Couple who chopped next door's tree in HALF say they'll 'do it AGAIN'

NO olive branch! Retired couple who chopped neighbours’ fir tree in HALF in ‘petty’ row about it overhanging their drive insist they’ll ‘do it AGAIN’ when it grows back

  • Post on Reddit featuring the bizarre photo from a quiet street in South Yorkshire sparked huge discussion 
  • Bharat Mistry, 56, said he and his family were ‘gutted’ when his elderly neighbours called in tree surgeons 
  • The drastic action came after a year-long dispute between Mr Mistry and neighbours Graham and Irene Lee 
  • He said they had complained birds in the tree were making too much noise and making a mess of the drive 
  • But Mrs Lee told MailOnline today the tree was blocking the driveway and insisted defiantly ‘we’d do it again’

An angry retired couple who chopped their neighbour’s beloved fir tree in half in a bitter boundary feud hit back today and insisted: ‘We’d do it again’.

Retired Irene and Graham Lee were branded the ‘pettiest neighbours ever’ after they sliced the 15ft fir outside their home in a South Yorkshire suburb in two last Friday much to the dismay of Bharat Mistry and his family next door.

Mr Mistry, 56, a project manager, said the couple had taken the drastic action because pigeons had been nesting in there and damaging their driveway with droppings.

But defiant Irene, 75, snapped back this morning and said: ‘The birds weren’t really the problem, the tree was blocking our driveway.

‘What you can see at the moment is a third of what the tree was – we had two thirds of it hanging over on our side.

‘We got it professionally trimmed, afterwards the tree surgeon told me ‘you know it’s going to grow back?’

‘If that’s the case then I’ll cut it again, especially if it grows out too much.

‘The neighbours may own the tree but if it overhangs on our property then we are legally allowed to trim it back.’ 


A graphic shows the difference between how the tree, on a quiet street in Sheffield, looked before and after being trimmed


Retired Irene (right) and Graham Lee were branded the ‘pettiest neighbours ever’ after they sliced the 15ft fir in two last Friday much to the dismay of Bharat Mistry (left with wife Sangita) and his family next door

The photo first appeared on social media site Reddit with the caption: ‘Some traditional British pettiness on display’

How the tree looked before it was cut down in a dispute between neighbours in a quiet residential street in Sheffield

Mrs Lee and 77-year-old Graham have been living in their bungalow in a quiet cul-de-sac in Waterthorpe, a leafy suburb of Sheffield, since the 1980s.

The Mistry family moved next door into their three-bedroom home in 1994. They say the fir was already there when they moved in.

For the best part of 30 years the couples got on fine, but Mr Lee began to complain last March that the tree was obstructing his car when he tried to drive through his gates on the driveway.

He is said to have put as many as 20 bin liners in the branches to stop pigeons nesting who were causing a mess and noise.

Google Street View shows that the fir had been originally trimmed into a pretty ball right on the border of both couple’s £220,000 properties.

However, the Lees have now had the section which hung over their driveway completely cut away so that it now resembles a semi-circle.

Photographs of the bizarre looking tree have gone viral – with an image even being sent in to Jeremy Vine’s Channel Five show – and it has now become something of a tourist attraction with locals wandering past to see it for themselves.

Mr and Mrs Lee have also been branded the ‘pettiest neighbours ever’ on a social media.

However, an unimpressed Irene brushed off the criticism and said: ‘Myself and my husband just want to lead a quiet life. This whole thing has just blown up into something ridiculous and we just don’t want all the fuss.

‘There must be more important things going on in the world.

‘We’ve been here for more than 30-years and they’ve been here for over 25-years and until this we’d never had any problems, we’d always get on.

‘But I suppose we’re the neighbours from hell now!

‘To be honest, I’ve still no issue with them. if they talk to me then I’ll happily talk to them back. I’m too old to hold any kind of grudge.’

However, Mr Mistry said he had told the couple numerous times that he would get the fir pruned back but that one estimate he had from a local tree surgeon was far too high.

He said he was due to get another quote when his neighbours took matters into their own hands last Friday, which left the couple ‘distraught’.

Pictured: Irene Lee, whose husband Graham got a team of tree surgeons in to cut the tree down following the row

The Mistry family moved next door into their three-bedroom home in 1994. They say the fir was already there when they moved in

The neatly chopped tree at the centre of the neighbour dispute in Brier Close, Sheffield, south Yorkshire

 It was initially claimed the couple had taken the drastic action because pigeons had been nesting in there and damaging their driveway with droppings

A previous image, taken by Google Street View satellite, shows how the tree towered over both gardens

The drastic action came after a year-long dispute between Bharat Mistry and neighbours Graham and Irene Lee, both in their 70s, in the leafy Sheffield suburb of Waterthorpe

Mr Mistry said he had told the couple numerous times that he would get the fir pruned back but that one estimate he had from a local tree surgeon was far too high

Mr Mistry told MailOnline: ‘I’d spoken to both Irene and Graham about trimming the tree back and I’d contacted a tree surgeon I’ve used in the past but he was charging me three times what he did before and it was too expensive.

‘We’d had the tree trimmed back many times before to keep it above head height and allow Graham to drive his car onto the driveway without it being scratched.

‘But they were angry at the noise and the mess the pigeons were making. I told them that they are wild birds and birds nest in trees.

‘Graham used to hit the tree with a big stick to get rid of the birds and had even been putting bin liners over the branches to stop them from nesting in it. By the time the tree surgeon had finished he’d pulled out at least 20 rubbish sacks.

‘He came round to cut the tree back last Friday just before the England-Scotland game. We just watched dumbfounded.

‘Irene and Graham obviously didn’t want to wait for me to arrange it and did it themselves but I don’t think that tree will ever grow back properly.

‘It’s a shame we’ve been living here 28 years and that tree was here before we moved in. It could have only have been hanging over onto their property by about three foot.’

Mr Mistry said he and his wife Sangita have not spoken to their neighbours since.

He added: ‘We have never had any issues with them before this, we got on fine. Our children would play with their grandchildren when they were younger, we’ve always got on.

‘Graham started complaining about the birds making noise, but my daughter sleeps in the front bedroom and she can’t hear anything.

‘He tried to say they have made a mess of his drive but he parks his car there and I haven’t seen any evidence of that on his car.

‘He used to bring the bins in for us, it’s such a shame it has come to this.’

Neighbours in Brier Close yesterday spoke of their shock, with one woman, who wished to remain anonymous, saying the area had always been ‘well-maintained’ and looked after.

She added: ‘When I saw it, I just thought ‘oh my god, what a shame’. It’s a lovely tree and just adds to the feature of the house and the street.

‘It’s such a shame to see it go, surely there could have been another solution if there was an issue with birds.

‘If they had tied it up with a net and kept it looking neat, that would have been better.’

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: ‘It’s such a lovely street, there’s lots of trees and greenery and everyone looks after the so well, it’s a shame to see it cut down.

‘It just spoils the visual aspect of the street.’

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