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The Watford Observer | Posted 15th March 2013

Chorleywood resident Susan Bookbinder “harassed” by parish council over wrong colour gravel

A Chorleywood resident has been left feeling harassed by a parish council campaign to force her into removing “appalling” gravel from outside her home.

Susan Bookbinder said Chorleywood Parish Council took such exception to the stones – placed on common land outside her home – that staff were sent to photograph the offending gravel the next day.

The broadcaster and journalist, who lives on Chorleywood Common, says she has been “harassed” by the council which sent her letters, contacted her neighbours about the stones and sent officials to examine the area last weekend while she and her eight-year-old son Zac were at home.

She said: “This is ludicrous, it is petty and frankly I find the whole thing a little creepy. On Sunday (November 11) there were three people walking up and down outside my house and when I asked who was taking photos, the council said they needed to gather evidence.

“It really is just pettiness; surely there are more important things to worry about, I told them I would try to filter the green and brown ones out if they assured me they would replace the gravel.

“I feel harassed when I think a person from the council was taking photos of my house and snooping on my son and I.”

The 200-acre common is a renowned local nature reserve and is owned by the parish council with the public enjoying the right to access it on foot for “air and exercise”, those living on the common are also permitted to park outside their homes on common land.

The dispute between Ms Bookbinder, who has lived on the common since 2005, arose when she laid the stones in August after making repeated requests for the council to replace gravel where she and her neighbours parked.

In a letter sent to Ms Bookbinder, who presents The Morning News for radio station LBC, the council defended taking photographs, saying they were for records and without any intention of “snooping” on her The letter adds that the stones on the permitted parking area were re-laid last year “at considerable expense” to the parish council.

The council declined to comment on the matter, however during Tuesday evening’s open spaces committee meeting, parish clerk Yvonne Merritt told the committee: “There are no legal obligations to this property, we do not have to provide the area as a driveway.

“The area is common up to the front door and the lady who lives there is a commoner and therefore is contacted when we do normal consultations so she is aware of her obligations.

“The chippings she laid look appalling therefore we asked her to remove them because they are totally out of keeping with the area.”

Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: “These officials are totally out of line. Turning up with a camera to take photographs, writing threatening letters and talking to someone’s neighbours all because of the colour of gravel.

“It’s another case of busybodies with nothing better to do interfering in people’s private affairs when they have absolutely no right to do so.”

There is an interesting follow up to the above article, see link below.

The Daily Mail Posted 10th October 2015