgently and we are supporting the residents in appealing to the authorities to keep the footpath clear for use by future generations."

A council spokesperson said: "We can confirm that we have received a submission from a number of local residents that a path off Littleton Grove, Standish should be considered a public right of way, following the placement of a fence on the path.

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"We are reviewing these submissions in line with the necessary process and will keep the local community updated as this progresses."

Greater Manchester Police confirmed that they had been called to the area due to reports of criminal damage and other activity around the disputed fence.

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