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garden fence

The family have been given until February to knock the massive fence down (Picture: Iliffe Media/ SWNS)

A mum and dad are angry after they were ordered by the local council to tear down their garden fence built to keep their autistic daughter safe.

Cliff and Dawn Baker, from Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, got permission from their landlord to put up the fence 18 months ago after their daughter TJ White, 10, kept escaping and running into the road.

TJ has autism, learning difficulties and is one of only two people in the world with a rare chromosome depletion, which leaves her behaviour hard to predict.

Cliff and Dawn say they have a pediatrician’s letter and medical records that proved the need for the fence for the youngster’s own safety.

But planning officers have told them the £1,000 fence is a road safety hazard but when this was proved not to be the case the council said it was a ‘street scene’ issue.

The £400 appeal was rejected by Newark and Sherwood District Council.

They’ve now been told to reduce the fence to one metre or erect a hedge but the parents say TJ will be able to escape.

Cliff and Dawn say they have been threatened with court action if they refuse and have been given a February deadline.

Cliff and Dawn Baker with daughter TJ, 10, of Edwinstowe, standing with their fence that the council has ordered to be romoved. See SWNS story SWLSfence. Parents have been ordered to remove a garden fence, which they claim helps keep their autistic daughter safe. Cliff Baker got permission from his landlord to put a 6ft fence in his garden in Edwinstowe 18 months ago, but did not realise he also needed planning approval from Newark and Sherwood District Council. He claims it is there to keep safe his ten-year-old daughter, TJ White, who has autism and is one of the only two people in the world with a rare chromosome depletion.

TJ’s autism means she tries to escape the family home and runs out into the road (Picture: Iliffe Media/ SWNS)

Cliff, 43, who is a full-time carer with his wife, said: ‘We’re just at our wits end. They won’t let us keep our child safe, it is just painful.

‘It’s ridiculous – we could end up with a criminal record just for trying to keep our daughter safe.

‘Her wellbeing comes first and we just can’t understand why there has been no common sense in this matter. They won’t let us keep TJ safe.

‘She has no road sense. She could be hit by a car if she jumps or leaves, someone could harm her.

‘Do they really want that on their conscience if anything happens to her?

‘We built this fence just so she had a safe space. When we go out we have to grab hold of her and this garden is really her only sanctuary.’


Cliff and Dawn Baker with daughter TJ, 10, of Edwinstowe, standing with their fence that the council has ordered to be romoved. See SWNS story SWLSfence. Parents have been ordered to remove a garden fence, which they claim helps keep their autistic daughter safe. Cliff Baker got permission from his landlord to put a 6ft fence in his garden in Edwinstowe 18 months ago, but did not realise he also needed planning approval from Newark and Sherwood District Council. He claims it is there to keep safe his ten-year-old daughter, TJ White, who has autism and is one of the only two people in the world with a rare <a href=chromosome depletion
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TJ is one of only two people in the world with a rare chromosome depletion (Picture: Iliffe Media/ SWNS)

The house used to have a picket fence but Cliff and Dawn said TJ kept removing it.

The mum and dad think a neighbour informed the local council and prompted planning inspectors to visit the home.

‘We thought once confronted with the medical evidence they would go ahead and approve it and common sense would prevail,’ Cliff added.

‘But they turned it down and the only alternative offered was to reduce its size to a metre, which is no good because TJ could still climb that.

‘They also said we could build a hedge but children can escape through hedges too.

‘They say they are offering us a solution but there is no real compromise in here, it has to be how they want it at the end of the day.’

Dawn said: ‘All we want is the best for our daughter.’

Lisa Hughes, the council’s business manager for planning development, said: ‘We can’t go into specific detail regarding the case, however, we did follow the appropriate planning rules and law when investigating this case.

‘We conducted our investigations and found that the height of the fence contradicted national legislation and was negatively impacting upon local amenity.

‘A notice was issued requiring that the fence be reduced in height to one metre, the maximum height permitted adjacent to a highway.

‘This is obviously a difficult and emotional case; we wanted to help the applicant and have offered alternative solutions, which have been supported by the planning inspector, but unfortunately these have thus far been turned down by the applicant.

‘We are sorry to hear the applicant is frustrated by this decision but we are still open to working with them to find an alternative if possible.’

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