A FORMER groundskeeper who has been left housebound after a lengthy battle with cancer says he has been left heartbroken after his pride-and-joy garden fell into ruin.

James Haig was moved into his council bungalow in Macmerry four years ago after undergoing major surgery when cancer was found in his bowel and kidney.

Further surgery followed and the 66-year-old has been left battling chronic pain and unable to leave his home.

A former landscape gardener who once tended the grounds at Nunraw Abbey, Mr Haig said he had battled for seven months with East Lothian Council to get help maintaining his garden.

Now he says it is overgrown with weeds and no work has been carried out over the summer.

Mr Haig said: “My garden was always my pride and joy, I kept it at showcase level. Now I look out of the window and it is just devastating to see what has happened. It is heartbreaking.”

Mr Haig, who lives on Merryfield Avenue, said he had repeatedly contacted the council asking for help under its Garden Aid scheme, which provides help to people aged over 60 unable to maintain their gardens.

But he said in seven months they had cut his hedge once and allowed weeds to run out of control.

He added: “I received a call from someone from [cancer charity] Macmillan to say the council had approached them about a grant which they might be able to give towards the garden. I told them I didn’t want their money spent on my garden, they have more important things to use their money for. It is the council’s job.

“I couldn’t believe they had approached the charity. I’ve had visits from housing staff who have promised all sorts of things, but nothing is being done. The lack of care and support for people like me is appalling.”

Mr Haig, who lives on his own, said the situation was particularly hard as he had worked in gardens all his life.

He said: “If I was fit I’d have this garden sorted in a week but I can’t. All I can do is look out at the weeds, I don’t want charity, I just want the council to do their job.”

A council spokesperson said: “We cannot discuss any details relating to individual tenants.

“However, in general, if a council tenant was having difficulty maintaining their garden, there are a number of options we would explore. Some tenants would qualify for Garden Aid, which provides basic garden maintenance. Any more involved work, for example significant changes to layout, would not be covered by this service.

“Tenancy support officers explore other options in these cases including investigating any additional support through charities or other support organisations. But this is dependant on the tenant being willing to accept this support.”