Pensioner who created dazzling garden on wasteland told to let it go to waste

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Gloria Kersh, 69, has transformed an area disused grass outside her council home over the last decade Photo: ARCHANT SYNDICATION

Gloria Kersh, 69, has transformed an area of disused grass outside her council home over the last decade.

She has grown foxgloves, Christmas roses, wild violets and even a berry bush from her mother’s funeral wreath.

But Havering Council have now written to Miss Kersh, from Harold Hill, Essex, to warn that she must return the area to its original state.

Estates officer Jeff McCarthy told her in a letter: “Whilst I can see the work carried out by you is to a good standard it was carried out without prior permission and if this was requested authorisation would not have been given.”

Miss Kersh said she could not understand the decision and said her work would benefit the council financially.

“Gardening is one of my main pastimes,” she said. “I just like pottering around cutting the grass, tending the flowers and tidying up the cigarette packets and bottles people throw away.

“I just can’t understand for the life of me why they’re doing this – this is for everybody’s benefit, not just mine. We’re all mainly elderly around here and everyone does like it.

“No one wants to stare at some shabby grass and a wall. And at the end of the day we’re saving the council money because they don’t have to look after it.”

Dina Fitzgerald, a neighbour of Miss Kersh, said: “Gloria’s flowers are really pretty and now they want to destroy her garden for some reason.

“Has the council lost all their common sense? We just can’t understand what they’re trying to do.”

Cllr Lesley Kelly, cabinet member for housing, said: “The letter was sent in response to concerns raised by neighbours that this area was being used as a private garden – but it’s fair to say that the letter was a bit premature.

“We don’t want to stop people being public spirited, but we also need to respect the wishes of other neighbours.

“So we’ll write to the residents of Dorking Rise to ask if they’re happy for Miss Kersh to tend the flowerbeds for everyone’s enjoyment and if they are, we’ll be happy to agree this with Miss Kersh.”

Traffic protest pensioner changes will to campaign from beyond the grave

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Mr Fuller hopes that the result will be to bring traffic to a standstill once more, enabling him to carry on his protest even after his death.

The great-grandfather has led villagers in their fight to divert lorries away from Chideock by repeatedly pressing a button at a pelican crossing to halt the flow of traffic.

Mr Fuller, who is suffering from diabetes and prostate cancer, said: “The pollution from the traffic is so bad it will kill me before my illness does.

“If this protest isn’t over by the time I die I have put a codicil in my will that will ensure I carry on the fight from beyond my grave.

“I want it a condition that my coffin is put on a horse and cart and taken back and forth through the centre of Chideock for every year of my life.

“I am hoping it will take a very long time and that it will hold up the traffic up. If that happens I hope people will take along their banners to my funeral.

“I have spoken to my family and the campaign group about it and they fully support me, they think it is a wonderful idea.”

Chideock, located on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, straddles the busy A35, a popular route for west country-bound holidaymakers and a rat-run for heavy good vehicles.

Villagers claim the heavy traffic is causing health concerns over pollution and creating cracks to appear in properties along the A35.

A bed and breakfast in the village is said to be losing trade as visitors who book in for more than a few days invariably leave after the first night due to the noise.

The locals began the push-button protest earlier this year after their complaints against traffic levels went unanswered by the authorities.

Led by Mr Fuller, a retired aircraft fitter, they carried out the protest two days a week for an hour at a time.

The campaign was stopped at one point after someone squeezed super-glue around the rim of the button so that it could no longer be pressed in.

The group have now agreed to temporarily suspend their protest after Dorset police agreed that the residents could conduct a ‘speed watch’ through the village.

This will see a group of them being supplied with hand-held speed cameras and high visibility jackets so that they can monitor the speed of traffic themselves.

Mr Fuller, who lives with wife Pamela, said: “We just want the HGVs taken off the road, they are creating the pollution and damage to properties.”

Police rescue pensioner travelling at 8mph on busy A-road

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Photo: Eddie Mitchell

Police were inundated with calls about the elderly man, thought to be in his eighties, who headed along the A27 trunk road near the Shoreham flyover in West Sussex on Monday.

A van driver pulled up behind the man, who is from the Worthing area, and followed him with hazard lights flashing to alert other motorists until police arrived.

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A Sussex Police spokesman said: “Fortunately, the police vehicle that attended was large enough to load up man and scooter and he was dropped off at his bank with a few words of advice about staying off main roads.”

He added: “The gentleman in question is rather confused and embarrassed.”

A similar incident occurred in February last year when Stanley Murphy found himself at the same junction of the A27 after he accidentally took a wrong turn when he went out to buy a newspaper.

Mr Murphy, then 91, was picked up by police after travelling at 8mph for about half a mile down the dual carriageway on his Atlas mobility scooter.

He told police he kept his “pedal to the metal” in the centre of the slow lane as the cars drove past him before eventually being flagged down by a concerned truck driver.

Meanwhile only last month a man in his 80s caused traffic chaos when he took his mobility scooter on the A12 near Boreham, Essex.

He travelled along the road for seven miles, at 8mph, with police forced to form a rolling roadblock behind the scooter until he could turn off the road.

He was reported to the Crown Prosecution Service for careless driving.

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Pensioner welcomes first neighbours after three years in luxury ghost town

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Photo: Peter Lawson/Eastnews

When Les Harrington, and his late wife, Doris, moved into Homebridge Village, a converted 18th Century workhouse and hospital in Witham, Essex, in 2007 they had every reason to look forward to a busy social life, surrounded by neighbours.

With its own private gym, restaurant, laundry and carefully manicured gardens, the village was unsurprisingly heavily subscribed.

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Most of the 58 listed cottages and apartments on the 2.4 acre site, were already reserved before work had been completed.

But as the housing market began to feel the financial chill and a series of deals collapsed, the owners of the site went into administration, turning the £6 million development into a virtual ghost town.

Following the death of his wife shortly after moving in, Mr Harrington, an 87-year-old RAF veteran, found himself as the sole occupant.

The site’s two-strong staff, a cleaner and maintenance man, were kept on while the administrators attempted to find a buyer – attentive to his every need.

Mr Harrington occupied his time with his regular trips to the on-site gym and work on a novel he hopes to see published.

His unusual situation made Mr Harrington an unlikely symbol of the global financial downturn, featured in newspaper articles around the world.

But now, after a change in planning rules which barred anyone under 55 from moving in, he is finally welcoming his first neighbours.

The change enabled Fairview New Homes, a property developer, to take over the site and sell the homes to the wider market, with two-bedroiom cottages on sale from £190,000.

Mr Harrington’s first neighbours finally began moving in earlier this month, with more expected in the next few weeks.

After three years of an enforced quiet life he jokes that the prospect of loud music or late night television programmes blaring out of surrounding homes could not be more welcome.

“I suppose the worst time was the evenings,” he said.

“I like to go outside and have a pipe of an evening and especially in the winter, it was quiet.

“It will be nice now to see a light and hear people.

“I expect soon we will probably hear music and television coming out of people’s houses.”

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