Council is ‘putting Stevenage residents at risk’ over fence panels

Broken fence panels on Canterbury Way in Stevenage

Broken fence panels on Canterbury Way in Stevenage - Credit: Archant

A member of Stevenage Borough Council claims people’s safety is being put at risk because the local authority is struggling to deal with repairing fences damaged in the high winds in February.

Cllr Michael Hearn, who represents the Martins Wood ward, told the Comet: “The council is under too much pressure to cope and it’s starting to mess with people’s safety. Apparently they are having to bring in external contractors.”

As an example, he said an elderly couple who live in his ward, but who wish to remain anonymous, will be waiting months for a flattened fence separating their home from a block of flats to be replaced.

The elderly woman, who has lived with her husband in the property for 45 years, said she reported the damaged fence to the council in February, but has yet to be contacted directly by the local authority.

“I have heard they haven’t got any panels, but that’s not our problem,” she said.

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“The worrying point is we have no security. I don’t feel safe at all. When I got up one night there was a stranger in the forecourt of the flats and it frightened me. I stepped back and he saw me and sat down on the steps.

“We feel quite vulnerable. I don’t feel the council cares.”

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Cllr Hearn said: “The council has responsibility for the fence as the block of flats is council property. It’s making the couple’s home vulnerable.

“The lack of this fence means they have the rear of their property fully exposed to anybody who wishes to enter their garden.

“It’s highly unprofessional of the council to negate its private owners so terribly.”

He said the council’s treatment of the couple has been “shoddy and unprofessional”.

In trying to address the issue, Cllr Hearn says he has been met with “standardised responses of excuses after excuses and a lack of responsibilty” from the council.

He is calling for an investigation into how a “council so big on community negated private tenants so readily”.

“I hope lessons are genuinely learned here,” he said.

A council spokesman said: “Following the adverse and unusual weather earlier this year, our teams have dealt with around 1,000 reports of damaged fences as well as 400 reports about roofs and many instances of fallen or damaged trees.

“This volume of work, coupled with a well-documented delay in sourcing fencing materials, means it is taking us some months to complete all the work.

“We can assure Stevenage residents that we are committed to carrying out all repairs swiftly and safely. We are grateful for their understanding and co-operation while we do so.”

Referring to the elderly couple’s fence, the council spokesman said: “We were made aware of this particular damaged fence last week and, since then, have been out to inspect the site and subsequently arranged for repair work to be carried out. We are hoping to complete this work by the end of this week.”

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