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Tier 2 couple can't meet friends in their garden, because it is in Tier 3

Emily Cleary
·5-min read
Sheila and Philip Herbert's three-bed detached home is in Tier Two, their back garden and lawn is in Tier Three ()
Sheila and Philip Herbert's three-bed detached home is in Tier Two, their back garden and lawn is in Tier Three (swns)

A couple whose home is in Tier 2 cannot meet people in their own garden under coronavirus restrictions - because it is in Tier 3.

A bizarre boundary quirk means that while Sheila and Philip Herbert's three-bed detached home is in Tier 2, 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 anomaly has risen because their home in Otley, West Yorks., is divided between Leeds City Council and Harrogate Borough Council.

Under coronavirus restrictions, people in Tier 2 can meet socially in groups of six outdoors, including private gardens.

Sheila and Philip Herbert's three-bed detached home is in Tier Two, their back garden and lawn is in Tier Three ()
The Herberts can still meet their daughter who is in their support bubble (swns)

But Sheila and Philip are prohibited because their garden 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.

Sheila 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.

Sheila and Philip Herbert's three-bed detached home is in Tier Two, their back garden and lawn is in Tier Three ()
A culvert runs beneath the property, diving it between two counties (swns)

"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 Otley are under 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 issue arose almost 50 years ago when the houses were built above the culvert, but the boundary between the counties remained.

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

"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."

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

Key guidelines people in Tier 2 areas must follow:

  • People are banned from indoor socialising with others they don’t live with

  • Social gatherings of up to six people are allowed outdoors

  • The majority of businesses are allowed to remain open, provided they are COVID secure

  • Pubs must close unless they can double as a restaurant. They can only serve alcohol if it comes with a substantial meal

  • Pubs and restaurants must close at 11pm, with last orders at 10pm

  • Other venues such as casinos, cinemas, theatres and museums must close at 11pm

  • Attendance at shows, performances or sporting events is allowed at whichever is lower out of a 50% capacity, or maximum 2,000 people outdoors and 1,000 indoors

  • People can attend places of worship but, while inside, are not allowed to socialise with others they don’t live with

  • Up to 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, with up to 30 at funerals

  • Organised sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue outdoors. Indoors, they are only permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with

Watch: The COVID dos and don’ts of Christmas this year

Key guidelines people in Tier 3 areas must follow:

  • People are banned from indoor socialising with others they don’t live with

  • People are allowed to meet in groups of up to six in some outdoor public spaces such as parks, beaches, public gardens, heritage sites or castles and sports facilities

  • Bars and restaurants must close unless they can offer takeaway

  • Accommodation such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, campsites and guest houses must close

  • Indoor entertainment venues, from casinos to cinemas, must close

  • Indoor attractions at mostly outdoor venues must close. This includes indoor attractions within zoos, safari parks, wildlife reserves, aquariums, farms, and theme parks

  • Leisure and sports facilities can continue to stay open, but without group exercise classes

  • Attendance at shows, performances or sporting events is not allowed

  • People can attend places of worship but, while inside, are not allowed to socialise with others they don’t live with

  • Up to 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies but receptions aren’t permitted. Up to 30 can attend funerals

  • Organised outdoor sport, physical activity or exercise classes can continue, though “higher-risk contact activity” should not take place. None of these activities can happen indoors