Thursday, 16 July 2015

Two letters...

My back lane folly continues. It's pretty hard work in a number of ways, but there is progress and to be honest, in this ever increasingly self-interested, far too busy, sorry I have to dash world, that is good enough for me. This week I managed to tidy up the lane all the way to one end which means I am over half complete.

Gaynor and I sat in the sunshine in the lane yesterday afternoon and had a glass of wine, well we'd been sweeping and shifting for hours, so who cares that it wasn't even five o'clock. Here are the two letters, one to a resident of Byrom Street who insists of dumping his garden waste in the alley, the other to the Head of Trafford Council.

And people say I'm not an optimist.

Letter one:


My name is Andrew and I live at 10 Willowtree Road. I have spent today breaking down and filling four green bins, borrowed with my neighbour’s permission, with the bamboo and other green waste you dumped in our alley. I have also moved the already full bin that has sat there for the last six weeks or so as it is collection day tomorrow.

My reasons for doing this are various; firstly as the act of a good neighbour as the mess was getting some of the residents nerves. Secondly it is a health hazard and a number of years ago it was just such a situation that let to a rat infestation. We spent many weekends, and hundreds of pounds on skips clearing the alley and it has remained pretty clear until now thanks to the residents of Willowtree Road.

We do this because, although it is a public thoroughfare, it is our legal responsibility to keep it clear as we are liable. It is Willowtree Road’s access alley, not Byrom Street’s. You access is through the gates you each have to enter each others gardens. In fact you shouldn’t have rear access to Willowtree alley at all, although some have put in gates.

My other reason for this is that I am trying to interest Willowtree residents in the RHS’s Green Up Grey Britain Campaign and would like our alley to be a pleasant and safe place to walk through. I have the support and am in touch with The Head of Trafford Council on this matter and many Willowtree residents have contributed funds to this end. If you would like to contribute to pay for my efforts today please feel free.

I hope that this makes sense to you and explains things. I thought it better to write it down so that we are clear. I have no problem clearing up such a huge amount of rubbish this once, but I am not going to make it a habit. In effect you are fly-tipping, so I would ask that you remove the hard rubbish and the ladders from the alley as soon as you can. The ladders are a particular problem as they have security issues which may affect your insurance if a neighbour is broken into with them.

Best regards,


Letter two:

Hi Sean

Summer rolls on and the urban lane begins to green up. Interest from my neighbours is growing slowly with a few pounds for weedkiller and gas for the weed burner occasionally passing hands. My next door neighbour waters when I am away and compliments abound from all. But I could really do with something to make them fully sit up and become more involved.

I've spent the last couple of days clearing and sweeping the lower end of the lane, trimming back ivy and overhanging shrubs, so now there is a large stretch of very respectable thoroughfare. I'd like to get some signs made asking people to enjoy the space but not to drop litter or leave behind their dog mess, and erect them either end of the lane on the walls. Something fun rather than threatening.

We have had one problem. A resident of Byrom Street keeps clearing his garden of bamboo and shrubs and throwing it over the fence into the lane. It sits there for weeks, so on this occasion I have moved it (all five green bins full) and written to him, explaining what we are trying to do and why, and asking him not to do it again. Mind you this is at least the second time he has been asked not to fly-tip in this way. It annoys all of the neigbours I have spoken to particularly as Byrom Street has no real right of access.

I’m sure though that all of this can be resolved, and when I put out another communication I will include Byrom Street residents who back onto us.

I noticed in the Manchester Weekly News of the Be Prouds 'Upping It' scheme in  Manchester.  They are receiving £7,600 from Manchester council's clean city fund. I was wondering if there are any plans to extend this to Trafford. I'm not talking thousands but it would be great to be able to buy matching planters for the walls of our lane and it might inspire people to do more, giving them that little push they need.

Anyway, it is a much pleasanter spot these days (we even had a huge emerald green dragonfly dancing around this afternoon) and over the next couple of weeks I intend to clear the remaining 60 yards or so if my back holds out. I will then write again to my neighbours and ask them to take some responsibility for keeping it as tidy as possible. Just a thirty foot sweep behind their own properties every week or two, and a bit of hot weather watering, would do it.

