Action Desk: Overgrown garden a step too far for family

Nicola Barton in the garden of the home her family rents from Sanctuary Housing. She says the garden is dangerous and is worries that her three year-old daughter will hurt herself unless they do something about it
Nicola Barton in the garden of the home her family rents from Sanctuary Housing. She says the garden is dangerous and is worries that her three year-old daughter will hurt herself unless they do something about it

Gardens should be a safe place for young children to play and enjoy the outdoors.

But for John Meaney and his partner Nicola Barton, the garden of their home felt anything but safe.

And each time their three-year-old daughter played outside their home on Butterthwaite Road, Shiregreen, they feared for her safety.

What angered John even more was that the garden of the empty house next door was being refurbished.

John said despite living in the house for two years, nothing has been done by the Sanctuary Group to improve the garden.

Part of their two-tier garden is overgrown, some of the steps are loose and land next to a privet is eroding creating a ledge which their daughter has fallen off.

The family have also asked for a fence to be erected because just a few bushes separate their garden and a public footpath. “We’ve had a surveyor out but nothing has been done,” said John.


A spokesman for Sanctuary Group said that after a call from Action Desk an inspection of the garden was carried out. And there was a bit of a result – the wobbly step was replaced and a new fence was erected.

The spokesman said: “We did find one step that was not secure and this has since been repaired.

As Mr Meaney mentioned, we were refurbishing the garden of the, then empty, property next door, and as part of this work new fencing was installed. Upkeep of the garden area is the responsibility of the tenant. Therefore cutting back any overgrown areas would be Mr Meaney’s responsibility.”

Happy Vicky back in credit after holiday cancellation nightmare

There are times when Action Desk plays more of an advisory role rather that getting a problem solved directly.

When Vicky Salt called about an issue she had with holiday company Park Resorts we helped as far as we could.

She had booked a holiday for her and her husband to the Lower Hyde Holiday Park – a Park Resorts caravan park – on the Isle of White.

But the couple were unable to go when her husband was rushed into hospital.

Vicky called the park directly and cancelled the holiday.

She was advised to contact head office in Hertfordshire to see if anything further could be done, including re-booking the holiday for a different date.

She wrote two letters – and made a handful of phone calls to customer services who suggested writing further letters.

When she never received a reply she contacted the Action Desk.

Vicky said: “We’ve used Park Resorts many times before and never been told about a cancellation fee.

“The only reason I know about it is because my cousin has booked a holiday with them and the advert she saw mentions this fee.

“Even if there was nothing that could be done, no-one had the decency to write back and say that.”


Action Desk contacted Park Resorts’ press office who said the company had never received her letters.

And furthermore, because she hadn’t paid the cancellation fee, there was nothing that could be done. They passed Action Desk a customer services number for Vicky.

Result! A few minutes later Vicky called saying she’d explained the situation. She was getting a credit note for the full amount of the holiday.

“Thank you. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you pushing me,” she said.

Banging the drum for resident’s vigilance

Concerned resident John Clarke contacted Action Desk when a drum had been left on his street after footpath work as part of the Streets Ahead scheme.

The drum, which had contained a black oil coating, had been left several days on Renshaw Road, in Banner Cross.

John said: “It has just been left on the grass verge.

“I’m afraid what will happen to it.”


What a quick result!

Within a couple of hours of Action Desk making a phone call, a team from Sheffiled Council contractor Amey had come and removed the drum from the street.

Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for environment, recycling and streetscene, said: “We would like to say thank you to the resident of Renshaw Road for bringing this to our attention.

“We received this report on July 16 and as soon as it was received we sent out a team to remove the empty drum.”

Outcome of train tickets misery was first class

Michael Greaves was angry when he failed to get a refund on train tickets to London.

He usually books using the East Midlands Trains website, but his login details weren’t working so instead he called Sheffield Railway Station direct.

A few minutes after ordering the £106 first class return ticket, his ill mother took a turn for the worse.

Realising he was unable to travel the following day, he called back using the WeQ4U app on his phone and asked for a refund.

Michael was given an email address write to – – which he questioned and was assured that it would go through to the East Midlands Trains customer services.

He had several failed attempts to send an email. Each time the email came back saying invalid.

The following day, before his train was due to depart, Michael called again and was told his tickets were non-refundable and there was no recording of him phoning the previous night.

He called back a few minutes later and was told nothing could be done because by that time he should have been on the train.

As a last resort he turned to Action Desk for help.


Within a few hours of Action Desk contacting East Midlands Trains, Michael had a full refund and two complimentary first class tickets.

“That’s brilliant, wonderful news. Thank you so much,” he said when he was given the good news.

A spokeswoman for East Midlands Trains said: “We are very sorry to hear about this issue. As soon as it was brought to our attention, we arranged for Mr Greaves to receive a full refund and we have contacted him to apologise directly. We are looking into what went wrong on this occasion.’’

Transfer woe as Brian driven mad by closed account

When Brian Batty used the Money Shop to make a Western Union money transfer he expected it to go through just as it had dozens of times before.

He regularly sends £200 to his friend in the Philippines using two payments at The Money Shop, on The Moor – £50 straight to a Western Union agent and £150 to his friend’s bank account.

But several hours after making his latest payments, Brian received a text to say his £150 couldn’t be processed.

A call to his friend in the Philippines couldn’t shed any more light on the situation.

Brian made several trips to The Money Shop and many calls to the Western Union to try to get his money back and find out why it couldn’t go through as normal.

He had not only lost his £150, he was also out of pocket having to make several taxi trips to The Moor and the numerous phone calls.

As a last resort he turned to the Action Desk for help.


Result! Brian got his money back and was given a £100 goodwill gesture from Western Union after they investigated the case following a phone call from Action Desk.

A Western Union spokesman said: “While Mr Batty’s money transfer was correctly processed from The Money Shop (a Western Union authorised agent) he visited and successfully transferred to the bank account Mr Batty designated in the Philippines.

“The money transfer was declined by the receiving designated bank because Mr Batty’s designated receiver’s bank account had been closed.

“The money transfer was refunded to Mr Batty and he has confirmed he has collected his refund from a Western Union agent location.

“Western Union would like to apologise to Mr Batty for the inconvenience he experienced whilst using the Western Union money transfer service and we have written to Mr Batty and offered him a goodwill gesture of £100.

“We appreciate Mr Batty using Western Union and look forward to serving him again.”