McMullan: We must make it easier for people to deal with high hedges

Alliance Councillor Ross McMullan has called on Belfast City Council to make it financially easier for local people to tackle concerns over high hedges.

As it stands, where mediation fails in dealing with concerns around high hedges – which can often be a real nuisance and sense of frustration and stress for people affected – raising an official complaint in the Belfast area costs up to five times more than other areas in Northern Ireland.

Ross said: “Often people have no choice but to make an official complaint, which is why it is hard to understand why Belfast City Council insists on charging applicants £350, especially when they are often dealing with a stressful situation.

“While the fee is returned to the applicant if the complaint is upheld, this is still a large outlay for anyone wanted to see a final resolution to a problem that has often been lingering for some time.

“The fee is set by Councils, so while other areas like Derry and Strabane Council it costs £50 to pursue a complaint, I must questions why the large fee for people seeking the same service in Belfast.

“That’s why we are not only calling for a review of the costs of high hedge complaints in Belfast Council, but will be urging officers to advance the development of a mediation toolkit or resource to help resolve a greater number of disputes at an earlier stage.”