Councillor weeds garden after angering neighbours

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2013
Carolyn Dean cleans up section
GWYNETH HYNDMAN/Fairfax NZ
Reprimanded city councillor Carolyn Dean begins cleaning up the overgrown section of her rental home as her tenant Spack Dong watches.

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An Invercargill city councillor has copped flak after her rental property became overgrown with grass and poisonous plants which spilt onto neighbouring sections this month.

Councillor Carolyn Dean, whose 2010 electioneering blurb says one of her areas of passion and expertise is the environment, has faced the wrath of Penney Birchfield, who lives beside the Lindisfarne St home owned by Councillor Dean and rented by Chinese students.

Ms Birchfield said she asked Ms Dean three months ago to remove the noxious weeds from her rental property, but she had failed to do so. The section had since become overgrown with long grass and poisonous deadly nightshade had encroached from Cr Dean's property into a neighbouring childcare centre and on to her own property.

It was unacceptable for a city councillor to let their property get in such a state, especially given the council had clamped down on the owners of overgrown sections in the city, Ms Birchfield said.

The unacceptable state of Ms Dean's rental property was devaluing her own property, she said, adding she would not be voting for her again.

When The Southland Times contacted Cr Dean about Ms Birchfield's concerns yesterday she said she would get her rental property cleaned up the same day.

She arrived at the house soon after and apologised to Ms Birchfield before getting out the lawnmower and beginning the clean-up.

Cr Dean said Ms Birchfield had asked her to remove the noxious weeds and a leaning shed on the property three months ago. She had removed the shed and discussed the weed problem with her tenants at the time, because the gardens were their responsibility, Cr Dean said.

Her tenants told her they would do the weeding, despite her offering to get a gardener in, but they had failed to do so.

Cr Dean said she should have checked to see if the tenants had done the weeding.

She had not realised the noxious weeds included deadly nightshade.

She said she would remind her tenants about the standards required at the property.

Cr Dean said she had been inspecting her rental property twice a year, but now realised that was not enough.

She would get a property manager to look after the house from now on, adding she would keep in better contact with her tenants in future.

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- The Southland Times

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