Patio faces bulldozer as council corrects land contamination

PUBLISHED: 14:27 29 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 04 May 2010

The patio which could be torn up

The patio which could be torn up

LITTLEPORT villager Amanda Murfitt, who has invested hundreds of pounds in her garden, faces being back to square one after work is carried out to clear dangerous chemicals. She will lose her five-metres-wide shaped patio where the family enjoy open-air m

LITTLEPORT villager Amanda Murfitt, who has invested hundreds of pounds in her garden, faces being back to square one after work is carried out to clear dangerous chemicals.

She will lose her five-metres-wide shaped patio where the family enjoy open-air meals, her son, Joseph, practices his football skills and her daughter Hannah plays with their new puppy.

Instead she has been told she can expect only a standard 1.5 metres patio, and fears her garden will resemble a "new build".

Amanda's garden in Old School Close is one of 29 being cleaned-up by East Cambridgeshire District Council after the homes were built on land contaminated by chemicals from an old gasworks.

But Amanda has accused the council of not "being open" with residents and promising they would reinstate the gardens when they planned only to "make good".

She has been told she must sign a legal agreement with the council by February 15 or the work will not be done.

""The council has always said it would reinstate the gardens," said Amanda. "We have filled in questionnaires and sent photos in the last year but they have waited until now to tell us this is not the case.

"I feel they have not been open with us. They are not going to restore my garden and I will be left with a new build. I just want my patio put back as it is now. But the patio I will get will not even be big enough for a table and chairs."

In a letter, Cllr John Seaman, chairman of East Cambridgeshire District Council's environment and transport committee, told Amanda that council money would pay for "the remediation but would not be sufficient to offer any more than very basic level of reinstatement.

"We have always used this term to describe the process of turning the excavation into a garden, it is a standard term used in the industry and we apologise if you have been led to believe that your garden will be exactly as it is now after the works.

"The cost of reinstating your patio to what it currently is may not be too significant but we would have to offer a similar service to everybody in the surrounding properties and this would have significant financial implications."

He added that, despite any misunderstanding of the term 'reinstate' it would continue to be used as most residents "understand it and what part of the process it represents".

East Cambridgeshire District Council chief executive, John Hill, said that Amanda can either leave the patio in place while work is carried out or it can be dug up but won't be replaced "like for like".

"She has a considerable patio area and we cannot afford to put it back as it is," he said.

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