A man has angered his neighbours after cutting their hedges to clear a path because they "hadn't bothered" before being asked to be thanked.

Keith Haines, 89, has divided opinion after cutting back a hedgerow to make a path more accessible to pedestrians and wheelchair users.

He claims to have informed the local council of his plans to trim the hedge - and was not stopped from doing so.

Keith, of Newbury, Berks, then "thanked himself" for cutting away the foliage.

In a letter sent to a local newspaper, he said: "I would like to thank me for bringing the footway to its original width as the tenants haven’t bothered to keep the hedge cut.

“I informed the council of my intentions but they didn’t stop me from doing it, so I went ahead with it.

“Everyone who passed me congratulated me. What a difference I have made.”

Keith has been thanked by local residents for his work, including one who is blind.

She said: “I am a totally blind resident in Shaw and walk my guide dog every day.

“I am often stung by stinging nettles, scratched by brambles and hit in the face by branches and shrubs that are overhanging the footpaths.

“Fortunately, there is a resident who lives nearby called Keith.

“He is 89 years old and as well as caring for his wife, he is out every day cutting back foliage, clearing blocked drains, picking up litter and sweeping the subways to keep them free of slippery mud, litter and broken glass.

“I think this wonderful man deserves some recognition for all his hard work as a volunteer.”

However, not everyone is a fan of Mr Haines’ handiwork.

Several residents of Cherry Close whose gardens back out onto Western Avenue are frustrated that their hedges have been trimmed back quite severely without their permission.

Photos of the scene show how Keith cut away the bushes - leaving them bare, brown sticks rather than the green hedge seen above head height.

Mandy Allen saw Mr Haines cutting her hedge and questioned why he was doing so.

She says she didn’t want her hedge cut back as severely because it gave her property some privacy from the busy road as well as reducing traffic noise.

She is also worried that her pet dog will be at risk of escaping onto Western Avenue due to the hedge being cut back.

She said: “It’s an absolute mess. He’s gone back to the original fence.

''I have been in my house for 23 years and I have never ever seen the original fence. He’s not just cut it, he’s absolutely hacked it.”

Another resident, Fran Robins, said: “I make my own arrangements when my hedge needs cutting.

“He has actually hacked it to pieces, not content with just mine, he decided to tackle others hedges that face onto Western Avenue even after being asked to stop.

“The hedge now is letting in more road noise from traffic and taken away my privacy. l have been in my house 57 years and never had an issue.”

A West Berkshire Council spokesperson said: “The hedges are all on private property and do not fall to the council to maintain.”