Acle pensioner takes on bank in ivy row

A pensioner has been involved in a David and Goliath battle with a bank over sprawling ivy.

Banks are top of few people's popularity list in the aftermath of the country's financial meltdown.

But it is not toxic debt but rather ivy (of the non-poisonous variety) that has been causing a feud between a village pensioner and a branch of Barclays Bank.

For 26 years, in the spirit of good neighbourliness, Russell Tate, of New Road, Acle, was happy to cut back the ivy on his boundary fence even though it was really the responsibility of the bank next door.

However, following a hip replacement operation and suffering increasing problems with his arthritic knees, the 85-year-old retired farmer has been unable to cope with the work for the past two summers.

Watching with dismay as the rapacious plant spread to his garage, damaging the roof and causing a leak, he sent a succession of SOS letters to the Barclays branch manager between July and September asking for a return of good neighbourliness.

However, it was only at the end of September that a workman was finally sent round to tackle the plant - and he was unable to clear it entirely.

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Mr Tate, who lives in his semi with his wife Eva, 88, said: 'He informed me that the ivy had embedded itself in the felt of the garage roof and if he tried to remove it he would damage the roof even more.

'That was obviously a concern to us as we only had the garage re-roofed a few years ago and were now faced with another big bill.'

Mr Tate, who moved into the house when it was built 28 years ago, said: 'We have always taken pride in our home and kept up with the decoration.

'However, after my hip replacement last year and with my dodgy knees I could no longer go up a ladder on to my garage roof even though we still tried to keep the ivy on the fence in check.'

Mr Tate said his frustration grew when, after months of waiting for a response from Barclays, he was finally informed by the bank that the village branch and the ivy issue was really the responsibility of a Birmingham-based landlord.

After contacting the EDP for help, he was yesterday given fresh hope that a resolution of the problem was in sight.

A Barclays spokesman said: 'We apologise that Mr Tate has had cause to complain about the issue of ivy growing on his property.

'A representative from our property department will be calling him to resolve the matter to his satisfaction.'