United Kingdom

Broadband workmen leave 23ft scorch mark on beloved 90-year-old hedge

A gardener has been left devastated after workmen left an 'horrific' scorch mark along the entire length of a 90-year-old shrub which he has lovingly tended for the last two decades.

Chris Arter, 68, said his beautiful hawthorn hedge outside his home in Halstead, Essex, was a shadow of its former self after being 'branded' with a perfect line by the exhaust of a workman's concrete cutting tool.

Mr Arter, who is a former Royal Air Force serviceman and was brought up on a farm, believes it will take at least two years for his hedge, which is now littered with dead patches, to fully recover from what happened.

The homeowner, known locally as 'Chris the Mole Man' for his job in mole catching, has regularly trimmed the hedge every month to keep it in good shape but blames workmen installing broadband lines for the damage.

He said the hot exhaust of a concrete cutting disc inadvertently scalded an 8in (20cm)-wide line along his 23ft-long hedge, which he said dates back to the 1930s, as engineers sliced open the pavement.

Chris Arter, 68, stands by his hedge outside his home in Halstead, Essex, which has been left with a scorch mark along it

The damage to the 90-year hedge is shown soon after the incident, with the scorch even more visible along its length

Mr Arter told how his beautiful hawthorn hedge was a shadow of its former self after it was 'branded' with a perfect line

Mr Arter thinks it will take at least two years for his shrub, which is now littered with dead patches, to fully recover

Mr Arter has been left devastated after workmen left the scorch mark along the entire length of his near-century-old shrub

Mr Arter - known locally as 'Chris the Mole Man' for his job in mole catching - has regularly trimmed the hedge every month

Mr Arter said: 'I was horrified when I saw the hedge. There was a brown line straight along it. It's a lovely hedge. It's been there since the house was built in the 1930s.  I'm a country boy, I was brought up on a farm, so I like hedges. 

'I've been tending to that hedge for 20 odd years. I trim it once every month to keep it looking nice.  It's going to get a long time to get that hedge back - couple of years I expect. The hedge is dying, it's covered in holes.'

Mr Arter claimed engineering experts working on behalf of internet firm Gigaclear failed to apologise after causing the damage in May. He said: 'No one came around to apologise. They just cleared off. 

'How could they leave a mess like that and not say anything? The company gave me a £4 box of bonemeal to make it grow back quicker. I was not impressed with that.'

Mr Arter, who has lived at the property with his wife for 23 years, is now demanding compensation for the hedge damage but said he had not heard from either company since June.

'If it was a brick wall there would be a cost. I don't know how much a hedge is worth. If they'd come around and said sorry I would have accepted it, but to be totally ignored.'

Mr Arter has regularly trimmed the hedge every month to keep it in good shape but has been left devastated by the damage

Mr Arter, who has lived at the property with his wife for 23 years, is now demanding compensation for the hedge damage

Mr Arter said his beautiful hawthorn hedge was a shadow of its former self following the incident in May

A spokesman for Gigaclear said the company tried to contact him after a story about his ordeal appeared in the local press

Mr Arter claimed engineering experts working on behalf of Gigaclear failed to apologise after causing the damage in May

A spokesman for Gigaclear said the company tried to contact Mr Arter after a story about his ordeal appeared in the local press last Friday.

They added: 'We have apologised and look forward to reaching a mutually agreeable resolution. Delivering and installing this infrastructure is an enormous undertaking, which can sometimes be disruptive.

'Unfortunately, on this occasion, the machinery used by our contractors to dig and reinstate the pavement accidentally damaged a hedge.

'We have contacted the resident to apologise and are currently in discussions with him regarding a resolution.

'Gigaclear has been working hard to bring ultrafast full-fibre broadband to several homes and businesses in the Halstead area, to enable the community to benefit from fast, reliable broadband speeds.'

** Has any part of your home or garden been damaged by workmen? Please email: [email protected] ** 

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