Case study 11: CPW for storing a wheelbarrow behind a shed

(Statement by son-in-law of CPN recipient) ‘After a dispute over the garden wall, my father-in-law’s neighbour made complaints to the council over his use of the garden being a public nuisance. These complaints starkly lacked any evidence, and the complaints focused on the storing of a wheel barrow behind a shed.

The council officer took the neighbour’s complaints as gospel, they didn’t ask for any evidence or seem to want to hear my father-in-law’s side. They then issued a CPW, and alongside instructions on where to store the wheelbarrow in the garden they added the requirement:

“To not engage in behaviours capable of causing a nuisance or annoyance to others in the community or to encourage others to do so.”

Later a letter arrived saying that my father-in-law had broken the above restriction (without offering any specifics), and that the council were giving him a ‘final warning’. This tit-for-tat with the council officer rolled on for almost three years, with the case in a constant limbo as the council wouldn’t proceed to actually issuing a CPN. This thereby removed our chance to appeal in a magistrates court and show the lack of any real evidence and to call out what seemed like an overzealous council officer.

The council employee eventually retired, and the new team invited my father-in-law in for a meeting, apologised and closed the case due to lack of evidence. By that point, however, my in-laws had already put the house up for sale, in no small part because of the CPW and hassle over the years.

I think the most frustrating part for them was that the council wouldn’t actually issue the CPN – they just threatened it for years. More than once the council extended the ‘warning’ by 12 months without any new incidents. Because of this, there was no legal route to appeal the case and solicitors wouldn’t get involved.’