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   Inside Out - West Midlands: Monday Februray 13, 2006

Hedge wars

Man next to leylandii hedge
Tall order - high hedges can lead to disputes between neighbours

To many they are the scourge of suburbia.

Leylandii, fast-growing trees which can reach towering heights, have become a common cause of neighbourly disputes across the Midlands.

But a new law has now been passed in a bid to settle these conifer-related conflicts.

Battle lines


Since June 2005, people can take complaints about a neighbour's evergreen hedge to their local council. But the complainant must try to resolve matters privately first.

The local authority's role is to adjudicate on whether the hedge is adversely affecting the complainants' reasonable enjoyment of their property.

The local authority must take account of all relevant factors and strike a balance between the competing interests of the complainant, the hedge owner, and the community.

Councils can order a hedge to be cut to two metres, but can't require it to be removed. Failure to comply can result in a £1,000 fine.

Inside Out meets the Gloucestershire man who hopes the new legislation will help him settle a 10 year battle over a row of leylandii at the rear of his garden.

He claims the hedge is too high, but his neighbours want the trees for privacy.

Will intervention from the local council settle the dispute?

We also hear from the Birmingham home owner who pioneered the anti-leylandii movement in Britain.

And we meet the psychologist who explains how a humble hedge can spark a war of words – and even lead to violence.

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Wartime murder

Florrie Porter
Florrie Porter was just 33-years-old when she died

Florrie Porter was stabbed to death on the porch of a Worcestershire village school during the Second World War.

Despite evidence which suggested her killer could have been an American soldier, no-one was ever convicted of her murder.

Sixty years on, Inside Out investigates claims that the identity of Florrie’s murderer was deliberately covered up.

We hear from those involved in the original case and meet author, Elizabeth Ruffin, who is convinced she will finally solve the macabre mystery.

And we are given an exclusive briefing from police officers who have recently revisited the case.

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Going for Gold

Jackie Davies in 2002 bobsleigh team
Jackie Davies (rear) in the 2002 British bobsleigh team

Seven years ago, Jackie Davies had never even ridden in a bobsleigh.

Now, she is one of Britain’s best Winter Olympic medal hopes.

How did a West Midlands Army technician with a background in rugby and athletics become one of Britain’s fastest women on ice?

Reporter Nicola Rees meets Jackie as she trains for the biggest race of her short bobsleighing career.

And she pays a visit to Jackie’s family in Birmingham as they prepare to cheer her on in what could be a gold medal-winning run at the Olympic games.

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