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'I've lost it all: Distraught 86-year-old woman's garden flattened for being fire hazard

Before and after pictures of the garden. (SWNS)
Before and after pictures of the garden. (SWNS)

An elderly grandmother has been left devastated after her local council destroyed her retirement home garden display for breaching health and safety rules.

Gillian Davies, 86, was reduced to tears when workers began breaking up the garden she had spent hundreds of pounds and the last 17 years working on.

She transformed the shared garden in her retirement home in Stamford, Lincolnshire by growing plants and adding ornaments and furniture, for which she even won an award.

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Gillian Davies (right) and her son Stephen Taylor with other residents. (SWNS)
Gillian Davies (right) and her son Stephen Taylor with other residents. (SWNS)

But she was stunned when South Kesteven District Council told her she didn't have permission to do any gardening and it would have to be removed.

On 24 February council workers removed her shed, uprooted her potted plants and pulled down her wooden trellis.

The council said the plants blocked a fire exit and were removed for safety reasons.

They said they met with Davies in person to inform her the plants needed to be removed but nothing was done.

Davies said: "They used a big hammer to smash my shed and plastic container, and started taking all my ornaments.

"I have lost it all."

A picture of the garden before the council removed it. (SWNS)
A picture of the garden before the council removed it. (SWNS)

Her son Stephen, 60, added: "She hasn’t got long left. That’s all she has. She loved that garden.

"She used to do it with her friend until her friend passed away. She's done it for 17 years. She also won an award for the garden.

"What they’ve done now is a joke. I can’t see anyone going out there and using it at the moment.

"It's the way they smashed it all up, they used a big lump hammer that they smashed the shed up with.

"She was a big gardener but because she’s 86 she can get about much now. She knew it wasn't just her garden, it was for everyone to use.

"She was saying to me ‘I've had enough of life'. How could they do this to an elderly and disabled woman."

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The workers left the uprooted planters in a pile. (SWNS)
The workers left the uprooted planters in a pile. (SWNS)

Another resident Jillian Murcott, 83, who moved into the council-owned retirement complex recently, said: "It is called Emlyn’s Gardens but where are the gardens?"

Robert Reid, the council’s cabinet member for housing and property said it was in the interest of safety that they were removed.

He said: "Communal spaces are there for all tenants to enjoy but are owned by the council, which ensures they are safe and well-maintained.

"The communal space at Emlyn’s Gardens provides an exit route in the event of a fire and therefore it is vital it is always clear.

"The council met the tenant to explain the situation and they were also notified by letter of the need to clear personal items and remove the shed, but failed to do so.

"Following their removal by the council, some of the items are now in the possession of a family member and others remain at Emlyn’s Gardens awaiting collection.

"Work has now started to restore the garden, providing a safe area that all tenants can use and benefit from."