Finally, my wife still thinks I'm made but at least she's helping with the clearing ;-)

Best regards


  1. Yes I am a busybody, but the ladders and the rest of the rubbish has been removed. Success!

  2. Comments on letter 1.

    Andrew Height My back is breaking.
    14 July at 20:46 · Like

    Lindsey Messenger Great letter.... Well done, clear and to the point
    14 July at 20:54 · Unlike · 1

    Sarah Farmer Lets hope they can read!
    14 July at 20:54 · Unlike · 1

    Sharon Taylor well done Andrew Height, can you put a gate up as well ?
    14 July at 21:14 · Unlike · 1

    David Jones Doubt you will get a reply! Maybe a brick through the window?! People who live like that rarely respond in a reasonable or positive manner. Shame when people like you put in the effort to keep the place looking nice but some people simply don't care and have no pride or self esteem!
    14 July at 21:34 · Unlike · 3

    Pete Wright That's excellent Andy, well done.
    14 July at 22:01 · Unlike · 1

    Andrew Height They can read. It's a very expensive middle class area. Nothing under 400k for a two up two down. They are busy people focused on themselves, if it was central Manchester it wouldn' t happen. Anyway, point made and if they do it again I will be on to environmental health.
    14 July at 22:05 · Like · 2

    Paul Whitehouse I am inspired by this Andrew. We have neighbours in an adjoining road who insist on parking on the pavement which results in us literally playing Russian Roulette every time we exit our road as we cannot see around their parked vehicle. I am tempted to drop a note through their door but right now could not do so without using the phrase 'fucking retards' .
    14 July at 22:08 · Like · 3

    Sharon Taylor I think this may be illegal Paul Whitehouse, check it out!
    14 July at 22:18 · Like

    Paul Whitehouse I am sure it is Sharon, so I emailed a photo of offending vehicle to the local police but no response.
    14 July at 22:20 · Like

    Andrew Height We have that too Paul and worse, Burch am learning to become more measured these days. I think the middle class have no sense of shame, just look at our politicians.
    14 July at 22:32 · Like

    Kathryn Salthouse Well done x
    14 July at 22:34 · Unlike · 1

    Emma Cole Great letter Andrew, doubt you'll get a response, but everything you have said is true, hope it works. I popped down the entry the other day and must say your doing an great job, it looks so much better x
    14 July at 22:37 · Unlike · 1

    Peter Burns Very impressive and hope it gets the response it deserves and I don't mean a brick through your window
    14 July at 22:38 · Like

  3. More comments on letter 1

    Emma Cole Shame it cant be said about some front and back gardens on our road, you should pop over to mum's and see next doors back garden, its horrendous. Mum and dad are totally feed up with the whole situation.
    14 July at 22:39 · Unlike · 1

    Maggie Patzuk You are a gentleman! I would have considered throwing their rubbish back in their yard!
    14 July at 23:06 · Unlike · 1

    Annette Jones Brll letter very civilised! they should act on that and if not report them!
    14 July at 23:49 · Unlike · 1

    Andrew Height Maggie I did consider it, but everyone deserves two chances. They have now had theirs and it is probably that they did not fully understand the situation or the angst their actions were causing. I have more 'smartening up' over the next few weeks to do...See More
    Yesterday at 00:19 · Like

    Andrew Height Emma, I know I spoke to your mum yesterday and to be honest I feel the same way. The road is losing its charm and just becoming a very expensive car park. I saw what those people next door are doing and I have to say it is horrendous. I will never not ...See More
    Yesterday at 00:23 · Edited · Like

    Annette Jones Ahhh Robins I feel are very special! I just have this gut feeling. I have one in my garden and I feel it is a lucky charm watching over me! maybe a person in disguise smile emoticon
    Yesterday at 00:25 · Unlike · 1

    Andrew Height No Sharon, not legally. The Head of Trafford Council tells me Trafford no longer support gating. What I will do though, if I can get a few more residents interested, is put up some signs asking people to enjoy the space but to respect it.
    Yesterday at 00:28 · Edited · Like

    Andrew Height Annette, some people believe that they hold the spirits of departed loved ones. It certainly feels that way to me when one sits next to you. Right Lindsey?
    Yesterday at 00:32 · Like · 1

