A RESIDENT who has been complaining for four years over huge piles of wood in a neighbour’s garden is refusing to pay his council tax, claiming his life and mental health are being endangered.

Bob Drought, from Hunton, near Bedale, says the only way the issue can be resolved is by Richmondshire District Council enforcing action to clear the wood stack, which he claims is being added to daily.

Read more: Revealed: Council claimed almost £4m during Covid furlough scheme

The council has said it will be issuing a summons to take Mr Drought to court for non-payment.

He has been to court and the Ombudsman after failing to pay his council tax in the past.

Two section 215 notices, supposed to enforce clearance have failed and Mr Drought fears the huge piles of wood constitute a fire risk as well as dangers from rats.

He is concerned for the safety of his elderly neighbours in the property and says there has already been one chimney fire and ambulance crews were severely hampered when they were called out.

He is withholding the Richmondshire element of his council tax, paying it instead to fire and rescue services and charities.

Mr Drought said: “The council’s handling of my concern over the state of my neighbour’s property puts my life, my physical and mental health as well as my rights to good visual amenity in jeopardy.

“Huge swathes of the property are now completely clogged with material my neighbour had been told to clear, and the whole property is in a far worse and dangerous state than before the issuing of the 215 notice.

"The situation deteriorates weekly with Richmondshire District Council's refusal to act.

"Their irresponsible intransigence could have disastrous consequences. I am campaigning not only for a deserved quality of life but maybe even life itself."

A Richmondshire District Council spokesman said: “Mr Drought made the decision to withhold part of his council tax in 2019/20, which led to a court summons and the council being awarded a liability order.

"He continued to withhold council tax in 2020/21 but due to Covid no recovery action was taken by the council.

“However this year, with council tax still being withheld the district council is to issue a summons with a court hearing on October 28.

"Mr Drought, like every other householder, has a legal obligation to pay council tax and if he doesn’t he will face prosecution.

"Paying it to charity is not an option, the law is to pay council tax to the local authority to pay for local services.

"In terms of the issue about his neighbour the council is looking into the matter, the order we served seeking the removal of the material has expired and we are currently looking at the next steps we can take to resolve this."

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