Cock-a-doodle-BOO! Fury over cockerels ban at Mansfield allotments

Feathers have been ruffled after allotment-holders in the Mansfield area claimed they had been banned by the council from keeping cockerels.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 4:13 pm
Infuriated allotment-holder Ceri Collen-Boot with her beloved cockerel at Whinney Lane in Mansfield Woodhouse.

Complaints by residents living near allotments about noise made by the birds have tempted the apparent issuing of a ‘No Cockerels’ enforcement order.

And plot-holders say they have even been threatened with eviction if they do not comply.

A notice, pinned to the entrance of Whinney Lane allotments in Mansfield Woodhouse, lays the law down and reads: “Cockerels, ie: male chickens, are required to be removed from the allotments forthwith.

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Ceri Collen-Boot treats her cockerel, Pecky, like a pet.

"This is not an instruction to destroy your cockerels. You have a couple of weeks to make alternative arrangements for them before the council checks for compliance.

"Do not ignore this new directive. It will not go away. Anyone found to have cockerels on site in due course will face enforcement action from Mansfield District Council and risks being evicted from their plot.”

It is not clear who is responsible for the notice, and the council insists the issue is still being investigated.

However, the apparent order has infuriated many animal-lovers, including Ceri Collen-Boot, who rescued an abandoned cockerel, Pecky, five years ago and has kept him as a pet at her allotment at Whinney Lane.

The banning notice that appeared at Whinney Lane Allotments.

Ceri has had talks with Andy Chambers, of the parks department at the council, and is pessimistic about the prospect of a solution to the dispute.

She said: “Our allotment is very close to neighbours and, in five years, I have never had an issue or complaint.

"But now, effectively, the council has signed my cockerel’s death warrant.

"The council has offered no assistance on what we should do with Pecky. This order is an instruction to kill him.

Pecky the cockerel taking a bite to eat from her loving owner, Ceri Collen-Boot.

"There are rescue centres around the country, but they are full and can’t cope.

"It is an extremely upsetting situation. I have pleaded with the council, but it isn’t listening.”

Ceri is particularly distressed because she suffers from mental-health problems. She has been diagnosed as severely depressed and is undergoing counselling.

"But when I go down to the allotment every day, I chill out with the chickens and it gets rid of my stress,” she explained.

"This area is my sanctuary. Now I am confronted by this. The council hasn’t thought about the personal aspect.

"I am pretty desperate. Does it expect the chickens to vanish into thin air? To kill a cockerel is a skill that has to be done humanely.”

In fact, what Ceri expects to happen is that cockerels will be dumped, in the hope that they are killed by foxes.

This is how she came to rescue Pecky, who had been cast aside by a thoughtless breeder, but is now treated like a lord by Ceri and her husband, Gary at an allotment where they also keep chickens and grow all kinds of fruit and vegetables.

"Foolishly, people breed cockerels, but the council is now adding to that problem,” she said.

"Pecky is kept in a shed from dusk until about 7.30 am, so the noise is minimal.

"I understand that people living near other allotments have complained about noise, and i accept that one or two allotment-holders have abused the system horribly.

"But I don’t see why the council can’t deal with this on a case-by-case basis.

"Initially, we were told in January that existing cockerels would be allowed and that, once they had died, they couldn’t be replaced.

"But now we have this new and sweeping change that prohibits them.

"I understand both sides of the argument and that cockerel noise can be a problem in urban areas.

"But sadly, this issue has been mismanaged for many years, and blameless people like myself are the ones to suffer.

"My cockerel and hens are a reason to get up in the morning and, due to my mental health issues, they are motivational and therapeutic.

"The thought of having to euthanise my beloved cockerel is something that upsets me considerably.”

Mansfield District Council told the Chad the matter was being looked into, but that discussions were in their early stages and no final decision had been made.

Sarah Hall, who is the head of law and governance at the council, said: “Following noise complaints, the council is working with Mansfield Woodhouse Garden Holders Association, which manages allotments in Mansfield Woodhouse on the council’s behalf, in a bid to resolve the situation.”

Meanwhile Ceri admits she is already searching for a new and suitable home for Pecky because her appeals to the council look likely to fall on deaf ears.

She posted this message on the Whinney Lane Allotments page on Facebook: "Pecky deserves the life he is used to and it is unlikely I will be able to re-home him, with so many other cockerels in rescue centres.

"He helps me with my mental wellbeing, anxiety and depression.

"If I cannot find him a new home, he will most likely have to be euthanised. Parks Services at the council have chosen to ignore all of these facts.”

She added: “Several years ago, in the 2000s, a similar situation occurred when the old site representative at the allotments took to breeding goats on Whinney Hill.

"The council ordered an eviction notice in what was another noise issue, but it relented and allowed them to stay as long as the goats were not replaced after they had died.

"This latest dispute is all very familiar territory, and it all points to a failure in the management system. It could have been nipped in the bud years ago.”