Kingston Council threaten New Malden pensioner with eviction over overgrown tree in Potters Grove

Brian Smithers outside his front garden with the tree

Brian Smithers outside his front garden with the tree

First published in News
Last updated
This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

A pensioner has been threatened with eviction after complaints from neighbours about an overgrown tree in the front garden of his council house.

Widower Brian Smithers, 73, has been living in Potters Grove, New Malden, for 30 years but Kingston Council say it his responsibility to deal with the large tree.

Mr Smithers, who lives alone after his wife died two years ago, said: “They want me to chop it down but I said no because it’s their tree. They are trying to evict me. I am a pensioner.

“The tree was here when I moved in. It is leaning quite badly and the roots look like a lot of snakes but they want me to pay for it. But it is their tree they have got to deal with it.”

A letter from Kingston Council’s housing management team, read: “You must pay urgent attention to these matters now.

“If you are unable to manage the gardens and find it too much, perhaps you might consider moving to a property without a garden so you no longer have this burden.

“If the tree has not been dealt with and the garden at the rear and front cut down so that it is tidy and well cared for as it should be, then I will have no other option but to serve you with a notice of seeking possession and you might lose your home as a result.”

New Malden councillor Terry Paton said: “I am just horrified. I think we should be looking to help someone so vulnerable rather than threatening them.

“The poor guy has just lost his wife and does not need to be treated like that. I feel a lot of sympathy.”

A Kingston Council spokesman said it had received complaints from neighbours and it was part of Mr Smithers’ tenancy agreement to keep the garden clean.

He said: “We are concerned that Mr Smithers, an elderly tenant, may be finding managing the gardens which are his responsibility too much of a burden.

“We will deal with the tree, and we are trying to discuss with Mr Smithers the possibility of him moving to a home without gardens to look after. He wasn’t at home last week when a housing officer called for an arranged appointment.”


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Comments (20)

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5:09pm Wed 9 Apr 14

pinky107 says...

nice one , good to see the council are as caring as ever . how about helping the man instead of threatening him . or is the house ear maked for some non taxpaying immigrant brood ?
surely there could be someone out there who could help cut the tree for him , for free , come on show some charity .
nice one , good to see the council are as caring as ever . how about helping the man instead of threatening him . or is the house ear maked for some non taxpaying immigrant brood ? surely there could be someone out there who could help cut the tree for him , for free , come on show some charity . pinky107
  • Score: -3

9:18am Thu 10 Apr 14

coach77cfc says...

Maybe his neighbours if they can be called that, I thought neighbours looked out for each other helped them out when helps needed I help my neighbours who are same as me disabled. Why don't they offer to help the guy out do his tree for him cut his grass you cut yours how much more work or difficulty is it to just do his for him
Maybe his neighbours if they can be called that, I thought neighbours looked out for each other helped them out when helps needed I help my neighbours who are same as me disabled. Why don't they offer to help the guy out do his tree for him cut his grass you cut yours how much more work or difficulty is it to just do his for him coach77cfc
  • Score: 18

11:14am Thu 10 Apr 14

helen59 says...

looks like he could do with the exercise !!
looks like he could do with the exercise !! helen59
  • Score: -9

1:03pm Thu 10 Apr 14

Ricademus says...

The tree is inside his property so it is his responsibility to crop the tree, but saying that if his neighbors feel strongly about it, why don't they help the old guy, I am sure someone has a saw and a ladder, I would go and do it for him if I knew where he was and I have had a stroke,
So neighbors of Mr Smithers get off your butts and go and help him, that is what neighbors are supposed to do and stop your complaining.
Some people have nothing better to do.
The tree is inside his property so it is his responsibility to crop the tree, but saying that if his neighbors feel strongly about it, why don't they help the old guy, I am sure someone has a saw and a ladder, I would go and do it for him if I knew where he was and I have had a stroke, So neighbors of Mr Smithers get off your butts and go and help him, that is what neighbors are supposed to do and stop your complaining. Some people have nothing better to do. Ricademus
  • Score: 17

4:20pm Thu 10 Apr 14

SteveC1964 says...