    Tim Preston That's fair enough that Andy. Well put. Written plainly and without any malice which is important for getting on with your neighbours in the future smile emoticon
    Yesterday at 00:57 · Edited · Unlike · 1

    Lynda Henderson You did this for them? I hope they keep it this way. I doubt it though. Now they will think a nice neighbor will come and tidy up their messes. You are too kind Mr. Height.
    Yesterday at 01:07 · Unlike · 1

    Maggie Patzuk Love robins! The robin brings a fresh new perspective to situations that are otherwise foggy and unclear. Try calling on robin energy for clarity when your judgement is clouded or when you need light shed on an issue.
    Yesterday at 01:07 · Unlike · 1

    Andrew Height No Lynda, I did this for my neighbours who were getting annoyed by their actions and are beginning to see the value in what we could do. I'm sure that until today that they had no idea that something as seemingly unimportant as dumping trash and forgetting about it could cause anyone to do something about it. All I want is for them not to do it again.
    Yesterday at 01:57 · Like

    Andrew Height I get on with my neighbors fine Tim. That doesn't mean that I agree with everything they do though wink emoticon
    Yesterday at 01:58 · Edited · Like

    Andrew Height Maggie, the British Robin is the most wonderful of birds. I defy anyone not to feel supremely privileged if they have one come to within a foot or two of them.
    Andrew Height's photo.
    Yesterday at 02:02 · Like · 1

    Emma Cole My favourite bird, so special.
    Yesterday at 09:39 · Like

    Lindsey Messenger Awww yes Andrew, I always feel seeing a Robin is a sign mum and dad are close by... Not that I need to see a Robin as just know they are always watching over us x
    23 hrs · Unlike · 1

    Andrew Height The ladders and other rubbish has been moved - so a happy ending. More lemonade anyone?
    Just now · Like

  4. Comments on the picture I took for letter 2.

    Lindsey Messenger Looks amazing.... You are doing a great job
    23 hrs · Like

    Andrew Height Thanks Lindsey. Still trying to get a little funding from the local council. If they gave me a few hundred I could buy wall planters all the way down. Mind you I did 'find' an old chimney pot today. If you look closely at the far end on the left you will see itt. I've planted it up.
    23 hrs · Like · 1

    Kathryn Salthouse Looking good
    23 hrs · Unlike · 1

    Sonya Tickle Looks great. Well done! Xxx
    23 hrs · Unlike · 1

    Melanie Hickson Looking good smile emoticon
    23 hrs · Unlike · 1

    Barbara Balding Looks great
    22 hrs · Unlike · 1

    Tricia Kitt You are a star! My driveway is a tip; do I qualify? ( G&Ts on tap...)
    21 hrs · Unlike · 2

    Linda Kemp looks lovely x
    20 hrs · Unlike · 1

    Mel Mackuin Great stuff Andrew!
    19 hrs · Unlike · 1

    Lynda Henderson It's lovely. I want to be there!
    19 hrs · Unlike · 1

    Pauline Delooze Looks fab Andy.
    18 hrs · Unlike · 1

    Rebecca Jane Brookes Lovely, andy. Great idea.
    18 hrs · Unlike · 1

    Andrew Height Is it the real life? Or is it just fantasy? Watch out for those frigging rocks!
    18 hrs · Like

    Marisa Kismul Looks amazing x
    17 hrs · Unlike · 1

    Alan Buckley Fantastic!
    10 hrs · Unlike · 1

    Andy Lloyd Invite the local media to have a look. It might generate more interest.
    9 hrs · Unlike · 2

    Andrew Height Good idea.
    8 hrs · Like

    Tim Preston Put a few more chairs out and you could turn it into a cafe. Serve teas, coffees and cakes out of your kitchen. You could pretend to be French and say Bounjour Madame, Monsieur Qu'est ce que je peux vous servir?
    8 hrs · Like · 2

    Sue Mcnally Why not have an open air cinema night projected onto the walls
    8 hrs · Unlike · 2

    Nicola Litherland Well done, every community needs an 'Andrew'!!! Xx
    8 hrs · Like · 1

    Andrew Height Going to try to organise an end of summer barbecue to get neighbours on board. I just sit out there and drink wine in rha afternoon. At least I use a glass.
    8 hrs · Like · 5

    Andrew Height Most do Nicola. It's called a busybody.