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Anger at debris in garden of house at Sedley Close in Aylesford

A couple who fled their home in the middle of the night from a blaze in a neighbouring house are fighting to have debris removed, 18 months on.

Bridget and Jason Neal, say their lives have been blighted by a mountain of rubble left in their neighbour’s back garden since a blaze tore through the home in December 2016.

The house, at Sedley Close in Aylesford, has been left as an abandoned burnt shell with blackened and boarded up windows.

Bridget Neal who is unhappy about the state of the house next door which was destroyed by fire in 2016
Bridget Neal who is unhappy about the state of the house next door which was destroyed by fire in 2016

Its neighbours feel it acts as a chilling reminder of the night the family and others in the street ran from their homes in fear.

The mum-of-two said: “It’s been very stressful and we would like to just be able to carry on with our lives like everyday people and not have this hanging over us.

“We have it as a constant reminder, and there’s also the battle of trying to get something done about it.

“It’s not only the view outside the windows, it’s not only you can’t get away from it - nobody would be interested in buying our property so we cannot move house if we wanted to.”

The couple also worry about possible unsafe electrics and another fire.

The owner of the fire-damaged house Lee Muggridge, who was not at home at the time of the blaze, was issued a notice by Tonbridge and Malling Council in November ordering him to tidy up his property within a month.

The self-employed carpenter argues that as he has been out of work, on benefits since being injured, and suffering with mental health problems he hasn’t been able to clear the property.

The pile of rubble and the damage
The pile of rubble and the damage

Although, he says he paid for some debris to be removed when he could.

“I have been depressed and haven’t been able to get it done. There’s only so much you can afford to clear while you’re on ESA but when I got some money together I had 11 lorry loads taken away,” he said.

While the authority has the power to carry out the works itself and prosecute Mr Muggridge for not complying, it has not commented on what action it has taken since issuing notice.

But Mrs Neal claimed: “Very little attempt has been made to remove any of the rubbish from the property and the house itself is in a serious state of disrepair.

“We have been in touch with the local council which has made no progress in attempting to improve the situation.”

However, she adds that the council did come to clear the site once but were not let in by the owner.

Steve Humphrey, director of planning, housing and environmental health, said: “The Council’s powers are limited in these situations but we continue to look at all potential ways forward to resolve the current condition of the property as soon as possible.”

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