A BEAUTIFUL laurel hedge has been reduced to a 'horrendous eyesore' by the church authorities an angry village resident had claimed.

Frances Carey, 66, who lives in the small lane running alongside Datchet's St Mary the Virgin Church off London Road says she was shocked when she came home from work on Monday at lunchtime to find how fiercely the hedge had been cut back.

The hedge is on church grounds. It runs for about 100 yards and is a major visual feature of the road.

Mrs Carey, who has lived in her house for 28 years said: "I thought you had to get permission to do something like that. It was 10 feet high and three feet wide before - now it is barely 1.5 metres above the ground. This hedge was 100 years old.

"There has been no consultation about this work and my neighbours are as upset as I am.

"They have just left ugly black stumps, creating a horrendous eyesore and destroying the habitat of birds and animals."

Churchwarden Elaine Eastham hit back this week, saying that the hedge had needed intensive work to save it and had been wasting away behind the green foliage.

She said: "It had to be trimmed back in order for it to grow back much richer."

Councillor Gary Muir, who represents Datchet on the Royal Borough and is also lead member for grounds on Datchet Parish Council has been drawn into the row.

He said this week that the borough was looking into the issue to see if any rules had been breached regarding the hedge.

He said: "It does look a mess I agree.

"The situation has been handled quite badly. They should have had the courtesy to let people know they were planning to cut the hedge."

Mrs Carey says she found her completely blocked when she tried to get to work on Monday morning and had to ask the team to clear a way for her.