Police warning for professor who cut three twigs from neighbour's hedge

Neighbour row over safety mirror

Mr Tolhurst outside his home.

A retired professor and plastic surgeon has been ticked off by police for snipping three small twigs from a neighbour's hedge.

David Tolhurst, 81, had put up a convex safety mirror on the blind corner where he lives in Edwardstone, Sussex. He was hoping to improve visibility after his late wife, Sonia, had her car written off while reversing out of the drive in 2014.

Mr Tolhurst, a fellow of Harvard University who practised at Great Ormond Street Hospital, originally sited it on a nearby telegraph pole - until a neighbour complained.

"I was instructed by a Highways engineer to take down the mirror," he tells the Daily Telegraph.

"I told them I was not going to take such nonsense because I was only concerned about safety. You see hundreds of mirrors around the county so I was surprised to be targeted. It seemed petty and ridiculous."

In an attempt to resolve the issue, Mr Tolhurst moved the mirror to the hedge dividing two properties across the road. But while he had permission from one of the owners of the hedge, the other objected after he trimmed the hedge a little to improve visibility.

"The hedge grew up so I trimmed away three little twigs and some ivy," he says. "Two policemen in a very large van turned up to tell me off for 'vandalising the property of a neighbour'. I told them I am not a vandal and they seemed awfully sorry, but they reminded of the statutory requirements that I must not interfere with the property of other people."

Safety mirrors on public land need permission from the Department of Transport, but are given approval only rarely: they are seen as running the risk of being misleading at night, when headlights are reflected, as well as creating glare during the day.

A local council may support an application for a safety mirror in a rural area where there's a high speed limit, near-zero visibility and nothing else that can be done.

Mr Tolhurst has now found a third spot to put the mirror - and it's on his own property, this time.

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