A Stonehouse woman who shared a garden with her parents until her mother passed away a fortnight ago now wants her landlord, the council, to put a fence up before her new neighbours move in.
But Stroud District Council has refused to pay for one, saying fencing is the responsibility of its tenants.
For the last twenty years Paula Causon, husband Alan and their children have lived in a council house off Park Road.
Their neighbours: Paula’s mum and dad.
The grandparents moved in with Paula and her family in 1995 – but, when an elderly neighbour died, an opportunity arose.
“A councillor phoned up and said: we’ve got good news and bad news,” explained Paula.
“The good news is that we’ve got your parents a house. The bad news is that they’re right next door.”
The Causons did not mind, however – in fact they embraced the situation, removing the boundary between the two gardens.
“The barrier was a metal chain link and then brambles,” said Alan, “and when we cut the brambles down there was no fence there.”
Paula added: “So we thought: what’s the point? It’s mum and dad anyway.”
The boundary of Paula and her parents old council currently only has wooden planks on it
And so began the Causons’ communal life, with the two households cooking each other meals and holding summer parties.
Alan continued: “We’d open the curtains in the morning and the father-in-law would be sat on his little bit of patio. He’d shout: ‘cup of tea?’ and I’d reply ‘yeah, I’ll put the kettle on!’ and that was it then, they were round here.”
The set-up had added use for the Causons when Paula’s dad died in 2013 and they needed to keep a close eye on her mum, who began to suffer from dementia.
Their son, Nathan, who is autistic, helped with the care.
“For somebody who’s got autism, routine is a big part of their lives and when Rosie was alive he’d get up, go round and see her,” said Alan.
“He knew at certain times nan had to have her tablets – he’d ask ‘have you had your tables yet nan?’ and all this.
“That house had a massive impact on his life. They were so close, it was unbelievable.”
But, with Paula’s mum passing earlier this month and the Causons grieving, they now want a fence back – but they say they can not afford one themselves.
They say that, having got a quote of £2,400 for the 27 metre job, they went to the council, which told them it is either there’s or their new neighbour’s responsibility.
Paula said: “If they could imagine what it’s like to be broken hearted after losing my mum, to not being able to go into my back garden and to have that constant reminder.
“If there was a fence at least it would be out of view.”
She added that Nathan has become reclusive, spending more time upstairs on his Playstation to avoid going in the garden.
Paula on the boundary between her and her parents’ old house
“He is totally devastated over mum’s loss but feels with a fence life would be easier to deal with.”
Paula also said she fears her new neighbours could have pets – a risk, she says, given her chronic Uritacaria.
“If I go near an animal, I come out in the rash all over and it’s not very pleasant at all.
“I’m worried to death – if they have cats or dogs or anything and they come over to our house, I’ve had it.”
A Stroud District Council spokesperson said: “The council does not comment on individual cases. However garden maintenance, including fencing between adjoining properties, is the responsibility of council tenants.”
The Causons have suggested to the council that one of their other sons, Christopher, swaps his own nearby, two bed council house for his grandparents’ old, smaller one, arguing it would be a better use of space.
However, council tenants can only pass their houses on to a family member once, that limit being reached for the Causons when Paula’s father died and the tenancy moved to her mother.
Paula said: “I understand the council has procedures, but what I don’t understand is that they don’t seem to have any thought as to how it’s affecting us.
“It’s like there’s no feeling there. I’ve more or less begged the woman for my son to have it.”