For many years BGPC has been receiving complaints from members of the public about the hedge encroachment onto the very narrow and dangerous footway on the A25 between the last house on Sevenoaks Rd and Darkhill roundabout. We have reported these to KCC on multiple occasions, or else we organise a group of Councillors and cut it back ourselves.
With our Gateway Project, and the recent installation of a 30mph sign, the poor state of thee hedge became important. Attempts to contact the owner through KCC and the tenant failed.
The Landowner decided to take legal action against the Parish Council, commencing in June 2020, and despite every attempt to reach an amicable solution and save public money, the landowner pursued her claim against the Parish Council.
The Parish Council had removed the dead hedge, levelled up the soil that was encroaching on the footway, and had sought quotes for a new section of stock fencing and whip hedging, a reasonable replacement for the collection of weeds that was there before. But she insisted on a mature 2 mtr garden holly hedge, which required an irrigation system.
BGPC refused to spend public money on that, so she proceeded with Court action. It would have been satisfying to allow it to go to Court and see her case thrown out, but you can never predict how a judge will react on the day, and if it went its full course and we lost, it could cost up to £85,000, which we can better spend elsewhere on the Parish. So we elected to make an offer in excess of the actual "loss" she alleged she had sustained.
Apart from the Parish Council rules requiring the proceedings be kept confidential, it would make no sense to publicise our strategy and discussion whilst legal proceedings were ongoing. But now they have finished, we revert to our normal transparency.
FINAL OUTCOME when it happens
We can never know exactly what prompted Ms Barton to launch such swingeing action against BGPC, or why a separate claim was made against Chairman Mike Taylor, but we strongly suspect it might be because TMBC rejected her hope to have the entire area allocated for housing in the New Local Plan, or that KCC PROW and TMBC took enforcement action over the failure to clear out the illegal rubbish tip on the south east corner of her land, and her ongoing failure to protect the public from serious danger where she has failed for many years to install a fence to prevent a 30ft fall into that waste tip.
The problem about speculative purchase of land in the hopes of vast development profits, is that if it doesn't come off, you are saddled with and expensive and useless white elephant. Perhaps she should now donate it to BGPC as a Public Open Space.