Families have branded their local council “spiteful” over fences installed across their back garden gates without notice, leaving them feeling “hemmed in”. Derbyshire County Council has cemented the fence panels across garden gates that lead onto a car park, as well as closing the space and placing barriers at the entrance, restricting access for residents.
An elderly resident and a young family living on Cavendish Road in Matlock have been left “barricaded” in since April 21 and claim they were given just a couple of days’ notice before then having restrictive access to the car park space.
After the closure, the council went one step further and installed two fence panels on the morning of April 26, across the rear garden gates of two properties on George Road, which lead onto the car park. According to residents, this was carried out without any notice and consultation, meaning residents cannot exit from the back of their properties. The council plans to sell the car park to make space for 30 homes reports Derbyshire Live.
Two households suspect the move was done spitefully due to residents in the area forming a community group called the Matlock Community Land Trust, in a bid to buy the car park, building eight homes, allotments, and a community orchard.
A 77-year-old woman who has lived in one of the properties since 1966 told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that the move to fence over her garden gate was unfair and unnecessary.
She said there has been an exit from the rear of her house ever since she moved in and before the site was turned into a car park. The woman, who did not wish to be identified, said she would now have to walk a much further distance around to visit relatives in Cavendish Road, which she says she would be unable to do due to health conditions – with the rear garden gate having provided a vital shortcut.
She said she feels as if she has been seen as a vulnerable person who can be mistreated without consequence. The woman told the LDRS: “It is spiteful and petty. If it wasn’t bad enough with the car park being closed off, with cars now parked everywhere, blocking visibility.”
She said: “We think it is a reaction to the community group forming. I feel hemmed in. I lost my husband two years ago and a woman on her own feels very vulnerable… people see you on your own and think they can walk all over you.”
The 77-year-old added: “When I came home and saw this I was so upset. I haven’t opened the garden gate since, I didn’t sleep for three nights when the fence first went up, I was so upset. I do not need this at age 77. I’ve had enough upset in my life and I just need to spend my remaining years in peace. I don’t need any more trauma.”
The second home which had its rear garden gate blocked belongs to a young family, who had frequently used that exit to take their three children out on their bikes via the car park.
A father of three who has lived there for a few years, who did not want to be identified, said: “For me it was frustrating to come home and see that this had been done to our home without any notice at all, and it was obviously pre-planned because the panels fit the gaps perfectly.
“To not notify us is the most frustrating bit. It is completely unnecessary because they had already closed the car park, it feels like there is an agenda. I was angry, you felt like you were being barricaded into your own back garden, really penned in, it feels like the council has an agenda and says it owns that land and wants to enforce that.”
He said the council informed him that Land Registry ownership shows the boundary and that this has been checked with the authority’s legal department, but he said this does not account for access rights, just land ownership.
Both households are also concerned about fire safety with their rear exits providing an additional means of escape, along with parking issues on surrounding roads blocking access for emergency vehicles due to no longer being able to park off the streets.
Read More: ‘Spiteful’ council ‘barricades’ families by blocking gateways to carpark with fences