Published: 06:00, 06 August 2020
| Updated: 10:11, 06 August 2020
A karate instructor has been trimming the hedges surrounding road signs in his area for the last 20 years – despite being urged not to by the council.
Fed-up Joe Ellis has undertaken the task since he moved to Bullockstone Road, Herne Bay, after fearing speeding motorists could seriously injure or kill one of his neighbours.
The 59-year-old believes drivers travelling from Herne struggle to see signs along the route showing the change in speed limit from 60mph to 40mph.
He said: “We’re all moaning at people driving at 60mph down that road, but you can’t blame them if they can’t see the signs saying it’s 40mph.
“You really are risking life and limb if you walk outside your driveway. To try to alleviate that I’m trying to make sure all the signs are visible to people.
“I could leave it as it is and risk people’s lives with 60mph traffic in a 40mph zone or take the initiative and do it myself.”
About twice a year, Mr Ellis has been donning a hi-vis jacket and placing cones in the busy rat run to cut back bushes and paint over faded road markings.
He stresses that while he is shearing the shrubs, he makes sure his pruning does not harm local wildlife.
Mr Ellis, who chairs the National Association of Karate and Martial Art Schools, says he has spoken to Kent County Council officers about the issue.
But as he prepares to move house, Mr Ellis is urging the authority to maintain the signs and markings – or risk the lives of locals.
“KCC don’t like me doing it, but I don’t really care because it’s a case of cutting them down in order to protect the residents of Bullockstone,” he continued.
“This is a KCC responsibility; this is what you pay your taxes for. I’ve been ringing them, but they haven’t got the budget or time so they won’t do it.
"You really are risking life and limb if you walk outside your driveway..."
“I would say to KCC that if you don’t take the initiative and cut the bushes around the safety signs, then you’re going to risk people’s lives.
“We’ve seen severe accidents down this strip many a time over the years, even recently.”
A spokesman for the county council says the authority does not suggest residents clear vegetation themselves, and a member of KCC’s highways team will visit the area to determine if further action is needed.
He added: “When private vegetation overhangs, as is the case along Bullockstone Road, we ensure property owners cut back their hedges or shrubs that might, for instance, block streetlights, footpaths or road signs.
“If they do not do so, we have the ability to carry out the work and charge the owner for the work. If you carry out any work to private vegetation and make it unsafe, the private property owner may have a case against you for criminal damage.”