This is an archive page. For current information go to Hedgeline homepage

Current Political Situation and Latest News

May 2002 - December 2002

Latest Developments, Most Recent First.

Government Advice Pamphlet, Dec 02 | High Hedges Bill in House of Lords, 2nd reading, Dec 02 | Letter from PM, dated 22nd November | Private Members Bills Ballot winners | This is a cross party issue | Government Support for Private Members Bill | Meeting with Minister and Continued Campaign |Govt. Letter, 7th July 02 | Govt. Letter, 7th July 02 |Draft Bill in Scottish Parliament | Much Publicised Dispute in Scotland |

Index pages

  • Government Advice Pamphlet (6 December, 2002)

    The Government has issued its Long awaited Advice Pamphlet. It is entitled 'Over the Garden Hedge'. Although it will not be an effective tool against a determined problem hedge grower, secure in his knowledge of his power under existing Law, it does on the whole give a fair and balanced view of the problem but falls down badly over the matter of disposal of rubbish. Hedgeline does not see why hedge victims should, not only be saddled with the arduous and possibly dangerous or expensive task of cutting someone else's hedge back, but should then be asked to stack the debris neatly so that the owner may collect it in his own time. We do not see why the victim should be expected to dispose of someone else's rubbish. It is the hedge owner's stuff and he/she should have the trouble or expense of disposing of it. Throwing back the rubbish would seem the only alternative for many hedge-victims.

    The minister Tony McNulty has, in his letters, made it very clear that this advice pamphlet not intended to be a substitute for legislation and the Government are still committed to Legislation.

    Any wanting a free copy should contact following -

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Second reading of the High Hedges Bill in House of Lords, December 02

    Baroness Gardner has again introduced the High Hedges Bill into the House of Lords. Its second reading will be on December 10th.

    If, as is expected it passes successfully through the House of Lords, it will go into the Commons.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Letter to Hedgeline from the PM (25th November 02)

    Hedgeline has received a letter of acknowledgement, dated 22nd November, and signed on behalf of Tony Blair, in answer to a letter I sent on behalf of Hedgeline. The letter thanks us for letting him have our views which he was interested to see.

    I see this as very significant.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Ballot Winners (21st November, 2002)

    We have the list of Ballot winners. None of the first eleven in the list are amongst our established supporters. We have been very unlucky in the draw for the second year running.

    The Campaign

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • This is a cross- party issue 21st November 02

    The high hedge issue is a cross-party issue. There are cross party agreements, both as to the need for the new legislation and as to the general form the new law would take.

    John M. Taylor whose Private Members Bill was talked out in 2001 by two Tory MPs was himself a Tory and not a Labour MP, as has recently been suggested in the Media.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Letter from Tony Mcnulty, Minister in the ODPM (DTLR) (1st November 02)

    The ODPM (DTLR) has confirmed that it is looking at changes to the John Taylor Bill.

    The Government's will not be putting through legislation in its own programme but will wholeheartedly support a Private Members Bill. It has confirmed in a letter 21st October 02, that, 'it is looking at changes to the John Taylor Bill'.

    The Queen's speech should open the new session of parliament on 13th November and the Private Members Bill's Ballot is likely to be on 21st November.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Meeting with Minister Tony McNulty (8th October 2002)

    Tony McNulty, Parliamentary Private Under Secretary of State at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, (which now handles the hedge issue), gave us a thirty minute meeting on 8th October. Clare Hinchliffe, Derek Glew, and Alan Bridgman attended and we were accompanied by Lord Ted Graham of Edmonton who arranged the meeting for us.

    We were made aware of the strength of support within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, but there is unlikely to be Government time available for, 'an issue of this kind'.

    We will have to try to get a high placed private member's bill ballot winner to put a Bill through. The draw will be in November.

    If we get a ballot winner we will need to rely on our keyworkers and all our members to make sure that their MPs turn up at the house on the days of the readings of the bill. The ballot will be at the beginning of November.

