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Current Political Situation and Latest News

December 2002 - February 2003


Latest Developments, Most Recent First

Final 2 stages of Lady Gardner Bill | Letter from the Govt. Feb 03 | Lady Gardner Bill Committee Stage | Lady Gardner Bill 2nd reading | Stephen Pound MP adopts Hedge Bill

Index pages

  • The final two stages of the Private Members' High Hedges Bill, sponsored by Baroness Gardner in the House of Lords

    The Report Stage (Report Stage, 28th February 03)

    This took place successfully on 28th. We now await the third, and final reading which will be on Friday March 7th. (The report stage and third readings are separate in the House of Lords but not usually in the Commons).

    There have been a number of useful amendments to the High Hedges Bill. The criterion for judging problem hedges is now,

    'whether the height of the high hedge in question is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment' of his or her domestic property.
    The grounds of compliant are therefore extended to all obvious height related problems. Root damage is specifically excluded because proof is difficult and complex. Light deprivation is now only one amongst several issues to be considered. The application of the 'BRE Guidelines' is much reduced. They now relate solely to the issue of light; one issue amongst several.

    The Hansard record of the debate is worth anyone's time in reading. Hedgeline is absolutely delighted at the understanding and recognition of the issues involved which was shown on this occasion and is also delighted at this way the legislation is going. The points made by the Government spokesman, Lord Evans,showed that the Government has listened to the concerns of Hedgeline, its members and other victims of problem hedges. It is not easy for anyone who has never been affected by this issue to understand the impact of these hedges.

    Lady Gardner did a most wonderful job in making sure all the necessary loose ends were tied up She was most ably backed by her long-term ally, Lord Graham, and by Lady Hamwee, Lord Methuen, and Lord Phillips.

    Link to Hansard

    The Third Reading (Third Reading, 7th March 03)

    The Third Reading of Lady Gardner's High Hedges Bill took place on 7th March 03. Nothing was added to the content and the Bill now passes to the Commons.
    ITV and BBC teletext made the following comments -


    Backbench legislation to allow councils to intervene to resolve disputes between neighbours over high hedges has been cleared in the Lords.

    The High Hedges Bill, which would also give councils powers to prune hedges, now goes to the Commons.

    The Bill, piloted by Tory Baroness Gardner of Parkes, has Government and cross-party support and stands a good chance of becoming law.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Letter from the ODPM (DTLR) (10 February 2003)

    The latest letters from the Government are encouraging. The one transcribed below was sent on to the leaders of one of our local by their MP.


    Thank you for your letter of 21st January to the Deputy Prime Minister regarding high hedge legislation. I am responding as this falls within my Ministerial responsibilities.

    As you are aware, one of the Members who was successful in the ballot for Private Members' Bills in the current Session, Stephen Pound MP, will be taking forward a high hedge Bill. It is worth noting that Private Members' Bills that have become legislation in the past have not always been highly placed ballot winners. In addition, in the House of Lords, Baroness Gardner of Parkes has tabled a Private Peers' Bill dealing with high hedges, along the same lines as the one sponsored by John Taylor MP in the 2000/2001 Session, which failed to reach the statute book. Baroness Gardner's Bill, which enjoys cross-party support, reached its Committee Stage on 9 January with Report Stage due on 28 February. Stephen Pound's Bill receives its Second Reading on 28th March.

    We welcome both of these initiatives and are working with Baroness Gardner and Stephen Pound to try to ensure that we are able to get fair and workable measures onto the statute book.

    I know from my postbag how important this issue is to people and I hope that as many Members as possible will be in the Chamber when Stephen Pound's Bill is debated.

    I hope this is helpful.


    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Lady Gardner Bill, Committee Stage (9th January 03)

    The Committee Stage of Lady Gardner's Bill was on January 9th. Lady Gardner put forward many points about the hedge problem which are understood by few people except those that suffer the problem and in doing so she did the cause immeasurable service. People in great trouble have written to Lady Gardner and given her a deep knowledge of the problems of hedge victims.

    Lady Gardner said in the debate that she really believed that the Government intended to produce a workable and useful bill. The third Reading of her Bill is scheduled for 28 February.

    A Government-supported Bill started in the House of Lords suceeded in the last session.

    Link to the the Hansard transcript of the Committee Stage debate

    As we see the present position the Legislation will certainly be based on a complaints system to the Local Authority. Complaints may be made about problem hedges over 2 metres. A Local Authority Officer will make the judgement. Certain key amendments to the John Taylor Bill are expected and the Guidance the Government gives to Local Authorities is now expected to be based on a number of criteria and not merely on light. It has been acknowledged more than once and in writing by the Government that the 'BRE Guidelines' are not helpful as a single criterion for judging reasonable heights for hedges.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Lady Gardner's Bill second reading (10 December, 2002)

    The Second Reading of Lady Gardner's High Hedges Bill took place in the House of Lords yesterday. There was B cross party support and Lady Gardner, leading the debate, showed the deep understanding of the issue and the sympathy we have come to expect of her. THis debate will bring renewed attention to the issue.

    The Links to the Hansard transcripts are as follows -

    Baroness Gardner's Bill will not conflict with Stephen Pound's Private Members Bill, when it passes from the House of Lords into the Commons. It will merge with it or give way to it. Lady Gardner's prime aim is to get the legislation for hedge-victims by whatever means is the most likely to succeed.

    Hedgeline is lucky to have a political friend with Baroness GardnerŐs energy and expertise and is also lucky that Lord Graham of Edmonton has given her his support and backing at every stage of her high hedges campaign.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Mr Stephen Pound MP has taken up the Hedge Bill (8 December, 2002)

    Stephen Pound MP, number 14 in the Private Members Bills Ballot Winners list, has taken up the Bill.

    Mr Pound is the Labour MP for Ealing North. He has been a B supporter of our cause. He has on various occasions spoken at 'High Hedge Bill debates'

    Although a Ballot winner who has come fourteenth on the list would not normally stand much chance of getting a Bill through Parliament, the Government is supportive and this could make a difference. A Government-supported Private Members Bill from a fairly low placed winner succeeded in the last session.

    Mr Pounds words have been quoted in the Press,

    The Second Reading of this Bill is scheduled for 28th March 03

    We thank those of Mr Pound's constituents who have enlisted his support on this issue the last few years.

    Contrary to reports in various nespapers the Government has not promised to give any of its own time for the Bill.

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