FAMILIES who live opposite a major bus route have been ordered to tear down their garden fences or face hefty fines.
Residents claim they simply want a bit of privacy from passing nosey bus passengers who peer into their homes – but the council has threatened to haul them to court.
Many have likened the intrusion – which occurs every 10 minutes each time a Fasttrack service passes – to "living in the Big Brother house".
And they say the only way to combat the problem, and keep their kids safe, is to install tall bamboo structures that shield the view.
But the local authority has handed council tenants community protection warning letters over their "anti-social behaviour" and its apparent "detrimental effect" on the area.
They were told to remove the fences themselves, or cough up £243.49 each in council clean-up costs.
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Mum-of-four Jess Evans, one of several to receive an ASBO letter, described the situation at Hill View in Dartford, Kent, as "so annoying".
The 27-year-old told KentOnline: "We've tried getting planning permission, but every time we've spoken to the council it's all different stories.
"One minute we are allowed, one minute we are not. We've been issued ASBOs, court orders just to keep our kids safe.
"People are constantly talking to the children through the fence, even playing with them and passing their toys back through it.
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"And we have had people staring into our houses to the point where I'm waving at them now because it's getting so annoying."
But her biggest fear is for the safety of her children, two of whom have been diagnosed with ADHD.
"I'm fearful due to being so close to the bus stop and hearing about children being abducted," she said.
"This may happen as it is so easy to grab a child and get on a bus or car and be gone.
"This is a garden and should be safe and us not have to worry."
Another mum, Louise Vincent, 36, said she felt the same, adding: "I would be willing to pay for the fencing for the safety of my children.
"[But] we've been given ASBOs for putting fences up."
And 33-year-old Kayleigh Bean, who lives in another part of Hill View, added: "People just watching what you are doing inside your home and in your garden.
"It's either in their words, become a criminal and get a court action against us, or take the fence down."
People just watching what you are doing inside your home and in your garden.
When the social homes were first built they had large hoardings at the back, but these have since been replaced with 1.5metre black railings.
Not only are these significantly lower, they also have gaps which mean pets can easily escape onto the road and passers-by can reach through.
Residents have requested the railings be modified, but the council has repeatedly refused.
Instead, it was suggested tenants put up bushes no higher than 1.8metres that are in keeping with the "street scene".
However, Kelly Grehen, Kent County councillor for Dartford North East, said she was "perplexed" by the planning barriers.
"I've visited these properties and I know I would not feel comfortable using the garden," she said.
"I don't see how any other person would be adversely affected by residents putting up a fence or growing some bushes."
And thankfully after repeated complaints, a solution has been found.
Council leader Jeremy Kite told The Sun: "I always believe that there’s usually a perfectly common-sense solution to be found.
"In the case of railings we provided around our new council homes at Temple Hill, the solutions that families have used to secure their privacy are, technically, in need of planning permission which they don’t have, but it seems to me that the common-sense thing to do is to find a solution that IS allowable.
"That’s exactly what we have now done.
"We will offer to install fences of an approved, attractive design that secures the privacy of families and is also appropriate to the quality and design of the building.
"Families are 100 per cent entitled to feel secure in their homes and I think their views about feeling exposed by the openness to the nearby pavement and road are entirely reasonable.
"Our housing team are sympathetic to that and want to find a solution.
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"The council will carry out the work as part of our ongoing maintenance of our new-builds at no cost to the householders.
"The solution will then conform with all the planning requirements and meet the needs of residents."
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