A pizza delivery driver who lives in a £220,000 four-bedroom house in Driffield has been judged to have the scruffiest back garden in his street - and has been hit with a £3,000 legal bill for not keeping it tidy.
Andrei Jonski, 48, and his dentist wife Agni thought they had bought their dream home for their two children when they moved into the detached house in quiet Easingwood Way, Driffield, eight years ago.
However, the sight of rubble, car parts, plastic sheeting, wood and old tyres which they soon amassed in their back garden left their neighbours fuming. A red Fiat Cinquecento appeared abandoned on the front law, a shed was built out of old doors and nothing seemed to move for months – especially when the Jonskis went on holiday in August to Poland, Hull Crown Court heard.
A string of neighbours complained to East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning officers who agreed it was not the “amenity value” expected on a modern estate.
The council planning department asked Mr Jonski to tidy it up, giving him six months, and, when he ignored them, they summonsed him to court for failing to comply with section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act requiring him to maintain land.
Jonski appeared at Hull Crown Court in an appeal against a conviction given to him by Bridlington Magistrates on March 10 2014. He had failed to comply with an order to maintain his land served in June 2013 giving him six weeks to clear up his garden – or provide a valid reason not to.
Speaking in his hearing Mr Jonski said he, rather than his wife, was solely responsible for the garden: “For me my garden is perfect. My wife does not like it, but I paid for this house and I paid for this garden. It is a building site at the moment, but in a years time it will be the best garden in Driffield with a sauna and a Jacuzzi.”
He said his trouble began in 2010 when he fell out with his neighbours over building in his garden and the enforcement notice was their revenge. He said first they complained about the size of his shed then they moved on to the state of his garden. He said they had put up decking to use their gardens more and the complaints followed. Mr Jonski said he had complained about their noise and flood water caused by the decking into his garden, but was told by the council they were civil matters.
“My neighbours hate me,” said Mr Jonski. “My neighbours complain. I am not angry with the council officers, they are only doing their job. I can only be angry for the hateful neighbours.”
He said he accepted the frequent visits by the council officers to check on him, and admitted he had put up a sign saying “No photography” pointing to his neighbours over the back fence. He added: “I will soon be putting it back.” He protested about the council officer’s visit to his wife at work in Bridlington Hospital with the letter saying he, rather than her, was responsible.
He said: “It is my private house. No one else can see it. Only Google can see it from their satellite. I am not throwing away good stuff. I am building a 2m deep pit for compressors in my shed. ”
He told the judge: “I am not a silly or stupid person. I did not receive the letter so I did not comply with it. If I had received it, I would not agree, but I would ask them what to do.”
Council planning officer Jonathan Middleton, who drafted the enforcement notice with the council’s legal department, said he had attended Mr Jonskis property and told him of neighbours complaints, but on one occasion Mr Jonski had appeared confrontational.
He said they had acted on neighbours complaints in October 2012 and had given him repeated warning the matters were being taken seriously. He said the council had given Mr Jonski a list of things it wanted doing, including the moving or rubble, car parts and metal into existing buildings and the removal of the Fiat from the front lawn and six week to do it.
Mr Middleton told the hearing: “In our view the state of the property was harming the amenity of the area. The neighbours had to look at children’s bikes, old broken tools, building materials, wheels, tires, car parts and a vehicle trailer up against a wall. A small red Fiat is parked on the lawn which was seen as they went passed every day. It is an open plan estate, the car was next to the road and highly visible”
“Easingwood Way is a small cul-de-sac with five houses, all built tightly overlooking each other and all looked into each other’s gardens. Each item on its own was not illegal, but the total effect could affect residential amenity. We don’t serve notices on people who have temporarily parked a car on a lawn. Serving a notice is a last resort.”
Asked by the judge if Mr Jonski could have avoided complaint by pulling a huge tarpaulin over his lawn, Mr Middleton said if the council were to receive a complaint the tarpaulin was unsightly, and he viewed it was harming the local amenity, they would serve a notice.
Recorder Abdul Iqbal, QC, said Mr Jonski had shown in court he could be confrontational and he was in no doubt council officers had served the notice on him. He said he had evidence of car parts, rubble, bikes tools and drums in the garden and of the neighbours concerns.
“There is ample evidence the notices were served correctly on Mr Jonski,” said Recorder Iqbal. “We accept the evidence Mr Middleton explained the situation to him through a number of visits.” He said the appeal had failed. He said the magistrate’s fine of £600 with £1,639 costs and a £60 surcharge still needed paying and ordered a further £720 costs to that for the Crown appeal hearing to make a total of £3,019. He told Mr Jonski his claims to afford only £60 a week, from his part-time job as a delivery driver, was ridiculous: He said: “You can’t live in a large house like this and afford a sauna and a Jacuzzi with an income of £60 a week. You will pay £150 a month. If you don’t, there are consequences for you.”
Mr Jonski protested he wanted to appeal and be given a transcript of proceedings, Recorder Iqbal, QC, ordered him to be quiet or face leaving by the cells for being in contempt.