Leeds couple whose house is in Tier 2 can't meet people because their garden is in Tier 3

An elderly couple whose home is in Tier 2 are not allowed meet people outside in their own garden - because it is in Tier 3.

Friday, 4th December 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Friday, 4th December 2020, 12:13 pm

A bizarre boundary quirk has meant that while Sheila and Philip Herbert's three-bed detached home is in Tier Two, their back garden and lawn is in the stricter band.

When the couple are in their conservatory, they are in Tier 2, but they are in Tier 3 when they step into their garden.

The strange anomaly has risen because their home in Otley, West Yorkshire, is divided between Leeds City Council and Harrogate Borough Council.

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The Leeds couple whose house is in Tier 2 but garden is in Tier 3

According to latest guidelines, people in Tier 2 can meet socially in groups of six outdoors, including private gardens.

But Sheila and Philip are prohibited because theirs is in a different tier from their house.

A culvert - an underground channel of water - acts as the official boundary between West and North Yorkshire and runs directly underneath their garden.

Retired chiropodist Sheila, 74, and Philip, a former executive officer in the justice system, were not aware of the boundary confusion when they moved in 18 years ago.

The Leeds couple in their garden, which is in Tier 3

Sheila says when the government makes new announcements, she worries she may be breaking the rules.

She said: "It's all one big conundrum. Our house is in Harrogate and our garden is in Leeds.

"It's almost one toe in each county when we're stepping outside.

"We are just being sensible. We go shopping at the nearest supermarket, which is in Tier 3 , but they are all open anyway, so hopefully I'm not breaking any rules.

"My daughter lives in Tier 3, but we are in her support bubble so as long as I can still see her, that's all I'm bothered about."

The majority of houses in the picturesque market town of Otley are in Leeds City Council's remit.

But most properties in the Herbert's road, Riverside Park, where the average house value is around £400,000, come under Harrogate Council's control.

The strange quirk arose almost 50 years ago, when the houses were built above the culvert, but the boundary between the counties remained.

She added: "My next-door neighbour pays her council tax to Leeds and we pay our council tax to Harrogate.

"Every time new announcements are made, I just think, 'Am I breaking the rules?'."

The quirk of the boundary means the couple have to travel nine miles to use a recycling centre, rather than the closest one to their house which is just a mile away.

Sheila added: "Our bins are collected by different councils and we can't use our local recycling centre.

"We didn't know when we moved in, it's an Otley address, an Otley postcode, we just assumed we lived in Otley and that was it.

"You don't expect your garden to be in a different county from your house.

"We first found out about the boundary when we went to the recycling centre and they were doing spot checks.

"They told us we couldn't use it as we live in Harrogate. We have to use one that is nine miles away rather the one that is just about a mile and half away."

According to the new tier system guidelines, areas in Tier 2 cannot meet indoors socially with people they do not live with.

They can meet friends and family outside, but no more than six people at a time are allowed to congregate.

In Tier 3 , houses can only mix outside in public spaces.