Fenland man ordered to pay �1k compensation as judge describes garden decking job as “useless”

A FENLAND man has been ordered to pay compensation of more than �1,000 to a woman whose birthday present from her partner - back-garden decking - was described as “useless” by a district judge.

Deborah Buckmaster claimed she had received verbal agreements from Michael Woolner, trading as Anglia Paving, Patios & Landscapes/Driveways, in Upwell, that the project would be started and completed in time for her birthday.

She was awarded �775 compensation and �266.34 in court fees and expenses at King’s Lynn County Court on Tuesday after a judge heard that work was not completed to a satisfactory standard.

Making his ruling, District Judge Rutland said: “It’s a poor job in anyone’s book.

“He is the expert, he is the one who should know all the issues and it’s a total failure on his part.

“The work has been useless.”

After signing the contract on May 1 Mrs Buckmaster had expected work to begin at her property in Northampton on May 24.

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Mrs Buckmaster claimed that she and her partner, Steve Wachtel, were immediately concerned when nobody arrived on the original start date.

They were more worried when Mr Woolner’s son-in-law, who works with him, arrived late the next day.

The court heard she was told by Mr Woolner’s wife that Adam Bourne had got lost on his way to the property because “his sat nav had overheated”.

Once he and a partner had completed work on their first visit the couple claimed their calls and e-mails regarding their concerns over the project and its lack of development were regularly unanswered for a variety of reasons.

District Judge Rutland declared that there had been a “clear failure” by Mr Woolner and other workers “to respond to numerous telephone calls, texts and e-mails”.

Eventually Mrs Buckmaster decided to cancel the contract after, she claimed, only five posts had been planted and the completed work had a number of major flaws.

The work has since been completely removed and completed by a company.

Mr Wachtel, who spoke on behalf of Mrs Buckmaster, told the judge: “It’s left a sour taste in our mouth to say the least. The contract was terminated because we were so unsatisfied with the work.

“One of our biggest concerns was the lack of contact and that we never got a satisfactory response.”

The couple also produced evidence to show that gravel boards had been used rather than decking boards, which had been panelled down using a nail gun rather than being screwed down.

Mr Wachtel said: “They didn’t know what they were doing.

“The beams were too far apart and creaked like old floorboards. They put in five posts but there were no more put in around the area to support the frame which was built directly on the ground.

“They did not build the framework to the wall so there was a gap.”

District Judge Rutland, summing-up, said: “The company who completed the work refused to use any of the materials that were used originally.

“Gravel boards were used rather than decking boards which were unplained and have clearly split. Within a few weeks weeds would have been growing up through the decking.

“It was nailed together with steel nails that would rust rather than the proper nails which should have been used.”

Mr Woolner, who operates under the slogan “big enough to do the job, small enough to care”, produced no evidence to the court and didn’t attend the hearing. He was given 14 days to pay the total sum.

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