Clearly it's a big tree and needs more than a little pruning here and there. It is his responsibility. They can't evict him if he gets the maintenance done. It's surely worth it when you consider that council housing rents are a fraction of those in the private sector. What would it cost to cut down and remove the tree? £400? If I were Mr Smithers I'd object to the caravan in the front garden next door (Gooogle Streetview tells the story).
Clearly it's a big tree and needs more than a little pruning here and there. It is his responsibility. They can't evict him if he gets the maintenance done. It's surely worth it when you consider that council housing rents are a fraction of those in the private sector. What would it cost to cut down and remove the tree? £400? If I were Mr Smithers I'd object to the caravan in the front garden next door (Gooogle Streetview tells the story). SteveC1964
  • Score: 5

4:52am Fri 11 Apr 14

Beverly RA says...

What is not said in the report for those who do not know him is that he his disabled and used a motorised wheelchair to get about.
What is not said in the report for those who do not know him is that he his disabled and used a motorised wheelchair to get about. Beverly RA
  • Score: 0

9:18am Fri 11 Apr 14

Ricademus says...

Beverly RA wrote:
What is not said in the report for those who do not know him is that he his disabled and used a motorised wheelchair to get about.
That is awful surely there is someone out there that can help this man, someone must have a ladder and a saw and a couple of spare hours to trim this **** tree back for him. As I said I would do it but I have had a stroke
[quote][p][bold]Beverly RA[/bold] wrote: What is not said in the report for those who do not know him is that he his disabled and used a motorised wheelchair to get about.[/p][/quote]That is awful surely there is someone out there that can help this man, someone must have a ladder and a saw and a couple of spare hours to trim this **** tree back for him. As I said I would do it but I have had a stroke Ricademus
  • Score: 5

12:00pm Fri 11 Apr 14

SteveC1964 says...

I re-read the story and saw at the end that a Kingston Council spokesman said "We will deal with the tree....." which pretty-much makes this a non-story doesn't it?
I re-read the story and saw at the end that a Kingston Council spokesman said "We will deal with the tree....." which pretty-much makes this a non-story doesn't it? SteveC1964
  • Score: 14

12:13pm Fri 11 Apr 14

kingstonpaul says...

Looks like a lovely tree. Given the relentless monotony of so many council estates, he should be encouraged to keep it. It surely make a much bigger aesthetic contribution to the area than all those hideous satellite dishes that seem to dangle from every council property.
Looks like a lovely tree. Given the relentless monotony of so many council estates, he should be encouraged to keep it. It surely make a much bigger aesthetic contribution to the area than all those hideous satellite dishes that seem to dangle from every council property. kingstonpaul
  • Score: 3

2:23pm Fri 11 Apr 14

chrisr1718 says...

It's not even the biggest tree in the road. Pretty poor neighbours if you ask me.
It's not even the biggest tree in the road. Pretty poor neighbours if you ask me. chrisr1718
  • Score: 6

6:24pm Fri 11 Apr 14

HSmithers says...

I think Kingston Council are wrong as I know Mr Smithers I am is daughter and we know he needs help but Kingston Council will not help out people who have paid their way over the years and my dad has not claimed any benefit money he has worked all his life since he was 15 years old
I think Kingston Council are wrong as I know Mr Smithers I am is daughter and we know he needs help but Kingston Council will not help out people who have paid their way over the years and my dad has not claimed any benefit money he has worked all his life since he was 15 years old HSmithers
  • Score: -2

8:36am Sat 12 Apr 14

helen59 says...

if he has a family then why haven't they helped him. Kingston council do not have the money - they are closing old folks homes and sending them home to look after themselves, even those with alzheimers leaving them all alone, with no family to help and if they are lucky they might get someone in once a day to help.
if he has a family then why haven't they helped him. Kingston council do not have the money - they are closing old folks homes and sending them home to look after themselves, even those with alzheimers leaving them all alone, with no family to help and if they are lucky they might get someone in once a day to help. helen59
  • Score: -1

6:35pm Sat 12 Apr 14

robertbrickwood says...

Mr Smithers says the tree was within the property when he moved in. Perhaps his lease/tenancy requires him to take responsibility for the grounds? if so, whether the tree was there or not when he moved in is therefore irrelevant because he should have maintained rather than letting it become a problem. Irrespective of the foregoing anyone prepared to get evicted over the comparatively low cost of getting the tree pruned probably needs mental care
Mr Smithers says the tree was within the property when he moved in. Perhaps his lease/tenancy requires him to take responsibility for the grounds? if so, whether the tree was there or not when he moved in is therefore irrelevant because he should have maintained rather than letting it become a problem. Irrespective of the foregoing anyone prepared to get evicted over the comparatively low cost of getting the tree pruned probably needs mental care robertbrickwood
  • Score: -2

6:41pm Sat 12 Apr 14

robertbrickwood says...

