Parish council quits over backlash after claims man’s voluntary clear-up was ‘criminal damage’

Adam Myers and his work
Adam Myers, 22, proudly shows off his clear-up efforts. He was soon accused of criminal damage - Wessex News Agency

An entire parish council has resigned after a man was reported to the police for criminal damage for clearing a roadside pavement of weeds, stinging nettles and brambles.

All seven members of the Broughton Moor parish council near Cockermouth, Cumbria, have quit following a backlash to news that Adam Myers, 22, who has autism, was reported for strimming grass verges and hedges near his home in the village.

A post was put on a community social media group showing the usual 4ft-wide pavement reduced to around a foot by the encroaching weeds.

It was claimed it made walking unsafe for pedestrians along the 40mph stretch of road.

After seeing the post, Mr Myers decided to take matters into his own hands and spent six hours toiling to cut the verges, which he felt would benefit the community.

Broughton Moor
Broughton Moor was at the centre of community disagreement over clearing overgrown verges - Wessex News Agency

He went to Church Road and cut back the hedges and strimmed the grass and weeds.

But within 10 minutes of posting that he had completed the work, a council member commented on his social media post to tell him he had broken the law and that the act was criminal damage.

Later, on June 11, Cumbria Police received a report of verges being cut.

It led villagers to criticise the parish council, and it emerged that all seven members resigned on June 20 because of the backlash to police being called in.

Cumbria Police said it had received two reports about the grass cutting, but no further action would be taken as it was a civil matter.

In a statement posted on the parish council website said “As of June 20, and following an orchestrated campaign of bullying and abuse, both online and in person, against the members of the parish council and the clerk, Broughton Moor no longer has a parish council.

“All future plans for improvements for the village have been cancelled and the community centre has been closed.

“Cumberland council has been informed and will now assume responsibility for the governance of the village.

“It is almost certain that the diocese of Carlisle will not now gift the church building to the community, something which the parish council had fought hard to achieve.

“Hopefully, the village will recognise what it has lost.”

The overgrown verge encroaching the pavement
It was claimed the overgrown verge encroaching the pavement made walking unsafe along the 40mph stretch of road - Wessex News Agency

Adam’s father, Ian Myers, said the criticism was the first comment under Adam’s social media post of a “before and after” picture and it had affected his confidence.

Mr Myers said his son was “very community spirited and helping others gives him a great deal of confidence”.

Despite the majority of comments being very positive, the criticism had upset him, said Mr Myers.

“The reaction from the parish council was horrendous.

“Myself, my wife and my parents put an awful lot of time and effort into supporting Adam and encouraging him to do things.”

On social media, Steve Bradshaw said: “Good riddance to them, the poor lad was only trying to help and has his own issues, what a sad country this is becoming. Hope they are ashamed of themselves, but I’m not holding my breath.”

Mark Marsh said: “The fact they resigned en masse, and the petulant statement on the parish council website, suggests the councillors had lost sight of who they were elected to serve.”

Steven Hunt said: “Some parish councils are no doubt brilliant but some can’t or won’t accept change. By those reactions, they are impacting themselves also. Let them sulk!”

Cumberland council said “We are aware of the resignation of councillors of Broughton Moor parish council.

”The parish council remains a legal entity and continues to exist, with the clerk ensuring that statutory duties continue to be fulfilled.

“In this situation, as the principal authority, Cumberland council will co-opt some of our own councillors on to the parish council to ensure that the council is quorate and can carry out its functions until other individuals can be co-opted, and an election held.”