Brother and sister back in court over untidy house

A MAGISTRATE has criticised North Somerset Council for spending hundreds of pounds prosecuting a cash-strapped brother and sister rather than lending them a hand.

Joan and Jonathan Colwill appeared at North Somerset Courthouse this week accused of failing to comply with a notice ordering them to tidy up their home.

The pair, who jointly own a house in Rosedale Avenue in Weston, were told by the court last April to clear up the property and adjoining garden or face further prosecution.

But when they appeared at the St Georges courthouse this week accused of ignoring the order, the pair spoke of their best efforts to tidy the property, despite Ms Colwill being poverty-stricken and Mr Colwill, who lives in the property, being unemployed.

Chair of the bench, Jean Lord, told the court that North Somerset Council should have helped the pair with some of the financial implications of fulfilling the work, rather than spending hundreds of pounds prosecuting them again.

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Ms Colwill says she and her 47-year-old brother have filled 180 black bags with rubbish, but as she lives in Heol Y Coed Rise in Bridgend in South Wales and her brother does not drive, it is difficult for him to take rubbish to the recycling centre and they cannot afford to hire a skip.

Ms Colwill says the accumulation of rubbish was down to the fact the pair’s mother, who lived in the Weston house before she died in 2009, had mental health difficulties following the death of two of her children.

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The 53-year-old says she is currently relying on her local church for hand-outs of food and her home in South Wales has a suspended repossession order on it.

Ms Colwill said: “The problem is that my brother was so ashamed of the state of the house he didn’t want to ask for help to tidy it.

“The first thing I knew about the problem was last year when I got the notice.”

Mr and Ms Colwill pleaded guilty to a first breach of failing to comply with the notice last year, but Ms Colwill said she was in hospital at the time.

Ms Lord told the pair she was conditionally discharging them for the second breach, which they both admitted, despite saying they had struggled but managed to carry out 99 per cent of the work asked of them.

She said she would remand them in custody for one day each for failing to pay the fines imposed last year during the first failure to comply, but she considered that fulfilled as they had spent most of the day at court.

Ms Lord added: “My message to North Somerset Council would be that this could have been addressed in another way.

“It would have been more profitable for both sides rather than money being chased around.

“Is there any way the council can spend money trying to help this situation and help them clear up rather than spending �900, twice, prosecuting them?”

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