HSmithers wrote:
I think Kingston Council are wrong as I know Mr Smithers I am is daughter and we know he needs help but Kingston Council will not help out people who have paid their way over the years and my dad has not claimed any benefit money he has worked all his life since he was 15 years old
Perhaps your dad should have invested some of his hard earned cash over the last 30 years in getting the tree pruned instead of neglecting it until he has caused distress to others. Better still why are you not prepared to help your father out and do the decent thing by paying to get the tree pruned?
[quote][p][bold]HSmithers[/bold] wrote: I think Kingston Council are wrong as I know Mr Smithers I am is daughter and we know he needs help but Kingston Council will not help out people who have paid their way over the years and my dad has not claimed any benefit money he has worked all his life since he was 15 years old[/p][/quote]Perhaps your dad should have invested some of his hard earned cash over the last 30 years in getting the tree pruned instead of neglecting it until he has caused distress to others. Better still why are you not prepared to help your father out and do the decent thing by paying to get the tree pruned? robertbrickwood
  • Score: 1

2:07pm Sun 13 Apr 14

johnmacphee says...

The council are draconian..........a
nd liberty takers.....will no one stand up for this man,..........?
The council are draconian..........a nd liberty takers.....will no one stand up for this man,..........? johnmacphee
  • Score: 0

10:12am Mon 14 Apr 14

helen59 says...

johnmacphee wrote:
The council are draconian..........a

nd liberty takers.....will no one stand up for this man,..........?
he has a family - there are more deserving people out there that genuinely need help.
[quote][p][bold]johnmacphee[/bold] wrote: The council are draconian..........a nd liberty takers.....will no one stand up for this man,..........?[/p][/quote]he has a family - there are more deserving people out there that genuinely need help. helen59
  • Score: 0

10:27am Mon 14 Apr 14

Ricademus says...

johnmacphee wrote:
The council are draconian..........a

nd liberty takers.....will no one stand up for this man,..........?
Read my post I have also contacted the Surrey Comet
[quote][p][bold]johnmacphee[/bold] wrote: The council are draconian..........a nd liberty takers.....will no one stand up for this man,..........?[/p][/quote]Read my post I have also contacted the Surrey Comet Ricademus
  • Score: 0

11:32pm Mon 14 Apr 14

TraditionalValues says...

Just shows the feckless dependency that results from giving hardworking taxpayers money to these so called social tenants. They lounge around in their subsidised housing and can't be bothered to do the little that we ask them to do.

The Conservative's Tony Arbour had it spot on when he described these so-called social tenants as riff-raff. The ungrateful should be cleared out to Hastings and these sink estates replaced with private houses for decent hard working people. That's what they're doing in Hammersmith and Fulham. After the Conservatives win the election we should do it here.
Just shows the feckless dependency that results from giving hardworking taxpayers money to these so called social tenants. They lounge around in their subsidised housing and can't be bothered to do the little that we ask them to do. The Conservative's Tony Arbour had it spot on when he described these so-called social tenants as riff-raff. The ungrateful should be cleared out to Hastings and these sink estates replaced with private houses for decent hard working people. That's what they're doing in Hammersmith and Fulham. After the Conservatives win the election we should do it here. TraditionalValues
  • Score: -9

12:46pm Wed 16 Apr 14

buggsie says...

Picture looks like a cherry tree - all the blossom falls off - neighbours probably too lazy to clear it up.
Go and plant Japanese Knot weed in their gardens when it's dark - that'll learn them.
Bit selfish though of neighbours not help him prune the tree.
Picture looks like a cherry tree - all the blossom falls off - neighbours probably too lazy to clear it up. Go and plant Japanese Knot weed in their gardens when it's dark - that'll learn them. Bit selfish though of neighbours not help him prune the tree. buggsie
  • Score: 2

3:20pm Tue 22 Apr 14

peggyflobobbie says...

My mums family lived in this road from the 40's to the 70's the council actually planted cherry trees in all the gardens so get the council to look back on there records and come and prune it.
My mums family lived in this road from the 40's to the 70's the council actually planted cherry trees in all the gardens so get the council to look back on there records and come and prune it. peggyflobobbie
  • Score: 0

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