South Shields OAP appeals for help with leaves problem

Derek Dowell lugging leaves that have blown from the cemetery into his garden.
Derek Dowell lugging leaves that have blown from the cemetery into his garden.

A fed-up pensioner is begging for help after struggling to remove the annual deluge of leaves blown into his garden.

Over the years, Derek Dowell has filled up thousands of bags with tons of fallen leaves blown into his garden from Harton Cemetery, which his home backs onto.

Derek Dowell has filled thousands of bags of leaves.

Derek Dowell has filled thousands of bags of leaves.

Now 79, Mr Dowell, from Highfield Drive in South Shields, is struggling with the scale of the task.

He suffers from the lung condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

He said: “Every year I fill between 60 and 80 black bags and then I take them all down to the tip at Middlefields.

“But I’m not getting any younger and I have COPD. I am finding it all a bit of a struggle.”

I am finding it a bit of a struggle now.

Derek Dowell

He said: “I basically end up with all the leaves from the cemetery in my garden, it’s just the way the wind blows. I can’t just leave them there as they’ll get wet, rot and become slippy and dangerous.

“I bought a little machine which hoovers them up, but even that takes ages.”

Mr Dowell, who is married to Margaret, 77, has called South Tyneside Council a number of times in recent weeks to see if it can provide any help but says he’s been passed between departments.

The retired sheet metal worker said: “I am always told it’s another department I need to speak to.

Derek Dowell is appealing to the council to help his leaves problem.

Derek Dowell is appealing to the council to help his leaves problem.

“I was also told that my property is private so that’s why they wouldn’t be able to help, and I appreciate that.

“But all these leaves are coming from the cemetery, which doesn’t belong to me, and I’ve been doing my best all these years.

“This week I’ve managed to fill about six bags, but it’s all getting a bit too much.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “A member of our Greenspace Team has already spoken to Mr Dowell.

Derek Dowell has filled six bags with leaves in the last week alone.

Derek Dowell has filled six bags with leaves in the last week alone.

“The council spends a lot of time and effort cleaning up the leaves from public places, including roads and footpaths, across the borough.

“However, as the council has no legal duty to collect leaves that fall on to private property, we are not in a position to clear the leaves from Mr Dowell’s garden.

“However, we will contact him in the next few days to discuss the problem and any other support that we may be able to offer.”