Home Entertainment Our neighbour complained about a fake smell coming from our garden… the...

Our neighbour complained about a fake smell coming from our garden… the council bullied us and it cost us £25k

21
0


A family has claimed they were ‘bullied’ by their local council after a nightmare neighbour complained about ‘stomach-churning odours’ coming from their garden. 

Geoff Grewcock and his daughter Emma Hudson from Nuneaton, West Mids have used their back garden to house rescued animals for over 20 years.

But when a new arrival to the street moved in next door, they faced the terrifying prospect of a potential criminal conviction and £20,000 fine when she relentlessly complained of a bad smell.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council sided with the neighbour and the family saw themselves hauled into court.

Mr Grewcock, 74, said: ‘The council made me feel like a complete criminal. It was quite horrendous.’ 

Emma Hudson, 41 and her father Geoff Grewcock, 71, outside their home where they house rescued animals in their back garden but faced a hefty fine after one complaint

Emma Hudson, 41 and her father Geoff Grewcock, 71, outside their home where they house rescued animals in their back garden but faced a hefty fine after one complaint

Ahostile neighbour sent 30 emails about 'stomach-churning odours' coming from the house where Mr Grewcock and his daughter shelter birds, foxes and other animals

Ahostile neighbour sent 30 emails about ‘stomach-churning odours’ coming from the house where Mr Grewcock and his daughter shelter birds, foxes and other animals

Emma Hudson is pictured holding a fox who is sheltered in their back garden rescue centre

Emma Hudson is pictured holding a fox who is sheltered in their back garden rescue centre

Neighbours from all sides of the sanctuary (pictured) testified that they had never noticed a bad smell and were supportive of the family's rescue work

Neighbours from all sides of the sanctuary (pictured) testified that they had never noticed a bad smell and were supportive of the family’s rescue work

Above is an aerial view of the back garden which is used as an animal sanctuary

Above is an aerial view of the back garden which is used as an animal sanctuary

After a lengthy legal battle the a court has now overturned the order, but not before the family shelled out £25,000 in legal fees.

His daughter Emma, 41, said: ‘For 21 years the sanctuary has operated without anyone ever complaining about smell or anything else.

‘Then a new person arrived on the street and everything changed. She harassed the Council over and over again and they buckled. We are so glad the Court listened to the facts and ruled in our favour.’

Their appeal against the abatement order was heard by District Judge David Wain sitting at Birmingham Magistrates Court.

Over two days, neighbours from all sides of the sanctuary, testified that they had never noticed a bad smell and were supportive of their rescue work.

Nuneaton council admitted they had monitored odours over a four-day period in September 2021 and found no issue.

But neighbour Maria Buchanan refused to let it drop and sent ’30 or so emails’ complaining of ‘stomach-churning odours’.

The council were also sent two other anonymous complaints, but the senders were never identified.

After the initial warning, the family had transferred fox cages to the other side of their garden and put up windbreaks to protect the neighbour’s garden, the court heard.

Pictured is a badger which the father and daughter rescued and look after in their garden

Pictured is a badger which the father and daughter rescued and look after in their garden

The Council admitted they had monitored odours over a four-day period in September 2021 and found no issue

The Council admitted they had monitored odours over a four-day period in September 2021 and found no issue

The family received 'immense' support from their other neighbours

The family received ‘immense’ support from their other neighbours 

Speaking after the ruling, Mr Grewcock said: ‘It has been a nightmare for us because we have always got on with all our neighbours.

‘The council took her side and bullied us, despite having used our services for 20 years.

‘The worst thing was when the council arrived with their notice and wanted to know how many animals we could put to sleep on that day.’

Emma said: ‘If we’d lost it would have closed us down instantly. We were looking at how on earth we’d manage financially.

‘But it shows that no matter how big the fight, if you know you are right you have to do it.

‘The support we’ve had has been immense, from the neighbours, the town and our volunteers.’

Retired vet Roger Coley, who gave evidence to the court, said: ‘I generally visit once a month and have done since they started it up. It is a very well run place and provides a wonderful resource for the area.

‘They do everything they can to keep any odour under control and I am delighted they can keep going.’

Neighbour Neil Ratcliffe, 67, said: ‘Geoff is an ideal neighbour. They keep that place spotless. We’ve had barbecues in the garden and no one even knew they were there.

A fox which is cared for by the family is seen gazing out of a window

A fox which is cared for by the family is seen gazing out of a window

Two crates are pictured where rescued animals can be left in their care

Two crates are pictured where rescued animals can be left in their care

‘He’s very aware he’s in a built-up area and has always been very thoughtful of his neighbours which is what makes this so unfair.

‘Why couldn’t the council ask for our opinion before wading in?’

In February 2022, their ‘sniffers’ returned to visit the complaining neighbour but crucially did not visit the sanctuary to check the source of the smell.

They then put the Sanctuary on notice before issuing their abatement notice in May.

But they were criticised by Judge Wain for ‘losing objectivity’ and siding with Ms Buchanan while not asking anyone else. They also failed to check where the smell was coming from.

Judge Wain said: ‘The policy of the (council) was not to contact potential witnesses for fear of being accused of soliciting complaints. This risk of such an approach, as here, is that substantial evidence relevant to a fair investigation is not gathered.

‘This is particularly so when investigations to the source are not carried out.’

Referring to the complaining neighbour’s evidence, he said: ‘It is apparent from her evidence and the way she gave it that she views the Sanctuary with considerable animosity and holds it responsible for substantial disruption to her home.

‘Regrettably therefore she is not someone the court could view as an impartial witness, and her refusal to meaningfully engage in any question about odour, even where substantial changes had been made, was unhelpful to the court.’

He ruled that the smells ‘did not go beyond the category of trifling and small,’ and concluded: ‘There is no dispute that the Sanctuary is a clean, well run establishment with the support of vets and experienced volunteers.’

A council spokesperson said it was disappointed to learn of Tuesday’s outcome handed down by the judge on the appeal.

The authority added that it ‘has a statutory duty to carry out investigations in response to complaints received, and did so in this instance with utmost good faith’.

The spokesperson added that they accepted the decision, and acknowledged the sanctuary’s ‘significant community work’ and looked ‘to build a productive relationship moving forward’.



Source link

Previous articleRobbie Williams installs fearsome ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign on £17.5m London mansion warning of ‘injury or death’ despite his animals being a pack of pampered pooches
Next articleRaze it to the ground: Families call for ‘worst place in Britain’  shipping container estate to be demolished as final residents are moved out of shanty town ‘hellhole’

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here