    To look on the bright side our spies are telling us that there is very unlikely to be the sort of philibustering that destroyed the John Taylor Bill in the session before last and we are reliably assured that we have wide ranging support and very little opposition amongst MPs. We have to get a certain number of members in the house at 9.30 on the day and I am afraid that most MPs do not want to be in Westminster on a Friday. You may have to be prepared to pester them.

    Nevertheless I feel that we have a B chance of getting it this time, if we campaign hard enough. We would have got the John Taylor Bill if two MPs had not played the fool at the Report Stage.

    Information on the Private Members' Bills Ballot
    The House of Commons has a system whereby the MPs draw lots and the first twenty drawn are given time to put a Private Members Bill through (on Fridays). We need someone in the first 7 winners in order to have a realistic chance. Then we will need all the MP support we can get to get a quorum in the house on the days of the reading especially the 2nd and 3rd readings. MPs do not usually want to be in Westminster on Fridays. They do constituency or personal business on that day.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Party Conferences, (2nd October 2002)

    We had a good turnout to the Labour Party Conference. Many thanks to all those who turned up.

    A great many conference delegates took leaflets and many delegates were shown photographs of the most distressing problem hedges. A lady of 77 whose neighbour's hedge prevents her from growing flowers for showing turned up with her son in the morning.

    We managed to have our leaflets taken inside the Labour Party Conference and the Conservative Party Conference halls.

    Index pages

  • Latest Letters from the Government (7th July 02)

    Hedgeline members are now receiving rather different letters from the Government on the subject of the promised legislation. The Department responsible for our concerns is now 'the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister', and Lord Jeff Rooker is the minister reponsible.

    I quote from a Lord Rooker's reply to Dr Lynne Jones MP. Dr Jones passed on my queries about the status of the 'BRE Guidelines'.

    You ask about the status of these Guidelines. As their name implies they are advice only and have no formal standing. They introduce a set of scientifically based tests for assessing one of the problems (light obstruction) caused by high hedges. The Guidelines do not take account of factors beyond light obstruction and so are not general recommended or good practice hedge-heights. But they provide a tool when trying to negotiate a solution to these problems.

    I can also assure you and Hedgeline that we have no intention of giving the BRE light Guidelines statutory force. We will not, therefore, be writing them into the promised legislation, which would give local authorities powers to deal with high hedge complaints.

    Lord Jeff Rooker was an MP with a Birmingham constituency and all the evidence we have gleaned lead us to believe that he has a thorough knowledge of the problem and is deeply sympathetic. We feel that he will be a B ally in the struggle for legislation.

    Index pages

  • Draft Bill in Scottish Parliament May 02

    A draft Bill is to be lodged in the Scots Parliament. It is not expected to be the same as the John Taylor Bill.

    The matter was reported in the Glasgow Herald on 17th May.

    Scott Barrie, Labour MSP for Dunfirmlne West said last night that he hoped to lodge a bill with the Parliament on Tuesday giving powers to local authorities to resolve "hedge disputes" an increasing problem for which there is no legislation.

    We understand that under the Scott Barries' plans a victim would have to pay 200 in order to lodge acomplaint with the council. The money would be forfit if the complain was deeemed to be frivolous.

    If the Council decided against the hedge grower he would receive an order to reduce the hedge. If he failed to comply the Council would cut the hedge and send its Bill.

    Hedgeline is delighted that it has as yet heard no mention of the single light criterion for assessing nuisance, nor has it heard a mention of the unfortunate 'BRE Guidelines'.

    There was much coverage in the Scots papers on the same day about a hedge dispute involving a Scottish celebrity. Dr Watson, a former singer with Scottish opera claims to have had light excluded from his rooms to the extent that he needs electric light during the day, The 25 foot leyland cypress hedge which overhangs Dr Watson's roof belongs to his neighbour, Mr Robinson who has refused to reduce the hedge despite expert advice that he do so.

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