Stalemate over ownership of tree that crushed car
12:28 05 March 2014
A woman whose car was crushed when a tree collapsed on top of it has been left in limbo and hundreds of pounds out of pocket after several organisations refused to accept responsibility.
Sharmaine Lenaghan’s Mazda MX-5 was written off in January after a tree was brought down overnight in 80mph winds and smashed through the roof.
The car was parked near a pumping station in Lower Road, Stuntney, near Ely, and Sharmaine initially contacted Anglian Water, which owns the station, to see if it was responsible for the tree.
But the utility company said the tree was in the care of Cambridgeshire County Council as it was on the public highway and that it would also be putting in a claim for damage to its pumping station.
That view was backed up, Sharmaine said, by local landowners and farmers, who visited her at home.
Sharmaine, of Stuntney, was put in touch with the asset information department at the county council but, to her dismay, officers there said the tree was nothing to do with the authority and that it did, in fact, belong to Anglian Water.
More than a month on and mother-of-one Sharmaine, of Steward Close, has had to rely on public transport and taxis to get her to work in Harston, south of Cambridge, because her insurance company has been unable to make a claim.
She said: “Rather than pay everything out of my own pocket, I have been trying to get to the bottom of who I can claim against but nobody wants to take ownership.
“Everybody I spoke to seems to think the tree belongs to the council but they have denied it and told me to speak to the Land Registry.
“It has caused me a lot of stress, I’ve had to pay out for taxis to get to work and my insurance premium is likely to go up as a result of this. All I want is some clarity.”
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said: “Immediately after the tree was damaged our highways team carried out emergency work to clear some debris from the road and make the road safe. However, after further inspection we believe the tree is not on highway land and is a boundary tree on land owned by Anglian Water and is therefore their responsibility and we reported this information to the water company.”
A spokesman for Anglian Water acknowledged it had initially denied ownership of the tree but said its estates department would be taking the issue up with the Land Registry and would contact Sharmaine when it had received an answer.
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