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‘My elderly neighbour is breaking the hosepipe ban to fill a paddling pool – can I report her?’

dear moral money,

As I’m sure you know, we are in the midst of one of the longest droughts in British history. The endless days of sunshine, while pleasant, have turned my lawn a rather sickly shade of yellow – not least because my local water company just enforced a temporary hose ban.

I resigned myself to the ban because measures like this are put in place for a reason and our community clearly needs to conserve water. But to my increasing annoyance, my elderly neighbor chose to ignore this.

Every day she fills her (recently bought) paddling pool with water from her hose for her grandchildren and dog. They splash around in there all day making an annoying noise and ruining my concentration while I’m working from home.

At the end of the day, my neighbor dumps the water on her lawn, which unsurprisingly hasn’t yellowed as badly as everyone else, so she can refill it the next morning.

Having respected the ban, I can’t help but be annoyed that my neighbor, with whom I usually get along very well, is breaking the rules. I never thought the sight of a paddling pool could ever fill me with this kind of white-hot anger. The splash and the splash; The squeaks are now scratching the inside of my brain like nails on a blackboard.

I want to report my neighbor but know the consequences could include a fine of up to £1,000 which as a pensioner I am sure she cannot afford. Also, she takes care of her grandkids for free while her son is working and I don’t really want to spoil their fun or spoil their summer. But the anger is building inside me. What can I do?

SJ, via email

Dear SJ,

It’s perfectly understandable why you’d be frustrated by a hose ban – and unlucky enough to experience one at all. While the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has no plans for a nationwide ban, individual water companies have jurisdiction to enforce it given current conditions, and several have done so.

Whether your area qualifies for a ban can depend on how effective your water utility is — and some fall short of leak targets set by regulators by as much as six million liters a day. A handful of the same companies are among the most expensive, which is also out of your control and can make temporary bans feel unfair.

Perhaps your frustration can be traced back to your water company rather than your neighbor. Because if your business is addressing its own issues – such as high daily leakage levels – then a hose line ban may not be necessary at all.

Whether you want to alert authorities that your neighbor is breaking the rules, there are a few things to consider.

Breaking a hose ban is a risky business and as you said can be fined up to £1,000. Are you sure you want to be responsible for costing your neighbors so much money? In the midst of a livelihood crisis, this may not go down well, and it’s not far-fetched to assume that your neighbor would suspect or even confront you if she were fined.

Also remember that you live next door to this person. Disrupting a relationship with someone who lives just a few feet away from you might be a little short-sighted. What if the next day you forget your keys and need them to give you a spare set?

In any case, temporary bans are just that – temporary. In a week or two, this might be easier to get over than you think.

But from the sound of it, your problem isn’t necessarily with your neighbor breaking the rules, but rather with the noise he makes while doing so.

It can feel sacrilegious to whine about kids having fun over the summer holidays, but in a post-pandemic world, the line between home and office is hardly existent. It’s not unreasonable to ask the neighbor for a little more consideration – especially when this disturbance is a daily occurrence.

If you feel like you can’t face the prospect of waiting until the end of the ban, maybe talk to your neighbor and try to find a compromise.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below and via email moralmoney@telegraph.co.uk

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/elderly-neighbour-breaking-hosepipe-ban-fill-paddling-pool/ ‘My elderly neighbour is breaking the hosepipe ban to fill a paddling pool – can I report her?’

Russell Falcon

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