A safety-conscious wheelchair user has cut back dangerously overgrown hedges along a busy one-mile stretch of road in his home village.
Michael Read suffers from a bone disease which has caused him to lose both of his legs, one above the knee and the other below, and most of his fingers.
Disabilities aside, he has spent the last few weeks cleaning road signs around Stanton as part of a newly launched Now You See It campaign which he says ‘saves lives, slows people down and looks like someone’s taking care of the village’.
During his clean up, he also discovered a ‘dangerously’ overgrown hedgerow running alongside the B1111 on George Hill, in Stanton, and decided something needed to be done about it, urgently.
He said: “I couldn’t get up there [in a wheelchair] because the brambles and that were so far off the pavement. You had to go off the road and it’s a very busy road – I nearly got killed. Cars and lorries go hurtling down there.”
The 52-year-old said Suffolk County Council refused to cut the hedge during birds’ nesting season so he spent his disability allowance on gardening tools and did it himself, checking for nests as he went.
“It took me three days to cut that path,” he said, adding that the parish council had now offered to reimburse him for the cost of his tools.
Passing motorist Simon Blampied said he did a ‘double take’ when he saw Michael with his wheelchair and garden sheers.
He said: “I turned around and went back, I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I said ‘are you doing this so you can get down here’ and he said ‘yes’.”
Mr Blampied said he thought the overgrown hedge was just one example of rural areas being neglected by the council.
Alan Shelton, chairman of Stanton Parish Council, said it should not have been necessary for Michael to cut the hedge.
He said the parish council was ‘very concerned’ about its growth and had been pursuing the matter ‘very actively’ with representatives of the county council.
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said in rural areas ‘B’ roads are cut to a width of 1.2 metres twice a year and that where safety is an issue at junctions, Suffolk Highways will undertake a further cut if required later in the season.