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KENT CC LOSES APPEAL OVER 'DANGEROUS' VERGE

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A couple who incurred Kent CC's wrath when they transformed an over-grown road verge to a green and pleasant haven ...
A couple who incurred Kent CC's wrath when they transformed an over-grown road verge to a green and pleasant haven for pedestrians today emerged victorious from the appeal court.

The council had accused Sheila and George Porritt of creating a danger to road traffic when they put up wooden posts to stop lorries and cars from mounting the verge outside their home.

But London's appeal court unanimously upheld a Maidstone county court judge's ruling that the couple had acted entirely within their rights.

Appeal judge Sir Iain Glidewell, told the court: 'Judge David Griffiths was in my view wholly justified in coming to the conclusion he did, once he had accepted the evidence of Mr and Mrs Porritt as to the over-grown nature of the verge.'

He said the Porritts had lived in their home at Rushmore Hill, Knockholt, since 1981. The property is separated from the road by a nine-foot wide grass verge.

When they moved in the verge was an unsightly mess, covered with rubbish and over-grown scrub and with large parts of it eaten away by lorry tyres.

Mr Porritt told the county court: 'I just got fed up with looking at it.

'We tried chopping down the bushes and the undergrowth and brush that was there, and tried to straighten it up as best we could.

The Porritts spent £2,500 levelling the verge: 'This resulted in a flat grass area along the side of the carriageway, which has since been mown by Mr Porritt', added Sir Iain.

But they also put up oak posts 12 to 18 inches from the road, with every other one emblazoned with a reflector to alert traffic.

Quoting Mr Porritt, Sir Iain said: 'The few pedestrians that I have seen out there have all congratulated me on helping them, the fact that they can walk along without walking on the road'.

But the judge went on: 'However, the parish council took the view that the posts which Mr Porritt had inserted were a potential danger.

'The parish council complained to Kent CC, and as a result the county council made clear that it intended to use its powers to require Mr and Mrs Porritt to remove the posts.'

But at Maidstone county court on March 17 last year, Judge David Griffiths ruled that the couple had done nothing wrong and issued an injunction forbidding the county council from removing the posts.

Dismissing the county council's appeal, Sir Iain said:

'Judge Griffiths accepted totally the evidence of Mr and Mrs Porritt at the hearing before him.

'On the evidence as to the history of this verge, I cannot say that the judge was wrong to grant the declaration that he did grant.'

Lord Justice Hirst and Lord Justice Aldous agreed that Judge Griffiths' decision could not be faulted, and Kent CC was ordered to pay the action's legal costs.

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