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Claims overgrown hedges in Highfield Road South, Dartford are putting residents of council bungalows at risk

Elderly residents are being put at risk and have to dodge overgrown hedges and nettles just to leave their own homes, a concerned son has claimed.

Poor street lighting and unkempt bushes have been blamed for a string of safety issues at a row of council-owned bungalows in Highfield Road South, Dartford.

Pensioner Margaret Sullivan, 85, is fearful of leaving her home due to overgrown thorns and bad lighting in her street
Pensioner Margaret Sullivan, 85, is fearful of leaving her home due to overgrown thorns and bad lighting in her street

Pensioner Margaret Sullivan, 85, is wheelchair bound and relies on her son Darren and his partner to venture out safely.

But the pathway between her home and the main street is littered with thorns and cracked pavement surfacing, it is claimed.

Numerous complaints have been made to the borough council but son Darren says nothing has been done.

"I’m frightened for my mother’s safety," he said. "She lives in a group of bungalows which have one street light which is very poor and surrounded by hedges which are overgrown.

"They are all elderly disabled people going up the walkway getting pricks on their legs."

Hedges have become overgrown in Highfield Road South, Dartford
Hedges have become overgrown in Highfield Road South, Dartford

On one occasion recently he says his frail mum took a tumble due to the uneven surfacing beneath her wheelchair.

"At the end of the path, I didn't see the crack, when I pushed her she came flying out."

Mrs Sullivan, who is disabled, has lived in Dartford all her life and moved to the ground-floor property around eight years ago.

"Mum is housebound. She won't come out, she stays in and from 4pm she locks that door," explained Darren who shares caring responsibilities for his mum with his brother.

"We have got her on an alarm and she pushes it and we come straight away."

Darren says when his mum first moved into the accommodation the outside paths and bushes was suitably maintained but are now left largely unmanaged.

He has attempted to trim the hedgerows himself but says parts are so overgrown they are unreachable.

Pathways have been littered with thorns
Pathways have been littered with thorns

It has meant delivery drivers have struggled to locate the homes and the cover of darkness has started to attract unsavoury characters, he claims.

Darren said: "It is just disgraceful. The gardeners come and when they go they give you a little smirk.

"It is quite dangerous it is very dark and all the residents have moaned."

A Kent County Council (KCC) spokesman said: “While we maintain some bushes in this area during the autumn and winter months, we are not responsible for the trees.

“KCC has not been made aware of safety concerns with regards to lighting or shrubs being overgrown in this area.

“We would always encourage residents to report concerns to us direct.”

A spokesman for Dartford Borough Council added: "Grounds maintenance is carried out twice a year in the area, with the hedges expected to be pruned again in September.

“Weather conditions this year have encouraged a lot more growth than is typical and we will check to see if any extra work is needed in this instance.

“Our housing department will also happily arrange to repair bulkhead lighting outside the front door of each bungalow if necessary and if it’s reported to us, however, Kent County Council are responsible for street lights.”

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