A TORY MP has been blasted for blocking neighbours’ light as her “nightmare” 60ft-high trees shade properties surrounding her £1.35million home.
Care minister Helen Whately, 44, has also been accused of costing nearby residents hundreds of extra pounds to constantly keep lights on in their dingy Kent homes.
Mrs Whately, the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, and her company director husband bought the house near Faversham last year.
Pictures show the deciduous trees towering over neighbours' houses.
Furious residents claim the trees on land owned by the junior health minister and her energy boss husband Marcus have been causing them misery.
One neighbour said her phoneline was snapped and her electricity bill has gone up by hundreds of pounds due to keeping her lights on all day because of the darkness.
Another said she has to collect 20 bags of fallen leaves from their driveway throughout the year. The trees include horse-chestnut, ash and firs.
Residents living in the row of council and private cottages beside the couple were further enraged after Marcus allegedly told a neighbour to pay for tree surgery costs herself.
Jayne Lay, 63, a former Tesco shop assistant, has to keep the lights on in her house all day – otherwise she would be in pitch black darkness as the 60ft trees loom over her semi-detached home.
She says it costs her an extra £300 a year in electricity.
The married grandma-of-three says that a horse-chestnut tree has snapped her phone line, and she has to relentlessly sweep her drive to clear it of fallen leaves.
Jayne said: “It’s a nightmare. It takes a good two hours to sweep my driveway. It’s actually quite depressing when you’re sitting in darkness too.
“I don’t let my grandkids play in the back garden anymore – it’s too dangerous.
"The leaves are really slippery and you just think a branch could fall at any point.
“It’s such a shame because I love our garden.
"I’ve lived here nearly 30 years and it’s been a problem, but they really need to do something about it now.
“We don’t want them to get rid of the trees – just trim them down to a safe height. Surely any responsible homeowner would do that?”
Another neighbour, grandmother Marilyn Kemsley, 67, said: "The Whatelys bought the farmhouse about this time last year, and we've had a running battle with them ever since.
"It's absolutely dreadful. We don't get any sunlight from about 3pm onwards."
Marilyn added: "One lady's back garden is absolutely full of these trees, which have self-seeded.
"Some are about 20ft now. She's elderly and alone and she can't deal with it herself."
Kent Online reported that a text from Marcus to Marilyn – who has spoken out on behalf of fed-up neighbours – said that he had "no obligation to cut trees to any height".
Marcus is also said to have messaged her that he had carried out pruning work "at my cost as a gesture of goodwill, and I'm sorry that gesture has not been appreciated".
I think it's disgusting. We all voted for Mrs Whately… and now we feel totally let down.
He reportedly added: "I'm happy to consider other works if you want to pay for them, or to discuss other ways forward."
But, those messages from the Oxford-educated businessman have outraged the grandma, who said that the neighbours affected are not able to pay.
She said: "I think it's disgusting. We all voted for Mrs Whately to try and help with everything that was going on in the country, and now we feel totally let down.
"Something silly like this in our own environment, and she can't even help us.
"And then her husband's asking us for money."
Mrs Whately today declined to comment to reporters visiting her home.
The mother-of-three came under intense scrutiny over the Covid-19 pandemic, after she appeared to laugh while being grilled over care home deaths by Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain.
His clashes with the MP for not knowing the country's care home death toll sparked hundreds of complaints to Ofcom.
In June this year she also made headlines for falling out with student nurses.
Mrs Whately was accused of making student nurses who risk their lives fighting coronavirus for notoriously little pay feel "worthless".
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