Grandfather, 90, is reported to police for criminal damage by his local council – after clearing undergrowth outside his home that caused him to fall and hurt himself

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A 90-year-old grandfather has been reported to the police for criminal damage by his local council, after he cleared undergrowth outside his home.

After falling and injuring his arm, Keith Ramsell paid contractors £1,300 to chop down the ‘wall of vegetation’ in Bushey, Hertfordshire. 

Prior to taking the matter into his own hands, he had spent more than a year contacting Hertsmere Borough Council, asking them to work on the area.

But, when he emailed them to say he’d completed the job himself he was told he had committed criminal damage and the police had been informed. The council claims 30 ‘mature trees’ have been removed. 

Annoyed, the retired university professor shot back a week later and said he had approached a passing police officer to hand himself in. He added the officer ‘absolutely declined to taser me, or even put me in handcuffs’.

Widowed grandfather-of-four Mr Ramsell said he’s ‘half outraged and half amused’ by the whole ordeal.

Grandfather Mr Ramsell has been reported to the police for criminal damage by his local council, after he cleared undergrowth outside his home

Grandfather Mr Ramsell has been reported to the police for criminal damage by his local council, after he cleared undergrowth outside his home

After falling and injuring his arm, Keith Ramsell paid contractors £1,300 to chop down the 'wall of vegetation' in Bushey, Hertfordshire

After falling and injuring his arm, Keith Ramsell paid contractors £1,300 to chop down the ‘wall of vegetation’ in Bushey, Hertfordshire

The council has confirmed it made a criminal damage report. In an email it said: ‘For absolute clarity you must not carry out any such actions again.’ 

Mr Ramsell said: ‘I wrote to the council to tell them what I’d done – and they said I’d caused criminal damage. So I contacted the police and told them life on the run didn’t suit me. I’d rather hand myself in.

READ MORE:  Council leader, 72, who screamed ‘like a banshee’ at workers over hedge cutting at war memorial before her 75-year-old husband threw a tree at them made ‘serious conduct breaches’

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‘There has been two fires on the patch of land – last autumn and this spring – as it’s very dry. They were quite terrifying.

‘And I felt very cross and very concerned about my two neighbours who lived in the dark, because they had this wall of vegetation right up to their windows.’

Mr Ramsell bought the retirement property in March 2021 and said the flat used to have views of a nearby park and old moat.

But this became obscured by long grass and ‘saplings’, Mr Ramsell has claimed – which he said also encouraged anti-social behaviour and was a fire risk.

Emails show Mr Ramsell contacted the council about the area off Moatfield Recreation Ground, in June 2022, calling it a ‘matter of great concern’.

Messages were then exchanged in which Mr Ramsell asked for the area to be tended to.

But a council email dated April 2023 said no further work was planned.

Mr Ramsell then fell and bruised his arm while clearing the area of rubbish last month and decided he’d had enough.

An international concert violinist, he said the injury left him doubting if he would be able to fulfil his final engagement – recording a Bach concerto for two violins – but luckily he was still able to complete the recording.

The council claims 30 'mature trees' have been removed and has reported Mr Ramsell to the police for criminal damage

The council claims 30 ‘mature trees’ have been removed and has reported Mr Ramsell to the police for criminal damage

At his wits’ end with the council, Mr Ramsell hired contractors to clear the area on August 26.

He said: ‘Once a week I go around and pick up empty bottles and cans and things, and in the long grass I tripped over a stump and hurt my arm very badly.

READ MORE: Council tell driver to find the ‘exact pothole’ that damaged his car… or he won’t be able to claim money back for the damage 

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‘I lost my temper and got contractors to only clear the dead stuff, nothing green – they did a great job, they took it all away and charged me £1,300.

‘It’s quite a lot of money but they did a good job and it’s safe. It won’t burn anymore.’

Retired hairdresser Jennifer Gee, 73, lives in the same block as Mr Ramsell. She described the shrubland area as ‘triffid’ – a common reference to describe large, invasive or menacing-looking plants.

Jennifer said: ‘[The council] think old people won’t fight back – but they’re wrong. It’s been a hazard and it’s a claustrophobic, triffid experience living here.

‘I’ve lived here for 11 or 12 years. They used to come every other year to cut it down.

‘Then it went to every three years, and now they’re saying they’re not coming back and won’t do it anymore.

‘It’s a small corner of the park so to them it’s not a nuisance – but to us it’s just awful.’

Mr Ramsell’s carer Dorota, 45, helped contact the council to ask for help previously. She said: ‘We haven’t heard anything from police regarding the criminal damage as of yet.

‘We’ve tried to contact the police and ask them.’

A Hertsmere Borough Council spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that we’ve reported an incident of criminal damage (the removal of 30 mature trees and other shrubbery) at Moatfield Recreation Ground in Bushey to Hertfordshire Constabulary.

‘As there is an on-going police investigation, it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment further at this stage.’

Hertfordshire police said: ‘Police in Hertsmere are currently investigating a report of criminal damage after 30 trees were allegedly cut down in Moatfield Road, Bushey, on Saturday, August 26.

‘Enquiries are being carried out and anyone with information should call the non-emergency number 101 quoting crime reference 41/70946/23.’







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